British Fare / Food / History

British Fare: Cream Tea

Many people are familiar with the age old tradition of taking afternoon tea.  Many places in London offer quite an experience. Depending on where you decide to take afternoon tea it is a must to get dolled up.  I will probably give it a go some day but it isn’t high on my list of things to do/experiences to have here.

However, let me introduce you to cream tea, afternoon tea’s informal more relaxed sister.  Cream tea is not fussy.  A pot of tea, with scones accompanied with jam and clotted cream = bliss.

Fresh baked scones is a must.  These arrived fresh, warm and moist.

Jam (raspberry and blueberry if I remember correctly) and clotted cream


Afternoon tea, as the link provided states, was introduced in England by Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford in 1840.  As dinner was served at 8:00 pm it left a long time between lunch and dinner.  She started requesting a pot of tea and light snack be brought to her room in the late afternoon.  This became a habit of hers and eventually she started inviting friends to join her.  This continued when she returned to London.

Then as always it became the thing to do in high society.  The pause for tea became a fashionable social event.  One where long gowns and hats would make an appearance.

Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches (including thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), scones served with clotted cream and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served. Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups.

Picture source

The Devonshire Cream Tea or Cornish Cream Tea consists of scones, strawberry jam and the vital ingredient, Devon clotted cream, as well as cups of hot sweet tea served in china teacups. Many of the other counties in England’s west country also claim the best cream teas: Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset.

If you are visiting I say skip the afternoon tea and go for a cream tea instead.  Indulge and enjoy an old tradition on the cheap.  D and I had this cream tea in Canterbury for £4.75 pp.  Most afternoon teas start somewhere around £15 pp.


16 thoughts on “British Fare: Cream Tea

  1. Yummy! I’m a big fan of cream tea I must admit. I wasn’t really interested in afternoon tea either but I did really enjoy it when I finally went and the place we went wasn’t too pretentious. Perhaps we can all go one day!

    • Where did you go? There are too many places to consider. I’d definitely be up for it an expat outing! We need one soon but summer is busy for us all. Maybe end of the month or beginning of July before Olympic madness?

    • Very yummy but I always forget about it. Then I remembered that we were going to have one on our day trip to Turnbridge so when I saw it in Canterbury I had to have one.

    • Welcome! I just joined that network recently so good to know it is already encouraging people towards the blog. My bf is also an addict, he isn’t trying to stop.

  2. Pingback: A Visitor’s Guide to Guernsey | Wanderlust

  3. You’ve really got to come down to Cornwall for cream tea. Only don’t call it Devon clotted cream or you’ll start a small war. Down here, it’s strictly Cornish clotted cream. There’s even a war with Devon over whether the cream or the jam goes on first, only I can never remember which county takes which side of the battle.

    If you make your own scones, look for a recipe that doesn’t have egg in it. That’s a whole ‘nother war: egg or no egg.

    • My partner is Cornish so I’ve been warned! I’ve also been to Cornwall too and I love it and want to return soon. I hate eggs so a recipe for scones that doesn’t have any would be right up my alley.

      • Scones–makes 5 to 6

        1 1/2 cups flour
        1/2 oz butter
        1 Tbsp. sugar
        1/2 tsp. baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
        1 tsp. cream of tartar
        1/2 tsp. salt
        just enough milk (or buttermilk) to bring the dough together

        Sift the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter. Stir in the milk, a little at a time, till the dough comes together. Roll out roughly 3/4″ thick and cut into rounds.

        Bake for 12 – 15 minutes at 220 degrees centigrade, or 200 in a fan oven.

        Sorry–except for the oven temperature, which I can translate, it’s all in imperial measures. The last time I tried translating a baked somethingorother into metric, I had a complete disaster. I’ve learned to leave well enough alone. I’m grateful we all measure time the same way.

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