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, the High Tea has become a tradition, ceremony, and ritual celebrated by people all around the world. More than that, it has become adapted by different cultures and is adored for its casual, yet sophisticated approach to sharing a meal, a cup of tea (or glass of bubbly), and a bit of a chinwag! Here are some of the Cape’s loveliest High Tea experiences…
The Belmond Mount Nelson, Gardens
The Belmond Mount Nelson has earned a resounding reputation for its legendary high tea so make sure your trip to the Mother City packs this experience in its itinerary. Take a seat in the bright and enchanting lounge and snack your way through sumptuous cakes, pastries, and sandwiches stacked in tiers. Live piano music sets the scene!
The Cape Grace, V&A Waterfront
Recline in their cosy library and indulge in moreish savoury and sweet treats alongside a steaming pot of tea, while enjoying a good book, time with loved ones, or a quiet space in which to work. 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. Reservations for eight or more guests are accommodated in Signal Restaurant.
Where: W Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town
Contact: +27 (0)21 410 7100
The Cellars-Hohenort, Constantia
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! Served daily in the Sun Lounge on the Conservatory Terrace or in the Palm Arch.
Cucina Labia, Muizenberg
Built in 1929 in the style of 18th Century Venetian architecture, Casa Labia is regarded as the unofficial Grande Dame of Muizenberg. Here, mural ceilings, ornate cornicing, chandeliers, vintage furniture, stunning gardens, and ocean views set the scene for an unforgettable high tea, which features such delicacies as sundried tomato scones, cucumber finger sandwiches, smoked salmon and dill crème fraîche pancakes rolls, homemade scones (with all the trimmings), gin and tonic lemon meringue shots, mini orange and rosemary tea cakes, and more. Every Saturday and Sunday, there’s also live classical music between 13:00 and 16:00.
Where: Casa Labia, 192 Main Road, Muizenberg
Contact: +27 (0)21 788 6062
The Vineyard Hotel, Newlands
Served in the Garden Lounge, high tea at the Vineyards Hotel features a three-tier stand groaning with a fine selection of savoury nibbles and sweet delights. Savoury cones 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 brownie 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.
Where: Colinton Road, Newlands, Cape Town
Contact: +27 (0)21 657 4500
Leeu Estates, Franschhoek
The glassed-in conservatory adjoining The Dining Room on Leeu Estates offers magnificent mountain views while you enjoy a selection of sweet and savoury treats from the delectable afternoon tea offering, from scones with whipped cream and preserves to finger sandwiches such as coronation chicken on sourdough or smoked trout on seed loaf. Or you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea each Sunday on the front lawn at Leeu House in the company of life-size statues of two icons, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Where: Leeu Estates, Dassenberg, Road Franschhoek
Contact: +27 (0)21 492 2222
The Manna Bay Boutique Hotel, Oranjezicht
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz
Every day, from 15:30 to 17:30, Manna Bay serves a high tea for both guests and visitors (subject to availability). The boutique hotel’s chefs ensure daily variety, with decadent sweet and savoury nibbles, a glass of Graham Beck rosé, Methodé Cap Classique, tea, coffee, and juices. Visitors not staying at the hotel are welcome to enjoy the eclectic design, contemporary art, and spectacular views from the hotel.
The One&Only, V&A Waterfront
High tea at the One&Only Cape Town is all about indulgent treats packed onto a tiered tea stand, a free-flowing selection of Ceylon and Rooibos tea, and freshly brewed filter coffee enjoyed against a magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain. Freshly baked scones, cupcakes, cheesecake, éclairs, macarons, koeksisters, biscuits, finger sandwiches, pesto straws, cocktail buns, satay skewers, bobotie tartlets, pastrami gateaux, and more…best you go hungry!
Rhodes Memorial Restaurant
Situated on the northern slope of Table Mountain and nestled behind the famous Rhodes Memorial, you’ll find a unique restaurant and tea garden. This vantage point not only allows a panoramic view of the Cape Flats to the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountain ranges but is one of the few vantage points where both the Atlantic and Indian oceans can be seen. The landscaped tea garden is a lovely, cool place to go for breakfast, tea, savoury dishes, and cakes – a “build-your-own-high-tea” experience, if you will!
Where: Rhodes Ave, Mowbray, Cape Town
Contact: +27 (0)21 687 0000
The Silo Hotel, V&A Waterfront
Towering above the V&A Waterfront and occupying six floors above the lauded Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is the uber stylish Silo Hotel. The “Royal Tea” experience is offered in the sophisticated Granary Café (up to seven guests per booking) on the sixth floor and consists of the pastry chef’s selection of petit gateaux and exquisite teatime treats, as well as a selection of savoury delights. Groups of 8 to 12 guests will be hosted in the library, while 13 to 22 guests will be hosted in the “Wisdom Room”.
The Stack, Gardens
Every Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00 to 16:00, The Brasserie at The Stack adds an indulgence afternoon tea to its already impressive list of spoils. Featuring a cake of the week, finger sandwiches (smoked salmon and dill créme fraîche | cured red onion and cucumber with cream cheese), sweet treats (macarons, burnt butter and sage madeleines, and scones with cream and home-made jam), and a selection of hot beverages. Sit inside or out in the lovely courtyard!
Where: 7 Weltevreden Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Contact: +27 (0)21 286 0187
Truth Coffee, CBD
High tea at Truth Coffee is anything but stuffy and traditional! Administered with a distinctive Steampunk edge, expect the unexpected: three courses of perfectly paired bites and beverages, conceived by talented French-born chef Kamal Hamzaoui, and presented on a three-tiered platter stand. Think: a citrus-flavoured spread of sweet treats, accompanied by a glass of Pol Roger Champagne; baked goods and vegetarian savoury bites paired with tea or coffee; local speciality charcuterie and cheese; and Pol Roger strawberry and champagne mousse.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Camps Bay
Served in The Leopard Bar or The Conservatory, accompanied by the perfect cup of tea, specialty coffee or a glass of bubbly, the Twelve Apostles “Tea by the Sea” experience is renowned for its scrumptious, freshly baked selection of cream puffs, macarons and brownies, madeleines, cheesecake, scones with cream and mouth-watering finger sandwiches, prepared each day by Pastry Chef Gina Marziani. Served tableside at three sittings daily, along with fragrant teas and coffees, guests can enjoy High Tea served on a tea-stand that is topped up throughout the service. There is also a vegan option on offer.
Winchester Mansions, Sea Point
Every Saturday, from 14:30 to 17:30, swing by Winchester Mansions Hotel in Sea Point for their fabulous high tea, which features a tiered stand of sweets and savouries for two, as well as a selection of fine imported teas. Ambient live music ensures that guests enjoy these treats in a relaxed, yet vibey atmosphere.