14th May 2012 - Sofia Hericson
Afternoon tea became popular in Britain in the early nineteeenth century and tearooms are still popular, even in this era of American-style coffee houses. Sofia Hericson from our Charing Cross Road branch suggests the best guides to tracking down the best places for tea - and cake - in London and shows how she put together our new teatime window display.
The afternoon tea has been around since the 19th century, but only recently have I been made aware of it's soothing and relaxing benefits. The luxury of indulging yourself in the richness of a three-tiered stand of cakes full of colour and flavour is something short of paradise.
Imagine living in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland's Mad Hatter's Tea Party, or in a world like Hansel and Gretel's, without the evil witch or even in a more 21st-century pop-style candyland like the one in Katy Perry's 'California Gurls' video. This is the stuff dreams are made of.
And so going out to a tearoom on a Saturday afternoon with your friends is one might say as fulfilling as going on a night out. And with the range and growing offer all around London is now more and more affordable to let yourself dive into the sweet world of tea and cake.
There are many absolutely fascinating tearooms around London, such as the Drink Shop & Do, Primrose Bakery, Bea's of Bloomsbury Cakes, The Breakfast Club and so on. But don't take my word for it, in September last year Black Dog Publishing, published a great little book by Zena Alkayat called Tea and Cake London.
This year another great book came out, this time published by Allegra Publications, called Great Cake Places: London 2012, edited by Jeffrey Young and Jacqueline Malouf. These little gems, list some of the most amazing tea, cake and coffee Houses in London, differentiating and highlighting them on individuality, price, type of venue, as well as dietary information, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc. But be warned: these books can turn out to be dangerous if you use them more as to-do lists rather than just reference books.
My idea when I bought these books was to go to each one of these tea houses, one per month until I'd checked them all off the list. Well the only problem with this otherwise perfect plan was that committing to such list would have left me broke, as some of these places are quite expensive indeed.
And so started the idea of having more tea parties. And I'm telling you, any reason is a good one to do so, either because I needed signatures for a petition or because it was Christmas, or because... Well you get the idea... The fact is that as the very crafty person I am, I grew very fond of the art of baking.
Baking is no longer just a job for mothers and wives who get recognition by feeding their families but a craft that has become more and more popular between women and men alike of our generation. With the beginning of this century things changed greatly and baking as well as a lot of other crafts is becoming a trendy, revolutionary and savvy act. The combined effects of awarness of our carbon foorprints and the credit crunch mean that urban self-sufficiency, foraging and permaculture have become big things amongst young families with more and more people cultivating, crafting, cooking, building and, indeed, baking.
The art of baking is an elegant, cute, charming and professional one. And so is the art of hosting the perfect tea party. That's why we decided to put together this great selection of books for your pleasure, in a window display here at our Charing Cross Road branch and, in keeping with what I've talked about in this post, the props in this window have been handcrafted, borrowed and/or recycled.
Hand made bunting:
Handmade recycled cardboard cupboard:
Whether you want to indulge on a great afternoon tea around London or you wish to become the best Tea and Cake party host/hostess and baker in your social group, we've got the book for you. Enjoy!