by Camilla Ridley
Two easy recipes to help you create your perfect VE Day celebration tea party
With the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe on Friday, I was drawn to the spirit of the moment through photographs from both the National Archives and Imperial War Museum. Crowds poured onto the streets in a display of exhilaration, with White Hall blanketed by a torrent of jubilant revellers waving to Winston Churchill from afar. Few were aware at the time, that 19-year-old Princess Elizabeth, wearing her Auxiliary Transport uniform, and her 14-year-old sister, Princess Margaret, were permitted, for the first and only time, to venture out to join the euphoria.
Photos of the VE Day celebrations in 1945 from the National Archives, including Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, who were allowed out to celebrate with the public unnoticed.
Flooding the streets wasn’t the only way the greatest generation celebrated the occasion. A closer look at the archives revealed many took to their rations of tea and collaborated with friends and neighbours to unite in a garden tea party.
Tea parties in 1945 were a collaboration of rations amongst friends. Below, Camilla in, Liberty print floral midi dress at her garden tea party table and @saraandcatherinestales table setting on Instagram in our Pink Mitsi Alicia midi dress.
So I thought, to mark the occasion, what could be more British than celebrating with a traditional tea party in the garden? In planning my vintage version tea party, to mark the occasion with authenticity, my first port of call was my favourite London tea room to speak with Marianna Hadjigeorgiou, owner of Orange Pekoe in Barnes to discover the best VE Day blend and tips for brewing the best cup of tea.
Orange Pekoe in Barnes, Camilla's favourite tearoom is serving take away for the duration of the pandemic. @shedreamsofgucci enjoying her favourite blend in our Liberty print silk Mathilda maxi dress.
Marianna chose Orange Pekoe’s ultimate Afternoon Blend, which she originally created to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. It combines a rich malty Assam with a flowery Darjeeling and a large leaf Tanzanian tea. This infusion is light, sophisticated and perfect with or without milk. Some enjoy with lemon and it’s a perfect tea with scones and cake. To brew the perfect cup, Marianna offered the following tips:
- Use freshly drawn water for your kettle, leave the leaves to infuse for 4-5 mins depending on how strong you like your tea.
- Remove tea leaves to prevent over brewing, which is why we use the tea filters. We never suggested leaving leaves in the pot.
- Brew tea with water at 90C.
And for the finale...
Tom Kitchen's Rhubarb Jelly
3 gelatine leaves- soaked until soft
6 large egg whites
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
250g caster sugar
slices of orange
sprig of mint
For the rhubarb consommé
Place the rhubarb and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan and slowly heat until all the juice is released. Pass through a sieve and allow to cool slightly, saving small pieces of rhubarb for a garnish. Add the gelatine and pour into six small individual moulds to set.
For the meringues and garnish:
Heat the oven to 100C/Gas Mark ¼. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Using an electric mixer or electric hand whisk, beat the egg whites with the wine vinegar until they begin to froth and increase in volume.
Now whisk in two-thirds of the sugar, a little at a time. When stiff peaks form, add the remaining sugar and sift in the cornflour. Fold in, using a large metal spoon, until just incorporated. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and start to pipe small kisses on the baking sheet. Place these into the oven and let the meringue kisses dry out for 35-45 minutes. Turn off the oven but leave them in there with the door open to cool completely.