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FOOD & DRINK

Sydney's Best High Teas for When You Want to Feel a Little Bit Fancy

From the New Orleans-inspired to the decadent dessert-filled, Sydney's high tea scene is full of modern twists.
By Marissa Ciampi
August 22, 2018
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Sydney's Best High Teas for When You Want to Feel a Little Bit Fancy

From the New Orleans-inspired to the decadent dessert-filled, Sydney's high tea scene is full of modern twists.
By Marissa Ciampi
August 22, 2018
  shares

SYDNEY'S BEST HIGH TEAS FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO FEEL A LITTLE BIT FANCY

From the New Orleans-inspired to the decadent dessert-filled, Sydney's high tea scene is full of modern twists.

In 1840 the Duchess of Bedford grew tired of that hunger-inducing interval between lunch and dinner, and to the benefit of humankind she invented the elaborate ritual of afternoon tea. Who doesn't like to while away an afternoon sipping tea and sampling a dazzling array of bite-sized treats extravagantly served on those three-tiered stands?

But despite its traditional roots, the face of high tea is changing. No longer restricted to the retired and the rich, some of Sydney's best cafes, restaurants and dessert bars are plating up creative (both traditional and not-so) afternoon teas for every tea-swilling sweet lover to enjoy. From the cake-laden to the New Orleans-inspired, here are the best high teas in town.

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    NOLA High Tea

    A New Orleans-style high tea is coming to Sydney, thanks to Barangaroo’s NOLA Smokehouse and Bar. On the last Sunday of the month, from August through October, you can sip on Sazerac and iced tea cocktails — plus snack on mini lobster rolls and tartlets — all while taking in views of the city skyline. The four-hour high tea will cost you $70 each and includes all the eats, along with one glass of Champagne, or a cocktail, and bottomless house iced tea or lemonade (the virgin kind). For the boozy option, choose from a glass of Taittinger Cuvée Prestige or one of three cocktails created specifically for the event — these include the Decatur Iced Tea (Sazerac Rye and Southern Comfort Black mixed with rosy mint and earl grey teas); the NOLA lemonade (Bacardi Oro and Fuego with limoncello, lemon juice and soda) and a classic bellini.

    If you’d like to go above and beyond the brunch ticket, the wider drinks menu will also be on offer, or you can opt for the more traditional bottomless coffee or tea. In terms of food, they’ve put a Louisiana twist on your usual array of decadent bites. On the savoury side, indulge in lobster rolls or a smoked chicken and leek variety. For sweet lovers, the freshly-baked scones will be accompanied by bourbon peach and blood plum marmalade. Lemon meringue tartlets, pecan and SoCo tarts and even s’mores with passionfruit and chocolate ganache will also be yours to nibble on.

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    High Tea at Koi Dessert Bar

    Koi Dessert Bar‘s edible creations continue to capture Sydneysiders with their “too beautiful to eat, yet eat them we must” vibes. It was only a matter of time before the dessert bar jumped on the high tea bandwagon, and we’re glad it finally has. Every weekend in August, it’s hosting a winter high tea with reinvented classics and a heap of black truffle to boot. For $65 per person, you get free flowing coffee and tea, plus two savoury bites and four of the eatery’s signature desserts — think lemon meringue in a jar, black sesame tarts and a decadent-looking green globe with mango mousse and yuzu curd. Plus, Reynold Poernomo has created WA black truffle and cream-filled scones, and black truffle macarons just for the occasion. He’s also turning out oh-so-pretty truffle rose tarts — made from roasted milk chocolate ganache with truffle-infused vanilla topped with rose and caramel cocoa nibs. If you miss out on the winter high tea, despair not. A spring version will return for a month in November, then again in February with a summery twist.

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    Lovers of high tea will tell you that it’s just as much about aesthetic as taste: the outfits, the adorable tiny food and the unmatched setting looking over the glittering harbour. Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney’s new offering, Blu Bar High Tea, offers all of the above in spades. With sweeping views over the water and beyond from level 36 and resident pastry chef Anna Polyviou (otherwise known as the ‘punk princess of pastry’) at the helm, you can be sure this will be a little different than the typical civilised high tea experience. And, the best bit — apart from that epic view — is that the high tea is buffet-style. You know what means? All the sandwiches and sweet treats you can manage. You can expect a bit of a twist on the usual cucumber and bubbly affair, starting with free-flowing teapot cocktails, filled with funky concoctions like Passion Tea-quila and Pink Panther. Traditional snack favourites like egg sandwiches and quiches will be on offer, and some not-so traditional desserts. Sweet treat flavours include piña colada (coconut, pineapple, lemongrass and Malibu), popping (caramel, popcorn and chocolate) and strawberries and crème (strawberry, mascarpone and vanilla). What forms these ingredients will take is anyone’s guess given Polyviou’s imaginative style.

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    A weekend escape to the Blue Mountains automatically means views for days. At the Hydro Majestic, that view also comes with a decadent high tea. The historic hotel boasts panoramic views across the Megalong Valley, and its Wintergarden Room offers plush seating, a fireplace and a daily high tea — which is literally served on a silver platter, no less. Its signature high tea ($55–65), which can be made gluten free or vegetarian, comes with a delicate selection of finger sandwiches, petite pastries and freshly baked scones accompanied by clotted cream and homemade jam. A wide range of bottomless teas and coffee are on offer, too. Think classic cuppas, macchiatos, mochas and the requisite English breakfast served alongside lemon-ginger and Darjeeling. Plus, for five bucks extra you can add a tea blossom to your pot — with options like black tea rolled with jasmine, globe amaranth and peppermint; or white tea rolled with marigold and jasmine.

    If you’d like to add a bit of classy boozing to the mix, there’s the deluxe and luxurious options ($69–85), which come with all of the above plus a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne, respectively. To really change it up, try the Eastern high tea ($60–75) — instead of your typical English scones and pastries, you’ll be served steamed dumplings, crab claw and prawn rice paper rolls, pork belly tacos and a selection of Asian-style desserts.

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    High Tea at Abode Bistro and Bar

    Abode Bistro and Bar may be a hotel restaurant, but it’s has an impressive high tea that has none of the stuffy vibes you’d expect from an upscale hotel. Think bottomless sparkling wine accompanied by a seasonal menu, and at a very reasonable $65 per person to boot. On offer from Friday through Saturday, the sparkling high tea gets you two full hours of unlimited pours, plus your choice of tea from their Dilmah selection and an ever-changing menu of savoury and sweet bites. The latest menu includes mushroom and goat’s curd quiche, smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade and chicken, radicchio and apple slaw sandwiches. Pastries, of which there are six, feature caramel and passion fruit tarts, rhubarb jam and burnt mandarin macarons, as well as lemon meringue pie.

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Top image: Blu Bar High Tea

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