01 of 05
What Is a Cricket Tea?
The "thwack" of leather on willow; sleepy applause from postprandial snoozers; deckchairs on the village green; sunshine and a gentle breeze; all pretty much sums up a Sunday afternoon of cricket in Britain. While that may be a slightly romantic view and the sunshine something of a rarity, it aptly describes the appeal of the centuries-old tradition of village cricket.
Fundamental to a perfect cricket match is the cricket tea, served halfway through the match.
It is no surprise that the perfect cricket tea is not unlike the traditional afternoon tea. According to many cricket fans, sandwiches, scones, cakes, fruit squash (not juice), and a lashing of tea are required. Each club will have their favorites but they rarely deviate from these vital elements. Competition is fierce on producing the freshest sandwiches, lightest scones, and fluffy cakes and woe betide if standards are not high.
To help you create the perfect cricket tea, explore a selection of tried and tested recipes. Thankfully, it is not crucial that you understand the quaint rules of cricket to enjoy an afternoon watching the game (though it does help).Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Just as with an afternoon tea, sandwiches are the stalwarts that hold the tea together. Any traditional sandwich is acceptable as long as you make sure the fillings are robust enough for those hungry sportsmen and spectators.
There is nothing quite as British in the sandwich arena as finger sandwiches. These are slices of thin white bread, lightly buttered, with the crusts cut off. Just why cut the crusts are cut off no-one really knows. However, they were—and still are—considered more refined, even a little posh.
Traditional Fillings for Finger Sandwiches
These dainty sandwiches are always welcomed. They are not as filling as a roll, though. You will need more than you may think.
- Cucumber: A classic of thinly sliced, peeled cucumber.
- Egg and cress: Chopped boiled egg bound together with a little mayonnaise and a sprinkle of mustard cress.
- Salmon and cucumber: Usually this would be tinned salmon topped with thin slices of peeled cucumber. Tuna makes a good alternative.
- Ham: Always a favorite, this one uses slices of baked or boiled ham.
- Beef and horseradish: Slices of cold beef with a light smear of horseradish cream and a light sprinkle of watercress.
- Coronation chicken: This dish was designed for the British Empire's coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, the same year movements pushing for independence from Britain sprung up in Kenya and Egypt. Coronation chicken is a chicken salad combination with fruit and curry, meant to represent the British Empire's colonizing exploits. Both Kenya and Egypt eventually won their freedom.
- Cheese and pickle: This would be thin slices or grated cheese and a light smear of either Branston pickle or a homemade chutney.
- Tomato sandwiches: These are a bit less popular as they can make the bread soggy. Only serve these if you can make them immediately before serving.
All of the above sandwich fillings can be placed in finger rolls as well. Use bread buns for a heartier sandwich.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Sandwiches and rolls are the heavyweights of the savory part of the cricket tea but do consider other savory treats. These are real classics which deserve a place on the table and for which the cricketers will be very grateful.
Continue to 4 of 5 below.
- Sausage rolls: British and Irish parties rarely happen without a couple sausage roll plates. They're surprisingly quick and can be frozen if you make them in advance.
- Mini pork pies: There's something special about pork pies. Make miniature versions for your cricket tea.
- Scotch eggs: Once a heavy, deep-fried treat, today's Scotch eggs are a little healthier but no less delicious.
- Salmon and broccoli tart: A savory that really shows you care, but is actually quite easy, this tart is hearty enough to satisfy any cricket enthusiast.
04 of 05
Scones and Cakes
Do not even think about serving cricket tea without a range of cakes and scones. The sandwiches are great, the savories important, but the cakes and scones are essential.
The scones and cakes will also be the components of your tea to engender the most competition. Attempt a featherlight sponge or well-risen fruity scones with a dollop of home-made jam and the pressure is on. Don't let this competitiveness put you off, it's usually well-meant and part of the banter around any British tea time.
One cake which must be served is the Victoria sponge. This simple, classic cake is loved by everyone. You can jazz it up with the addition of jam and cream. In the height of summer, why not add a few fresh strawberries or raspberries? A frivolous Battenberg cake always raises a smile and don't forget the chocolate cake or a traditional rich fruit cake.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
There are no major prizes for guessing which drinks are served at a cricket tea. Of course, it's tea, and lots of it. You will not be thanked for serving "fancy" tea, either. Stick to plain black tea and leave Earl Grey and fancier teas as an option. Don't forget, you will need a large teapot.
Another popular drink at a cricket tea is fruit squash, such as that made by Robinsons. This is not fruit juice, but a fruit drink diluted with water which has been popular in Britain and Ireland since the early 1900s.