What is Cream Tea?

A ‘cream tea’ is a form of ‘afternoon tea’, where tea is served alongside an assortment of scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam.

It is also commonly referred to as a ”Devon cream tea’, or a ‘Devonshire tea’ due to the term originating from the Devon and Cornwall regions of England.

History of Cream Tea

While the evidence is a bit murky and the origin of the term ‘cream tea’ is somewhat disputed, the BBC states that local historians from Tavistock believe the term was invented in the 11th century by the monks of Tavistock’s Benedictine Abbey.

Variations of Cream Tea

There are several regional variations of cream tea, but we will cover the the most common ones.

The Devonshire Method

The Devonshire method involves splitting the scone in half, covering each half with clotted cream, and then adding fruit jam on top. This method is used in regions surrounding Devonshire.

The Devonshire Method
The Devonshire Method

The Cornish Method

The Cornish method involves splitting the scone in half, spreading it with fruit jam, and then placing a spoonful of clotted cream on top. If you go to London, you will probably see this method being used.

The Cornish Method
The Cornish Method

Cream Tea Etiquette

Regardless of which method you use, there are some additional formalities of cream tea etiquette.

  • The scones are typically served fresh, without butter.
  • Clotted cream is preferred over whipped cream.
  • Strawberry jam is preferred over other varieties.
  • The tea is typically served without milk.

Main Image by M. Maggs from Pixabay.

Travis Joynson

Travis Joynson

Travis Joynson is the founder and chief editor of the Professional Tea Taster.

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