Enjoy Cream Tea With Style – Wherever You May Be

Cream Tea with Jam and Cream

If you have yet to become a tea connoisseur, it’s very likely you are picturing a hot cup of tea with added milk when you read the title of this article. Contrary to the seemingly ambiguous nature of its name, Cream Tea is actually a light afternoon tea meal or dish – originating from the South Western Counties of Devon and Cornwall in the United Kingdom – and it is comprised of scones, served with cream and jam, and accompanied, by hot, black tea. It is said that to best enjoy the sweet, delicious flavors of the dish, one must “learn” to drink tea without sugar, as the sweetness comes from the jam and cream. You may also hear it referred to as Devonshire Tea.

Cream Tea with Jam and Cream

Cream Tea served with Jam and Cream and accompanied by Black Tea

Traditionally, the cream is “clotted cream”, although whipped cream generally takes the place of this delicious luxury as clotted cream is quite a specialty, and some even just prefer butter to the cream. Clotted cream is not whipped cream, but cooked. It is made by indirectly heating unpasteurized cow’s milk which then is left in a shallow pan for many hours which causes the cream to rise to the surface and ‘clot’ – it is truly delicious, laden with fat, and an indulgence! Cows in the West Country (of the United Kingdom) are highly famed for their production of superb cream. Hence the origins from this region of the world. From Cornwall this is Clotted Cream, from Devon, this clotted cream is Double Cream. Fortunately, it’s possible to purchase this treat online!

English Luxury Clotted Cream

Purchase English Luxury Clotted Cream

Check Availability – Luxury Clotted Cream

The Origins of the Cream Tea

Cream Tea has an ironic history, particularly about the disagreements of whether the jam or cream goes on top!

While it may seem silly to some, some Cream Tea lovers are fighting over protections for the name “Devonshire Cream Tea,” as they insist the only proper way to eat the dish is with the gourmet jam on top of the delicious cream. However, those in Cornwall are standing strong for their cream-on-top preferences, insisting jam should never be on top.

Though its origins remain highly disputed, a general consensus exists that since the jam was the most expensive, the cream was generously placed on first, topped with a bit of jam.

This leads us to believe that its true origins are likely from Devon. We’re sure, however, that no matter which side of the rivalry you fall, you’ll enjoy good Cream Tea just the same.

Jam and Cream on Scones

Whether jam comes first then cream, or cream comes first then jam (or indeed, whether the two are a bit mixed…), scones with jam and cream are delicious with a hot cup of black tea.

Braving an Ancient Tradition at Home

An afternoon with scones, jam and cream, great friends, good conversation, savory tea and perhaps even a debate over the order of application of cream and strawberry jam – What is there not to love? A Cream Tea afternoon is bound to be a conversation piece in itself, and we have some hints to make it all the more delightful!

How to Prepare

“You don’t have to travel to Devon or Cornwall (or make the life changing decision of where to put the jam) in order to enjoy a perfect Cream Tea.”

Check out the fun (and easy) tips below.

  • When preparing for a Cream Tea gathering, you can begin with a batch of your favorite locally baked scones, or use your favorite scone recipe (never with sultanas, currants or any other inclusion). You’ll want to purchase clotted cream. Local strawberry preserves or jam are a necessity, and if you are serving to a group, be sure to have spreadable butter on hand.
  • For more “stability,” create the Cream Tea dish as those in Cornwall do. In Cornwall, they place the cream on top of the preserves, which keeps the preserves from sliding off of the scone.
  • To create a conversation starter, create half of the scones in the Devon style, and half in the Cornwall style. For a beautiful, presentable plate of Cream Teas, try alternating rows of Devon and Cornwall style. The colors and variety will create an artful masterpiece on your fine china!
  • You may want to leave a few “blank” scones for those who prefer butter over cream. It’s quite an offense to combine the two!
  • To prepare the Cream Teas, split the scone in half horizontally and add half an inch of clotted cream to each side. Then, top them with a teaspoon of jam on each half.
  • Alternatively, you may like to serve individual plates for each of your guests, set up with a small serve each of scone(s), jam, cream and possibly butter. Use a small ‘ramekin’ type dish to present the condiments – the likes of those shown below, which can be easily and securely purchased on Amazon are ideal :
    Serve Jam and Cream for Cream Tea

    Purchase small dishes such as these from Amazon to serve your guests jam and cream on individual plates.

    Check Availability – White Ramekins to Serve Jam and Cream

  • Be sure to have a piping hot pot of black tea to serve. An excellent choice is an English Breakfast Tea or an Assam Black Tea.
  • The English generally prefer their Cream Teas at “tea time,” which is around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Tea time is thought to originate from the time a hardworking family would come in from working on the farm. The working family would be hungry and ready for tea, but cooking four meals a day was much too time consuming for the farmers’ wives. However, Cream Teas were a quick solution for quick calories and a cup of healthy tea.

To stay true to English tradition, you’ll want to make sure you’ve prepared the Black Tea flawlessly. To get it just right, with no bitterness, and to minimize the taste of tea bags (if used), follow the flawless steps below.

  1. Warm water in a kettle, and just before boiling, pour the water into the teapot. Carefully move the teapot to coat the inside with warm water and then empty the teapot.
  2. Add loose tea or tea bags to the teapot. Once the kettle is boiling, add water into the warm teapot, pouring over the tea.
  3. After the tea steeps for three to four minutes, stir and pour into tea cups.

With the tips above, you’re sure to enjoy the perfect Cream Tea, whether you are at home or in West Country England.

 

How To Host A Mystery Tea Party

tea-time

I love a good themed tea party and whether you are hosting a women’s tea party, a bridal tea party or a children’s tea party, using a mystery tea theme will add a unique touch. ( It will also keep your guests talking for months to come!)

Personally I have hosted numerous mystery tea parties over the years. I love customizing the tea party menu to reflect the “mysterious theme.”  Every theme has a unique twist of its own and whether you choose a Titanic, Old West or Sherlock Holmes plot line your guests are sure to have a good time.

One of my favorite things about hosting a mystery tea is the participation and creativity it can release in your guests.

Here’s how it works: Tea party guests arrive in costume and play a character throughout your tea gathering. You will be surprised at how the shyest member of your group can become the “star of the show.”

It’s true! A good costume and a stiff cup of tea can do wonders.

 

There are several keys to hosting a successful mystery tea party so please feel free to take notes.

  1. First off, you have got to get a good mystery kit. (there are a ton of duds out there.) I recommend http://www.MysteryTeaParties.com These unique parties are easy to customize but give you step by step instructions which help you have a great time hosting the event. They are also specifically designed for women’s tea parties. (though its possible for  a man to slip in from time to time.)

 

Maxine at Mystery Tea Parties has been writing kits for several years birthed out of her own love of mystery parties. After hosting a successful event in her own area she began receiving requests from friends and neighbors that wished they had been invited as well. One thing led to another and http://www.MysteryTeaParties.com was born.

Recently, I had the chance to review the two newest mystery parties from Maxine’s pen.

Who Stole The Wedding Bells &

The Case Of The Missing Artwork

Who Stole The Wedding Bells is the perfect spring/summer event! It would be hysterical at a bridal shower tea but could also be a really fun fundraiser or women’s tea party. The basic concept is that the literal Wedding Bells have been stolen and its up to a group of crazy women to solve the mystery.

  • What role did the groom play?
  • Was that a UFO?
  • How did the Secret Service get involved?
  • Is the Bride To Be destined for a life of grime?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Case Of The Missing Artwork

is the answer for anyone hosting Children’s Birthday Tea Party or any tea party involving kids. This is Maxine’s first script kit for kids ages 8 and up.

The premise is an art contest with a $100,000 prize and a missing entry that was sure to win the prize.Who Dunnit? The children get involved solving the crime, answering questions that lead them down the path to finding the criminal.

I love the idea of a children’s birthday party mystery. Why come up with games, when you can harness a child’s natural dramatic side and love of costumes with a mystery tea? (this is WAY more interesting than pin the tail on the donkey!)

 

2. You need to follow the instructions carefully! Mystery tea parties are set up so that characters release clues in a certain order. For instance, in the Case of the Missing Artwork, the character Annie Artist has two sections of scripted information she must release. One is at the beginning but the other is later in the gathering and after Becky Baker is finished.

 

Hostess instructions are very clear in these kits but to have a successful event be sure you have read through both the step by steps and the script itself. You want to understand the big picture so your guests aren’t confused. Think of yourself as the director and be sure to direct the party.

3. Great food! Mystery Tea Party kits may include recipes and meal suggestions. You don’t have to follow them but they naturally lend themselves to the setting.  Again! Be sure to read the instructions. Tea party guests will expect wonderful food so don’t let them down. (if your play kit doesn’t include recipes there are a variety of great recipes listed on the MysteryTeaParty.com website.)

 

Here are a couple fun recipes from “Who Stole The Wedding Bells”:

 

WEDDING BELL SCONES

3 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

1 egg

1 cup vanilla yogurt

½ tsp vanilla

2 tsp milk

Sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture

resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in egg, yogurt and vanilla just until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface,

knead 6-8 times. Do not over handle.

Roll into a 9 inch circle, cut into 8 wedges. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops

with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Used with permission – www.MysteryTeaParties.com

 

 

CARROT PARTY TEA SANDWICHES

2 cups grated carrots

8 oz. cream cheese

½ cup chopped nuts

1 tsp. lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp salad dressing

Mix together and spread on assorted crackers or breads. Cut in party shapes

Used with permission – www.MysteryTeaParties.com

 

 

4. Costumes are optional but encouraged! A hostess can choose to ask her guests to come in costume or if the event is spur of the moment, she can provide a costume box filled with creative hats, gloves, boas and the like. The more involved your guests become, the more fun your party will be.

 

5. Have a camera and takes LOTS of photos. Take pictures of the food, take pictures of your guests in character, take pictures of the criminal and those who solved the case! Post your photos on face book, your blog, website and be sure to submit them to Maxine as she loves to feature your personal version of one of her many scripts.

 

That’s it! That is all there is to it. Now grab a calendar, pick a date, and order your Mystery Tea Party Kit. You can be hosting your own themed tea event in just a few days.

 

To order your Mystery Tea Party kit visit http://www.MysteryTeaParties.comor call Maxine at 951-301-7218

Tea Party Girl Asks: Which Mystery Tea Party script looks the most interesting to you?

Tea With The Queens Of England

england tea

england tea

Have you ever wanted to take tea with the queens of England?  This party celebrates four Queens who ruled England, honoring each with her own table, where guests are served tea and refreshments going back to the time of her reign. Guests move from table to table in a slow, stately version of musical chairs. Every half hour, the hostess announces, in her most royal herald-like voice, “All rise, please, in honor of her Majesty the Queen of England. Please be so kind as to take your cup and find a seat at the next table on your right.”

 

For decorations, feel free pull to out all the stops: velvet over windows and doorways, lace and brocade, gold paper doilies, your finest linens, silver, and china. Print out a picture of each queen (see website links below) and stand it on her table in a pretty frame. Drape each queen’s “throne” with rich fabric or velvet ribbon. Make a sign to put on the seat, held in place by a child’s dress-up crown. Each queen’s sign gives her name, the years she reigned, and the menu for her table, printed in an elegant script font.  

 

Some musical choices fit for a queen:

  • English Renaissance or baroque music (look for William Byrd or Henry Purcell)

  • The “Masterpiece Theater” theme, (Jean-Joseph Mouret’s “Rondeau” from Symphonies and Fanfares for the King’s Supper)

  • Music for court dances, with names like Pavan and Gavotte

 

Arrange four royal tables in a wide arc, with one for each Queen as follows:

 

Elizabeth I (1558–1603)

Find her picture at http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/tudor_9.htm

When Elizabeth ruled, tea was not yet drunk in England, but roses grew by the acre. Sugar was a rare spice. Use doilies to make lacy ruffles around dishes, echoing the ruffled collars worn by men and women of her court.

Menu:

  • Rose hip tea with honey
  • Cheese and onion tarts: For a medieval touch, add nutmeg, cloves, and raisins.
  • Apples in wine sauce & cream: Boil peeled apples slices in red wine spiced with ginger and lemon peel. Serve them on a platter drizzled with warm cream, sweetened with honey.
  • Almond pastries

 

Anne (1707–1714)

Find her picture at http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/stuart_8.htm

The European rage for tea reached England just as Anne became Queen. All tea came from China in those days, and most of it was green tea, which the English drank with sugar and milk. If you have Queen Anne-style tables or chairs, with graceful curved legs ending in small feet, use them here. Place vivid tulips in a china vase at this table.

Menu:

  • Green tea (with sugar and milk, for the adventurous)
  • Classic scones and fruit breads, with butter and cream cheese spreads.

 

Victoria (1837–1901)

Find her picture at http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/hanover_6.htm

Indian tea came into its own during Victoria’s reign, while afternoon tea became a national institution. She even had a tea cake named after her: the “Victoria sandwich” or “Victoria sponge.” It consisted of two layers of sponge cake separated by jam or a soft cream filling. Potted flowers were in every parlor in those days, so use them to decorate this queen’s table. Layer flowery handkerchiefs, placemats, old lace runners and new doilies over a tablecloth for a cozy Victorian look.

Menu:

  • Indian tea (look for Assam, Darjeeling, or Ceylon tea) with sugar, honey, milk, or lemon
  • Victoria sponge cake
  • Cucumber sandwiches on thinly sliced, buttered bread, with no crusts

 

Elizabeth II (1952-present)

Find her picture at http://worldroots.com/brigitte/gifs/queenelizabeth66.jpg The biggest change in tea during Elizabeth’s reign has been the tea bag revolution. Take advantage of it to offer a variety of flavors and varieties of tea at this queen’s table, displayed on a handsome tray or platter. She rules in a world of readymade delicacies, so use convenience foods to prepare the dishes on her table.

Menu:

  • Assorted teas, with sugar, honey, milk, or lemon
  • Imported English crackers spread with soft, aged cheese
  • Avocado and watercress sandwiches on whole wheat toast points
  • Packaged cookies and shortbread
  • Glazed fruit tarts

 

Choose an appropriate tea that will work with each of the tables.  I suggest British Bliss as it is a hearty tea that will work well with nearly all the menus.  If you want a dessert tea I suggest trying Dark Chocolate Decadence which will pair well with a fruit tart.

 

How To Host A Downton Abbey Tea Party

Downton Abbey Tea Party

 

Downton Abbey Tea Party

 

Downton Abbey fans rejoice!  Season four is right around the corner. (January 5th 2014 in the U.S.)  You can celebrate the series by  hosting your own Downton Abbey Tea Party.  Here are a few suggestions but be sure to leave comments and share your own plans. (because I know many of you are already getting ready)

Theme:  Season 4 of Downton takes place in the early 1920′s (specifically 1922-1923).  This was the era of worldwide recovery.  The first world war was over and the youth who survived were ready to let their hair down, throw off tradition and change the world.  The easiest way to develop a tea party theme is to research the era in which your event happened.

Here are a few significant things that happened in the 1920′s Britain:

1. Women lecturers are given equal status as men at Oxford University.  This is a huge step in beginning to prove women’s equality in the workplace.  (Women had gained the right to vote in the UK in 1918.)

2. The Irish War of Independence ends in a bloody battle the day after the Irish Elections. (remember one of the main characters in Downton Abbey is Irish.)  This ongoing struggle continues for many years and results in a great loss of life.

3.  The British Broadcasting Service begins radio services in the U.K.  Touching the world is now as close as turning a dial on a new fangled radio.

4. Early 1922 is plagued by the flu epidemic claiming over 800 lives and terrifying the nation.

5.  In 1923 the Equal Rights act enables women as well as men to initiate divorce.  This opens the door for women to divorce their adulterous husbands for the first time in history.  Another sign that the times are a changing.

6. King Tut’s Tomb is unsealed and Britain is crazy about everything Egyptian!

7. In 1923 it becomes illegal to sell alcohol to minors under 18.

8.  The new Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, takes office.

 

The Downton Abbey story line connects all walks of life into one cohesive story.  Your guests may be interested to learn “inside secrets” regarding the world of Downton.  You can find a variety of trivia and games online.  Here are a few resources you might enjoy.

 Downton Abbey Tea Party

Trivia Games , Quotes and Activities:

Trivia – Downton Abbey

10 Little Known Downton Abbey Facts

Abbey Quiz

Downton Abbey Quotes

 

And if you REALLY can’t get enough of your favorite show and want to enjoy it all again, the full series is available on Amazon !

 Downton Abbey

Win your guests over by preparing an authentic Downton Abbey menu.

Downton Abbey Tea Party

Menu:

Food is always a center focus of the Downton Abbey program.  Win your guests over by preparing an authentic Downton Abbey menu.   May I suggest using the Ultimate Abbey Cooks Online resource.  This website has everything you need to know about Tea Party tradition along with historically correct recipes.

Here are a few of the foods I would recommend for your Downton Abbey Tea Party

Cucumber Sandwiches

Classic English Scones

Oatcakes

Victoria Sponge

Bakewell Tart

Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse

And what about tea?  I recommend using a hearty black tea that will stand up to the taste of every food.  British Bliss is available on Amazon and I highly recommend it for any Downton Abbey menu.  The hearty taste of Keemun will pair well with both sweet and savory dishes.

Downton-Abbey4

Give a Gift Of Favors:

The goal of every Downton Abbey Tea Party is to enjoy your common interest, discuss the great costumes, story lines and food and then depart with a little something special.  Pinterest is a veritable goldmine for party ideas.  Here are a couple of my favorite boards.

 

Downton Abbey Party Board

Party Ideas Board

 

In addition Etsy has alot of wonderful printables which could be used for party favors.  Here is a whole page of Downton Abbey tools, toys and gift ideas.

 

Etsy – Downton Abbey

Etsy – Downton Abbey Printable

 

Last but not least the CLOTHES:  Downton is all about looking fabulous!  Invite your guests to come dressed in their favorite ode to Downton.  This can be a full ensemble or a simple hat or headpiece.  Offer a prize for the best hat, best dress and most creative use of the Downton Abbey theme.  You will be amazed at the creativity of your guests.

DowntonAbbey2

 

Tea Party Girl Asks:  What are your Downton Abbey Tea Party Plans?  Share them below in our comment box or join in the conversation on Facebook.


 

 

7 Tea Inspired Holiday Themes

holiday-theme-party

Need a new Christmas tea party idea?  Here are my top 7 favorite Christmas tea party concepts.  Read them, pick one and then DO IT!  We would love to see photos so be ready to share them with our readers.  :)

Tea and Trimmings

The Tea and Trimmings theme is designed for your immediate family and/ or close friends.  Tea and Trimmings sets the stage for your holiday celebration to begin.

Concept:  Family, decorate house, fill house with music and tea.

IDEAS:

  1. Send invites to family whether it is in the mail or under the door
  2. Trimming the tree- could include finding, cutting or buying or ornament decorating
  3. Tell story of Christmas or Holiday traditions over a 3 course meal.
  4. Stringing popcorn or making a paper chain.
  5. Give a special holiday ornament to remember your day.

 

 

Solace Tea

A Solace Tea is the perfect juncture between Christmas and New Years.  This theme is designed as a solitary tea or a tea for one or two close friends or your spouse.  A Solace Tea is a tea of reflection and new beginnings.

Concept:  Meditation, reflection, goals re-visited.

IDEAS:

  1. Perfect for quiet evening or afternoon-find a special place in home
  2. Set table for 1 of 2 –candles, beautiful items rarely used, fireplace, set mood.
  3. Small gift for guest and yourself for Christmas 2011
  4. Spend time journaling, praying, talking heart to heart-Book of Questions
  5. Bring the tea to elderly friend or new mom- pack tea basket.

 

 

Open House Tea

An Open House Tea is the perfect way to enjoy your friends during a season of busy schedules.

Concept:  Drop in 11-5 or 2-7.  3 courses-substantial.  Come in from the holiday shopping.  Only 10-30 members.

IDEAS:

  1. Give special Xmas card to guests.  Personal message.
  2. Conversation cards- draw one from a stocking:  My Christmas Wish,  In 2012 I hope to …..
  3. Decorate living room with pillows as packages- baskets of fruit with ribbons
  4. Picture of guest with you by the tree- put on a card holder
  5. Fill coffee table with food or entrance table

 

 

Victorian Christmas Card Tea

Start a new holiday tradition with a Victorian Christmas Card Tea.  Enjoy your friends and accomplish a task at the same time!

Concept:

IDEAS:

  1. Decorate dining chairs with ribbons, bows, organza, veiling
  2. Fill table with supplies
  3. Provide cards and stamps?  Guests bring 15 addresses
  4. Can be a pot luck tea party
  5. Buffet is best- Christmas boxes for levels.

 

 

The Gift of Tea

Forget about the cookie exchange or white elephant gifts!  Start a tea cup trade!  Your friends will look forward to it each and every year!

Concept:  1 ½ hour tops.  Can be dessert only.

IDEAS:

  1. Bring a teacup wrapped
  2. Conversation cards relating to holidays and holiday traditions, goals, memories
  3. Plan and extra cup or two just in case
  4. Draw numbers to choose packages
  5. Have giver tell story of cup.  Write on a card and pass out to recipient.

 

Twinkling Tea

A Twinkling Tea is a perfect way to celebrate New Years or Christmas Eve in style.  A Twinkling Tea combines the formality of afternoon tea with the sights and sounds of the holidays.

Concept:  Formal

IDEAS:

  1. Dress Up – Hold at table or living room
  2. Candlelight, twinkle lights and dim lights
  3. 4 tea sandwiches, scone, holiday breads, mini desserts (tarts,etc.)
  4. Sparkling cider and champagne??  Toasts to the future and past
  5. Conversation and games – Traditional parlor games??  OR Trivia Pursuit past 20