There is no cream in a tea in “cream tea”! My adventure with famous English desert

It took me ages to understand the idea behind famous English dessert. And I mean – ages! The name is perfectly misleading, wouldn’t you agree? First thing which comes to mind is actually a cup of tea with cream – simple, awful and definitely not for me. But there is a catch! A catch with English use of word tea.


Cream tea could be hidden under Devonshire tea, Devon cream tea or Cornish cream tea, but regardless the nomenclature we are talking about delicious desert, which will make you regret your stomach is not a size of a blue whale (which is so big that ten elephants could easily fit in), so you can keep eating.

My mum and sister enjoying cream tea in New Forest

I was not aware that the word tea has quite different meaning in England, and can be easily translate as an afternoon meal. And cream tea is supposed to be a light (good Lord!), refreshing meal, served in the afternoon. But to be completely honest – if you are lucky enough to try real cream tea (my advice – go and seek proper tea room, never, please, never go for a cream tea to one of the chain restaurants, as I can give you a guarantee you will not be served a proper one!) you will end up wondering how on Earth am I feeling completely stuffed after eating this lovely, light and quite small meal?

Henley-on -Thames tea room – cream tea for three 🙂

The devil is of course in details. So, first things first – you can chose tea or coffee. I often chose coffee, but tea is not a silly idea after all. Especially if you could try fruit or even mint tea!

Coffee latte
Americano with milk

Then you have scones. And they can be small or a big – it all depends on the way the owner of a tea room chooses to make them.

Cream tea at Tiffany in Petworth – big scone!
Smaller scones in Henley-on -Thames tea room – very delicate and tender

And then you have the icing on a cake – clotted cream. A lot of clotted cream. Normally you would not put such a generous amount of butter on your bread, but this is cream tea after all! When I think about the thickness of the layer of clotted cream on a scone, sometimes I think that the secret lies in trying to even the thickens of the scone with the thickness of clotted cream. And judging by the amount you are presented with – this could be true!

I ate almost all before catching up this portion of clotted cream on my camera!

Last element is the jam. If you are lucky – and this all depends on a tea room you are choosing – the best once are in a small villages, hidden away in a back street, with older owners – they do know what they are doing with their cream tea! – you can try home-made lovely, sweet and light strawberry or raspberry jam.

Hmm, there was more, definitely, just 3 minutes ago…

Cream tea is the queen of English deserts – there is no doubt about it, at least for me. If you want, you can even try to make your own, but be careful – there is so many recipes available that is really hard to guess which one would be the best. Perhaps, speak with the owner of proper tea room, the old lady, and she will be able to share some secrets with you? Or just test a few, so you can become a cream tea guru and amazed your friends and family when they come visit 🙂

My first attempted on making the scones – small, but nice 🙂


New Forest National Park



2 thoughts on “There is no cream in a tea in “cream tea”! My adventure with famous English desert”

  1. My generation largely abandoned tea shops. We wanted to look more cosmopolitan and drink espresso and cappucino, flat white and skinny latte; the idea of high tea in the middle of the afternoon went out of fashion, and never existed in the north where “tea” is the evening meal. But I discovered cream tea, and old-fashioned tea shops with chequered table covers and flowers on the table, when I was showing a friend from abroad around and wanted her to experience something more British than the ubiquitous US coffee chains which every city in the world now has. I am glad I did. It’s a great institution.


    1. I think that loosing these lovely old tea rooms would be a real shame. Whenever I travel in the UK I must visit tea room and have cream tea – to be honest nothing compliments better the “Englishness” in England than a proper cream tea in a proper tea room. I tiered to cheat one day and order a cake, but it just did not work for me at all – disaster! So now I can even make a cream tea 🙂 Such a big fun of this lovely desert I am 🙂


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