The Story of the ‘Cream Tea’

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Afternoon Tea; the Story of the ‘Cream Tea’

Where Does Afternoon tea Originate?

The marriage of King Charles II in 1662 to the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza brought the custom of tea drinking to court and made tea popular worldwide.

We have the Duchess of Bedford to thank for the invention of afternoon tea. She found an afternoon snack of tea, sandwiches and cakes to be a perfect refreshment between lunch and the evening meal, she soon began inviting her friends to join her. Afternoon tea quickly became an established in many middle and upper class households. By the middle of the 19thcentury afternoon tea was an everyday occurrence, the first hint of ‘cream teas’ as we know them today.

There is evidence that ‘cream tea’ existed in Devon in the 11thcentury with the tradition of eating bread with cream and jam. Following the tourism boom in the 1850s, visitors headed south looking to relax and indulge, and hotels, tearooms, farmhouses and cafés were happy to oblige – offering delicious afternoon cream teas, made with the finest local ingredients. The jam was invariably strawberry and the cream was always clotted.

The Cornwall Devon divide

The Devonshire method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream then add strawberry jam on top. The Cornish method is to spread with strawberry jam with a spoonful of clotted cream on the top.

Click here for your ‘cream tea’ etiquette tips from The Cream Tea Society.

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