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The art of perfect cream tea

How do you prefer your scones: with jam or cream on top? That is if you have already experienced the quintessential British cream tea. If you haven’t yet, definitely give it a shot!

Cream tea at a fancy tearoom is perhaps the ideal case (At Mitsukoshi Harrods, for example), but as I am not British, scones for breakfast from the supermarket will suffice. However, they are not sold everywhere. You can find American-style scones much easier; they are available at convenience stores and many supermarkets. They are triangular and usually abound in coffee shops, such as Starbucks. American scones also contain more fat and sugar than their British counterpart, and sometimes chocolate chips, nuts or berries are added. That’s why they don’t need any additional cream and jam.

For those of us who are lucky enough to own an oven here in Japan, there are some scone mixes as well.

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Traditional British scones are usually plain and only sometimes made with raisins or currants, but in Japan you can try many (sometimes even too many) varieties. For example, «Renoist» scones come in 4 flavors: orange, maple, black tea and plain. They are available at Lincos in Keyakizaka (Roppongi Hills) or Nissin World Delicatessen in Higashi-Azabu.

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At Seijo Ishii you can buy the popular mixed scone pack (with chocolate and walnut and banana tastes), pumpkin or chocolate chip scones, although their shape and taste resemble cookies more than it is appropriate for scones. They taste good regardless and if you are not a purist, go ahead and enjoy them!

There is only one possible drink to pair up with scones. You guessed right! It is a cup of black tea. Fancy crockery is a must!

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The typical toppings for British scones are cream and jam.

Cream must be thick and heavy, so opt for whipped double cream or clotted cream. Both are available at most supermarkets. You might be surprised to find that the British indulge in their afternoon cream tea not only with bland strawberry jam but other varieties such as gooseberry and rhubarb jam are also more than welcome!

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There are two well-known ways to enjoy your cream tea: the Devon way (in this county of England, people spread cream first, and then jam) and the Cornish way (jam first, then cream). In my humble opinion, Devon-style scones look more appetizing. Nevertheless, advocates of Cornish-style cream tea claim that jam between the scone and cream prevents the latter from melting. The freshly baked scones are warm and hence dangerous for the cream, so it makes sense. Let’s try it both ways!

Article by Olga Kaneda

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