Why is it called cream tea?
It’s a good question to ask why is it called Cream Tea, when referring to the British custom you might have heard about. A cream tea is a UK-based treat and luckily, it has nothing to do with pouring cream into your cup of tea. That’s a very bad idea and best avoided!
Instead a Cream Tea comprises scones, thick cream (usually Clotted Cream), jam and a cup of tea. It’s a cake-type treat enjoyed as a teatime (or elevenses) treat. Most cafes, tearooms and hotels offer this in the UK, particularly those on the coast. Stopping for a Cream Tea is a big tradition when on holiday.
Scones are somewhat like American ‘biscuits’ but maybe lighter and more risen. A taller scone is usually more admired than a flat, low ‘mean’ one! Often they have sultanas or raisins baked into them too and you can buy savoury cheese scones as well.
Clotted Cream is traditionally made in Cornwall and Devon (the south west of the UK) and it’s an extremely thick, fresh and spreadable cream made by an ancient process of scalding full fat milk and letting the fats rise. Very few countries stock the fresh version - and that’s what needs to be on your Bucket List. You must try real and fresh Cornish or Devonshire Clotted Cream before you die! The UHT version available in many countries, is NOT the same.
The Jam added to your scone half with the cream, is usually Strawberry but any preserve will be fine. However, marmalade is NOT offered in the UK with a Cream Tea. That’s for breakfast toast!
The final element is a good cup of tea, perhaps English Breakfast or Earl Grey.
It’s a delicious treat and must be tried. The highlight of it is considered to be the Clotted Cream though (and it’s very generously applied often!) and that’s why it’s called a Cream Tea!