The pleasures of high tea


Over the past couple of years, the high tea experience has grown in popularity from the occasional special event to every weekend if you feel like it. It was mostly offered at the more expensive/exclusive hotels usually in the city.  Now it is more widely available and at more varied prices.

So far this year, I’ve been to two.

Hazelhurst Cafe (Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery, Gymea) provides high tea from 2pm Sundays (maybe Saturday too) from $20 per person. For my $20, I received a couple of ribbon sandwiches, some scones, cake and a spoon of creme brulee (yummee) and my choice of tea or coffee. Bubbly wine is also availabe at an extra price. The food was generally good and, as always, the coffee lovely (too early in the day for me to imbibe in alcohol).

The sandwich fillings were a little basic though tasty and some of the scones were a little hard. Sometimes scones are like that on the outside; however, one of our guests had to send hers back as it was like a rock all the way through! The replacement was beautiful though and was lathered with jam and cream and munched on with delayed delight.

The only issue we really had with the afternoon was that perhaps our group (20) was too large for a high tea and that our guests did not all understand what was involved. Neither did I really, as I hadn’t been to one before. It’s not difficult, of course, but I think the group mistook high tea for lunch (and were disappointed with the amount of food or ate more than their share leaving some guests with very little) and others ordered the wine without realising it was extra.

My only feedback to the cafe would be to give a little introduction to high tea newbies on what was being served and when, and to explain that the wine is extra. For people organising a group high tea, I would offer the same advice, and perhaps include that on the invite.

Actually, I would offer that advice to any cafe/restaurant who offered high teas. There’s a set menu and, therefore, a protocol to follow.

My second high tea experience was at the Audley Dancehall in The Royal National Park. With a much smaller group (only four) and a little experience under our belts, we set about devouring the plates of beautifully munchy offerings. Naturally, I enjoyed the cakes the best, but have you ever tried sour beetroot pastels? They’re lovely! As of course were the brandy snaps, cinnamon brioche nuts, milk chocolate crunchies and passionfruit tart. I was in heaven and would happily partake of High Tea there any time.

In fact, I may just splash out and order the sparkling wine package…

Both venues are set in beautiful grounds. Hazelhurst is in the middle of landscaped gardens with a creek, ducks, and an art gallery next door.

The Dancehall is on the shore of the Audley River – gracefully coloured trees, stretches of lawn, people rowing up and down the river. It’s another time; away from home and stress and traffic noise.

Go find yourself some afternoons free and try both High Teas. I recommend them.

view from Audley Dancehall balcony

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