A visit to Cornwall wouldn’t be the same without a proper Cornish cream tea. But is it jam first then cream, or cream before jam? Thankfully, Rodda’s have put together a definitive guide to answer this and other cream tea dilemmas (and there’s a hint in the picture).
A brief history of the cream tea
According to the Cream Tea Society, tea drinking dates back to the 1662, when Charles II married Catherine de Braganza, who brought the custom of drinking tea with her from Portugal. By the start of the 18th century, tea rooms flourished in London.
The tradition of afternoon tea is said to have been started by the Duchess of Bedford, who felt that the gap between dinner and lunch was too long, and began ordering refreshments during the afternoon while she was entertaining friends. This soon became fashionable, and by the middle of the 19th century, afternoon tea had become a daily ritual for many.
But it wasn’t until the 1850s when cream teas in Cornwall as we know them today really came into existence. The expansion of the railways brought scores of tourists to Cornwall, and hotels and cafes soon took advantage of the increased demand for refreshments. Before long, no trip to Cornwall was complete without a cream tea.
Top places to enjoy a cream tea in Cornwall
An indulgent cream tea can be the perfect end to a glorious day out or and activity in its own right. We’ve searched the county to seek out some of the best places to go for a cream tea in Cornwall. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it…
Think freshly baked scones, sweet strawberry jam and a generous dollop of clotted cream. Mmm…
For a touch of luxury, take the boat to St Mawes and enjoy afternoon tea at Hotel Tresanton. Sit on the terrace in the sunshine and enjoy beautiful views across the water.
The National Trust garden sits above the fishing hamlet of Durgan on the banks of the Helford River. Head to the tea shop after a stroll through the garden and relax.
The Waymarker is an independently owned cafe/restaurant which offers a range of fantastic homemade food. They have a whole cream tea menu – choose from a variety of scones, including savory and gluten-free choices such as butternut squash and maple, sundried tomato and cheddar or chive and walnut served with a home-made chutney.
The Potager Garden is a real gem. It’s a great place to linger a while and relax in beautiful, tranquil surroundings. If you have some time to spare, you can play games, lazy around in the hammocks and try your hand at boule or play badminton or table tennis.
You’ll find the cafe among the plum trees in a newly converted greenhouse – it’s open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm.
Melinsey Mill is a restored 16th century water mill. It’s a unique place to visit with some hidden delights. Down by the pond you’ll discover a variety of willow sculptures from a life-size fisherman to a hanging spider and a mermaid. Open April – October.
The Duchy of Cornwall Nursery has a popular cafe with a range of delicious homemade delights. It’s also very handily just off the A390, so could easily be combined with a day out in the area.
Set on the harbour at St Mawes, the restaurant and south facing terrace offer an ideal location to enjoy a stylish cream tea al fresco.
The Meudon Hotel is a small, family-run hotel that sits above the pretty Bream Cove. Non-residents are welcome to visit – the tranquil gardens are a delightful place to while away a couple of hours and enjoy a cream tea in the sunshine after a visit to the beach.
If you’re walking the coast path or visiting Carne Beach, stop by the Quarterdeck Restaurant at The Nare Hotel and enjoy an afternoon treat.
Sit out on the terrace and enjoy beautiful views across the garden towards the Helford. You may well be visited by bold sparrows, robins, chaffinches and blackbirds hoping for crumbs, which will undoubtedly delight the children.
Other top places for cream teas include: Woods Café (Cardinham Woods near Bodmin), Camel Trail Tea Garden (near Wadebridge/Bodmin), Roskilly’s (St Keverne) and Enys Gardens (near Truro).
Cream teas on the move
If you’re not sure where you’ll end up, or you’re going off the beaten path, you could take a cream tea with you. Fill up a thermos flask, pack some lovely homemade strawberry jam, freshly baked scones and clotted cream, and you can enjoy your own cream tea wherever you desire.
If you fancy making your own scones, try this recipe from Rodda’s. Just remember to let them cool (at least little) before you eat them!
Where’s your favourite spot to stop for a cream tea? Share your recommendations below, post on our Facebook page or tweet @bosinver. And if you’ve got any photos you’d like to share of you and your family enjoying a cream tea in Cornwall, we’d love to see them – the more unusual the location the better!