How To: Cream Tea Etiquette


I want to get one thing straight. You’re probably thinking, “Woah, who’s this April and why does she think she’s an expert in cream tea etiquette?” I’ve had a lot of cream teas in my 20 years on this planet, that’s why. And I don’t think I’m an expert, I am an expert. Most of my family make cream teas the way I make them, and my brother makes them the other way, which is daft. Quite frankly I’m offended by jam on top. But anyway, this is an age long debate.

Ok so firstly, there are two types of cream teas in the UK. The Cornish put the jam on first (the CORRECT way), and people from Devon put the cream on first (where’s the sense in that?). Cream is lighter than jam, hence why it should go on top of the jam. The jam would squish the cream if it was put on top. Think about milkshakes or hot chocolate, you don’t put the cream in the mug or cup first do you? No, so apply the same logic to cream teas. It looks more appealing with cream on top. It’s science.

Here’s a quick guide to the perfect cream tea:

  1. Use 2 fruit scones, each. Two is the optimum number of scones, never one, and never three otherwise you’re being greedy. Plain is OK but if you want the perfect cream tea experience, use sultana scones, and make sure they’re quite crumbly too.
  2. You need to cut the scones in half. So you have 4 halves. Do not, I repeat do not sandwich the cream and jam between two halves, leave them open. Otherwise, there’s too much scone in the bite you are eating, and you’d make a huge mess. A scone sandwich is mad, everyone will look at you strangely. And you get half the cream and jam if you make a sandwich of it. You don’t want that.
  3. No butter before you spread the jam, I forbid you to use butter. Don’t do it.
  4. Jam on first, just smother it on all 4 halves, don’t be stingy, just go for it, equal amounts on all halves. The more jam the better. And use Strawberry jam, no-one wants raspberry or blackberry jam, or heaven forbid marmalade or gooseberry jam on your scones, just imagine that disaster. Use refrigerated strawberry jam.
  5. Get a clean knife. You don’t want jam in the pot of cream.
  6. Next, you smother cream on top of the jam. Use refrigerated clotted cream, NOT double cream or whipped cream… ew. That’s utterly improper, and you’ll probably be arrested. Don’t be stingy with the cream either, you need it to be able to stand it’s ground, use a thick and heavy cream.
  7. Whilst you are smothering all the jam and cream on your sultana scones, get someone to make you a perfectly brewed tea (that’s another story). Tea always tastes better when someone else makes it for some reason. So get yourself a tea slave. Don’t have coffee with your cream teas, otherwise, it would be called cream coffee. And that just does not have a ring to it. Allow the tea go brew for at least two minutes – enough time for the flavour to infuse. Tea first, milk second, so you can judge the strength. Grab yourself a cute little teapot big enough for at least 4 tea cups each. Yes, you may need to go to the loo, but you have to suffer through it.

And one more thing, scones is pronounced skONNEs not ScOHnes, just saying. Deal with it. So there you have the perfect cream tea, enjoy! No-one wants a below-standard scone, use my guide and you will forever be the best cream tea host or hostess, ready to dazzle your guests.

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4 thoughts on “How To: Cream Tea Etiquette

  1. I have to disagree with you about the tea… if it’s in a china cup I put a splash of milk in first; if it’s in a mug, milk follows tea. And I am so wanting a couple of clotted cream scones right now!

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