Tea has essentially become a British symbol. Story has it that the tradition of “tea time” was start in the mid 1800s. Back then, lunch was served at noon, but dinner was served around 8-9pm. One duchess, feeling hungry during the afternoon, ordered tea and a some slices of bread and butter and that was how afternoon tea was born.
Today, many people still observe afternoon tea and you’ll find that tearooms, pastry shops, and hotels offer afternoon tea. Some are extravagant (like the Ritz where it’s 35 pounds per person) others moderate (Harrods for 20 pounds) and even cheap (Patisserie Valerie 5.95 pounds). Of course, the afternoon tea experience is correlated with the amount you pay, but experiencing it in some form or another is a must.
When I went to Essex, my hosts observed afternoon tea every day. At around 2-3pm, they’d make a cup of tea and serve it with a slice of lemon drizzle cake. You’ll find that tearooms serve scones with clotted cream, fingerling sandwiches, and of course, a pot of tea.
What is clotted cream?!?!
Clotted cream is what is sounds like- cream that clots your arteries. It’s made by heating unpasteurized cow’s milk and then letting it sit until it clots. Both Devon and Cornwall, located on the south-west coast of England, are known for their clotted cream. Supposedly “true” clotted cream must have 55% fat!! Just to give you a comparison, cream cheese is by definition 33-55% fat.
What is cream tea?
Cream tea is just afternoon tea without the sandwiches. It’s traditionally served with 2 scones, clotted cream, jam, and a pot of tea. This is the tea that’s most often found in smaller tearooms and they usually got for around 5.95 pounds for low end cream tea. Patisserie Valerie has cream tea for that price, but I’d recommend going somewhere else because their scones are crumbly and dry.
And no, you do not put the clotted cream in your tea. You tear off a piece of your scone, smear on the clotted cream, and then add the jam.