There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Friday, 24 July 2015

National Cream Tea Day

"The most trying hours in life are 
between four o'clock and the evening 
meal. A cup of tea at this time 
adds a lot of comfort and happiness."
~ Royal Copeland

Today is National Cream Tea Day in Britain, the first of its kind.  The day has been set aside to highlight and celebrate the love of baking, the art of laying out a beautiful tea table, and the joy of companionship over tea and scones.  Many people are celebrating the day by holding cream teas to raise money for charities, or it's just a way to stop during the middle of a busy day, breathe, sip tea, and enjoy a quiet conversation with someone, made all the better by scones and clotted cream.

Afternoon tea is a long-standing English tradition going back to the 17th century, and was a way to bridge the long gap between luncheon and the evening meal, which was served elegantly late. Cream teas became popular in the mid-19th century, when tourism in Cornwall began to flourish. Hotels, guest houses, and bed and breakfasts offered cream teas to tourists, which featured local Cornish scones, clotted cream and jam, along with pots and pots of tea.

"Never trust a man who, when left alone in 
a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on."
~ Billy Connelly

Afternoon tea at the Ritz, London.
A cream tea is a simpler affair than a true afternoon tea, which is rounds of sandwiches, cakes, petit-fours, as well as scones, jam and cream. It can take several hours to work your way through the tiers, but that is the point of it. Afternoon tea is meant for settling in, savoring, relaxing, stopping, and breathing. Americans have come to call this kind of elegant tea, "High Tea", but it's never called this in Britain--just Afternoon Tea.

The Randolph Hotel is our favourite
place in Oxford to enjoy an afternoon tea.

My favourite places in London to have afternoon tea are Brown's Hotel, followed by the Savoy, and a trip to London isn't complete without afternoon tea at one of these lovely hotels.

But back to cream teas, the quieter cousin of the elegant afternoon tea.  A cream tea is simpler and centres around a big pot of tea and scones -- fresh, crumbling, hearty yet delicate scones.  The cream comes from the clotted cream served with the scones.  There are two schools of thought in eating scones--and they're Cornwall and Devon.  The Cornish way is to put the jam on first, followed by a big dollop of clotted cream.  The Devon way is clotted cream first, then jam. Stuart's Cornwall and I'm Devon--I think mostly because I like more jam than cream and Stuart can't get enough clotted cream on his scones.  Either way, we always ask for extra jam and cream--and we load our scones with reckless abandon.

Even though cream teas and afternoon teas are for relaxing and slowing down, there are a few rules of etiquette to follow:
*No hats--hats are worn at weddings in Britain, not teatime.
*No raised pinky finger; the proper way to hold a teacup is between your thumb and forefinger.
*Relax! Settle in to your chair, take your time. That is what teatime in the afternoon is about. Stop and breath, smile and eat.
*Use loose leaf tea whenever possible--one teaspoon per person/cup, and one for the pot.
*Only clotted cream, no whipped cream; clotted cream has the consistency of soft butter, but the taste of whipped cream, it's the perfect thing to crown a scone with.
*No knives for cutting the scones; scones should be split by hand to preserve the delicate crumb.
*No talking about calories or cholesterol; "Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty." ~James Pratt ; it's a time to only savour and enjoy.

So on National Cream Tea Day, even if you don't have access to clotted cream and have never baked a scone before, no worries.  You can still stop for tea.  Find the most comfortable chair in your house, brew yourself a pot of tea and set a beautiful plate next to it of something sweet and delectable--and then sit back and enjoy. Take the time, do nothing else. Sip your tea and eat something sweet--slowly and relaxed, remembering to breathe, remembering to smile--then I promise you will find the gift of afternoon tea and why it's something to be celebrated.

"There is no need to have any special
attitude while drinking (tea) except
one of thankfulness. The nature of
tea itself is that of no-mind."
~ Pojong Sunim

Thank you so much for taking the time to be here and I always enjoy comments, reading what brings joy to your life.


  1. Such a great post.... you put it so beautifully. When I was raising my three rowdy boys I decided one day we needed to start having a tea time break in the afternoon. A time of quiet and civility and something yummy of course. I had my tray, teapot, cups, etc. I think they all thought I was a little nuts but I certainly enjoyed it. ; ). Thanks for all the beauty you share with us. ~Annie

    1. Thank you Annie--and what better way to take some time out while raising kids--especially three boys! We'll raise a cup of Earl Grey to all moms out there. Thanks for stopping by. xxxooo

  2. Hello Carrie:

    We love tea time! We do it several times throughout the year, and often informally, but always with our good friends who have visited UK many times -- on Boxing Day! I make scones and we have jam and real clotted cream when we can find it. Surprisingly, there are places here who sell it -- I'm sure not exactly as good as yours! My friend, Ann, said there is no where like the UK for good clotted cream.

    And it was so nice to see your photo!! Now I can put faces to your names!! Jane xoxo

    1. Hi Jane~Afternoon tea on Boxing Day--perfect. And there's nothing quite like Cornish or Devon clotted cream--I think there's magic in the grass there that the cows feed on. They make heavenly cream. Tasha Tudor has a recipe for clotted cream that I've tried and it's surprisingly easy to make--it's simply the cream of the cream of the cream! xxxooo

    2. That is exactly what Ann said!! Something in the grass!! xo

  3. Hi Carrie,
    I just love your blog! This post about afternoon tea is wonderful! I have been to England two times and hope to get back again. Maybe Oxford? :) Have a great week!

    1. Hi Pam ~ Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed it--hopefully it didn't leave you too hungry for scones and thick clotted cream! :-) Hope to see you in Oxford one day. Carrie xxoo