During the heat of this week, I have decided to stay indoors as much as possible. Longing for cooler temperatures, I decided to look through old travel journals at tea houses that I visited a while ago in a cooler climate. Enjoy the journey without having to leave air conditioning.
It has been a few years since I had the privilege of visiting England. I knew I was in the correct country when I entered the hotel room the first day of arrival to find a tray of tea, teacups, and an electric kettle in the hotel room. From that day on, I would try to customarily stop what ever I was doing in the afternoon, and make time for tea. I figured the old adage “When in Rome” applied. Only I was in a country that stopped, dropped what they were doing, and had a cup of tea in the afternoon. Bless them, it was primarily hot tea as well! I was in tea heaven.
To me, it seemed our tea drinking friends across the seas appear to make drinking tea a lifestyle. Rarely did I visit a place where take away (carry out) tea was available. The modus operandi was to sit, sip, and savor the tea in a tea cup. Whether it be tea in a garden, in a tea parlor, or on a proper walk, imbibing in a cup of tea, and primarily hot tea, is the norm instead of the exception.
Tea Cafes, Tea Parlors, Tea Houses
I would plan a travel destination that I would like to visit and then my next item of research was to locate a place that I could enjoy a cup of tea near the destination. Frequently, I found historical homes that had a tea service for tourists on the back patio, or in the garden. I loved touring English Heritage and National Trust homes, then capping off incredible tours with a cup of tea in an elegant setting.
There were many a time that I would go walking along the coastline, through quaint towns or villages, or through the countryside. I would prepare a thermos of tea to take along with me. One of my favorite things is to be out in nature; sailing, bike riding, or walking. I had found England to be a country with wonderful walking paths, and trails. I would meander through a hiking trail on the outskirts of a village and invariably find a tea house in town to rest, relax and refill my tea thermos with steaming hot tea. The ease and availability with which I could procure a cup of tea was amazing. It seemed that no matter where my hiking or walking carried me, there was tea!
The tea was often served with a delicious scone and clotted cream. Tea served along with a scone, jam, and clotted cream is referred to as a “cream tea”. Clotted cream is made of heavily fatted milk slowly cooked over a pan of steam until the milk turns into a thick cream. The cream is pale yellow and very thick, almost to the point of butter and the fat content is above 55%.
Evidently Devonshire cream is a clotted cream that is made strictly in Devon, England. Devon claims to be the origin of the cream tea, serving tea with jam, cream, and bread in the 1,000 AD at Tavistock Abbey. Cornwall debates this claim and believes they are the originators of clotted cream. I am grateful to whoever was the originator of clotted cream. I would miss the decadent cream on top of my scones.
Cream tea is predominantly served as an afternoon tea, but I have enjoyed a cream tea at various times throughout the day. I think tea and a scone is a perfect pairing for an afternoon, or mid morning tea break. The memories of many a tea break in England are plentiful and happy ones. My time in England was well spent exploring, walking, eating scones and drinking tea.
May you find happy places to enjoy your cup of tea and perhaps a scone,
Pratt, James Norwood. Tea dictionary. Tea Society Press, 2010.
The Dairy Book Of British Foods. Ebury Press, 1988.
About The Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!