Inspirational high teas

Afternoon tea is a long- held British tradition that is now more of a tourist experience than an average daily occurrence. Check-out these two aspirational venues for tea if you’re looking for some inspiration for your own afternoon treat.

The tradition of afternoon tea is credited to the Duchess of Bedford who launched the fashion of afternoon tea in 1830. By the 1840s, wafer-thin slivers of bread encasing thinly sliced cucumber and platters of light sponge cakes were served in the new tea gardens of Vauxhall and Marylebone.

By Victorian times, tea was a well-established meal, with its own distinctive array of foods, including savoury sandwiches, hot tea cakes and scones. Tea was a time to share gossip and show off one’s prettiest teapots and china, so hostesses vied with each other to produce the most refined sweetmeats and elegant table settings.

Afternoon tea at The Dorchester
A beautiful ritual steeped in tradition

Of the 3,000 meals served at The Dorchester each day, none receives more attention than the gracious service known as Afternoon Tea. In fact, The Dorchester has been named as London’s top Afternoon Tea venue by the Tea Council of Great Britain a record three times in 2000, 2002 and again in 2007. The Dorchester is the only London hotel to achieve this distinction.

Serving more than 20 types of tea and employing a crew of 15 pastry chefs to prepare the sandwiches, scones and cakes, afternoon tea at the Dorchester is serious business. While the rounds of delicate sandwiches and pastries are all very delicious, the final course is the pièce de resistance, the platter of cakes and tartlets. Among the irresistible treats are delicate white chocolate and praline pyramids, miniature raspberry macaroons, delicate pineapple financiers on a coconut mousse, a creamy apple and macadamia delice, and a fresh berry crumble tart.

Afternoon tea is served in The Promenade at The Dorchester at two sittings, 2.30pm and 4.45pm, and is priced at £31.50 per person or at £40.50 per person for champagne afternoon tea. High tea is priced at £46.00 per person. For reservations or more information, call +44 (0)20 7629 8888 or visit The Dorchester

Afternoon tea at the Observatory Hotel
Tea with a twist

A little closer to home, Sydney’s Observatory Hotel offers the chance to drink your tea and then have the tea leaves read! If the mystic interpretation of your leftovers is not your cup of tea, then why not learn exactly what is? Tea Master, Tjok Gde Kerthyasa, will take you on a discovery of the origins of tea, who to prepare your favourite blend and the etiquette of enjoying a cuppa.

For more information, visit The Observatory Hotel.