The “High Tea” is a British tradition that originated in the mid-1700s. Working men would take a break, usually between 15:00 and 16:00, and either standing around or leaning casually against high stools (hence “high tea”) have an informal meal of tea and finger foods. Or so the story goes.
Today High Tea has become a decadent affair and Cape Town’s hospitality industry, as usual, presents some of the finest experiences in the world. We take a look at some of the best in the City…
The Mount Nelson Hotel
High tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson is a bit of an institution. Take a seat in the bright and enchanting lounge and snack your way through a leisurely afternoon. It’s a lavish colonial affair with live piano music and decadent treats. Guests are invited to sample over 40 of the finest teas accompanied by a wide selection of sweet and savoury nibbles, served on a silver tiered stand. The assortment showcases local and global classics, such as melktert with cinnamon and cardamom; and baked cheesecake with white chocolate and tangy berry tartlets; baskets of warm, freshly baked scones; koesisters sprinkled with coconut; the hotel’s famous mushroom empanadas; cauliflower and onion pakoras; Farmer Angus beef frikkadels; and delicate finger sandwiches filled with smoked Franschhoek trout.
Situated in Artem Galleria in Sea Point, Coco Safar’s interiors evoke the grand hotels of the 1940s and 50s. Think old-fashioned rattan trolleys with tableside plating, exceptional service from waiters in full linen uniform, not to mention couture pastries – and without any snobbish exclusivity. Teatime here feels accessible and welcoming.
Certainly not your usual high tea, this 17-item culinary journey, is a flurry of sensations. From siphon-made botanical teas to dry-ice smoked palate cleansers, you’re in for a wild ride!
The Vineyard Hotel
Served in the Garden Lounge, high tea at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands features a three-tier stand groaning with a fine selection of savoury nibbles and sweet delights. Savoury scones with smoked snoek mousse and dill, petit garden vegetable quiche, rare roast beef on brioche with horseradish crème fraîche, homemade buttermilk scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream, Belgian chocolate brownies with blueberry and pomegranate ganache, and rose and French vanilla custard tartlet are just a few of the treats on offer. The menu also offers an extensive selection of infused and flavoured teas.
The Cape Grace Hotel
Recline in their cosy library and indulge in moreish savoury and sweet treats alongside a steaming pot of tea, while enjoying one of the best views in Cape Town. Whether it’s a special occasion, business meeting, or simply a leisurely respite from a busy day, Afternoon Tea at the Cape Grace is a memorable affair.
Set in beautiful grounds in the lush Constantia Valley this is a high tea experience to remember. From savoury treats (traditional finger sandwiches, roasted vegetable and goat’s cheese tarts, and grass-fed beef and peppadew sosaties) to sweet delights (classic Madagascan chocolate cake, a mélange of flavoured cupcakes, and fresh fruit pavlovas), a high tea at the Cellars-Hohenort is an indulgent experience that includes a fine selection of fragrant teas and coffees – and you may want to add a celebratory glass of bubbly!
The Twelve Apostles Hotel
Beautifully manicured gardens and a stunning coastal landscape make this the perfect setting for afternoon tea, which is served on a three-tiered stand at your table. You just will not get anything more Instagramable than this venue. Your tea stand is filled with a variety of savoury and sweet treats, including apple and cinnamon verrines, vanilla and lemon macarons, forest berry and white chocolate choux puff, Mrs T’s cheesecake with strawberries, passion-fruit madeleines, cheese scones with jam and cream, and Death by Chocolate brownies. Pastries are made with real butter and Valrhona chocolate. Sit back and enjoy the views possibly even into sunset.