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The history of the Cream Tea

The history of the Cream Tea

Published: 28 June 2018

As it's National Cream Tea day on Friday 30th June, we thought we would have a quick delve into the history books to discover the origins of the Devon Cream Tea tradition.

Sourced from: The Cream Tea Story...

"Britain’s love affair with tea began when Portuguese Catherine de Braganza married Charles II in 1662, bringing the custom of drinking tea at court with her and making tea popular worldwide.

In 1706, Thomas Twining opened London’s first tearoom. Before long, a flurry of tearooms appeared across the city, a far sight more inviting for a lady than the male-oriented coffee houses."

Tiring of the long wait between lunch and dinner, we have the Duchess of Bedford to thank for the invention of afternoon tea. What started out as simply ordering tea and treats to her room when peckish soon evolved into a gowns-and-all social affair, inviting friends to join her in her country house.  

By the middle of the 19th century, afternoon tea was an every day occurrence; a spread of sandwiches, cakes, scones, cream and jam – the first hint of cream teas as we know them today.

The cream tea tradition flourished in the Westcountry following the tourism boom in the 1850s, brought on by the opening of the railway. Visitors bustled south looking to relax and indulge, and hotels, tearooms, farmhouses and cafés were happy to oblige – offering delicious afternoon cream teas, made with the finest local ingredients.  The jam was invariably strawberry. And the cream was always clotted."

Controversially, it is 'believed' that the Cream tea may have its origins in nearby Tavistock in the 11th fact the Tavistock Benedictine Monks are credited with this treat.


We rather like Cornish Clotted Cream producer, Rodda's take on the perfect cream tea...whereby the perfect scone should be 4-7cm in diameter, with a ratio of one part cream, one part jam and two parts scone - now where is my measuring tape!

Ever fancied making your own clotted cream? Now we haven't yet tried this out, but Nigella has a recipe here.

Whatever its origins, be sure to try one when you are in the county!

Some of our fabulous West Country producers can even send cream-by-post, what a great gift!

Langage Farm

Trewithen Dairy



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