Living dangerously: the Cornish cream tea goes nationwide

The U.K. coffee chain Costa is boldly going where no sensible business wanted to go before.

What are they doing? Selling cream tea the Cornish way, not the Devon way.

Background break: What’s a cream tea? Two plain scones, strawberry (or sometimes blackcurrant, but they’re going with the more popular strawberry) jam, and clotted cream, which is cream that’s been beatified. I’ve made that joke before. My apologies if you remember it, but I couldn’t think of a better explanation. Plus tea, of course, except that Costa will substitute coffee, which will piss off the purists in both counties.

What’s the difference between the Cornish and the Devon cream tea? In Cornwall, you put the jam on the scone first. In Devon, you start with the cream.

Nations have gone to war over less.

Nobody asked for my advice, but I’d have suggested giving people the fixings and letting them figure out what to do. That would let Costa smile serenely and claim nothing is their fault. Because there’ll be hell to pay over this in Devon.


And a quick note: It’s summer, apparently, because the first cygnets—baby swans, to those of you not in the know—have been born at the Abbotsbury Swannery, in Dorset.. The Western Morning News (which I can’t find online, so no link, which is a shame because they had a great photo) reports that this is the traditional signal. Here in Cornwall, it’s gray and I’m wearing two sweatshirts, but who am I to argue with tradition?

A rare relevant photo: Swan with cygnets, from Pixabay.

73 thoughts on “Living dangerously: the Cornish cream tea goes nationwide

  1. What about if you slice open the scone, add cream to one half, jam to the other, squidge together and turn the filled scone appropriately depending on which county you are eating it?
    Now, when it comes to tea, do you put the milk in the cup first or afterwards? Bugger Brexit, this is the important stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Now here’s somebody who’s got his priorities right. If you make the tea in a pot, you put the milk in first. Why? Because. If you make it in the cup, your decision’s been made for you: You make the tea, then add the milk. If you don’t take milk, you go to the back of the line. And if you squidge the two halves of your scone together as described? You end up in Dorset, where the cygnets are have just hatched, because you got run out of both Cornwall and Devon. I’m telling you, don’t mess with people about this stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere that makes the jam/cream decision for you O_O everywhere I have been gives you all the bits and lets you argue it out amongst yourselves!

    I’d have a problem with this…

    I don’t like jam, or clotted cream, so I normally give them away to the people who want extras and drink my coffee along with some unadorned scones…

    I would get thrown out of Devon and Cornwall… or possibly the entire country!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Our daughter is a fan of millionaire’s shortbread. Because it has three layers, she rates it out of 9 (3 for each layer). She rates Costa’s 9 – the only one she does. Well, it’s a partially relevant comment, innit?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s close enough to work here. And in the department of partially relevant comments, a few years ago I was trying to find a recipe for millionaire’s shortbread for a friend who lives in Minnesota, where you can’t get golden syrup. The trick was to find one that used almost anything else, which I finally did manage. I’m not sure how it would rate, layer by layer, but given that it has no competition for many miles in any direction, I don’t expect anyone’s too critical.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was brought up to put the jam on first though I have no Cornish ancestors that I know of. Wherever it’s sold, we should be left to do it ourselves. I could munch at least three cream teas right now but I’ve just had two fillings in one go and can’t eat for two hours. This hunger is not helped by smelling chips from the pub next door! Oh, woe is me. We have the sun. Hope you have too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was sitting here drinking my coffee when I asked myself “Did she say “Beatified” or “Beautified”? Then I asked myself “Why did it take over an hour and a half for that light bulb to go on?”

    God, I’m slow without my coffee in me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m reading all this about scones and millionaire’s shortbread and the likes just wishing my own adopted country, France, could lay on a few more real afternoon tea goodies. All we get here are ‘chouqettes’, ‘cannelés’ and other airy, weird, French things. Feeling very homesick for Scotland!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most of my homesickness transforms itself into missing things I can eat. It’s made me a better cook, but I have my limits. I’d love a good plate of huevos rancheros right now. Or, for that matter, a truly sublime homegrown tomato.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sure wars have been started over less. In short – I. Am. Appalled. What are they thinking? Frankly, no matter whether the CEO of Costa prefers the Devonian or Cornish method, they shouldn’t be required to make a substantive decision anyway since the only appropriate way to serve a cream tea is to provide little dishes and plates of the components and allow the awaiting munchers to determine how to construct the treat. That is part of the joy of the whole experience. And then I read a few sentences on and realised they were serving it with coffee (which seems obvious now since it’s Costa) and I decided it was just wrong, wrong, wrong and their whole cream tea venture deserves to wither on the vine and die a quick death.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. It’s not really a cream tea, is it? It’s coffee with scones and jam. in such a situation the cream belongs in the coffee, not in the scone. I doubt many people looking for a cream tea will think Costa. They’ll think tea shop in a side street or one of the increasingly numerous places which do incredibly expensive afternoon teas.

    Is it wrong to think that the person who came up with the idea should be deported?

    Liked by 2 people

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