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Postcard of the Week: English Cream Tea

English Cream Tea postcard vintage advert

        Yum yum yum. For the uninitiated of you reading this, a Cream Tea is a meal of scones (correctly pronounced like ‘con’ rather than like ‘cone’) served with strawberry jam, clotted cream and of course a pot of tea. Interestingly, this postcard has chosen to be democratic and call it ‘English’. It is debated whether cream teas come from Devon or Cornwall, the two counties in the south-westernmost peninsula of Great Britain. Each county obviously lays claim to the delicious invention, and having lived in Devon for three years I can’t help but be biased and prefer a Devonshire Cream Tea to a Cornish one.

         I’m getting hungry just typing this blog post, and you have to agree that they were an inspired idea! I rarely have a mid-afternoon tea anymore in my day-to-day, as we used to religiously every day at my grandmother’s house. Afternoon Tea at my grandmother’s wasn’t often scones and clotted cream, it was usually a slice of cake, a few biscuits or perhaps some small sandwiches, accompanied by a to of tea and (for me) a glass of lemonade, as I’ll confess to not being a tea-drinker. This tradition of Cream Teas and Afternoon Teas in England is matched by the tradition of Elevenses – a mid-morning break for biscuits or maybe toast and honey, along with a glass of squash, at least in our household. Elevenses, of course, takes place at 11 o’clock in the morning.

         Do people still indulge in these traditions? Not nearly enough, I fear. My grandmother was part of a generation of women who didn’t work after marriage, so regular Elevenses and Afternoon Teas for those women were social occasions and it provided structure to their day. Now that virtually all women work we simply don’t have time to all meet up mid-week to take afternoon tea. Which is why things such as Cream Teas have become such a luxury, to be found in all the best hotels and spas. Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court at the Ritz Hotel in London, for example, costs £50 per person and is always fully booked. A £50 Afternoon Tea is not an everyday occasion, and it has come to represent a luxurious treat and an event in itself!

          I haven’t yet been to the Ritz for Afternoon Tea but it’s one to look forward to in the future!

Have you been to the Ritz? Do you keep the tradition of a proper Afternoon Tea alive or is it another casualty or busy modern-day working life?

2 Comments »

  1. It’s definitely a casualty of modern life! I’m not ancestrally British so my family never held that tradition – but I know friends who live in more rural parts of the country find their mum/dad potting about the kitchen and bringing out a scone and some tea.

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