MJM Watch


May 26, 2000










Make time for tea

“It’s a way of relaxing. It stops your

mind from racing; making the tea, preparing it.”

By Emily Kuhl

Manassas Journal Messenger


Break out your dainty china saucers, your pretty porceline

cups and don your most femine, large-brimmed hats. The tea lady is in town

and she’s here to tell residents how to authentically enjoy a spot of tea.

Judy Larkin, a Manchester, England native, has been running

her business as The Tea Lady for five years. Last Sunday, her knowledge

and talents were on display at a tea party hosted by Joanne Wunderly. Wunderly

is the owner of The Things I Love in Old Town Manassas, and she transformed

her shop into a regal setting for Larkin to make her presentation.

“As far as tea is concerned, it’s an opportunity to

take out your fancy things,” Wunderly said. “I’m just a fan of

beautiful things, dainty things, all of which relate to tea. It’s a lot

of fun.”

“There’s so much to do with tea that’s fun for collectors,”

Larkin added. “There’s tea cozies, tea trivets, teapots, teaspoons.

It’s wonderful for people who love antiques and collecting.”

Larkin didn’t grow up in a household where tea time was

a ritual. Her mother only drank coffee and often was too busy with her career

to habitually have afternoon tea parties. Larkin already knew many of the

nuances that go into making tea properly because of her British heritage.

She spent several years, though, researching the lesser-known aspects, such

as the history and myths concerning tea.

Tea afficionado Judy Larkin, a native of Manchester

England, may not have grown up in a household steeped in tea, but it is

in her blood. While volunteering in an orphanage in 1986, Larkin’s mother

had tea with Princess Diana. Larkin, who has lived in the states for almost

three decades, devotes her time to teaching British culture and tea drinking

to curios Americans. Photo by Amy Drewry.

When she moved to the United States 29 years ago, Larkin

realized many Americans had no better a handle on the ceremony than she

did as a child. This became an opportunity to show Americans how to have

tea the proper way.

“Because you’re English, everyone perceives you as

knowing a lot about tea and often people would ask me to different clubs

to speak … so I kind of got thrown into the situations,” she said.

Larkin also explained that although afternoon tea is a

staple ritual in England, it is just now becoming popular in the U.S. This

growing interest has helped spur her business, and Larkin’s list of customers

continues to expand.

Larkin’s presentations include a history of tea as a spice,

a history of the ceremony, how to properly prepare a cup of tea and tips

on etiquette as well as some myths about tea. She encourages her audience

to bring a cup and saucer of importance to them because, she explained,

the ceremony is a special time and should be complemented by using items

special to the preparer. In addition to lecturing about tea, Larkin provides

tidbits of information on British etiquette such as when to wear gloves

and why it’s important for women to wear hats. Incorporating authentic British

rules and regulations is one of the most popular parts of Larkin’s presentations.

“I wanted to find out about how the English do it,

about the proper way to do it,” explained Nancy Calabrese of Bristow,

who attended last Sunay’s tea party. “I thought it was delightful –

and especially nice to have a lady from England explaining all the do’s

and don’ts.”

Larkin said she also attributes her growing popularity

to the way in which making tea can affect the preparer.

“It’s a way of relaxing,” she said. “It

stops your mind from racing; making the tea, preparing it. In order to make

a good cup of tea, you have to go through the various steps. It’s not like

making a cup of instant coffee.

“But I also think it gives women permission to be

feminine again, which I think over the past 20 years has been buried in

the business world because everything was so dominated by men. It’s a side

I think women are beginning to regret they lost.”

Larkin stresses, however, that tea time is beneficial for

everyone, not just women. And it’s learning to make time for the ceremony

that’s often the most important part.

“We don’t take enough time for ourselves anymore,”

she said, “Afternoon tea is a time to get together with friends, enjoy

friends, enjoy yourself and just relax.”

To contact Judy Larkin about making tea presentations,

call (703) 791-6364.

Contact Emily Kuhl at [email protected]

hints for a perfect cup

Forget the cup of joe. Here’s some hints on making the

perfect cup of tea:

Boil water in a tea kettle, but transfer to a closed teapot

before pouring into a cup. Spoon tea into the teapot and add the boiling

water. Keep the teapot covered with a tea cozy. This helps contain the vapors

and lock in the flavor and aroma.

Never use cream; it’s too heavy and takes away from the

flavor. Only use milk.

Keep your tea stored in a tightly closed container called

a tea caddy. This should be kept somewhere dark; light destroys tea.

Never use the microwave to make a cup of tea. It deoxydates

the water, which affects the flavor and aroma.

Never leave tea bags in a pot or cup. Remove them before


By Judy Larkin



Afternoon tea – served in Great Britain between 2:45 and

4 p.m. This does not substitute a meal; only light refreshments are served.

High tea – refers to the tea British working class had

with their supper. This is much more casual then afternoon tea and is served

with heavier dishes.

Only water has a higher world-wide consumption than tea.

Twenty billion cups of tea are consumed world-wide each


A myth says that a tea leaf floating in your cup means

that a stranger will come into your life.

Hot tea, when made properly, is very refreshing and can

actually cool you down on a hot day.

By Judy Larkin


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