The Great British Cream Tea Debate: Jam or Cream First?

We weigh in on the ultimate British food debate - what topping goes on the scone first?

3 minute read

When it comes to quintessential British traditions, not much can rival the simple elegance of a cream tea. Originating from the West Country, a cream tea has become an iconic part of British culture and cuisine, offering the perfect combination of plain scones or fruit scones, clotted cream and jam. A disagreement has persisted for years, however, regarding the 'proper' way to plate and enjoy this delightful treat. Should you spread the jam on the scone first and then top it with cream, or vice versa? In this blog post, we'll dive into the age-old question of jam first vs cream first so you can make your own opinion on the matter!

A Historical Delicacy

The cream tea, as we know and love it today, emerged during the 19th century in beautiful Devon. This delightful tea-time ritual gained popularity across the UK and cemented itself as part of British culture. Traditionally, scones were served warm with clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam, providing a great contrast of sweet flavours and textures.

The Cornish Method

In Cornwall, where the cream tea has an equally cherished heritage, the locals have a strong opinion on the debate. According to the Cornish tradition, you should always spread a generous layer of clotted cream on a halved scone, followed by a luscious layer of strawberry or raspberry jam. The reasoning behind this method lies in the cream's smooth, spreadable consistency, which serves as the perfect base for the sweet and tangy jam that can be dolloped on top.

The Devonian Way

Across the border in Devon, they have the opposite take on the cream tea debate. The Devonians argue that spreading jam on the scone first is the correct path to scone perfection, the logic being that the jam acts as a delightful bed of fruity sweetness that can seep into the scone, onto which a scoop of clotted cream is added as a finishing touch.

Choosing Sides...

Now that we've explored the two methods, it's time to weigh up the arguments and choose a side. Ultimately, your decision of whether to put jam or cream first on your scone boils down to personal preference. Both methods offer a delectable experience, and there's no definitive right or wrong way to enjoy a cream tea.

But for those who relish the smooth and velvety texture of clotted cream, the Cornish method may just be the way to go. Starting with cream as the base allows it to act as a smooth foundation for the jam, creating a harmonious balance between the two flavours.

On the other hand, if you're more of a fan of the fruity, sugary taste of the jam, the Devonian approach might suit your palate better. By placing the jam first, you ensure that its flavours permeate through the scone, complemented by the rich and creamy clotted cream on top.


In the great British cream tea debate, the question of whether to put jam or cream first on your scones has sparked lively discussions and friendly disagreements for generations. Whether you opt for the Cornish method with cream as the foundation or the Devonian way of starting with jam, what matters most is the joy you get from this delightful British treat. So, go ahead, gather your loved ones, brew a pot of tea, and savour the experience of a classic cream tea, whatever your preferred style.

Friday 30th June 2023 marks National Cream Tea Day - so be sure to let us know on social media if you're celebrating!

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Author: Gabby Wood
Gabby is British Corner Shop's very own Marketing Executive. If you follow us on social media or receive emails from us, you'll likely see…