There is little as quintessentially British as afternoon tea. Often this is taken in the form of a cream tea with scones, clotted cream and strawberry preserve.
Although it isn’t clear where the cream tea originates from, it is a tradition of the South-west of England. The Cornish have what is known as a split: a cold scone split in half with butter, clotted cream and jam on top. While in Devon, the scones are usually served warm without butter, with jam first then cream.
Scholars from Tavistock have found a manuscript dating to the 11th century describing monks from the Abbey feeding workers bread, clotted cream and preserve while they repaired damaged made by marauding Vikings.
This is apparently the earliest reference to the dish that we know today as the cream tea – minus the tea though, as the this wasn’t widely drunk until King Charles the II’s wife Catherine de Braganza started drinking tea in court in 1662.
Taking afternoon tea in a teahouse is a very pleasant thing to do indeed. Last weekend, after walking in a National Trust garden, my companion and I paid a visit to their Crofters Café. I ordered a cream tea – he had a large latte. It was delicious, though I feel it could have been better.
This has left me with the desire to visit a teashop that specialises in serving afternoon tea, and there are many in Cornwall, and, of course, in the big Hotels in London: the Dorchester, The Ritz, The Savoy.
The likely hood of me visiting one of these hotels for tea is very slim though. This is now worry however, as I am more than happy to take my tea in a quant teashop.
Or one can have a latte and baked cheesecake in a coffee house, which was absolutely delicious by the way.