Many years ago I wrote a post on my brand new blog about the Top 10 places for High Tea in Cape Town and it became one of the most popular posts on my site! After reading over it recently I realised it needed an update as there are now so many new places offering High Tea in Cape Town that deserve a mention!
I certainly love a special High Tea treat and over the years I have been fortunate enough to sample many of the High Tea offerings listed below which is why they’ve made it on to this list.
But first, a little bit about the ritual of High Tea…
The History of High Tea
High Tea came about as a result of the 19th century English dining practice of large, meaty breakfasts with only a light picnic luncheon standing in the way of hunger until dinner was served at 8pm.
Anna, Duchess of Bedford, is accredited with “inventing” afternoon tea in 1840 as “a way to quell the inevitable hunger pangs between lunch and dinner”.
What’s the difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea?
In South Africa we call tea served in the afternoon at an upmarket venue a “High Tea” whereas the correct name for this is actually “Afternoon Tea”. I did a bit of reading and found this interesting bit of information…
The practice of Afternoon Tea is often confused with the English “High Tea” which was a hearty rural working class supper consisting of hot meat, cheese and egg dishes served around 18:00. High Tea itself was designed to refuel the body after long periods of labour in less-than-agreeable environments.
Afternoon Tea Etiquette
A formal afternoon tea is traditionally performed according to certain rules of etiquette of which the most famous is the raised pinkie finger. This is thought to be due to all porcelain teacups having come from China at the time and having no handles.
To prevent spilling, these cups were held by placing one’s thumb at the six o’clock position and one’s index and middle fingers at the twelve o’clock position, while gently raising one’s pinkie up for balance.
When the handled tea cup was introduced by the Meissen Porcelain Company in 1710, the tradition continued in its new form by pinching the handle – placing one’s fingers to the front and back of the handle with one’s pinkie again extended for balance.
“Rather three days without food than a day without tea.” Chinese Proverb
The Best Places for High Tea in Cape Town
The grande dame of High Tea in Cape Town is undoubtedly the glorious Nellie! The Mount Nelson Hotel is the perfect place for your first High Tea experience. The spread of bite sized eats includes delicate finger sandwiches filled with rare roast beef and rocket, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise or cucumber. There is dark chocolate cake, lemon meringue and freshly baked scones with clotted cream and preserves as well as South African favourite “melktert”. The signature teas on offer include Darjeeling, Kenya, Assam, Keemun, Yunnan, Ceylon, and rose petals from the garden. Be sure to dress up.
Morning Tea: 9:30–11:30am
Afternoon Tea: 1–3pm or 3:30–5:30pm
Evening Tea: 6–8:30pm
Booking is essential
Morning Tea: R285 (adults); R205 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Afternoon Tea: R365 (adults); R205 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Evening Tea: R365 (adults); R205 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Tel: +27 (0) 21 483 1948
The One & Only
The Vista Bars’ afternoon tea buffet features a selection of 35 teas and coffees, presented with carefully selected “sweet pleasures”. The confectionary includes chocolate delice, baked vanilla bean cheese cake, caramel and gold leaf éclairs, tea loaf and macaroons as well as tea sandwiches and buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve.
Morning tea 9am – 12pm
Afternoon Tea 2:30pm – 5:30pm
From R195 – R325
Tel: +27 (0) 21 431 4511 or +27 (0) 21 431 5888
“If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.” William Gladstone
Table Bay Hotel
The Lounge at the Table Bay is another option located in the Waterfront. This daily tea party is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace, so that you can truly appreciate each course and the view too. A selection of fresh house teas, specialised coffees and homemade ice tea is offered as is an array of sweet treats including blueberry muffins, raisin scones, homemade jams, lemon curd and Chantilly clotted cream, chocolate-peanut butter cake, red velvet cup cakes. Savoury snacks include roasted parsnip, mushroom and cheese quiche or smoked salmon and asparagus quiche. The service is impeccable and the setting luxurious, so you can’t go wrong.
Seating 1: 2pm – 3:30pm daily
Seating 2: 4pm – 5:30pm daily
From R200 – R320
Tel: +27 (0) 21 406 5988
View menu here
The Silo Hotel
Tea at The Silo Hotel is a Royal Affair. Taken in the stylish sixth-floor Granary Café, where dark-brown leather couches, large glossy tables and an eclectic collection of contemporary art enhance the regal atmosphere. The Royal Tea has been created by talented pastry chef Devin Jones and is a decadent affair. It arrives on circular three-tiered wire trays filled to the brim with four delicious buttermilk scones (accompanied by whipped and clotted cream, jam, butter and 6 month mature cheddar); salmon-and-dill and cucumber-and-mint finger sandwiches; egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches; bobotie empanadas and savoury madeleines; two macarons, profiteroles with a flavoured filling (changes daily); and Cherry & Pistachio and Dark chocolate lemon petit fours. Everything is utterly delicious. Don’t forget to choose one of the 8 teas to enjoy with your High Tea snacks. (or a coffee if you prefer)
Tel: +27 (0) 21 670 0500
Manna Bay Boutique Hotel
MannaBay is a boutique guest house in Oranjezicht and it is here that a perfect little High Tea is served daily on request. Drinks include Twinings tea flavours Earl Grey, Ceylon, Rooibos, Peppermint, Camomile. Freshly baked savouries, chocolate and carrot cakes as well as cupcakes are on offer.
Daily 3:30 – 5:30pm
Booking is essential
Tel: + 27 (0) 21 461 1094
The Cape Grace
The Library at Cape Grace offers afternoon tea with delectable sandwiches, petit fours, macaroons and scones with cream and jam served on a dainty stack. Hot Malay savouries, such as spring rolls and beef satays, are also served. Eight special teas are offered. They range from Ceylon, famous for its sweet woodiness to the classic Early Grey accented with bergamot and a beautiful red strawberry and kiwi infusion that’s good enough to eat. The Deluxe Afternoon Tea comes with a glass of sparkling wine.
12 – 6pm
Cream tea: R90 pp + R60 per slice of a selection of cakes
Full afternoon tea: R210 pp
MCC afternoon tea R305 pp
Champagne Afternoon Tea: R550pp
Tel:+27 (0) 21 410 7080
View menu here
The Cellars Hohenhort
The Conservatory at The Cellars is another beautiful garden setting for a spot of tea. Served daily in the Sun Lounge, on the Conservatory Terrace or in the Palm Arch, the High Tea offers an array of savoury treats such as Roasted vegetable & goat’s cheese tarts, and Grass-fed beef & peppadew sosaties, followed by an array of sweet delights, including Classic Madagascan chocolate cake, a Mélange of flavoured Cupcakes and Fresh fruit pavlovas – not to forget the traditional Finger sandwiches. The Low Carb High Tea offers lighter (but still flavourful) items than those found at traditional English afternoon tea such as crispy prawn Vietnamese rice-paper rolls with a dipping sauce; broccoli, red pepper and goat’s cheese tartlets; three open sandwiches; grass-fed beef-and-peppadew sosaties; bite-sized dark-chocolate-and-beetroot cupcakes; fresh fruit (sugar-free) pavlovas, homemade seed and grain bars, tiny scones with sugar-free strawberry jam and whipped cream cheese. A selection of fragrant teas and coffees – or a celebratory glass of bubbly – is also on offer.
Low carb high tea: Daily 3-5pm
A la carte high tea: Daily 11am – 5pm
The Leopard Room at the Twelve Apostles Hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is a great spot to enjoy “Tea by the Sea”. It’s a great spot for a birthday celebration, babyshower or kitchen tea! Dilmah Tea is served, as are coffees and rich hot chocolate. Scones, clotted cream, lemon meringue tartlets, cupcakes, mini koeksisters, finger sandwiches, Almond strawberry cupcakes, selection of biscuits, chocolate brownie, cream scones with strawberry jam, éclairs, glazed fruit tartlets, macaroons, chocolate extravaganza are all a part of this delicious afternoon tea.
Daily 10am – 4pm
High Tea by the Sea: R325 per person
Vegan High Tea R375 per person (excludes bubbly)
Tel: +27 (0) 21 437 9029
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as Afternoon Tea.” – Henry James
Delight in a decadent high tea experience in The Lobby Lounge with a superb selection of teas and treats awaiting you at The Taj.
2 – 6pm
Sweet Tea – R160pp
Afternoon Tea – R250pp
MCC Afternoon Tea – R300pp
Gin Afternoon Tea – R300pp
Tel: +27 (0) 21 819 2000
View the menu
The tranquil garden of this hotel has the most amazing view of the back of Table Mountain and the patio is a perfect place to relax. The Lady Anne’s afternoon tea is a special treat. Sserved on a three tier stand offering a selection of savoury and sweet delights including finger sandwiches, vegetarian quiche, mini chocolate tart, lemon cupcake, mini fruit tartlet, poppy seed cake, coconut ice, Turkish delight, baked passion fruit cheesecake, scone with homemade strawberry jam, cream and cheese. . The menu also offers an extensive selection of infused and flavoured teas.
Daily 3:30pm – 5:30pm
A few other options for a unique High Tea in Cape Town….
Monday – Saturday, 3pm – 6pm
Classic High Tea R395pp
Pol Roger Champagne High Tea R480 per person
Pol Roger Winston Churchill Champagne High Tea R990 per person
Tel: +27 (0) 21 200 0440
View menu here
Harbour House, Constantia Nek
Monday – Saturday, 2pm – 5pm
High Tea Petit: R300 for two
High Tea Deluxe: R500 for two; R640 for two (includes 2 glasses of bubbly)
Saturday, 2:30pm – 5:30pm
R360 for two
Tel: +27 (0) 21 434 2351
I hope I have the best spots for High Tea in Cape Town covered!
Most of the Top Hotels in Cape Town that offer High Tea appear in this list, but let me know if your favourite High Tea Hotel in Cape Town is missing from this list and I’ll be sure to add it in…
A few other venues that offer High Tea in the Cape Winelands are listed below…
Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa, Franschhoek
Friday – Sunday. 2 – 5pm
Booking is essential
Grande Roche Hotel, Paarl
Booking is essential
Another beautiful place that has been recommended to me to try is Tea Under The Trees in Paarl. It’s a vintage-inspired place set in a beautiful park-like garden perfect for sunny afternoons with kids.
Contact +27 (0) 82 825 5666 for more information about the opening hours as it is closed on Saturdays.
images: Kathryn Rossiter