Afternoon Tea is a truly British affair, it seems to be part of our culture and is often widely available everywhere you go including at cafes, restaurants, homes and gardens. It’s perfectly reasonable to enjoy it all year round, on days out, holidays or on shopping trips. Anything goes and we know we’d never turn down the opportunity to indulge in a little afternoon tea, but where did this tradition come from and what is the cream tea - a speciality of Devon and Cornwall really all about?

Afternoon Tea vs Cream Tea

Afternoon tea usually consists of three courses, most often sandwiches, scones and some sweet pastries or cakes as well as a good pot of tea. A cream tea will just be a single course and includes scones, clotted cream, jam and tea.

Where Did The Afternoon Tea Begin?

It is believed that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford introduced the afternoon tea in 1840 after feeling hungry at 4pm in the afternoon.  She did not want to wait for her evening meal to be served at 8pm and began ordering tea consisting of bread and butter and cakes to her room in Woburn Abbey and even invited her friends along to join her.  It became a much enjoyed event and she brought this habit with her when she relocated to London which triggered afternoon tea to become quite popular.  

What About The Cream Tea?

The origins of cream teas are debatable. However, it is reported that in the 11th century, monks from Tavistock Abbey in Devon offered bread with jam and cream to local workers who were rebuilding their abbey.  Then they started offering this delicious snack to travellers, and news spread quickly.  

In the 1850s, the West Country experienced a real tourist boom and visitors looked from tea rooms where they could enjoy the local ingredients used to compile a cream tea.  

The Great Cream Tea Debate

The great debate refers to cream or jam first.  A Devon cream tea has cream spread on first and should be treated like butter.  They also say that you can serve more cream this way.  The Cornish however, prefer to spread jam on first and then dollop the cream on top arguing that this makes it easier and you can enjoy the taste of cream better.  The dispute continues, we won’t give our opinion and will let you make up your own minds!

Facts About Afternoon Tea  

  • Strawberry is Britain’s favourite Jam.
  • Scones were not included in afternoon tea until the early 1900s.
  • The elevated pinkie is supposed to have originated with a noblewoman, and because people adored the Royal Family, they began to imitate it.
  • The Victoria Sponge recipe originated in Spain during the Renaissance period, but because it was a favourite of Queen Victoria, it was named after her.
  • A true Victoria sponge must contain both jam and cream, otherwise it’s merely a jam sponge.
  • William Gladstone described Cornish clotted cream as ‘the food of the gods’! 
  • Semi skimmed milk is the most popular choice in the UK.

Fun Tea Facts

  • China was the first country to drink tea.
  • The British consume 165 million cups of tea a day with 80% of the population drinking it.
  • 98% have milk in their tea and 30% have sugar.
  • The fluoride content in tea offers good protection against plaque.
  • The most popular teas are black tea, followed by Earl Grey, Oolong and herbal tea.  
  • Victorians had 2 teas.  Low tea was taken on low tables for the upper classes and high tea was taken by the working classes around high tables at the end of the day.  
  • Tea contains half the amount of caffeine found in coffee.
  • Afternoon tea differs from breakfast tea as it’s a lot lighter.
  •  Da Hong Pao is the most expensive tea in the world.  It is grown in the Wuyi Mountains of China. 

Enjoy An Afternoon or Cream Tea At Home

As you may have guessed we are rather fond of both Afternoon Tea and a good Cream tea which is why we have plenty of options here at Devon Hampers.  Each offers a perfect treat, a little indulgence and an opportunity to sit back and relax.  Our hampers contain some of the finest produce from across Devon and Cornwall which we are very passionate about.  You can browse all of our Afternoon Tea Hampers here and all of our Cream Tea options here.  The perfect treat to enjoy at home or to send as a gift to friends and family.  


Post By Kelly

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