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. OK, it may be a slightly romantic view and the sunshine something of a rarity, but it aptly describes the appeal of the centuries-old tradition of village cricket.
Fundamental to a perfect cricket match is the Cricket Tea. As wives and girlfriends of the teams will verify (sexist as this may... sound, it is generally partners of the batters and fielders who prepare the tea) serving the tea usually around 5ish or about half way unless the team is "all out", then tea would be served immediately. Whichever time, the cricket tea is still quintessential to the whole ritual of village cricket.
It is no surprise that the perfect cricket tea is not unlike the traditional Afternoon Tea. I am assured from my cricket mad family and friends that sandwiches, scones, cakes, fruit squash (not juice) and 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 (no pressure then if you are a new cricket WAG aka wife of the girlfriend of a cricketer.
On the following pages, you find a selection of tried and tested recipes to help create the perfect cricket tea to help you on your way. Thankfully, you will be pleased to know it is not crucial to understanding the quaint rules of cricket to enjoy an afternoon watching the game (though it does help), and I wish you good luck figuring out should you wish to be more involved.
Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Sandwiches for the Perfect Cricket Tea
Just as with an afternoon tea, sandwiches are the stalwarts that hold the tea together. Any traditional sandwich is acceptable just 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 which 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, favouriteexcept they were, and still are, considered more refined and... often considered to be a little posh. These dainty sandwiches are always welcomed but will not be as filling as a roll, so you will need more.
Traditional Fillings for Finger Sandwiches
- Cucumber - thinly sliced, peeled cucumber, a classic
- 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 also makes a good filling.
- Ham - favorite, used slices of baked ham ora boiled.
- Beef and Horseradish - slices of cold beef with a light smear of horseradish cream and a light sprinkle of watercress, perfect.
- Coronation Chicken - another classic sandwich filling from a dish designed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 as a representation of the, then, colonial nature of the British Empire.
- 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 - less popular as they can make the bread soggy, only serve if you can make them fresh.
All of the above sandwich fillings can be placed into finger rolls, or bread buns for a heartier sandwich.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Savouries for a Cricket Tea
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.
04 of 05
Scones and Cakes for the Perfect Cricket Tea
Do not even think about serving a 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; a featherlight sponge, well-risen fruity scones with a dollop of home-made jam ... 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.... Check out these recipes, some with accompanying videos and you will be fine.
One cake which must be served is the Victoria Sponge. This simple, classic cake is loved by everyone and you can jazz yours up with the addition of jam and cream or 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 or a traditional rich fruit cake.
Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Drinks for the Perfect Cricket Tea
There are no major prizes for guessing which drinks are served at a cricket tea... of course teaand lots of it. You will not be thanked for serving 'fancy' tea, 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, this is not fruit juice, but a fruit drink diluted with water which has been popular in Britain and Ireland since early last century.