Afternoon tea is a long-standing English tradition going back to the 17th century, and was a way to bridge the long gap between luncheon and the evening meal, which was served elegantly late. Cream teas became popular in the mid-19th century, when tourism in Cornwall began to flourish. Hotels, guest houses, and bed and breakfasts offered cream teas to tourists, which featured local Cornish scones, clotted cream and jam, along with pots and pots of tea.
|Afternoon tea at the Ritz, London.|
|The Randolph Hotel is our favourite |
place in Oxford to enjoy an afternoon tea.
My favourite places in London to have afternoon tea are Brown's Hotel, followed by the Savoy, and a trip to London isn't complete without afternoon tea at one of these lovely hotels.
But back to cream teas, the quieter cousin of the elegant afternoon tea. A cream tea is simpler and centres around a big pot of tea and scones -- fresh, crumbling, hearty yet delicate scones. The cream comes from the clotted cream served with the scones. There are two schools of thought in eating scones--and they're Cornwall and Devon. The Cornish way is to put the jam on first, followed by a big dollop of clotted cream. The Devon way is clotted cream first, then jam. Stuart's Cornwall and I'm Devon--I think mostly because I like more jam than cream and Stuart can't get enough clotted cream on his scones. Either way, we always ask for extra jam and cream--and we load our scones with reckless abandon.
*No hats--hats are worn at weddings in Britain, not teatime.
*No raised pinky finger; the proper way to hold a teacup is between your thumb and forefinger.
*Relax! Settle in to your chair, take your time. That is what teatime in the afternoon is about. Stop and breath, smile and eat.
*Use loose leaf tea whenever possible--one teaspoon per person/cup, and one for the pot.
*Only clotted cream, no whipped cream; clotted cream has the consistency of soft butter, but the taste of whipped cream, it's the perfect thing to crown a scone with.
*No knives for cutting the scones; scones should be split by hand to preserve the delicate crumb.
*No talking about calories or cholesterol; "Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty." ~James Pratt ; it's a time to only savour and enjoy.
So on National Cream Tea Day, even if you don't have access to clotted cream and have never baked a scone before, no worries. You can still stop for tea. Find the most comfortable chair in your house, brew yourself a pot of tea and set a beautiful plate next to it of something sweet and delectable--and then sit back and enjoy. Take the time, do nothing else. Sip your tea and eat something sweet--slowly and relaxed, remembering to breathe, remembering to smile--then I promise you will find the gift of afternoon tea and why it's something to be celebrated.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be here and I always enjoy comments, reading what brings joy to your life.