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Friday, November 13, 2009

Devonshire Tea

As many of you know, I am married to a Brit. My husband was born in London but spent close to twenty years in Plymouth, Devon.

I have been to Plymouth many times. (That's us below at the Mayflower Steps.) I love the Hoe, the Barbican ~ and those wonderful Devon Cream Teas!

Denise and Tony

Thanks to Twitter, I became acquainted with another Brit, Gavin Sheppard, and the fine people at Devonshire Tea, a family owned business based in Plymouth. Gavin is one of the Directors of Devonshire Tea and says his favorite part of his job is researching (and TASTING) Cream Teas across Devonshire!! (It's a tough job Gavin, but someone has to do it!)

I've invited him along today to tell us a bit about Cream Teas and a bit about Devonshire Tea. Thank you, Gavin!

A traditional Cream Tea

Gavin speaks:

The history associated with these most delicious and World Famous of Afternoon Teas is both long and interesting.

It wasn’t until the mid 1600's when tea became really "fashionable" in the UK, and that was all because of a Portuguese Princess, Catherine of Braganza, who loved tea so much that when she became the wife of Charles II she introduced tea to the upper classes.

In hardly no time at all news spread of this refreshing new beverage, and it was then that the East India Company started to import it in volumes to meet the growing demand.

Today, "Afternoon Tea" is seen as being a Great British Institution and when visitors come to the these shores, from overseas, many make a bee-line for the many & varied quality tea rooms to enjoy that authentic taste of an English Cuppa, with sandwiches, cakes and of course scones & cream!

Aahh, Scones & Cream…. that brings us nicely onto the best known of all English Afternoon Tea Treats, the “Devonshire Cream Tea”.

An authentic “Devonshire Cream Tea” consists of mouth watering home baked scones covered in gorgeous thick Devonshire Clotted Cream, and topped off with a beautiful locally made jam preserve, usually Strawberry. All washed down with several cups of Devonshire Tea.

It is widely reported that an afternoon snack, similar to our modern day "Cream Tea", had already been served as far back as 997AD in Devonshire, in the ancient Stanary Town of Tavistock to labourers working to re-build the local Abbey (which had been destroyed by Danish Invaders). They were fed on scone like “rounds” with cream to provide sustenance mid-afternoon.

“Devonshire Cream Teas” have come a long way in the subsequent 1,000 years and are now enjoyed the world over. However, there is little doubt they are best enjoyed in Devonshire, and if you visit you can find links to several high quality places across the County of Devonshire, all serving this most authentic of afternoon treat.

A box of Devonshire Tea

Gavin and his Tea Tweeters

Pictured above are a group of avid “Tweeters” from Plymouth, enjoying a Devonshire Cream Tea before the very first “Twittour” (a tour for people who use “Twitter”) in Plymouth, which took place on Saturday 10th October. The photo was taken in the garden of The Tudor Tea Rooms, New Street, Plymouth which is located just a few minutes from the historic “Mayflower Steps” where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail on The Mayflower, bound for The New World, in 1620.

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