In elegant parlours across Sydney, hushed voices exclaim over exquisite pastries to the delicate sound of silver spoons tapping on fine bone China. “High tea” (or afternoon tea), the delicate affair we have our British ancestors to thank for, has been flourishing in swanky hotels and whimsical tea rooms across the city. It’s become immensely popular among ladies in particular - large groups of hens after a bit more tasteful affair, bridal showers and kitchen teas, women enjoying the company of their mothers and daughters, and even older children’s birthday parties. It’s time to tempt your taste buds with the sweeter side of Sydney.
The Cortile, InterContinental Sydney
The InterContinental Sydney, housed inside the restored 1851 Treasury Building in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, is home to a classic high tea with a modern twist. Soaring brick arches surround the Cortile dining room, where tea-themed sweets are served on silver tiers. The Jasmine Gold tea crème brulée is a highlight. InterContinental Sydney, 117 Macquarie St, Sydney.
This classic high tea is served with the best view in town - the spectacular Sydney harbour lies directly below the historic Gunners Barracks at Mosman’s Georges Head. Book well in advance and request a seat on the balcony of this 1873 building - just be prepared to share your tea with cheeky kookaburras who enjoy stealing sandwiches from unsuspecting diners. Gunners Barracks, Suakin Dr, Mosman.
Westin Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea
A high tea for the child within, this whimsical dining experience is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Sample the The Mad Hatter’s Hat (rich dark chocolate mud cake encased in chocolate icing), The White Rabbit's Pocket Watch (purple macaroon with a blueberry cream filling) or The Queen of Hearts (layers of raspberry buttercream, chocolate ganache and raspberry jelly). The Westin also serves a traditional Heritage Afternoon Tea if Alice isn’t your cup of tea. The Westin, Lobby Level, 1 Martin Place Sydney.
An Afternoon Tea With Wedgwood at The Langham
The newly-renovated Langham Hotel serves up an elegant high tea (or afternoon tea, as it’s called here), served on Wedgwood china specifically designed for the hotel. Relax in the opulent lounges of the Palm Court and enjoy a serene afternoon, only a heartbeat away from the throb of Sydney’s CBD. The Langham Hotel, 89-113 Kent Street, Sydney.
The Tea Room QVB
The historic Queen Victoria Building is home to Sydney’s most iconic high tea. The scones at the Tea Room are second to none, and diners are never left hungry, as the sandwiches refilled as soon as they are devoured. For something a bit different try the Oriental High Tea - it features Peking duck pancakes and scallop and ginger dumplings. The Tea Room QVB, 3, Queen Victoria Building, 455 George St, Sydney.
The Gallery, Sheraton on the Park
You’ll be spoiled for choice at the recently renovated Gallery dining room. The brand new classic High Tea Tree Stand, served on a series of platters connected by elegant tree branches, is available daily, with Afternoon Tea Buffet served on weekends. The buffet is particularly popular as it is of excellent quality and value at $55pp, with a huge variety of delicious food. Deciding between the ice cream station, fresh creme brulee made right in front of you, finger sandwiches, warm savouries, scones, crepes and platter after platter of sweet treats will be the hardest decision you’ll have to make all day. Sheraton on the Park, 161 Elizabeth St, Sydney.
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth with Cristina Re
The Sofitel Sydney Wentworth specialises in high teas themed in collaboration with Sydney’s art and cultural scenes. In the past, diners have had the option of enjoying a Sleeping Beauty high tea, designed in conjunction with the Australian Ballet, or an Archibald high tea, which featured a white chocolate painting, presented on a slate reminiscent of a painter’s palette. The Sofitel Wentworth has also partnered with lifestyle designer Cristina Re to present their high teas on Re’s luxurious teaware, complete with 14 carat gold touches. Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, 61-101 Phillip Street, Sydney.
Innovative Executive Pastry Chef, Anna Polyviou delivers the most creative pastries of any high tea in Sydney. Choose from the Traditional or Chocolate High Tea - both are delicious, but you’ll only get chef Polyviou’s famous carrot cake with the traditional option. Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, 176 Cumberland St, Sydney.
Images by Christine Knight. Additional images courtesy of Sheraton on the Park.