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Proper Manners are Always in Style

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz in London

While English cuisine still gets some bad press, taking tea is still revered as one of the pinnacles of social grace and civility. Today we are going to focus on the social graces of taking tea. Our recipe today is Clotted Cream, an essential part of Afternoon and Cream Tea.

Tea is for Sharing Confidences

While the grand dining scenes at Downton provide opportunity for the Crawleys to showcase their status in society, tea is perfect for intimate conversations, scheming and such. Even below stairs, gathering for tea in the Servant’s Hall (or in private quarters) provides opportunity to talk about life, love, and politics. While you may summon a friend or 2 for tea with a topic in mind to discuss in confidence, you can simply just want to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy a scone or two. But what to talk about? What about:

Sharing Downton Abbey News
Q: did you hear:

Comment on your hosts’ tea service
Q: Where ever did you get such a lovely service?
A: Why thank you. I actually found all these pieces at Goodwill.


Engage in a lively debate: cleaning silver with polish vs. baking soda/tin foil

Proper Etiquette

Matthew’s manners in the beginning

Displaying acceptable manners is a way of fitting in with a certain class. Pay attention to the “tea scene” (S1 E2), which will be broadcast in Canada tomorrow on Vision TV. Matthew comes home to find visitors, and decides to help himself to tea and madeleines to the horror of Molesley, the butler, and embarrassment of his mother, the Dowager and Cora. Yes, it is evident that this middle class lawyer is a diamond in the rough, and has a long way to go before he will become worthy of the title of Earl.

London is likely to be a very popular vacation destination this year, drawing crowds for the summer Olympics, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. If you are taking the trip, and plan to enjoy the tea ritual, book an Afternoon Tea (not High Tea), and do take note of proper manners to fully enjoy the experience. You may recall I had dress code challenges when I tried to have tea with the girls at The Ritz, so book early and ask questions. In London, they do try to do things properly, which is why we adore Downton Abbey in the first place, right?


Tea Etiquette Tips

Some notes from A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew:

*Since ancient Rome, a cultured person ate with 3 fingers, a commoner with five. Thus, the birth of the raised pinkie as a sign of elitism. This 3 fingers etiquette rule is still correct when picking up food with the fingers and handling various pieces of flatware. The pinky “up” rule is actually a misinterpretation of the 3 fingers vs 5 fingers dining etiquette in the 11th century, but we won’t judge…much.

Easy to Make Clotted Cream


Easy to Make Clotted Cream

Making your own clotted cream is really simple and Keto friendly. The goal is to coax the liquid from the cream.  2 methods one in the fridge which you have to tend, the other in the oven which you leave overnight.
Course Afternoon Tea, Pantry Basic
Cuisine English, Keto
Keyword Afternoon Tea
Servings 1 cup


  • 2 cups pasteurized cream ultra pasteurized cream will also work


Fridge Method

  • Set a coffee filter basket, lined with a filter, in a strainer, over a bowl. Pour the cream almost to the top of the filter.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours. The whey will sink to the bottom passing through the filter leaving a ring of clotted cream.
  • Scrape this down with a rubber spatula and repeat every couple of hours until the mass reaches the consistency of soft cream cheese.

Oven Method

  • Set your oven to 180F
  • Pour the cream into a heavy casserole dish. It should come up about 1-3 inches on the side. Set the dish, uncovered, in the oven and leave undisturbed for 12 hours. Be sure to leave the oven on the whole time. I do this overnight.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and set to cool. Then cover and refrigerate. The next morning scoop the thickened cream into a jar or jars, and cover and put back in the refrigerator for the rest of the day.


While making clotted cream is easy, how you use it on your scones is a matter of much debate around the UK
  • In Devon,  the cream is put on the scone before the jam
  • Cornish folk put the jam on first and then dot the cream on top
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