Top 10 places in Australia for high tea
Whether you call it ‘high tea’, Devonshire tea, or simply ‘afternoon tea’, nothing beats tea served with freshly baked scones and lashings of thick cream and jam. Here’s our pick of some of the best city spots for teatime treats.
Please note, that due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in each state, venues may be closed temporarily or only open for reduced hours. We recommend checking first and making a booking before you visit.
High tea around Sydney
The Gunners Barracks
They don’t call it ‘high tea’ for nothing – at the historic Gunners Barracks, you get to enjoy your afternoon treats with staggering views over Sydney Harbour. There are a number of options on offer, from morning tea, through to ‘traditional high tea’, ‘sparkling high tea’, ‘Champagne high tea’ and even ‘cocktail high tea’ – all of which are self-explanatory! With all these, you’ll be served a delicious combination of house-baked scones, savoury and sweet pastries and cakes, finger sandwiches and tea or coffee.
Vaucluse House Tearooms
On the other side of the Harbour, historic Vaucluse House is the perfect spot to enjoy a more leafy, tranquil high tea experience. The menu might include chicken and tarragon finger sandwich, tomato tarte Tatin, buttermilk scones with clotted cream and fruit preserves, and mandarin profiteroles. Plus, you can wander around this beautiful property’s kitchen garden to see where some of the ingredients have been grown.
The Tea Room QVB
When you’re done with shopping (or just window-shopping) at the boutiques in Sydney’s beautifully restored Queen Victoria Building, head upstairs to the Tea Room for high tea in style. The menu comes with a delightful potted history of the high tea tradition, as well as featuring a stunning array of specialty teas. Expect superior scones with clotted cream and beautiful savoury and sweet pastries.
Image source: The Tea Room
High tea around Melbourne
Proudly serving its famed afternoon teas since 1883, The Windsor hotel is a Melbourne icon, and its afternoon tea equally acclaimed. A delicious selection of goodies is on the menu – pumpkin scones with smoked butter, salmon, radish and chive sandwich, and a dainty rhubarb and vanilla macaron are just a sample. Paired with a glass of Champagne or a perfect pot of tea, this is a classic Melbourne experience.
NGV Tea Room
When you’re done gazing at the latest exhibits at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, settle in for high tea in the Tea Room. The menu is sophisticated and modern, while still paying homage to the good old British favourites, with finger sandwiches running from cheese and pickle to curried egg mayo and Waldorf chicken. Other twists on tradition include a plum Bakewell tart and Dubonnet trifle. There’s also a classic Devonshire tea available – freshly baked scones, strawberry jam and cream.
There’s something really special about an ‘Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood’. First of all, it’s served on specially designed ‘Langham Rose’ Wedgwood china. Then there’s the luxurious array of delicacies to nibble on – from gin and kaffir-lime cured Tasmanian salmon blinis, to handmade pastries and scones served with rose preserve, Yarra Valley cream and lemon curd.
Image source: Langham Hotel
High tea around Brisbane
The Champagne High Tea served at Customs House comes with free views of Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge – and a glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier – what more could you ask for? Well, perhaps the selection of savouries, including mini Queensland spanner crab and celery buns, and poached chicken, dill and watercress sandwiches, or those incredible raspberry scones served with fresh raspberries and cream…
The hotel’s Brasserie on the River offers both morning tea Monday to Friday – complete with tiered platter of goodies – and its signature Spirit of Queensland High Tea at the weekend. For the latter, originally created for Queen Elizabeth II on her last visit to Brisbane, the Queensland-produce-focused menu might include savouries such as cucumber finger sandwiches, mini quiche and a Stamford signature curry puff to start. But the star turn here is the scone selection: Stanthorpe cider apple and raisin, Queensland blue pumpkin, and cheese and Vegemite – all served with Maleny Dairy cream.
Belle Époque at the Emporium
The tea-soaked sultana and cranberry scones with boysenberry and sage jam, and vanilla cream on Belle Epoque’s high tea menu are reason enough to make a beeline here. Among other culinary delights are executive pastry chef Alex Norman’s pumpkin spice choux bun and pear and pear ginger sponge. Match them with a range of craft teas or a glass of champers.
Image source: Stamford Plaza Brisbane
High tea around Perth
Situated in the historic Royal Hotel, Fleur not only looks gorgeous, but serves up a pretty fabulous high tea, too. Granted, you might not find your traditional scones, jam and cream, but you’ll be offered some interesting contemporary alternatives on the set menu – among them, perhaps toasted corn cake with whipped soft cheese and truffle, followed by lemon myrtle meringue pie.
May Street Larder
This East Fremantle favourite offers a daily Artisan High Tea focused on local, seasonal produce with a creative twist. Expect house-smoked salmon buckwheat blinis, and their signature KFC (Korean fried chicken) sliders, alongside chocolate & salted caramel brownies and lemon curd slice.
Treasury Lounge & Bar
Settle in among the Como hotel’s bright and airy Treasury Lounge & Bar and celebrate the best of West Australian produce, with a side of local art by Philippa and Alex Nikulinsky. The seasonal afternoon-tea menus are a work of art in themselves, with winter treats including truffled egg and mayonnaise, chives and black truffle sandwiches, and Mont Blanc (chestnut cream, vanilla Chantilly, cassis jam and meringue).
Image source: Rochelle Adonis Cakes + Confections
High tea around Adelaide
The Rising Sun Inn
Fine china, snowy-white table linen and silverware are the backdrop for an excellent selection of savoury and sweet teatime favourites at this heritage venue in Kensington. And once you’ve eaten and drunk to your heart’s content, walk it all off with a wander around the Inn’s regularly changing art exhibits.
Coal Cellar & Grill
Settle in to the Hilton Adelaide’s Lobby Lounge for a celebratory weekend high tea with all the trimmings, courtesy of Coal Cellar & Grill. You’ll be greeted with a celebratory glass of bubbles, then treated to an array of gorgeous goodies baked in-house, including housemade sausage rolls, lemon meringue tart and, of course plain and fruit scones with strawberry jam.
‘Taking tea’ on a Saturday or Sunday at the Mayfair Hotel is an elegant affair. This quirky 1930s hotel, whose façade is now State Heritage-listed, is just the place to channel your inner aristocrat. Depending on your menu of choice, a complimentary glass of sparkling wine or Champagne sets the scene, followed by a selection of five savoury and five sweet delicacies, including fluffy buttermilk scones with jam and cream.
Image source: Mayfair Hotel Adelaide
High tea around Canberra
Hoi Polloi at Old Parliament House
On Saturdays and Sundays, the hoi polloi (that’s us folks!) enjoy nothing more than taking high tea in this historic building’s former Members Bar. A selection of sandwiches and sweet treats (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options also available) is served on traditional tiered stands, as you take in the view over the House of Representatives Courtyard.
This high tea is high alright – situated on the rooftop terrace of a contemporary boutique hotel plus apartments, with views over Canberra City, Lake Burley Griffin and leafy Barton surrounds. Every Sunday at the Burbury Hotel, visitors flock here for a tempting array of French patisserie and savouries, classic scones and more. Tea-inspired cocktails are also a feature, if you’re feeling even more celebratory.
The Tea Lounge
The daily buffet-style high tea served in the heritage-listed Tea Lounge at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra is something of a tradition. Expect a dizzying array of finger sandwiches, savoury bites, freshly baked scones with all the trimmings, and cakes, pastries and slices.
Image source: Hoi Polloi
High tea around Darwin
With its shady setting in the Botanic Gardens, Eva’s Café is a great place to cool down over a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones, cream and jam, petits fours and macarons. BYO bubbles and they’ll keep you hydrated with unlimited sparkling water.
The Chantilly Kitchen
Tenille Russo is a passionate, self-taught pastry chef and The Chantilly Kitchen is her labour of love (especially in the face of Darwin’s relentless humidity!). Book a high tea at one of her Tea Rooms (‘Petite’ or Grande’) and expect a selection of sandwiches (crusts cut off, of course), cupcakes, macarons and other sweet treats, all freshly prepared and baked.
This National Trust property at Myilly Point Heritage Precinct serves afternoon tea in its gorgeous garden on the third Sunday of the month. Enjoy scones with all the trimmings, a selection of cakes and tea or coffee in a shady spot before you explore only remaining example of a two-storey house designed by architect Beni Burnett.
There's plenty of places to explore for high tea in Australia. We hope you discover some of these suggestions on your next day out or holiday.