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  • Writer's pictureMeghan King

Celebrate National Cream Tea Day 2023!


A thumbnail with vector images of cream tea in the background, with a title banner that readys "It's National Cream Tea Day" and an additional graphic of hand holding up British flag

National Cream Tea Day is a celebration that captures the heart and soul of British culture, where tea reigns supreme, accompanied by the iconic clotted cream. This special day embraces a rich history, refined etiquette, and mouth-watering recipes that are simply irresistible. Celebrated on the last Friday of June every year, we always love an excuse to learn something new about tea cultures from around the world.


Time for a cuppa tea. Let's celebrate!


What is National Cream Tea Day?

A tray of afternoon tea desserts

National Cream Day — or, International Cream Day, depending on where you're celebrating — was born in the UK to encourage Britons to come together, drink cream tea (yes, that's a thing!), and in the process, raise awareness of — and donate to — charitable causes. 2023 will be the 9th annual holiday!


This unique day was started by The Cream Tea Society, founded by Rodda's Clotted Cream and Wilkin & Son Tiptree — two well-known companies in the UK — who will host the largest cream tea party for National Cream Tea Day.


What is Cream Tea, Anyway?

Sorry to disappoint, but cream tea is not actually putting cream in your tea. Instead, it's much more exciting!


Cream tea is a delightful British tradition that involves enjoying a light meal consisting of tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam. It is a beloved treat typically served in the afternoon.


Clotted cream — which can be Devonshire cream (made in Devon) or Cornish clotted cream (made in Cornwall) — is a thick and indulgent cream made by gently heating high-fat cow's milk. As it cools, a thick layer of cream forms on the surface, which is then carefully skimmed off.


What Does Clotted Cream Taste Like?

A scone with cream and jam for National Cream Tea Day

Clotted cream has a distinctively rich and decadent flavor. It is thicker and creamier than whipped cream, with a smoother texture than butter. While it shares some similarities with heavy cream, clotted cream has a more pronounced richness and a subtle sweetness that sets it apart. Its unique texture and taste make it a beloved and sought-after treat for visitors to the UK. Clotted cream has a subtle sweetness, but it is not overly sweet.


What is Afternoon Tea Vs. High Tea?

If, like us, you're not from the UK and maybe feeling a little lost, let's back up a bit.


You may have heard of "High Tea" and "Afternoon Tea". To start, these terms don't refer to types of tea that you'd have in your tea box. These terms actually refer to an affair; the time of day you would consume certain types of tea and special treats to go along with it. It's quite the event!


Afternoon tea is generally a delightful, lighter affair served in, well, the afternoon. It typically features a selection of tea, desserts, and cream to top it off, which is why the term "Afternoon Tea" is often used interchangeably with "Cream Tea" — hence, the reason we're all here. During a cream tea, freshly baked scones are served warm and accompanied by pots of clotted cream and jam.


High Tea is similar to Afternoon Tea because it is usually served around the same time of day, but sometimes even later. The concept of "high tea" is a few centuries old, and was enjoyed by both the working class and wealthy class, though in different fashions. The term "high" is believed to refer to the height and/or timing of the meal, which was enjoyed by workers at a higher table while sitting on high stools.


High Tea is usually paired with a more substantial meal, but like Afternoon Tea, can also be light snacks, desserts, and savory treats. Yum!


What's Eaten During a Cream Tea?

Speaking of, a traditional afternoon tea affair is a nice experience that encompasses a wide range of sweet and savory delights. Among the sweet offerings, the star of the show is undoubtedly the scones.


Served warm and freshly baked, these fluffy and buttery pastries are accompanied by two essential components: clotted cream and jam. The proper way to enjoy a cream tea is to split the scone in half, generously spread clotted cream on each half, and top it off with a dollop of sweet jam. (More on that, later!).


Is your mouth watering yet?


Wait, we're not done.


In addition to scones, an assortment of pastries and cakes grace the table. We're talking macarons, éclairs, and fruit tarts, carefully crafted and beautifully presented. Alongside these, tea cakes take center stage. Victoria sponge cake, lemon drizzle cake, carrot cake, and Battenberg cake — often adorned with decorative icing or adorned with fresh fruit — will get you pretty full (and, happy!).


Then there are cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, egg salad, and more, like quiches and tarts filled with ingredients like cheese, mushrooms, spinach, or caramelized onions.


Finally, a cheese and cracker selection is usually served as well, which may include cheddar, Stilton, or Brie alongside some crispy crackers. There's something for everyone at Afternoon Tea!


Celebrate International Cream Tea Day in 1-2-3

Two women having a cream tea party in dim lighting, drinking out of tea cups sitting at a table laden with items, including candlesticks, fruity, and a pet cat

If you love tea, cream, desserts, and tea traditions as much as we do, then you're probably looking forward to celebrating International Cream Tea Day. To really give it the attention it deserves, here are three steps to celebrating the holiday in style, no matter where you are in the world:


1: Make British-Style Clotted Cream From Scratch!

What better way to fully embrace National Cream Tea Day by making your own clotted cream from scratch? Sure, you can buy it at the store if you're in the UK, but if you're somewhere else, you may have to head to the kitchen!


Here's how:


Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)


Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°F (80°C).


2. Pour the heavy cream into an oven-safe dish or shallow baking pan, ensuring that the cream forms a thin layer.


3. Place the dish in the preheated oven and let it bake undisturbed for 8-10 hours. This slow cooking process allows the cream to develop a thick, rich texture and a slightly golden crust.


4. After the cooking time, carefully remove the dish from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.


5. Once cooled, cover the dish and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight. This helps the clotted cream to set further.


6. The next day, gently skim off the thick layer of clotted cream that has formed on top, using a spoon or spatula. Transfer it to a clean, airtight container.


7. Store the clotted cream in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


2. Learn Traditional British Cream Tea Etiquette


Now that you know how to make your own clotted cream (or, if you did manage to pick some up from the store!), you'll need to know how to eat it like a true Brit!


In British tradition, clotted cream always takes precedence and is placed on the table before the jam. This signifies the importance of the cream as the foundation upon which the jam is added.


In case you missed it, here's how it goes:


Before you start, begin by "cutting" your scone. But, instead of using a knife, embrace the traditional method of splitting the scone with your fingers. This gentle approach preserves the scone's delicate texture and crumb, enhancing the overall experience.


Once split, apply clotted cream and jam, in the following order:


First the cream, which should be spread delicately with a butter knife. Then, in equal fashion, add a spoonful of your favorite jam on top. This layering technique allows the flavors to mingle, creating the perfect balance of tartness and creaminess.


Tip: Go for a more tarty jam to accompany the cream!


3: Host Your Own Cream Tea Party!

What would be the point of making all these delicious desserts if not having people come over to eat them?


The best way to celebrate International Cream Tea Day is to throw your own Afternoon Tea (or, Cream Tea!) party. Using all the knowledge you have now of what you'll want to serve, this is a fun little way to welcome this special holiday, even from afar.


And, before we forget, if you're wondering what type of tea is served with cream tea, it's usually black tea. In particular, English Breakfast tea or Earl Grey tea are popular choices as they go well with all the other foods.


Remember to visit the National Cream Day site to see other ways to get involved!



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