The History of the Devonshire Tea
Whether you ask for a Devonshire Tea, a Cream Tea, or scones, jam and cream, it purely depends on where you are. The name ‘Devonshire Tea’ originated in the county of Devon in England where it is a local specialty, but it’s still a contentious issue as both Cornwell and Devon are trying to claim a right to the title.
Both counties have their regional differences on how a scone should be dressed and eaten, and I’ve witnessed both versions in Australia as well. In Devon the method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream (silky yellow cream), and then add strawberry jam on top. Whipped cream and any other jam flavour is not usually acceptable and milk should be taken in your tea. However in Cornwall, which seems to be the Australian way (99.9%), scones are split in two, then spread with jam and topped with clotted cream.
In Australia most people recognise the term ‘Devonshire Tea’ but still many will stare blankly until you revert to asking for scones. Depending on the cafe, you’ll find either one or the other on the menu and rarely the serving comes with butter. Another rarity is clotted cream. I have found only a handful of cafes serving a form of clotted cream, it’s either freshly whipped, sickly whipped cream straight out of a can, or double thick dollop cream. There are no hard rules regarding jam flavours, and in some areas, if you’re lucky, you’ll get homemade jam from seasonal fruit.
A final point is the confusion over the Devonshire Tea/High Tea scenario. Some people still think that they are the same thing, but the only commonalities they have are the scones and the tea. So if you are sifting through these pages and wondering why you only find scones, there’s your answer!