High Tea perfection in Cape Town
Made popular by Anna, Duchess of Bedford in the Victorian era, this lavish ritual is largely the preserve of luxury hotels, offering visitors a leisurely and sophisticated way to pass the hours between lunch and dinner.
Naturally, we selected our favourites, each of which stood out for their uniqueness: in terms of setting, ambience, service and the spread itself.
Belmond Mount Nelson
A timeless, elegant hotel well-suited to the ethos of an indulgent afternoon affair, high tea at this "grande dame" is a Cape Town institution.
It is taken in the Lounge, a warm space with Aubusson rugs and subtle rose-hued upholstery, that leads out onto a magnificent garden-facing verandah.
Under the guidance of the tea sommelier, guests can sample a selection from more than 40 of the finest teas and infusions.
Sweet and savory treats are served on a silver-tiered stand.
Expect a changing array of classics: carrot cake, opera cake, baked cheesecake, éclairs, tangy berry tartlets and South African milk tart. All this, while a pianist plays classics on a baby grand.
Good to know: Bubbly can also be ordered to make your afternoon soirée that much more sparkling.
Cost: R425 per person (includes a welcome glass of iced tea or bubbly)
Times Wednesday - Sunday, 12pm + 3pm
Contact: 021 483 1000, email@example.com
Where to find it: 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Coco Safar St John's Piazza
Like its predecessor, the brand-new Coco Safar at St John's Piazza is the go-to spot for world-class pâtisserie and vienoisserie served in sleek and stylish interiors. But the new spot has a deliciously glam coastal-café feel, with gorgeous lighting and a 20-metre-long terrace for people-watching.
In addition to all the speciality coffees and food it also offers the Mother City's most unique high tea - an evocative and extraordinary 16-course journey inspired by four great cities of the world. It starts with an amuse-bouche hidden in smoky dry ice, and delivers surprise after surprise in various shapes and forms. At the journey's end, a tiered stand filled with mini New York-style pâtisseries is the perfect denouement. Your choice of two non-alcoholic beverages accompanies the feast.
Good to know: Booking 48 hours in advance is essential.
Cost: R395 per person
Times: Monday - Sunday, 2pm - 6pm
Contact: 021 000 5408
Where to find it: 95 Main Road, corner of St John's Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
This gracious and historic country hotel in the Constantia Valley is arguably one of the loveliest spots to enjoy high tea at any time of the year, thanks to its award-winning gardens.
The new Classic High Tea served in the light and airy Greenhouse kicks off with a welcome glass of bubbly, then proceeds over four courses: from goat's cheesecake, smoked salmon mousse cornets and caramelised onion tart on the savoury side to an array of sweet delights such as coffee-and-chocolate opera cake, walnut-carrot cake, key lime pie and milk tartlets - not forgetting traditional finger sandwiches and scones with jam and cream.
To drink, there's a fine selection of 11 loose-leaf Nigiro teas, rooibos and herbal infusions - the exclusive hotel blend of green rooibos with various fruits, flowers, herbs and Liz McGrath rose petals truly conjures a sense of place.
Good to know: Special dietary requirements are catered for with 24 hours' notice.
Cost: R395 per person
Times: Wednesday - Sunday, 11am + 2pm
Contact: 021 794 2137, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it: 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town
There's something decidedly civilized about tea by the sea, surrounded by Venetian-style interiors. Casa Labia was once a count and countess's grand home, and a visit for tea does feel decidedly Downton Abbey-ish.
On the sweet tiers of the silver stand are familiar favourites given a fresh twist: éclairs topped with raspberry dust; and elderflower lamingtons; cheesecake with peanut butter fudge crumble; choc brownies with toasted marshmallow fluff. Savouries include salmon and cucumber roulade, moreish white truffle arancini and meaty mozzarella bites with tomato jam.
The tea selection includes Dilmah classics plus nine loose-leaf rooibos-based infusions such as Devil's Advocate (ginger and chilli), hot-cross bun chai, gluhwein-like pinotage rooibos and sticky naartjie tea that all pair perfectly with the food.
Good to know: Booking for high tea must be made by 10am the day before your visit.
Cost: R395 per person (includes bottomless tea)
Times: Monday - Sunday, 11am + 3pm
Contact: 021 180 3119, email@example.com
Where to find it: Casa Labia, 192 Main Road, Muizenberg
One&Only Cape Town
Lofty proportions, grand décor and a magnificent view of Table Mountain through floor-to-ceiling windows greet you as you enter the Vista Lounge at this elegant resort hotel at the V&A Waterfront.
Served on characterful O&O stands, the glamorous afternoon tea features freshly baked scones with chantilly cream and local preserves, gold-leafed caramel-popcorn éclairs, blueberry cheesecake, fruit tarts, cucumber sandwiches, chicken pot pie and, of course, a free-flowing selection of loose-leaf luxury teas (25 flavours) and coffee, plus unlimited bubbly at the Cap Classique High Tea.
Good to know: A vegetarian menu is also available.
Cost: R425 per person
Times: Monday - Sunday, 2pm - 5pm
Contact: 021 431 5888, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it: One&Only, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Author Kendyll Neethling