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Need Advice on Preparing a British Tea for Family

I am going to order some British food items online. I have already ordered Fortnum & Mason tea. What do you recommend for a British tea at home here in the USA? Clotted cream? Devon cream? Marmite or creamed honey? With online ordering, the shipping costs are generally cheaper to order more items at one time. I live in a somewhat rural area - so, finding certain items requires online ordering.

I am going to make salmon/cucumber and chicken salad sandwiches, buttermilk biscuits (It’s a southern thing.) with strawberry jam, and dainty treats from the local bakery (whatever I can find on the shelves or case).

If my family likes this - perhaps, I can spin-off variations of a “tea.” Gator tail and shrimp salad, key lime treats, more buttermilk biscuits with Florida orange marmalade, or go Country BBQ style. Ethnic style “teas” like Cuban.

Right now, I wish to stay true to the United Kingdom.

Posted by
9921 posts

Don’t remember where you are from but Alessi Bakery in Tampa used to have to-die-for petit fours.

I think Costco used to have frozen mini-quiches which might work for some savory treats.

I read a lot of Trisha Ashley novels and in one, Little Teashop of Lost and Found, there is a LOT of discussion about setting up a teashop. She indicates they sometimes offer a slice of cake so if true you could consider a coconut cake…more Southern than English probably, lol but easier to find.

Posted by
726 posts

You could make a Victoria Sponge cake if you like baking. Not too difficult and easy ingredients.

Margaret (Brit Expat).

Posted by
234 posts

Definitely get yourself some clotted cream if you can find it (Devon cream is just clotted cream made in Devon, so that works too)! It should be spread on your biscuits, which I am guessing are meant to be a stand in for scones, along with the jam. Whether the cream or jam goes on first is a debate I am not going to wade into! When I lived in the States I found it hard to find clotted cream, though I think I recall Trader Joe’s had it. Sounds like you may have already found somewhere to order from though.

Never seen marmite at a tea!

This sounds like such fun, I hope everyone enjoys it immensely.

Posted by
1578 posts

Margaret,
Thanks for the cream info.. I found Amazon.com to be a good source for clotted cream. Glad to hear that Marmite is not a “tea” thing - read some info. on it. I will be shopping at a thrift store soon for a nice tiered plate stand. This is becoming a fun project for me.

Posted by
5710 posts

I have no idea what Devon cream or creamed honey is and you wouldn’t get Marmite in a tea. I am British and have never had F&M tea! Any black breakfast tea will suffice.

Traditional sandwiches would be cucumber (no salmon), cheese and pickle or ham and mustard. No crusts and cut into fingers. If you want to stay traditional to the U.K., then bake fruit scones - Mary Berry’s recipe is what I use - with strawberry or raspberry jam and clotted cream. Add a few cakes such as chocolate or Victoria sponge.

Posted by
3253 posts

Or you could have savory scones-I love them made with bacon, cheddar, and chives.

Posted by
8848 posts

Had to research what 'clotted cream' is. ( sounds like a dairy product that has gone bad).

Anyway, stumbled across this, in case you want to make your own.

How to make clotted cream ~

This is an amazing process, I hardly had to do anything, and I end up with a ton of the richest, silkiest clotted cream I’ve ever had.

I used 2 pints of cream, poured them into a baking dish, and left it overnight in a 180F oven (the lowest my oven will go.)
In the morning I let it cool and then refrigerated it for the rest of the day.
Then I scooped it into jars, which was a little sloppy at first, and put them back in the refrigerator. Any little bit of liquid gets absorbed right into the clotted cream after you put it in the jars, and by the next morning when I had it with my scones, it was absolutely to die for.

What say the UK folk about the recipe?
https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/how-to-make-clotted-cream/

Posted by
1240 posts

Traditional cream teas include tea (preferably strong with an orangey glow), plain or currant/sultana scones, clotted cream and jam (blackcurrant and raspberry are best). Possibly finger sandwiches, and you must use English cucumbers. Anything outside of this is a free-for-all of appetisers. Once you include olives it becomes tapas.

Posted by
1578 posts

Thank you everyone for your input. I may start doing a variety of “teas” for my family. I have made a couple types of scones before and Scottish shortbread cookies. The savory type scones will be a future project for me.

Pam, my husband said that he lived across the street from Alessi bakery in Tampa during his college years and really likes the food there. However, we live quite a ways from there.

Jennifer, thank you for your British perspective. I will skip the creamed honey unless I can buy it locally to save some money. I think I can even buy marmite locally, but will skip it also for now. I am doing chicken salad for my daughter; she doesn’t like cucumbers, ham, pickles, and eats mustard only if it’s on a Cuban sandwich.

Joe, I agree. When I first heard the term clotted cream - it sounded repulsive to me.

Posted by
3467 posts

What a fun idea! When our daughter was in London a few years ago she brought us back a tin of Fortun & Mason Lemon Curd Biscuits. They were divine. I have been buying a lightly sweet biscuit called Effie’s. It is available at my local Kroger store. My favorite is the oatmeal biscuit. They remind me of some homemade biscuits that are reminiscent of Nova Scotia. They are great plain or with English Cheddar.
I make scones and spread them with butter, Marmalade or creamed honey. When we visited Australia we had the best scones with clotted cream & jam. We were also introduced to Arnott’s Tim Tam biscuits. My favorite tea is the American “The Republic of Tea Ginger Peach Black Tea, decaf.”
Edited to add: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/clotted-cream-recipe_n_4979955/amp

Posted by
1240 posts

"Are English cucumbers the same as hothouse cucumbers?" - Unfortunatly not, you have to fly over the pond to get them.

Just kidding. Hothouse are fine. The long, thin sweeter cucumbers with tiny seeds, not those shorter, fat varieties which have leather skins and seeds like cannonballs.

Posted by
1578 posts

Janis, I splurged on F & M tea online at Amazon.com. Still easier and cheaper, though less exciting than a trip to London.

For “American” tea, check out Charleston tea. I put quotes around the American part because the tea is grown in USA (probably with migrant labor) and is owned by the Bigelow family.

Also, adagio tea.com has some really good teas (honeybush pumpkin chai and chamomile are a couple of favorites).

Posted by
3467 posts

Thanks Sun-Baked for the suggestions. Good to know about the F & M tea on Amazon. I also saw the Lemon Curd Biscuits as well! All of this brings back memories of afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. It’s been a tradition since 1908. Makes me want to take out my English tea cups & have a tea party!

Posted by
99 posts

I LOVE true English clotted cream on scones, but unfortunately it is nearly impossible to find in North America because of pasteurization laws (from my understanding, pasteurized milk doesn't clot properly because it has already been heated to high temperatures).
In order to make the recipe suggested above, you would need to locate non-ultra pasteurized cream.
I've tried the little jars of Devonshire cream sold here but they aren't great, in my opinion...

When preparing afternoon tea, I beat one cup of heavy whipping cream with 4 oz of fresh mascarpone. For an optional touch of sweetness you can add 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla (but I usually don't bother because it's served with sweet jam)

I adore your idea of a Florida-themed tea-- how fun! I had never heard of eating alligator.

Posted by
234 posts

For your chicken salad, try coronation chicken - you see that a lot at afternoon teas, very classic. Lots of recipes online.

Posted by
4718 posts

I second the Coronation chicken suggestion. Can be a bit sweet but it's a classic tradition.

I have no idea what creamed honey is, could it be what we would refer to as set honey in which the colour is pale and the texture much firmer than the usual runny honey?

Keep Marmite well away from a cream tea, in fact keep well away from Marmite in general.

Buttermilk biscuits are no subsititute for scones, try and make some from a British recipe.

Clotted cream is to die for, it's a shame it's not available in the states.

Earl Grey tea makes for a nice, delicate addition to a strong 'breakfast' tea or other Assam tea if you want to give people a choice. Never, ever Lipton. That is not tea despite what they insist.

Cucumber only in sandwiches (English ones are the long, thin skinned ones, a more delicate, sweeter taste than the spiky, leathery skinned ones you'll usually find) with a decent amount of butter. Crusts removed. Smoked salmon goes well with cream cheese. Roast beef and horseradish is a nice combination along with ham and mustard however it should be English mustard not the squirty yellow stuff you put on hotdogs, Colmans is the one most people use.

Posted by
1578 posts

All of you are giving excellent responses. I visited my local grocery today and was pleasantly surprised by the small British section. I picked up some strawberry jam and creamed honey (not in the British section). My F&M tea will be arriving soon (Amazon.com). Eventually, I am going to order the small jars of clotted cream from Amazon.com also. I read the above response that the clotted cream jars are not great. I get that. I think I will try it anyway. There are many foods in Europe that we can’t get here.

I really think that this tea will spin-off into other family food platters. There are many ideas for this.

Gator tail is eaten here in Florida. Either breaded and fried or grilled. The breaded, fried version is just okay. However, there is a local place that makes a very good gator tail that is either grilled or pan fried.
I like it in hoagies or gator tacos.

Thank you to all. I enjoy reading all the comments.

Posted by
853 posts

I recently did a British tea (to accompany a British novel) for my book club. I'm usually a "from scratch" baker, but after a couple of unmemorable scone attempts, I tried the Private Selection mixes from Kroger - Michigan Cherry & Almond and Meyer Lemon & Blueberry - and liked them both. Their dry product is to be mixed with heavy cream and it was not as dry as my previous attempts. I baked them in the Pampered Chef mini-bite brownie pan, and the result was pretty cute little square scones.

The teas I've experienced in London were served on tiered plates - sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle, and sweets up top. I got the same look by stacking glass pedestal cake plates. Have fun!

Posted by
1578 posts

Do salmon and cucumber pair well together on a sandwich? Or, keep them separate? I have a food network recipe that was unclear in one section.

Posted by
2140 posts

Shippams fish paste,

battenberg cake,

Mr Kiplings fondant fancies

Sausage rolls from Greggs

tin of salmon from the back of the cupboard dated 1997

tea in a pot (brewed 5 minutes)

salmon and thinly sliced cucumber in white sliced bread (crusts removed)

Posted by
853 posts

to joe32f:
I tried that recipe for clotted cream! And wasted 2 quarts of whipping cream and hours of time to make a hot mess! But rebekah's whipping cream + mascarpone is something I would try!

Posted by
1578 posts

I found a cheese scone and coronation chicken recipe on food network.com. The melon ingredient was a bit of a surprise. Lots of recipes out there. Rebekah - thanks for the whipping cream info.. Ruth, thanks for the big red flag on homemade clotted cream. Thanks also to the poster about pairing cucumber and salmon together. (I will use a newer can of salmon compared to your “aged” salmon.)

Posted by
3467 posts

Rebekah- Thanks for sharing an alternative to clotted cream. The combo of whipping cream & Mascarpone sounds great. Reminds me of the Mascarpone creaminess of Tiramisu.

Posted by
9921 posts

I don’t think real coronation chicken has melon in it? I thought it was basically a curried chicken salad?

Used to enjoy well-prepared gator tail. Needs to be soaked in milk to take out the fishy taste..says the vegan, lol!!!

Posted by
3709 posts

When I bought clotted cream at at a local US supermarket years ago it was refrigerated with a foil top and not shelf stable. Can you find something like that locally? Look at a higher end supermarket, the kind that has carpeting.

Posted by
4740 posts

Do you have a Whole Foods in your area? They’ve sold clotted cream in the past (but I have not paid attention as to whether they still carry it).

Posted by
8411 posts

I’ve enjoyed a lot of Afternoon Teas in England, including at Fortnum & Mason, and they all included Strawberry Jam. F&M makes the best strawberry jam i’ve ever had, so i’d order that as well.

Posted by
1578 posts

Update: My Fortnum&Mason tea arrived today. I found a Mary Berry YouTube video on basic scones. Some of you have inspired me to give it a try. I do make respectable buttermilk biscuits - thanks to another YouTube video. But, I’ll leave my tried and true biscuits aside.

Looks like my small family tea is going to happen this weekend - just without clotted cream. I’ll take another look in the refrigerator section, near the heavy cream, at my local store. Not expecting it though.

Thanks All!

Posted by
28126 posts

no melon in Corrie Chix

as far as tradition, yes tradition as long as most of us have been alive. Well me anyway. Created for and given to the nation for the coronation of our current queen, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second - the same monarch for whom we are creating Jubilee Pudding.

Posted by
28126 posts

Here's the story from the horse's cow's mouth! Everything you ever wanted to know about Cornish Clotted Cream. Unfortunately they don't appear to have a distributor in Florida or the US or even Canada, and they don't sell direct overseas.

https://www.roddas.co.uk/our-story/

Posted by
682 posts

The best strawberry jam is Tiptrees Little Scarlet, made from wild strawberries, it has a cult following! Understandably not many jars are produced, so you jump on them when you see them!

Posted by
4718 posts

I suspect the US Amazon site is likely to differ however the kindle version of 'Tea at Fortnum and Mason' cookbook is currently on sale for 99p on the UK site, might be worth having a look just in case.

Posted by
1578 posts

Thanks for all the posts. I borrowed a tiered plate stand from an acquaintance; found a couple of tea cups with saucers at a charity thrift store, found a YouTube scone recipe. So, it looks like my family tea is going to happen tomorrow. So far, enjoying this “project.”

Posted by
3493 posts

Clotted cream is to die for, it's a shame it's not available in the states.

It isn't? Hmmm, found several things calling themselves "Clotted cream". Never had it, so I can't state definitively. Just search for "clotted cream" in any search engine.

Posted by
4718 posts

It isn't? Hmmm, found several things calling themselves "Clotted cream". Never had it, so I can't state definitively. Just search for "clotted cream" in any search engine.

I'd be a bit wary. There are plenty of "lost in translation" products to be found. I've also found plenty of 'paremesan cheese' in the US, much of it made in Mexico and likely far different to the authentic cheese. Authentic English clotted cream is not pasteurised so any clotted cream sold in the US will be pasteurised which significantly affects the taste and texture, it will not taste like English clotted cream. Cornish Clotted Cream has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) which means that any product labelling itself as such must follow certain requirements, from milk produced in Cornwall and ensuring the cream has a minimum fat content of 55%. However the US does not recognise the PDO status and there is no law there to prevent any producer labelling their clotted cream as Cornish Clotted Cream hence the Mexican 'Parmesan'.

Posted by
28126 posts

Devonshire or Cornish Clotted Cream is what it is. I've been having cream teas one way and another for much of my life. Never had a problem.

In the Cotswolds I lived in a pub next to a dairy farm. Every morning we went next door and brought back milk straight from the moo, still warm. Survived that too, as did the family and the pub customers.

Posted by
3709 posts

Quickly checking:

Pasteurization (the kind used in the US for milk) is heating to 160 F for 15 seconds

Clotting cream involves heating to 180 F for 12 hours.

Therefore all clotted cream is pasteurized.

There are also the UHT-types of treating dairy products to make them shelf-stable, not really what I would call pasteurization but it destroys all the pathogens that pasteurization does. I agree UHT milk has poor flavor, but in France or Italy that’s what’s available. I’ll look at the supermarket and see if the clotted cream is marked UHT or shelf stable. I know it’s in the refrigerated section.

Mexico doesn’t make a cheese labeled Parmesan, they have their own, similar cheese
https://cheese.com/cotija/
Wisconsin makes Parmesan cheese labeled as such. It’s half the cost of parmigiano and tastes the same and there isn’t enough of the Italian cheese to go around. https://www.thespruceeats.com/parmesan-vs-parmigiano-591198

Posted by
4783 posts

Hi Sun-Baked in Florida,

How was your family British Tea Party?

What type of sandwiches did you end up making?

How did your scones turn out ?

I’d appreciate the link to the scone recipe you used, thanks!

Many years ago I took my mom to San Diego for a week, and we enjoyed a delicious Mother’s Day Tea at the famous Del Coronado Hotel. Yum! 😋

Posted by
4718 posts

are Brits really eating raw cream?

Yes, plenty of farm shops sell raw milk along with a pethora of online stores. Supermarkets etc will not sell raw milk.

There's also a wealth of unpasteurised cheeses available in the UK.

We also do't keep our eggs in the fridge (gasp!), well some do.

Posted by
28126 posts

just down the road from me the man with chickens sells eggs and has a vending machine for fresh raw milk - bring your own bottle.

I wouldn't say it runs to the level of a farm shop. But it is shoplette on a farm...