Enjoy a cream tea at Otter Garden Centres - Otter Garden Centres
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Enjoy a cream tea at Otter Garden Centres

May 24, 2018 Otter Blog No Comments
Cream tea

History of the cream tea

Could it be that the cream tea was invented in Devon? There are rumours that eating bread with cream and jam in the afternoon was a tradition at Tavistock Abbey as far back as the 11th century.

There’s also a delightful Dartmoor legend that cream teas originally came from an ancient recipe given to a Giant’s wife by a Phoenician tin trader – but we don’t take that one too seriously. You can read the story here.

A traditional cream tea is a combination of scones, clotted cream and jam, usually served with a pot of tea, as opposed to afternoon tea which includes savouries and cakes (newly available at our Plymouth coffee shop).

Devon or Cornwall method?

The Devonian way is to split the scones in two, smother each half with clotted cream and add the jam on top. In Cornwall, however, it’s jam first and cream on top. Devon folk don’t approve – the theory is that cream acts as ‘butter’ on the scone. This distinction has caused raging debates on social media – woe betide if you tweet the wrong combination in either of the counties.

Traditionally, strawberry is the usual flavour of jam, although some prefer raspberry, apricot or blackcurrant. Generally speaking a simple single-flavour jam is recommended.

Skon or Skone?

Another query is how to pronounce scone. Does it rhyme with ‘gone’ or ‘bone’? There was actually a YouGov poll in 2016 that posed the question, and 51 per cent of respondents opted to rhyme it with ‘gone’ – many of these were based in Scotland and the North of England. In the South, it seems we more usually rhyme it with ‘bone’.

Either way, there’s no denying that this is a delicious English tradition.

Each of our branches serve a delicious cream tea. We feel it’s the perfect way to take a little break while you’re shopping at Otter!

Scone recipe


  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 150ml/5fl oz milk


  • Heat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7
  • Add the salt to the flour and rub in the butter
  • Stir in the sugar
  • Add milk and mix to a soft dough
  • Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and work lightly
  • Pat to 2cm inch thick and cut out rounds with a 5cm cutter
  • Place on a lightly greased baking sheet
  • Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg or a little milk
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen
  • Cool on a wire rack
  • Best served as a cream tea!