It’s high time to dress up and feel decadent and spoilt for the afternoon, don’t you think? With fine delicacies, a wonderful view and excellent conversation to boot. How about tea and scones with sweet berry jam and cream, perfectly ironed doilies with the finest bone china and crystal glassware?
We have Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford to thank for inventing the high tea in England in the 1840s. I’ve curated a list of the top 10 establishments in New South Wales that pay homage to the timeless splendour of this delicious afternoon activity. It could be a quick girls’ lunch stop, a day’s excursion or even a road trip to taste the finest tea (or bubbles, if you’re so inclined!) around. Or embrace an interesting twist on traditional English high tea with inspiration taken from other cultures (dumplings galore!) and explore the finest scenery the state has to offer.
Basically, if you’re a tea enthusiast, this one’s for you.
The Hydro Majestic Hotel, The Blue Mountains
Surrounded by the lush scenery of the iconic Blue Mountains, on the outskirts of the Sydney CBD, this posh high tea institution is at the top of the list. Served in the delightful Wintergarden, the tea itself arrives in ball form and once immersed in boiling water, blossoms into a stunning flower, right inside the teacup.
The options for this high tea are twofold; the first is served as traditional finger sandwiches, miniature desserts and scones with jam and clotted cream. Alternatively, there is the Eastern high tea, served on the same elegant three-tier stand, with dumplings, twice-cooked pork belly and barbecue spring rolls. Either way, with the view and scrumptious delicacies, you’re in for an afternoon treat.
Gunners Barracks, Sydney
Another well-known favourite with a focus on the stunning scenery, Gunners Barracks offers high tea with views of Sydney Harbour. Located in Mosman, the building has been excavated into the cliff with a network of tunnels linking it to the adjacent defence structures to protect Sydney Harbour from attack.
On the menu is Asia’s largest selection of Ronnefeldt teas, tiny sandwiches, savoury pastries and petit cakes to start you off. And, of course, a sparkling high tea is available, as well as a cocktail high tea, with an espresso martini or Pimm’s for the more adventurous diners.
Cambewarra Estate, Bangalee
Why not enjoy your high tea in a giant pink teacup? Or delicately shading yourself (and the cakes!) from the sun beneath ivory parasols in a vineyard? High tea at Camberwarra Estate is a magical experience for any event and they are often booked for up to 60 people for hens parties, baby showers and even kids parties. And, along with a pot of tea and 12 delectable treats, you can walk away from your experience with a polaroid photo to remember the day.
The Langham, Sydney
The plush interiors of this five-star hotel are so luxe the eyes are turned away from the window and the view, just to take in the exquisite colours and elaborately adorned furniture. A very traditional English high tea can be expected here, with inspiration from London itself. The tea sommeliers will assist you in choosing the correct tea to suit, while the delicate sweets including mushroom-shaped chocolate pralines are served on fine bone china.
Flutterbies Cottage, Tyalgum
Taking the rose theme to the next level is Flutterbies Cottage, located in Northern NSW in Tyalgum. Upon arrival at the tearoom, which gives the air of stepping back through time, you are greeted with a glass of ‘Sparkling Rose Bliss Champagne’ adorned with rose-scented fairy floss. Specialty rose tea is served throughout the sitting and you can expect to enjoy traditional finger sandwiches, mini scones with strawberry jam and vanilla cream and delicate desserts including white chocolate-dipped strawberries with gold glitter.
Alice in Wonderland Cocktail Tea Party Adventure, Potts Point
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass is a truly unique tea experience, situated in Potts Point, Sydney. As you are transported to a whimsical and fantastical tea party world, you will solve riddles to reveal elements needed to create your own cocktails, play croquet with a flamingo and even paint the roses red. The splendid ‘Eat Me’ cakes play into the theme of the experience and a giant Cheshire Cat hangs from the wall. Embrace the madness!
High Tea on the Hunter, Hunter Valley
With intricate attention to detail, think antique embroidered napery, pungent fresh flowers and the finest crystal glassware at High Tea on the Hunter, situated in Morpeth. This teahouse exudes passion and care for delivering a memorable experience. All homemade, the savoury treats include sausage rolls and finger sandwiches, followed by scones with jam and clotted cream, and petit fours at the top of the three-tier china stand. The ‘high tea finale’ is the sorbet served in crystal.
Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa, Blue Mountains
Lilianfels is heritage listed and rich with history, reflecting the romance of the Victorian era. Sir Frederick Darley, the sixth chief justice of NSW bought the two acres of land adjacent to Echo Point with his wife and seven children. Tragically, his daughter Lilian passed away from tuberculosis aged 22. And so, he named the estate after her, pairing her name with the German ‘fels’ meaning ‘high land’. Enjoy a traditional high tea in the lounge overlooking the gorgeous courtyard and gardens of the estate with the blue hue of the eucalyptus trees, symbolic of the Blue Mountains.
voco Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley
For cheese lovers, here is an interesting take on traditional high tea; a mostly savoury option is the ‘High Cheese’ at the voco Kirkton Park Hotel in the Hunter Valley.
While taking in the sight of the charming rose garden, a selection of local cheeses and condiments is served including wood-fired cooked brie and woodland olives with feta, followed by mini brioche rolls with varying fillings. A bowl of strawberries and cream for dessert is a sweeter optional extra. Of course, traditional high tea is an alternative offered as well.
The Cake Cottage, Albury
Known for their cake studio with custom homemade cakes from scratch, The Cake Cottage also offers a variety of high tea options. The first is monthly in-house high tea bookings, with the scrumptious high tea delivered in delicate crockery. The second choice is a DIY High Tea box to take away. Perfect for a picnic in a place of your choosing, somewhere with a wonderful view, perhaps the Eastern Hill Lookout with a view of the Murray River and Lake Hume!
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