Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Cream Tea - an explanation

10 June 2009

This post is specially for WhiteStone! :o)

A Cream Tea, Devonshire Cream Tea or Cornish Cream Tea is tea [naturally], taken with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. Scrumptious!

Cream teas are offered for sale in tea rooms throughout England (particularly the South West) and rest of the Commonwealth, or wherever someone wants to give an impression of British influence. In the United States it is apparently promoted as a typically English afternoon snack. [Which, by the way, it certainly isn't!]

Clotted cream is a thick yellow cream made by heating unpasteurized cow's milk and then leaving it in shallow pans for several hours. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and forms 'clots'. True Cornish clotted cream must be made from unpasteurized milk or the clots will not form. It has a minimum fat content of 55%. [see? That’s why it’s not a typical afternoon would survive unless they ploughed fields by hand all day!]

Clotted cream is served as part of the cream tea (known as a Devonshire Cream Tea in Devon) on warm scones with strawberry or raspberry jam. In Devon, the cream is traditionally used instead of butter, with the jam spread on top of the cream as in the photo below; in Cornwall the jam is spread first because the runny substrate of Cornish clotted cream would make the Devonian method of service impossible to achieve without looking messy. [Cornish clotted cream is the BEST!]

Scones with clotted cream and jam...

A good, strong cup of tea is recommended to help wash it all down. Ideally, this would be a strong Assam blend, without sugar. Milk is optional. The teapot is essential for a good cup of tea and the tea itself tastes better drunk from a China cup.

The ideal time of day for a Cream Tea is 16.00. Originally, after a hard day's work in the fields you'd be very hungry and thirsty. The farmer's wife wouldn't have the time to prepare and cook meals because they worked on the farm too. So a couple of scones would do the trick for tea!

Marvellous invention...

By the way, the pronunciation of the word 'scone' varies across the United Kingdom. According to one academic study, nearly two thirds of the British population and 99% of the Scottish population pronounce it as /skɒn/, to rhyme with "con" and "John." The rest pronounce it /skəʊn/, to rhyme with "cone" and "Joan." British dictionaries usually show the "con" form as the preferred pronunciation, while recognizing that the "cone" form also exists.

I pronounce it as the latter, my husband pronounces it as the former. But really, as long as they taste good and there's plenty of clotted cream and jam on them - who cares?

This picture is borrowed from Docton Mill Tea Room in Devon;


  1. Oh my stars - that looks AMAZING! I must say, I am a fan of the Devonshire cream! Yum!

    Thanks for popping by my place - I appreciate it a lot.
    Love the look and feel of your blog - I look forward to following you along!

  2. What a fun read! Thanks for the explanation of the cream tea! Makes me wish I has some unpasteurized milk so I could make the clotted cream. The ladies must have very much enjoyed themselves at the tea.
    Blessings to ya!

  3. gosh that was quick! yay, hello, and thanks :o)

  4. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Gorgeous.. We have to have a Cream Tea when i visit.. Clotted cream is to die for!

    One drooling lady typing here ;-)

  5. That's it. I want to come and visit and have tea! I actually was born in England - Havant Hants (lived in Scotland for 6 years) but my family emigrated to Canada when I was just a wee lass. But I do remember the scones and cream. A delicious blog! Thanks for the memories. Yum. x


If you would like to comment on anything in this blog, or share your own thoughts, feel free, I would love to hear from you.