Cornwall’s Best Afternoon Teas
Let me count the ways to celebrate afternoon tea week (or you know, whenever). Local favourites as chosen by Muddy and friends... jam first, obvs.
We do scones and cake brilliantly in Cornwall don’t we? From ocean-view hotels with glam tiers of treats, to classic cream teas served on rustic picnic tables – you don’t have to travel far to find a corking afternoon tea around here.
I have my favourites (see Muddy faves below) but in the interest of serious journalism, I wanted to snaffle out some lesser-known spots too. So I turned to Cornwall’s Instagrammers for ideas and between us, here’s what we came up with. Do you see your favourite? If not, go ahead and add it in the comments.
PROPER CREAM TEAS
National Trust Cotehele, nr Saltash (riverside idyll)
Cream teas at Cotehele are served at the Edgcumbe Tea Rooms (where dogs are welcome), beside Cotehele Quay on the banks of the Tamar. This recommendation comes from @thisissallybell, who says “Cotehele is my go-to for a cream tea; they do a great cheese version and the gluten-free scones are to die for.”
Carnewas Tea Room, Bedruthan Steps (Muddy fave, dramatic cliff walk nearby)
The next one is mine and I’ve plumped for this traditional tea room at the start (or end) of the stunning Bedruthan Steps walk. This distinctly low-fi tea room is at Carnewas at Bedruthan Steps – but just as good as any of the big hotels. A big claim but it’s firmly backed up by the gushing cream tea reviews on their Facebook page.
Woods Café, Cardinham Woods, nr Bodmin(Muddy fave, great for families + dog owners)
Where better to take your time over tea than a rustic, fairy-tale café in the woods? Woods Café, in Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin, is my scone-scoffing destination of choice and perfect, for those with kids and dogs in tow. There are beautiful woodland walks if you feel the need to earn your treats or you can make a beeline straight for the café’s impressive cake counter. In addition to a proper Cornish Cream Tea, with plenty of jam and cream and a pot of Tregothnan’s finest, there is a savoury option with cheese scones, cream cheese, chutney and Davidstow cheddar.
Berryfields Farm, Porthcothan (north coast camping spot)
How cute is this strawberry cream tea, with heart-shaped scones and piles of fresh strawberries? Served at Berryfield’s Farm, a popular family campsite between Newquay and Padstow on Cornwall’s north coast, this one was recommended by eco-jeweller Sarah Drew. And clearly she’s not the only devotee – do a quick Google image search and you’ll see all the pictures people have snapped of their cream teas here. Porthcothan Bay, not far away, is a sheltered beach backed by grassy sand dunes, popular with families and dog-owners and best at low tide.
Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Lostwithiel (Muddy fave, overlooking Fowey & Restormel Castle)
Another Muddy fave is the cafe at Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, with views down to Fowey and Restormel Castle. It’s is one of the largest and most well-respected nurseries in the South West and a perfect place to come for a few special plants in the spring time. Cream tea is a speciality at the cafe or choose, the fancier afternoon tea for a special occasion, with optional Prosecco, all served on red stripy Cornishware china.
Rosemergy Farmhouse & Tea Room, Morvah (a remote spot in West Penwith)
One of the most intriguing suggestions I had will be a bit of a pilgrimage for most – but I’m reliably informed it is well worth the journey. A cream tea garden on a farm, overlooking the ocean, just off the road from St Ives to St Just. For just £5 you will be treated to a pot of tea, warm scones, fresh from the aga, Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam and a West Penwith location that’s hard to beat.
POSH AFTERNOON TEAS
Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Porth (Muddy fave, adults only)
If you fancy escaping the kids and washing down beautiful little cakes with a glass of fizz, you can’t beat Champagne Tea at luxe, eco hotel The Scarlet. Grab a ocean-view table in the restaurant or out on the terrace and take your time over delicately prepared morsels, such as smoked salmon, cream cheese and chive choux buns, lemon curd and rhubarb tartlets and of course, warm scones with jam and Cornish clotted cream (in that order, it’s important). I don’t mind if I do!
Idle Rocks, St Mawes (chic harbour-view restaurant)
What could be more Cornish than scones overlooking the harbour in St Mawes? Idle Rocks takes its afternoon tea seriously, with pretty little plates of treats, silver tea pots and mini Kilner jars for the condiments.
Greenbank Hotel, Falmouth (family-friendly fanciness)
I think The Greenbank Hotel wins the prize for the widest choice of afternoon teas. There’s The Traditional (straight up scones, jam and cream), Greenbank Afternoon Tea (add further tiers of sandwiches and cakes), Children’s Tea (scones, ham sarnie, brownie and hot chocolate), Champagne Tea (The Greenbank, plus fizz) and Ploughmans Tea (cheese and bacon scones, scotch eggs, pickled onions etc).
Talland Bay Hotel, Looe (sweet treats & gin in a sea-view garden)
Why we haven’t done this yet, I cannot imagine! Afternoon tea in the garden at Talland Bay Hotel sounds just lovely. As if an icy Tarquin’s gin and tonic wasn’t enough, you’ll nibble on finger sandwiches, scones, jam and cream and homemade cakes. 100% Cornish deliciousness.
Headland Hotel, Newquay (Muddy fave, in an iconic Cornish hotel)
Always a winner when we have guests of all ages. You can have a good walk on Fistral Beach first, then swan up to the Headland’s Terrace Restaurant for afternoon tea with a sensational surf-side view. Their traditional afternoon tea comes with all the bells and whistles and is one of the more affordable of the fancy hotel options. Then if you have a special celebration in mind (birthday, hen or baby shower), how lovely does this sound? A Vintage Tea Party in a one of the hotel’s glamorous private lounges, complete with overflowing cake stands, pretty mismatched crockery and vintage silverware. Add a visit to the spa for a dreamy girls day out.
Trevallicks Farm Shop & Tea Room, Pensilva (rustic rural setting + a choice of 25 Cornish gins)
How to improve on a lush afternoon tea (I mean look at it)? Add gin of course! Thank you Amy (@amzelizabeth89) for bringing this little gem to my attention. Trevallicks G & Teas include a gorgeous stack of sarnies, scones and cakes as well as – not one but four – Cornish gins to sample. For £25pp you really can’t say fairer than that. Hic!
Cornish Cream Tea In a Box (don’t move a muscle, this tea that comes to you)
Finally, if you don’t live in Cornwall you can always get a proper cream tea via The Cornish Food Box Company. Includes homemade scones, clotted cream, Boddingtons jam, Tregothnan tea and two packs of shortbread – delivered!
First published 2017, updated 2021