Skip to main content

BBC Local | Cornwall | Things to do | People & Places | TV & Radio |
15:55 GMT, Wednesday, 9 June 2010 16:55 UK

How do you do take your cream tea?

cream tea

It is a debate that has been rumbling on for years between the Devonians and the Cornish.

Where did the cream tea originate from and what is the correct way to distribute your cream and your jam?

But this debate has now stepped up a gear after Devon-based dairy Langage Farm launched a campaign to get European protection for the name "Devon cream tea".

They say they are fed up with all the sub-standard versions.

Fill in the form at the bottom of the page and tell us your thoughts.

Of course, BBC Devon are biased toward their version of the cream tea, but here at BBC Cornwall we can't help but feel it is just plain wrong to put your jam on top.

The Cornwall argument even had celebrity endorsement by no other than Philip Schofield who has tweeted, "My personal preference is jam spread first, then a big dollop of Roddas on top. Any other way is an abomination.

"And it must be strawberry jam, home-made if possible. Served after fish and chips from Flounders in Newquay and eaten overlooking Fistral."

BBC Radio Cornwall's James Churchfield spoke to Paul Winterton from Langage Farm in Devon and Nick Rodda from Rodda's Clotted cream to find out their feelings towards the traditional treat and to find out why Paul feels the Devon cream tea is superior enough to gain European protection.

Paul Winterton explains: "We're taking this to another level and we're not trying to get just get the Protected Designation of Origin of the cream which has been done before, we've actually got three different components to make the meal which is the Devon cream tea.

"I think because the Cornish clotted cream has got the PDO, when you say a cream tea that's the perfect bit, that's the bit the people really want to eat when they have a cream tea is the clotted cream..."

The Cornish way

Nick Rodda say's..."I would say that the Cornish make their cream better, and as my grandfather always jokingly said, 'we always put our cream on the top because we are proud of it, Devonians are slightly ashamed of theirs so they cover it up with their jam', but that's a little bit of tongue in cheek rivalry."

Paul suggests that if you look at the theory of where the cream tea originated, it was always the jam component that was the most expensive of which Devon and Cornwall people couldn't afford so the cream would supposedly go on first with a small portion of jam on the top of that cream, so the history, the provenance, comes from Devon and not Cornwall.

But Nick disagrees and suggests that the Cornish cream tea is well established, used in many top London hotels, where the chefs put the cream on top. He says: "If you go to the best places in the world, they are doing it the Cornish way.

"Cornish is best, most definitely".

Comments so far - latest update Wednesday 9 June 4.50pm

Quoted form above in praise of the Devon way....." The cream of course, and by putting it on first you make sure you get it before it runs out!" Proper Cornish clotted cream doesnt "run out" so we can show it with pride on the top of the jam. :)
A Cornishman in Devon

Devon all the way-cream on top is simply impossible and much harder to eat!

Being Devonian the Devon way is best - one thing is for certain the Westcountry know how to make a good pasty and cream tea which ever way up you have it!! Shame our neighbours do it upside down...
K, Devon

I'm from Somerset and feel it should be the West Country cream tea as Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and Devon all offer superb scones, jam and cream. As for which way - I've done both and it tends to depend on how much jam or cream is available!!
Lynda, Crewkerne

Devon style keeps the cream off your nose

Cream first then jam. It's just common sense! Does anyone put jam on their bread and then butter on top? So why do it with jam and cream on a scone? It must be clotted cream and strawberry jam though.

I'm not sure this is completely fair being on BBC Cornwall but anyway, my understanding was the cream tea is considered the regional dish of Devon just as in Cornwall there's the 'Cornish Pasty' or in Lancashire the 'Lancashire Hot Pot'. This dish, has now been adopted by many of our country's tourist regions. Devon having more pasture land than Cornwall historically gained a reputation throughout the rest of the country for producing the best milk with enough cream content to produce clotted cream. I believe it still does this to this day, unlike the runnier substitute of its neighbors which has to be spread last on the scone. The earliest spreading of this clotted cream dates back to the 11 century documented in Taverstock Abbey in Devon. Subsequently we shared this delicacy with our wonderful guests from the rest of the country. I feel this is just another gimmick from the more media savvy Cornish trying to get one over on their old rival. Well at least Exeter have proved once and for all who is better at Rugby.
Tim Huxtable - Devon, London, Moscow

Bread spread with cream then brown sugar! My Gran's taught me some good habits!
Steve, Helston

Cream teas come from the best Dairy Cow lands. I believe they originated in Somerset.
Colin, Cornwall

Got to be cornish and Rhoddas
Fred Beare

Cornish all the way!
Tina, California

Cornish preference is Rodda's cream on top then homemade strawberry with homemade splits not scones. I have a few friends from England who think that cream on any sort of bread is disgusting. But they are only used to spray cream. They are ok with it on scones but still put it on upside down.
Martin, Cornwall

Although I love everything from Cornwall, it is common to us, that we put the cream first (like butter) and then the jam. But it's funny how important this is for English people. Nonetheless I vote for Cornwall!
Manuela, Austria

Cornish of course! And it must be Rodda's. My local Supermarket has just started selling Rodda's, so I've tried to recreate it at home. Still not as good though - you need to eat it in Cornwall to get the best!!
Charlotte, ex Falmouth

It has got to be the Cornish Way, sheer decadence!!!!!!

Dream on - Splits, strawberry jam and Roddas on top whilst lying in the sun with a Kellys ice cream waiting and a pint of St. Austell in the fridge and all following a Sarah's of St. Mawes Bakery Pastie - Heaven. If Nick Rodda reads this there's an export market awaiting you here. Cruise ships hub-porting, tea shops and scones but canned cream UGH.
Adrian, Malta

How will you eat yours? Now There's a bit of Cornish nostalgia for you - how will you eat yours! It has to be the Cornish way for me after being indoctrinated at 7 years old on my first visit to Mousehole in Cornwall by a mother who spent the war years living & working on a farm in the Land Army stationed at Bolitho's Farm overlooking Mounts Bay, Marazion near Penzance. The outstanding question is - if you eat your cream tea the Devon way with cream on first, how do you then spread jam on the top --- it must look like something out of a boil!!!!! I am looking forward to lots of cream teas this summer when I come down to the S/W again & lots of Cornish Pasties too.
Sue, Sheffield

Howard, Bedwas

As I am Cornish it has to be the way that I've always known. Jam then cream, for sure!
Tamsin, Truro

First it was our pasties, now the cream tea. When will Devon come up with something of their own! The Cornish way is the only way.
Jane, Cornwall

The best in the West is the Cornish way and no mistake.
Sue, Kent

First it was our pasties, now the cream tea. When will Devon come up with something of their own! The Cornish way is the only way.
Jane, Cornwall

Spread Cornish Cream on scone or bread then add jam - home made blackberry a childhood favourite - then add a generous helping of cream on the top. This used to be our breakfast when we stayed in Lansdowne Place Penzance as children.

Spending Cuts, Come On Devon, Stop this Waste Of Money, Just Eat The Thing.
Paul, Cornwall

I have my cream tea the different way - Lashings of cream followed by honey or chocolate spread on top of cream YUM YUM - cant stand JAM - yuk.
Kate, Berkshire

The Cornish way is the only way to eat a real cream tea. BUT it must be good jam(homemade) and a good spoon full of Cornish clotted cream.
Tracy, Saltash

Jam first, then a great dollop of cream! Just because I now live 'up country' doesn't mean I have forgotten my roots! Will be 'home' in October to get my fix of all manner of 'ansome things!
Fay, Lincolnshire

I'm Cornish, jam definitely goes on the bottom! And it has to be Rodda's cream on top, there's no other way of doing it.
James, Falmouth

I've been brought up to have a proper CORNISH cream tea, and so it shall remain.
Jo, Sheviock

Home made splits or scones topped with strawberry jam then a huge dollop of proper Cornish Clotted Cream! There is no other way!
Gary Kerslake

It's definitely Cornish and those Devoners are just trying to steal it!
Sam, Penzance

I'm Cornish, but living in France. What else? Cornish is cream and my grand mother would have agreed coming from Newlyn. Her father was the harbour master.
David Tattersall

It just has to be Cornish. If Devon are going to protect the Devon cream tea, why can't Cornwall protect our cream tea, and pasties etc.

Has to be the Cornish way of course! Cornish clotted cream after a good dollop of homemade strawberry jam...heaven!

I agree with Mike Williams from Redruth, can't they register both (keep it a West Country thing). I have mine, jam on first then followed by a big dollop of Rodda's clotted cream on top, heaven. Can't stand the 'cream teas' you get with whipped or even squirty cream on top - yuk.
Jane Williams, Hereford

It has to be Cornish. The very best and proper cream teas are scone, jam and then the cream (so you can be disgusting like me and lick the cream off first!). It also adds to the experience if you can actually be in Cornwall when you eat it. No contest!
Lesley, Guildford

Cornish cream tea I've enjoyed for years. I didna think there was such a thing as a Devon Cream Tea until last year. So Cornish wins my vote.
Eddy, Scotland

Cornish all the way
Pam, Somerset

The Cornish way will always win. Proper job!
Lynne, Antibes, France ex Cornwall

As an exiled Plymouthian I have tended to prefer Devon Clotted Cream but am always happy to have Cornish as an alternative. Both are far superior if made properly than the rubbish produced elsewhere! Personally I think the best use of Devon or Cornish Clotted Cream is on top of Kelly's or Pollards Clotted Cream Ice Cream.
Colin F.J.James, Gloucesteshire

Jam on top! How do you spread jam on top of cream? The crowning glory is the Clotted cream, I guess Devon can't make decent cream so they hide it under the jam
Paul, Bude

It has to be the Cornish way, the Devonshire way is Heathenism, have you every tried to spread jam on top of cream! Steal a Cornish Saint (St Petroc) Copy St Piran's flag, try and claim the pasty as yours, and now try and claim the cream tea, what ever next, Just admit it Devon wishes it was Cornwall! Onen hag oll!
Steve, Porthleven

Having visited Cornwall from the age of 6 months old in June 1947, Cornish will beat anything anyone can throw at her. Cornish is always fresh and the best....
Michael, Northampton

As an expat who spent many vacations in Cornwall as a child it is definitely the Cornish way. Scone, Strawberry Jam and then Cornish clotted cream
Shirley Johnson, Oklahoma City

I am Cornish, always jam first then with Trewithen Clotted Cream on top

It has to be cream on top - tis the Cornish way! Hands off Devon dumplings! The best thing to come out of Devon is the A38!
Jonathan, North London (Cornish Exile)

I don't think it really matters how you have it. It all tastes the same in the end anyway.
Gerrard, Scotland

I am originally from Kernow and I have always put the jam on first overlooking Trebarwith. It would be sacrilegious to put the jam on top. Although, it would be nice to get any kind of proper cream tea here. Some places try but they serve it with whipped cream, what a nerve. They should not be allowed to call it cream tea.
Andrew, Napanee, Canada

Wrong question! Splits or scones? In Australia Scones are usually called Devonshire teas, but Splits are proper Cornish!

Wherever you go in the world and ask for a Devonshire Cream Tea, they always serve it with the cream on top. Sorry Devon!
Al George - Australia

Didn't know until now that the Devonians do it the wrong way. The cream should be the icing on the cake.
Kerra, Lemwerder/Germany

Why must it be cream or strawberry jam on top? Spread your thick clotted cream on your scone or split like butter, spread your home made strawberry jam and put a nice dollop of cream on top. Decadent!
Lynne Sachse, a Londoner

Nah, the biggest debate is whether it is a "Ss-KON" as in "GONE" - the "proper Cornish" pronunciation, or a "SKOAN" which is rather more "Home Counties". I still wince when I hear the Home Counties version!

Definitely Cornish, preferably from Crantock, never visit Cornwall without partaking of a Cream Tea
Craig Peace, Leeds

Cornish way will always win!

Of course jam first and cream on top, and then eat it drekly
Tim, Cornishman-in-exile in Midlands

ALWAYS STRAWBERRY JAM first (mind you homemade raspberry jam just made in July is a close second) and yes a great big dollop of Rodda's clotted cream with a crust, the clotted cream must have a crust
Chris from Southampton

Gusson with'ee the cream always comes to the top above strawberry jam or treacle
Bob Law, Michigan and Florida

Let Devon do their own thing - we all know the Cornish way is best! Jam then cream, besides anything else it's easier to spread cream on jam rather than the other way round. Our pasties are better too. But that's another debate!
Anita, Swindon, formerly of Camborne

Weem be proud of our clotted cream here in Cornwall and like to show it orf by putting in pride of place on the top - We aren't that ashamed of it that we have to hide it under a pile of jam like them forruners across the Tamar!
Gorran Kernow

Cornish way is the only proper way! You always put cream on top of a dish as a final flourish - you wouldn't put cream in a bowl then cover it with strawberries would you? You wouldn't have a fruit salad with the cream underneath? A sponge cake has the cream on top of the jam doesn't it? Devon's already nicked our flag and turned it green - leave our cream teas alone! I rest my case.
Mal Mitchell

I think that Devon and Cornwall should keep there separate and different ways, but the EU may intervene and make it uniform, but let's hope not!

No question for the Cornish-Roddas cream ON THE TOP! My theory is that the Cornish make the best cream, so they put their crowning glory on top of the jam. The Devonian's do make good preserves, so if you're Devonian you put your crowning glory on the top, which is the jam. So stop arguing. Cornish Cream tea-cream on top, Devonian Cream tea-jam on top....SIMPLES!
Angela - Cornish through and through

It absolutely HAS to be Roddas or Roskilly cream and then Jam. That way you can get lots of cream and a small amount of Jam. That is the whole point of a Cornish Cream Tea. Any other way would be like asking for a portion of salt and vinegar that you then garnish with chips.... Absolutely wrong. Cream Teas are best consumed in Polpeor on the Lizard. Travelling to the Southwest, Devon is only part way there, So are their cream teas.... I bet they even use tea bags, not proper tea !!!!!

The Cornish way of course. But more important, it MUST be Cornish clotted cream, with a good crust on it. Scones or splits - but personally I prefer scones. Would eat them constantly, but sadly my digestion will no longer cope!

Philip Schofield has got it absolutely correct! Jam on cream is too heavy and pushes the cream away. It has to be jam first, then Rodda's cream. And as Philip also says, a view over Fistral Beach - although I also like Towan Beach. Long live the CORNISH Cream Tea. (Sorry Devon, it looks like you are out-numbered)!

Cornish, through and through...and always jam first. It's just not even practical to spread jam on top of cream...
Philippa, Saltash

Does it really matter which is on top? You have it your way and I'll have it my way, but always with the cream on top, note the name CREAM Tea!
Dickie Mint, Ayrshire

Butter first, then jam then cream! I'm Devonian born and bred, but had a Cornish gran, seems her influence has been passed on!
Ali, Plymouth

has to be jam first then cream on top!!!!!
Loz, Liskeard

Its like painting a picture the cream is the base and the bright beautiful jam is the jewel on the top.
Simon, Devon

Definitely the Cornish way: jam first followed by Cornish clotted cream.
Mike, Yorkshire

A Cornish Cream tea just rolls off the tongue. However I went to school in Devon and I do prefer the cream on first then the jam.
Rachael, Callington

100% if's or but's.

Cornish all the way.....jam first, then a big dollop of Rodda's.....yum!!!

The argument here should not be about whether the jam or cream goes first - despite the claims at either extreme you will actually find both methods in both counties. The key differences are that Cornish cream is not the same as Devon cream and that the Cornish version should use a Cornish split not a scone.
Pasty Boy

Cornish every time - no other way

Cream First.

It's a substitute for Butter. You get more cream on. Putting jam on first means more jam than cream and as the cream is the main part of a cream tea that is just silly. Cream on top of jam looks nicer so is only done for asthetics.

Steve, Barnstaple

Being from Helston Kernow, it has to be the Cornish way! Though I prefer thunder and lightening!
Steve, Corsham

Cornish, splits with jam, then cream on top! There are a couple of import stores where I can get the clotted cream, but there is nothing like the real thing
Anne, Vermont

Always jam first true Cornish and proud. Fed up with Devon copying and claiming it's their ideas; pastys, cream, now cream teas - hands off!
Graham, Cornwall

Warm Cornish splits, Cornish homemade strawberry jam, topped with Cornish farm-made clotted cream with a bit 'o crust on it! Recipe made in heaven.
Denzel Pethworthy

We holiday in Cornwall every year and I prepare mine the Cornish way.I agree that there are some pathetic excuses for cream teas out there(squirty can cream!!!)Why can`t Devon and Cornwall get together on this one and call it a West Country Tea and fight against the inferior copies out there?
Nic Bird,Nottingham

A Cornish cream tea is a plain or fruit scone with a good dollop of jam of your choice and a very large helping or cream most definitely on top. The only variations are in the choice of jam chosen according to taste and whether or not the scone is plain or fruit! Nobody does it better!
Lianna Bradley

CORNISH, CORNISH, CORNISH Always. It's not a cream tea otherwise

Scone or split, with small spread of thick strawberry jam then a great dollop of clotted cream. Ansome!
Roadie Jon

Cream Teas are of course Cornish and the only way to have it is with the cream on top.
John Broadbridge

Just got back from 3 wks in Cornwall (every other year trip to visit family). Had countless cream teas, ALWAYS Rodda's on top, no question.
Shelagh in Vermont

I am Cornish, but my mother was from Devon. I put the cream on first, then the jam - the Devon way. To be correct Cornish Cream Tea should be on Cornish Splits.
Sylvia, Truro

Traditionally DEVON clotted cream is a completely different beast from CORNISH Clotted cream. Cornish Clotted cream is made with a heating process, TRADITIONAL Devon Clotted Cream was made with a Lapping the cream, process, no heat. It was labour intensive, and I now understand it to be extinct. Perhaps, in these days of mechanical automation, Devon Clotted Cream could be revived, and the basis of a "Devon Cream Tea?"
John Dudding

Eat it as you like, but cream first, jam on top is the Devonshire way,- and it makes most sense. What is more important, the jam or the cream? The cream of course, and by putting it on first you make sure you get it before it runs out! What is the point of having a scone and jam if there is no cream left to add?
Jonathan, Plymouth

Cornish all the way. Jam on first than a big dollop of cream.
James, Cornwall

My wife from Devon has it the Cornish way, cream on top. Meanwhile even after living in Cornwall for over 30 years, I have it the Devon way. But it has to be Cornish clotted cream.
Matt C

Definitely scone first, jam next and a big dollop of clotted cream on top. And it's always Rodda's.
Celia Clark

The Devonian way of course.. cream first with strawberry jam on top!!
Hannah Wiltshire

There's only one correct way and that's the Cornish way! We're proud of our Clotted Cream it goes on top! Yeghes da.
Ashley Cawley - Interceltic Cornish Wrestling Champion

Jam first then the clotted cream. Also a plain scone works best no distraction to the taste buds.

Cornish.. drekly after a pasty.. properjob!.

Perhaps my only memory of my Great Grandmother (born 1895) was that the cream is "King" and "will always be on top my boy".
Giant of Nancledra

The Cornish way, definitely. However, I think that Devon deserves to have their way protected, as the Cornish already have their clotted cream protected after all.

Over a lifetime I've probably eaten tons of the stuff and yes, jam first then cream. There can be no other way. Controversially I prefer homemade blackcurrent jam to than strawberry!

Rodda's cream always. On top always. Why would you hide something so perfectly delicious. Try dipping shortbread into a pot of Rodda's ... try it on Weetabix to add a little something to breakfast. So many ways to enjoy Cornish Rodda's Clotted Cream
Kath Teague

I know every year I come on holiday I always make sure I have a cream tea and in all the years I have come to Cornwall it has to be jam on bottom then clotted cream on top. The other way round does not work for me and I live up north, always look forward to a cream tea in a nice cafe, Rodda's keep up the good work and get people voting, clotted cream on top or jam on top, I bet most will say the clotted cream

Cornish way of course.

Spent the first 30+ yrs of my life in Cornwall and it was always a split with treacle & then cream. Thunder & Lightening! Devon cream was never "scolded" like the Cornish made in the home, (which Rodda's emulates)
Hicks, Florida

Cornish cream tea rocks! Just a shame I'm diabetic, lactose intolerant with a wheat allergy and high cholesterol.

Of course it is cream on top that is UNLESS it is "Thunder and Lightning" THEN it is thunder (cream) first with the lightning (treacle - golden syrup) streaked on top to represent flashes of lightning. Splits not scones.
Ann, Redruth

My personal preference is jam spread first, then a big dollop of Roddas on top. Any other way is an abomination. And it has to be strawberry jam, home-made if possible. Served after fish and chips from Flouders in Newquay and eaten overlooking Fistral
Philip Schofield (on Twitter)

Of course it is cream on top that is UNLESS it is "Thunder and Lightning" THEN it is thunder (cream) first with the lightning (treacle - golden syrup) streaked on top to represent flashes of lightning. Splits not scones.
Ann, Redruth

My personal preference is jam spread first, then a big dollop of Roddas on top. Any other way is an abomination. And it has to be strawberry jam, home-made if possible. Served after fish and chips from Flouders in Newquay and eaten overlooking Fistral
Philip Schofield (on Twitter)

Thank you Hannah! I am very touched and I am sure I speak for many other Cornish folk :) Kernow Bys Vyken

Home made splits and definately with the cream on top, needless to say it got to be Rodda's cream. Never have any other cream.
Anthea Phillips

Why not have a Cornish version and Devon one, and register both? However, all the pictures of Cornish Cream Teas you show are incorrect! We Cornish always used splits, we certainly never used scones at home. And I remember when I was much younger the splits would be cut through in three slices, they were so big. My dad was one of the first to sell Roddas cream, some 60 years ago, and I remember that even then, at home, the cream went on top.
Mike Williams, Redruth

Living in Hampshire but coming from the West Country, it HAS to be jam then CLOTTED cream! Do you know how hard it is to get a scone with clotted cream here? Most seem to use whipped cream which to me is an act against God and nature! Can't wait to come home in June for some proper scones and pasties!
Teri caton

I'm Welsh, and we take our cream teas with cream on top, in solidarity with our Celtic brethren (and sistren) in Cornwall!
Hannah, Oxfordshire

What do you think? Using the form below email us your thoughts and tell us how you distribute your jam and cream



The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Terms & Conditions

E-mail this to a friend

Devonshire born and bread? (19 May 10 |  History )
Battle to save Devon cream teas (19 May 10 |  Devon )
Bid to protect Cornish pasty name (10 Mar 10 |  Cornwall )
Sardine name given EU protection (10 Dec 09 |  Cornwall )

Daily Mail: Scones at dawn
Guardian: It's Scone Wrong
Sydney Morning Herald
Telegraph: Cream teas battle rages
EU Protected Designation of Origin
Defra: Protected Food Status
BBC Good Food
Facebook: Eat Scones the Cornish way
Facebook: Eat Scones the Devon way

BBC Local | Cornwall | Things to do | People & Places | TV & Radio |
People & Places Contents:  Nature & Outdoors | History | Religion & Ethics | Arts & Culture | BBC Introducing