It’s National Cream Tea Day today and the Cream Tea Society would like us all to share the love of this quintessential British tradition. Cream then jam, or jam then cream? It’s the difference between the Cornish and the Devonshire cream tea and the cause of much controversy. Check out our etiquette guide below from manners expert Miss Sue Flay to discover the proper way to do it. For one of the best afternoon teas in London, click here see our review of The Waldorf Hilton Afternoon Tea.
Hold your teacup with all fingers on the handle, but don’t loop your fingers through or cradle your teacup. Contrary to popular opinion, sticking your little finger out does not a lady/gentleman make.
Always serve your neighbour before yourself
Pour the person next to you a cup of tea, pass the scones or offer the Cornish clotted cream before you take for your own dollop of jam.
Elbows off the table
This goes without saying. There’s a great phrase; “All joints on the table must be carved”… When food is present at the Cream Tea table, your elbows must be off and your hands in your lap when not eating or drinking.
Don’t send the tea into a spin
Stir your tea in a “6-12” motion on a clock, don’t “whirlpool” it round and round. Tapping your spoon or “chinking” it on the side of your teacup is simply not good manners, no matter how tempting it may be. Drip dry your teaspoon over your cup and place gently behind the cup on your saucer when finished stirring.
Dab your mouth with your napkin, do not wipe! Place the napkin with the fold away from your body to avoid throwing crumbs over yourself.
Break your scone with your fingers
The perfect scone should break apart with a simple twist. You’ll find a natural crease within any freshly baked scone, so you shouldn’t need to saw it open with a knife. Just make sure you’ve got your saucer to catch the crumbs.
Spoon then spread
If the table is laden with bowls of jam and cream, spoon your desired amount onto your plate first, before spreading them thick on your scone.
Always clotted cream on top
Forget what you’ve read about The Great Cream Debate, Cornwall Vs Devon. The Debrett’s guide to proper etiquette states that you should spread the jam first, followed by the clotted cream. From a taste point of view, the silky dairy notes of the clotted cream coat your palate, acting as a buffer against the sweetness of the jam and dryness of the scone beneath – creating the perfect, balanced taste sensation.
“Please do excuse me”
If you need to excuse yourself from the table, simply say “please do excuse me”. It is then good manners to place your napkin on your chair if you intend to return. There’s no need to go into detail as to why you need to leave.
A time to be social
Mobile phones should be away from the table, however it can be very tempting to take photos of your deliciously enticing Cream Tea to post onto Instagram or Twitter…So personally, I say go for it! #NationalCreamTeaDay
Manners cost nothing
Thank you letters are completely underrated, we just don’t write them as much as we should. A thank you text or email just doesn’t quite have the same gravitas as a beautifully handwritten note, even if just a few words of thanks. This little gesture goes a long way and I urge everybody to try it, your notelet collection will soon grow when you realise what stunning stationary is available.
We love both Cream Tea and the more substantial Afternoon Tea here at SLOAN! and if you’re looking for a new tea to enjoy with your warm scone, we recommend Pukka Wonder Berry Green Tea to help to uplift your spirits and boost vitality after all the indulgence of Tiptree jam and Rodda’s clotted cream.
Made using 12 beauty and health boosting fruits and herbs, Wonder Berry Green provides the ultimate antioxidant lift delivering on taste and depth of flavour. Wild berries meet earthy sweetness and warming spice in this flavoursome, Vitamin C filled infusion. Available from all good health food stores priced at £2.79 for 20 sachets.