More insider guides for planning a trip to Cornwall
A proper Cornish cream tea is made by putting the jam on the scone before the clotted cream. The reason? The cream would melt on scones hot from the oven. A scone is something that must be freshly baked, preferably in a farmhouse Aga, and with a light hand on the baking powder. Sadly, there are lots of cream tea shops that cut corners, especially in holiday resorts. Here are ten of the best places for a traditional Cornish cream tea, chosen for the freshness of their scones, the quality of the jam and the beauty of their location.
Rosemergy Farmhouse, Morvah
Jane Holmes bakes delicious scones on demand in her Aga. Two crusty scones, lashings of cream and jam are served with tea or – if you must – coffee, hot chocolate and juice. There are tables in the pretty walled garden overlooking the sea and in the farmhouse kitchen on wet days. Walk off the calories by taking an easy stroll across fields to the coastal path where you can watch novice climbers attempt to scale the smooth pale granite of Bosigran sea cliff, one of Britain’s most popular climbs.
Top treat: The rich and moist carrot cake.
Contact: 01736 796557; rosemergy.com
Opening times: Apr-Sep, 1.30pm-5.30pm; call ahead in Oct
Trengwainton Tearooms, Penzance
Set in a sunny walled garden alongside the National Trust’s glorious subtropical garden at Trengwainton, there’s plenty of seating inside and out at this tearoom. Scones are made on the premises and come in plain, fruit, cheese or gluten-free varieties and there’s a choice of three jams. The bright chalet-style café also serves up light lunches, a big choice of cakes and a children’s picnic box. The tearoom can be accessed without paying garden entry.
Top treat: A bone-shaped chicken and cheese scone for dogs.
Contact: 01736 331717; trengwaintontearooms.com
Opening times: Feb-Oct, Sun-Thu, 10am-5pm
Lamorna Pottery, Lamorna
This long-established pottery, set in a leafy dell, has a fine reputation for its traditional cream teas. Scones are light with a hint of both salt and sweet and served with local clotted cream and award-winning Cherry Tree preserves in the bright conservatory or out on the lawn. Light lunches, homemade soups and delicious cakes are also available. As well as the pottery’s own stoneware, there’s a fine selection of crafts by local makers on display in the house.
Top treat: A slice of cardamom and almond cake.
Contact: 01736 810330; lamornapottery.co.uk
Opening times: Daily, 10am-4.30pm
Wavecrest, The Lizard
This pretty wooden chalet with wraparound sea views at Lizard Point has been serving afternoon tea since the 1930s. Scones are baked on the premises: a perfect combination of crusty top and light middle. You can eat in or out at tables just yards from the cliffs where rare Cornish choughs whirl in the thermals. Homemade cakes, ice cream sundaes and proper lunches are also served and the café has a full drinks licence.
Top treat: A glass of Prosecco with high tea.
Contact: 01326 290898; wavecrestcornwall.co.uk
Opening times: Daily, 10am-5pm (3pm in winter)
Rectory Farm, Morwenstow
It’s worth making a special journey to this medieval farmhouse in the far north of Cornwall which has been serving Cornish cream teas for 70 years. Baking is done in the original farmhouse kitchen and served on vintage china in the reception rooms or out on the lawn. As befits a perfectly baked scone, there’s a choice of homemade jams and specially blended loose leaf teas include lapsang souchong, Earl Grey, oolong and white peony. Do peek into the Norman church of St John the Baptist next door and stroll out to the cliffs from where you can see Lundy Island on a fine day.
Top treat: A full afternoon tea of quiche, sandwiches, homemade biscuits, scones and meringues.
Contact: 01288 331251; rectory-tearooms.co.uk
Opening times: Easter-Oct, 11am-5pm
Trevathan, St Endellion
This strawberry farm near Port Isaac is a great favourite with families as there’s plenty of lawn for children to let off steam outside including a play area with swings and climbing frames. The large purpose-built farm shop and café sell all the ingredients for a delicious cream tea to eat in or out. The strawberry jam is homemade using the farm’s own fruit. There’s also a good choice of gluten-free scones and cakes as well as a full lunch menu.
Top treat: The fruit scones may not be proper but they’re delicious.
Contact: 01208 880164; trevathanfarm.com
Opening times: Daily, 9am-4.30pm; closed Jan-mid-Feb
St Mawgan Tea Room, St Mawgan-in-Pydar
Tucked away in the pretty village of St Mawgan, this cosy tea room set in a cottage garden is only a five-minute drive from Newquay Airport. As popular with locals as with visitors, all the cakes and scones – including gluten-free options – are homemade as are the preserves and chutneys. Sandwiches, salads and pasties also feature on the menu and a mug of chocolate comes with cream and marshmallows. The shop next door sells locally made ready meals for self-caterers.
Top treat: A savoury cream tea comprising cheese scone, cream cheese and homemade chutney.
Contact: 01637 860303; stmawganstoresandtearoom.co.uk
Opening times: Daily, 10am-4pm in summer; Tue-Sat, 10am-4pm in winter
Fowey Hall, Fowey
To take tea on the sun-baked terrace of this grand Victorian mansion hotel with its grandstand view over the Fowey estuary is pure delight. On cool days it’s served in the elegant drawing room. Teas are loose leaf and scones are baked fresh every day in the restaurant’s kitchen. The jam is from Boddington’s strawberry farm near Mevagissey. There’s the choice of two scones or a single scone and a slice of the cake of the day. Children are welcome and can play safely in the fenced play garden beneath the terrace.
Top treat: A ‘sparkling afternoon tea’ of sandwiches, cakes and scones and a glass of Camel Valley Brut.
Contact: 01726 833866; foweyhallhotel.co.uk
Opening times: Daily, 2pm-4.30pm
Miss V’s Tea Room, St Just-in-Roseland
This newly built bakery and tea room stands beside Britain’s most beautiful churchyard, a lush subtropical garden running down to the River Fal. The space has been beautifully designed to complement Amy’s top-class baking. Scones are freshly cooked in batches during the day and served with local clotted cream, Boddington’s jam and a choice of speciality teas. The layer cakes offer further temptation, especially the moist traditional Victoria sponge and the brownies which are made with gluten-free flour.
Top treat: A slice of frangipane tart.
Contact: 07500 418504; Facebook page
Opening times: Daily, 10am-5pm
Yummy Scrummy Bakery, Devoran
It may seem odd to stop at a former petrol station for a cream tea, but this family-run bakery just off the A39 between Truro and Falmouth has done a brilliant job of converting the forecourt into a lively café. There’s a cosy ‘snug room’ with estuary views and stylish wicker sofas set outside under the canopy that used to shade the pumps. All the baking is done in-house and the generous crusty scones come with Patnick’s homemade jam. The café also serves light lunches and has a new range of handmade cakes using only organic ingredients.
Top treat: Superb cheese scone served with chutney.
Contact: 01872 870539; yummyscrummybakery.co.uk
Opening times: Daily, 8.30am-5pm