Britain’s best cream teas

A cream tea with freshly baked scones is one of the great joys in life. Here is a selection of the best places for a cream tea in the UK to celebrate National Cream Tea Day, plus an easy recipe to make your own scones.

Scones and tea

Tuck into a delicious freshly baked scone and raise a toast to National Cream Day 2019 with our selection of the best places for a cream tea in the UK, plus an easy recipe to make your own scones.

What is a traditional afternoon tea?

During the early nineteenth century afternoon tea was born. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford created the idea of afternoon tea as a way to bridge the gap between breakfast and dinner. What started as a private activity soon became publicly fashionable, and the upper classes began to take afternoon tea on a regular basis. These days it’s not so much of a routine but more of a treat, and a scrumptious one at that.

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The Jam Pot cafe, Cornwall

What comes first on a scone cream or jam?

The controversial debate of whether you should put cream or jam on your scone first has been ongoing for years. The Cornish cream tea sees jam spread on the scone first with cream on top, while the Devon cream tea method involves a hearty dollop of cream with jam on top. Either way, they taste delicious!

Delicious scones, cream and jam on a wooden table
Delicious scones, cream and jam are at the heart of a British afternoon tea (Getty)

Warren Farm, Isle of Wight

Aga baked, Warren Farm’s scones use flour, butter, milk and clotted cream from the island. The scones are fruit-free and served with fresh strawberries as well as local jam. The farm, situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, is the perfect stop-off for cyclists and walkers on the Tennyson trail from Freemantle Bay to the Needles. Children will also enjoy visiting the farm’s Kune Kune pigs and Pygmy goats. www.warrenfarmiow.co.uk

Brendon House Teas, Lynton, Exmoor


Brendon House Teas is a small, family-run tea garden situated at the very heart of Exmoor national park. Many of their dishes are homemade using locally sourced produce and salad and vegetables from their kitchen garden when available. The garden is also home to a wide variety of birds, including sparrows, finches, blue and great tits, wagtails, robins, thrushes and blackbirds – so keep an eye on your scones! www.ngs.org.uk

Fingle Bridge Inn, Drewsteignton, Devon


An odd location for a cream tea maybe, but if you like your tea fuss-free then this picturesque riverside inn is the ideal setting to partake in the most British of traditions. Cosy up with a cuppa by the log fire in colder weather or soak up some rays on the river terrace as the Teign waters rush by. Fingle Bridge is a wonderful start or finish to a walk along the Teign Gorge.

The Secret Garden, Mersham le Hatch, Kent


Celebrate summer the British way, by taking your tea outdoors. The aptly named Secret Garden, serves cream teas with locally sourced fresh strawberries and jam on the terrace overlooking a walled garden, attached to a Robert Adams designed 18th-century manor house. All scones are baked on the premises. www.secretgardenkent.co.uk

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Primrose Cottage, Lustleigh, Devon


Another hit for Devonshire but this is after all the county where the cream-tea tradition is said to have originated. Set in a wooded Dartmoor village, Lustleigh’s, thatched cottages, including the Primrose, make this one of the most quintessentially English settings in the country. Having served tea since the 19th century, the tearooms know a thing or two about the art and offer a large selection of homemade cakes. Once suitably refreshed, work it off with a walk along Lustleigh Cleave, a steep wooded valley through which the River Bovey bubbles.

Sopley Mill, Hampshire

The location itself makes this place special. The restaurant is situated in a Victorian mill that sits on the river Avon. With a riverside patio and lawned gardens, it really is idyllic on a sunny day. Their cream tea is good value for money and offers a generous helping of New Forest jam and Dorset clotted cream.

Fir Tree House tearooms, Penshurst, Kent

Fir Tree House, originally part of the Penshurst Estate was built in the 16th century in traditional Kentish style. It certainly has character, with the five tea tables being made out of the 250 year old Scots Pine that died after the 1987 storm. The tearooms are open Wednesdays to Sundays and cream tea is delicious. penshurst-online.co.uk

Classic scones recipe

Whip up a fresh batch of homemade scones for a cream tea with this easy recipe.

Scones with jam and cream
A Devon cream tea – cream and then jam. (Getty)