“Cream tea” doesn’t have anything to do with putting anything dairy into your cup of tea. You can take your tea black (or “clear”, as some people say), and still be having a cream tea.
In Britain, the word “tea” often refers to a meal, and “cream tea” refers to the food that goes with your tea on the side: a pastry, usually scones, with a thick cream spread on them and often jam as well to boot.
The thick cream is usually clotted cream.
Some people say that the jam should go on the split scone first, then the clotted cream. Others say the clotted cream goes on first, and that it is then topped with a dollop or two of jam.
The English counties of Devon and Cornwall have debated recently who sets out the best Cream Tea.
People in Devon say that serving bread with cream was being practised in the 11th century at Tavistock Abbey in Devon. The Cornish say that they learnt how to make the clotted cream as early as 500 BC, from the Phoenicians. In May 2010, a campaign was launched to get European PDO protection on the term “Devon Cream Tea.”
Some people say that no one in Devon and Cornwall actually cares, and that the whole “debate” has been created by Tourism Marketing Boards.
Orme, Sarah. Storm in a teacake: Devon and Cornwall’s rivalry. Manchester: The Guardian. 28 May 2010.
Tourists trapped in the sticky middle of cream-jam debate. This is Cornwall. 25 September 2010. Retrieved October 2010 from http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/news/Tourists-trapped-sticky-middle-cream-jam-debate/article-2684297-detail/article.html