An idea I’m working on. Is it possible to give a reasonably objective ranking to a cream tea? I believe so:
- Scone – probably the most important element. Should be freshly baked, large, crumbly with fat, light rather than stodgy. If there’s fruit it should be plump and flavourful. Extra points for a regional variation (c.f. Betty’s “Fat Rascals” or a Cornish “split”). Nothing can save a cream tea if the scone is crap.
- Cream – must be clotted, ideally served in lashings rather than in mean plastic pots. Double, single or whipped cream is an instant failure. The yellower the better.
- Jam – ideally homemade, but if not then a high quality make like Wilkin & Sons. Strawberry or raspberry is traditional but not essential. Minus points for being served in plastic wrapping. Also should be plentiful.
- Tea – a good pot, good cups, hot, milk in a jug, sugar in a bowl. A second pot of boiling water. If being fussy about it, tea should be loose and cups should be china.
- Presentation – should not be served from a plate covered in cling film.
- Setting – probably the most subjective. Ideally a bucolic setting, but a quality attraction such as a transport museum, full of irascible eccentrics would also be good. Extra points for being served “on the move”, e.g. on a steam train. The serving of the cream tea should be taken seriously, smartly dressed waitresses a bonus.
To me it seems these minimum requirements for a cream tea are reasonably easy to satisfy. You could easily do it at home (especially if you live on a steam train). But the “perfect storm” of components is hardly seen. Any thoughts?