Regular visitors to Taste Of The Place may already be aware of my love for tea. Whether it’s an afternoon tea, high tea, cream tea, or just a simple cup of tea, I enjoy taking a moment to slow down and appreciate life’s simple pleasures. Today, let’s delve into the tasty details of traditional British-style cream tea.
Cream tea is simply tea served with scones, jam, and clotted cream. It is a quintessentially British tradition and is a delightful and indulgent treat that is perfect for any occasion.
Cream tea vs high tea vs afternoon tea
Before we explore cream tea further, you may be asking yourself, “What’s the difference between cream tea, afternoon tea, and high tea?” Excellent question! Cream tea, high tea, and afternoon tea are all quintessentially British traditions, but they each have their own unique characteristics and customs. Understanding the differences between these tea experiences can help you choose the one that suits your preferences and occasion.
Let’s start with cream tea. As mentioned above, cream tea is a simple and delightful affair that typically consists of freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and jam. It is a light yet indulgent treat that is often enjoyed in the afternoon. The focus of cream tea is on the scones and the accompaniments, with the tea playing a supporting role. It is perfect for those who prefer a more relaxed and casual tea experience.
On the other hand, high tea is a more substantial meal that is typically served in the early evening. High tea originated as a working-class meal and was meant to be a hearty and satisfying option after a long day of work. It usually includes a variety of savory dishes like sandwiches, quiches, and pastries, along with tea. High tea is a great option if you’re looking for a more substantial and filling tea experience.
Lastly, we have afternoon tea, which is perhaps the most well-known and formal of the three. Afternoon tea is typically served in the afternoon and consists of a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of pastries and cakes. It is accompanied by a pot of tea and is often served in elegant tea rooms or hotels. Afternoon tea is a sophisticated and indulgent experience, perfect for special occasions or celebrations.
When is tea time in England?
The beauty of tea time in England is that it can be enjoyed at any time! However, when it comes to the more formal styles of tea, such as afternoon tea and high tea, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.
Afternoon tea is typically served in the middle of the afternoon, around 3 or 4:00. This is the perfect time to indulge in a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of pastries and cakes. It’s a delightful way to take a break from the day and enjoy a leisurely tea experience.
On the other hand, high tea is often served a bit later in the day. Historically, high tea was enjoyed as an after-work meal in the early evening, around 5:00 or so. It was meant to be a more substantial and filling option, with savory dishes like sandwiches, quiches, and pastries accompanying the tea. High tea is a great choice if you’re looking for a satisfying meal with your tea.
Now, if you’re in the mood for a quick pick-me-up, cream tea is the way to go. Cream tea is more of a snack tea, consisting of a freshly baked scone, a dollop of clotted cream, a spoonful of jam, and a pot of tea. It can be enjoyed whenever you’re in the mood for a little treat and a cup of tea.
So, whether it’s afternoon tea, high tea, or cream tea, there’s a perfect time for every tea experience in England.
The components of a British-style cream tea
With just a few key ingredients, you can create a memorable experience for yourself and your guests. The star of the show is clotted cream, a rich and velvety delight that adds a luxurious touch to the tea. Made from high-quality heavy whipping cream, clotted cream is a labor of love that requires time and patience to achieve its perfect consistency.
Next, we have the homemade British-style scones, which are the perfect accompaniment to the clotted cream. These scones are light, fluffy, and slightly sweet, providing a delicious base for the clotted cream and jam. Speaking of jam, it’s essential to have a jar of your favorite fruity preserve to add a burst of flavor to each bite. Whether you prefer classic strawberry or less traditional flavors like raspberry or blackcurrant, the choice is yours.
And finally, the tea. No cream tea is complete without a steaming cup of perfectly brewed tea. Whether you opt for traditional black tea or experiment with herbal or fruit infusions, the choice is yours. Remember to brew it just right, allowing the flavors to develop and the aroma to fill the room.
1. Clotted cream
The star of the show when it comes to a British-style cream tea is undoubtedly the clotted cream. This rich and velvety delight adds a luxurious touch to the tea and elevates the entire experience. While it may be difficult to find clotted cream in the US, making it at home is surprisingly simple.
To create clotted cream, all you need is high-quality heavy whipping cream, heat, and time. The process involves slowly heating the cream until a thick layer of cream forms on the surface. This layer is then carefully skimmed off and chilled, resulting in the luscious clotted cream we know and love.
Now, let me tell you, clotted cream is truly a taste sensation. It is creamy, thick, and luxurious, with a hint of natural sweetness and a slightly nutty flavor. It’s like the perfect combination of freshly whipped cream and grass-fed butter. Trust me when I say, it’s absolutely delicious!
However, if you’re short on time or can’t find the high-quality heavy whipping cream needed to make clotted cream, there are alternatives. You can substitute with freshly whipped cream or softened mascarpone. While it won’t be exactly the same experience, it will still be delicious and complement the scones and jam perfectly.
So, whether you choose to make your own clotted cream or opt for a substitute, don’t skip this essential component of a British-style cream tea. The rich and indulgent flavor of clotted cream is what sets this tea apart and makes it a truly memorable treat.
2. Homemade British-style scones
British-style scones are an essential component of a traditional cream tea. Unlike their American counterparts, British scones are delicately sweet rounds with a pleasant texture similar to a Southern biscuit. They are quick and easy to make, but it’s important to note that they should not be made ahead of time as they tend to lose their freshness within a day.
Now that you have your freshly baked British-style scones, it’s time to enjoy them with clotted cream and jam. The combination of the light and fluffy scones with the rich and creamy clotted cream is simply divine. Spread a generous dollop of clotted cream on a warm scone, followed by a spoonful of your favorite jam. Take a bite and savor the perfect balance of flavors and textures.
Jam is an essential component of a British-style cream tea, adding a burst of fruity sweetness to complement the rich and creamy clotted cream. While strawberry jam is the traditional choice, any red or dark berry jam will be a delightful accompaniment to your scones.
One of my personal favorites is Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves from France. This brand is known for its high-quality ingredients and delicious taste. What sets it apart is the absence of any weird or artificial ingredients, allowing the natural flavors of the strawberries to shine through. Spread a generous spoonful of this delectable jam on a warm scone, and you’ll experience a burst of fruity goodness with every bite.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try other flavors of jam to add variety to your cream tea. Raspberry, blackberry, or even a tangy marmalade can provide a different twist to the classic combination. Experiment with different flavors and find your own personal favorite.
Remember, the key to a perfect cream tea is to use high-quality jam that complements the scones and clotted cream. Whether you stick with the traditional strawberry or venture into new flavors, the jam will add a delightful touch to your British-style cream tea experience.
4. Last, but certainly not least, the tea
When it comes to putting together a British-style cream tea, the tea itself is an essential component that should not be overlooked. Whether you are hosting a special occasion or simply enjoying a quiet afternoon, choosing a tasty tea that you love is important. And I have just the tea company to recommend – Plum Deluxe.
Plum Deluxe is a tea company based in Portland, Oregon, that not only offers delicious teas but also has a heartwarming story behind it. The company was founded on the principle of “making moments matter” and pays tribute to the founder’s mother, who bravely battled breast cancer for six years but never forgot to enjoy the little things in life.
What sets Plum Deluxe apart is its commitment to quality. They use consciously grown and selected teas and hand-blend them in small batches to achieve delicately balanced fresh flavors. While I am typically an unflavored black tea drinker, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors offered by Plum Deluxe. Their teas are thoughtfully crafted with high-quality, natural ingredients, resulting in flavors that are not fakey, cloying, or overpowering. Instead, they are well-balanced, delicately flavored, and quite tasty.
One of my personal favorites from Plum Deluxe is their Vanilla Rose Dark Tea Hearts. These tea hearts are aged and fermented, similar to Pu’erh tea, and are shaped into adorable little hearts. Not only are they visually appealing, but they also brew a strong cup of dark tea with pleasant hints of rose and vanilla. It’s a delightful and unique option for those looking to try something different from their regular cup of tea.
If you’re intrigued by Plum Deluxe, I encourage you to give them a try. They are a heartfelt and thoughtful company with quality products that you can feel good about supporting. You can purchase their loose-leaf teas from their online shop, or if you enjoy exploring new teas, they offer a premium loose-leaf tea of the month club. With each shipment, you’ll receive a new selection of teas to try, adding excitement and variety to your tea-drinking experience.
So, when putting together your British-style cream tea, don’t forget to choose a tea that you love. Plum Deluxe offers a range of delicious and thoughtfully crafted teas that will complement your scones, clotted cream, and jam perfectly. It’s the final touch that will make your cream tea experience truly memorable.
How to brew the perfect cup of tea
To brew the perfect cup of tea, there are some general guidelines that you can follow, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Each person’s taste is different, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for you. Here are some tips to get you started:
First, measure your tea. If you’re using tea bags, use one bag per 8-ounce cup. However, it’s important to note that not all tea bags are created equal. Some brands use low-quality tea dust, which won’t give you the best flavor. Look for brands like Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders or Murchie’s Tea from Canada, which use high-quality tea leaves in their bags. If you’re using loose-leaf tea, aim for about 1 teaspoon, or 2 to 3 grams, of leaves per 8-ounce cup. Use a tea strainer or add the leaves directly to your cup or pot and strain before drinking.
Next, add hot water. For black teas and herbal blends, use boiling water. For green and white teas, bring the water to a boil and then let it cool for 3 or 4 minutes before adding it to the tea. The water temperature is important because it can affect the flavor of the tea.
Now it’s time to steep the tea. Black teas generally need about 4 minutes of steeping time, while white and green teas require a little less time, around 2 to 3 minutes. Herbal blends, which don’t contain actual tea leaves, need a bit longer, around 5 minutes or more. Steeping time can vary depending on personal preference, so feel free to adjust it to suit your taste.
Once your tea is steeped, it’s ready to be enjoyed. You can drink it as is, or add cream, sugar, lemon, or any other flavorings you like. The choice is yours. Remember, brewing the perfect cup of tea is all about finding what you enjoy the most.
Brewing a cup of tea is a personal experience, and there is no one-size-fits-all method. Experiment with different measurements, water temperatures, and steeping times to find the perfect cup of tea that suits your taste.
So there you have it! The fixings for making a luxurious cream tea! Now that you have all the elements, it’s time to bring them together and enjoy a delightful British-style cream tea experience. Take a moment to savor the flavors, the warmth of the tea, and the delightful textures of the scones, clotted cream, and jam. This is a time to relax, connect, and enjoy!
The recipes for British scones and clotted cream mentioned in this post come straight out of my cookbook, “Taste Of The Place, authentic recipes from real kitchens around the globe”. Learn more about the cookbook over at Tasteoftheplace.com/buythecookbook.