Cream Tea Traditions

Cream tea – a quintessentially English tradition that is now enjoyed the length and breadth of the UK.

What is Cream Tea?

A three tiered cake stand set for afternoon tea in front of a roaring log fire at the Goring Hotel, Victoria, London.

[Pictured –  The Goring Afternoon Tea, London>]

Cream Tea is a delicious mid afternoon treat that staves the hunger pangs between lunch and dinner. A form of afternoon tea or high tea, it traditionally consists of soft, freshly baked scones (plain or fruit) topped with a fruit preserve and lashings of clotted cream.  Strawberry and raspberry tend to be the most popular confits served but we can’t resist a tangy apricot.

Your cream tea is washed down with a cup of your favourite tea – ideally loose leaf tea which has been allowed to brew for a minimum of 3 minutes. Those enjoying cream tea in fine tea parlours sprinkled across the country may very well find themselves presented with a lengthy menu of teas from Earl Grey, Assam, Ceylon,  Ginger, Peppermint or Camomile to name but a few.

What is the History of Cream Tea / Afternoon Tea?


drawing-room-oulton-hall-hotel-leeds-5According to legend (we’ll settle for Wikipedia), the tradition, albeit not as stylish as today, has been around since the 11th century when it was first served at Tavistock Abbey in Devon but instead of scones, it was a more simple bread, cream and jam.

[Pictured: Afternoon tea at Oulton Hall, Leeds>].

Afternoon tea as we now know it was introduced in 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford. Her family tradition was to have their evening meal fashionably late at 8pm. To prevent her tum from rumbling between lunch and dinner she asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be served in her room during the late afternoon when she would invite friends to join her.

Cornish Cream Tea or Devonshire Cream Tea?

Devonshire cream tea - scone with jam and a layer of clotted cream on top
Cupcakes at dawn – a battle has raged for years between these two Southern England counties as to which is the best way to eat a cream tea. In Devon the preference is to smother the scone with clotted cream and then add the jam on top. Those in Cornwall serve their afternoon tea with jam first and fresh clotted cream on top.

Both sides would agree, however, that it should never, ever be served with whipped cream.

A Picture Perfect Table Setting

A stunning collection of bone china from Wedgwood

[Pictured: Beautiful bone china from Wedgwood>]

Delicate and beautiful fine bone china in colourful patterns, dainty polka dots or plain but elegant lines create the perfect ambience for a delightful cream tea party. Three tiered cake stands laden with bite size sandwiches, scones and sweet treats and pretty tea pots, sugar bowls and cream jugs  will create a feast for the eyes.

Find your Ideal Venue for the Ultimate Tea

An exquisite view of the Palm Court set for afternoon tea at the Ritz, London.
[Pictured: A traditional English afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel]

We have over 200 mouthwatering venues serving afternoon tea across the UK. Take your time and have a gentle stroll through our pages. We hope you find your perfect venue for cream  tea. (Top Tip: Be sure to click the Book Now button when looking at individual venues. Here you will find all the available cream tea offers for that particular venue).

Top 10 Teas to Boost your Body

Why not have a read of our article on the Top 10 Teas to Boost your Body to put a spring in your step and a smile on your face.

Girls Afternoon Tea: Whether it’s served in a top tea salon or the comfort of your own home, a cream tea is the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up.