Regular visitors to Taste Of The Place will know how much I love tea - afternoon tea, high tea, cream tea, just a cup of tea (which I happen to be enjoying right now). Taking the time for tea means slowing down for a moment, and enjoying life's simple luxuries.
Which is why this year for Mother's Day, I will be making a simple, but luxurious cream tea for my own mama. And I thought I would share with you just how to make it, in case you want to make one for your mama, too. <3
By the way, if you are unclear on what the difference is between afternoon tea, high tea, and cream tea, hop over to my post about fresh British scones, where I outline all the particulars. Cream tea is my personal favorite - perfectly brewed tea, homemade scones, fresh clotted cream, and jam - sublime!
By the way again, the recipes for British scones and clotted cream mentioned below come straight out of my new cookbook, "Taste Of The Place, authentic recipes from real kitchens around the globe". Learn more about the cookbook over at Tasteoftheplace.com/buythecookbook.
How to put together a cream tea
The beauty of cream tea is its simplicity!
Here's what you need: clotted cream, scones, jam, and of course, tea. That's it! Elegantly simple and luxuriously delicious!
Let's learn a little more, shall we...
The biggest challenge in creating a cream tea, in my opinion, is the clotted cream. If you are in the US, clotted cream is difficult to come by. Making it, however, is quite simple - all that is required is high-quality heavy whipping cream, heat, and time.
Grab my recipe over at Tasteoftheplace.com/clottedcream.
Oh, and if you haven't tried clotted cream, I think it's safe to say that it's one of the most delicious foods ever invented! It is creamy, thick, luxurious, kissed with a hint of natural sweetness, and fresh with a slightly nutty flavor. It's what you might imagine to be the perfect, beautiful child of freshly whipped cream and grass-fed butter. Yes, it's that good!
Now then, having said all that, I can understand if you don't want to take the time to make clotted cream, or if you can't get your hands on the good quality heavy whipping cream required to make it. If this is the case, then yes, you can substitute with freshly whipped cream or softened mascarpone (just don't tell anyone I said so! 😉 ). It won't be quite the same experience, but it will be delicious.
Cream tea is primarily a British tradition, so I say stick with British style scones. Unlike their triangular, dense, sugar-bomb US counterparts, British scones are delicately sweet rounds with a pleasant texture not unlike a southern biscuit. They are quick and easy to make, but should not be made ahead of time as they lose their freshness within a day.
My favorite British scone recipe comes straight out of my Taste Of The Place cookbook but also happens to be here on the blog at Tasteoftheplace.com/britishscones.
Strawberry jam is the traditional choice for cream tea, but any red or dark berry jam will be lovely. My favorite brand is Bonne Maman from France. It contains no weird ingredients and tastes absolutely delicious.
Last, but certainly not least, the tea
Whether you are making a cream tea for Mother's Day, a birthday celebration, or because it is Tuesday afternoon, choosing a tasty tea that you love is important.
As a special Mother's Day feature, I want to share with you a lovely tea company I recently discovered out of Portland, Oregon. Not only do they have tasty teas, but they have a heart-warming story. The company is Plum Deluxe. (Full disclosure: Plum Deluxe sent me samples of their product to review, but everything that I am writing here is my honest opinion. I liked their product and story enough to sign on as an affiliate. I also liked their product enough that I will be serving it during our Mother's Day festivities.)
The Plum Deluxe company is founded on the principle of "making moments matter." The founder started the company as a tribute to his mother who lost a brave 6-year battle with breast cancer but never forgot to enjoy the little things in life.
From start to finish, Plum Deluxe is committed to quality, only using consciously grown and selected teas and hand-blending in small batches to achieve delicately balanced fresh flavors.
Now mind you, I am generally an unflavored black tea drinker (Assam is my current favorite), while Plum Deluxe specializes in flavored teas. So to be honest, I wasn't sure I would like their products. But I was pleasantly surprised! Because they thoughtfully use high-quality, natural ingredients, the flavors aren't fakey, cloying, or overpowering. In fact, they are quite tasty, well-balanced, and delicately flavored. I found them to be a great option for when I want something a little different than my regular, plain-old cup of Assam black.
I was especially enamored with their Vanilla Rose Dark Tea Hearts. These are an aged and fermented tea similar to Pu'erh and are shaped into the most adorable little hearts. How could you not love them?! As the name suggests, they brew a strong cup of dark tea with pleasant hints of rose and vanilla.
Look how cute they are! Wouldn't they be perfect for Mother's Day or Valentine's Day or your birthday or...
I am going to go out on a limb and suggest you give Plum Deluxe a try. They really are a heartfelt, thoughtful company with quality products that you can feel good about supporting. You can buy loose leaf teas at their online shop, or if you like being adventurous in your tea drinking, they have a premium loose leaf tea of the month club where you will get a new selection of teas to try with every shipment.
Learn more about their teas and the story behind the company at Plum Deluxe.
How to brew the perfect cup of tea
I think we ought to discuss how to properly brew a cup of tea. Here is my big, controversial tea statement - I don't think there is one proper way to brew a cup of tea. 😮 I can hear the gasps coming from formal tea shops everywhere!
There are, of course, guidelines to get you started, but each person's taste is so different that, in my opinion, the way each person brews their tea should be different. I, for example, like my tea dark, bitter, and "overly" strong. My mom likes her's with just the tiniest whiff of flavor.
So then, the general guidelines that you can adhere to or disregard as you like -
Measure your tea
If you are using tea bags, use 1 bag per cup. (A quick note on bagged tea - many brands are filled with nothing more than low-quality tea dust - not worth your time or effort. However, there are some exceptional brands out there using high-quality tea leaves that will brew at or near the same quality as loose leaf tea. A couple of my favorites are Smith Teamaker from Oregon and Murchie's Tea from Canada)
If you are using loose leaf tea, aim for about 1 teaspoon of leaves per 8-ounce cup. Add the leaves to a diffuser with room enough for the leaves to move around and unfurl when steeped, or simply add them to your cup or pot without a diffuser and strain before drinking.
Add hot water
Choosing the proper water temperature for tea can get exceptionally complicated and scientific. I say keep it simple - use boiling water for black teas and herbal blends. For green and white teas, bring the water to a boil, then let it cool for 3 or 4 minutes before adding to the tea.
Black teas need about 4 minutes; white and green teas are a little faster, requiring about 2 to 3 minutes; and herbal blends (these are technically called tisanes rather than teas, as they don't contain any actual tea leaves) need a bit longer - 5 minutes plus.
Your tea is perfectly brewed - now enjoy it as is, or with cream, or sugar, or lemon, or with whatever else you feel like, or don't feel like, adding to it.
So there you have it! The fixings for making a luxurious cream tea for Mother's Day, or really, any day, for that matter!