Clear skies, a sylvan country garden filled with rose bushes, birdsong, and tiers of dainty treats. Does this sound like a scene straight out of White Mischief? Perhaps, but it’s also the stuff that high tea in the Cape winelands is made of.
Afternoon tea – or high tea as it is commonly misnamed – is a Victorian-era tradition that was made popular by Anna, Duchess of Bedford in the 1800s. In the past decade, the ritual has been elevated to new heights, thanks to a batch of modern pastry chefs whose divine versions of choux pastry, technicoloured macarons and refined tartlets have given us an excuse to squeeze in another meal between breakfast, lunch and dinner! Add a winelands setting, and you have a spread fit for the gods.
Is your favourite winelands afternoon tea on our list? What do you love about it? Let us know in the comments below.
Manor House, Leeu Estates, Franschhoek
The setting Situated in the picturesque Franschhoek valley with breathtaking views of the Dassenberg mountains lies the immaculately restored Manor House at Leeu Estates. The huge glass windows in the conservatory make it the ideal place to sip your afternoon tea and gaze at the manicured lawn and dramatic sculpture garden.
The tea We started our tea experience with a glass of Méthode Cap Classique, which turns any event into a celebration. In addition to a variety of organic teas and coffees on the menu, guests are presented with a three-tiered tray of delectable sweet and savoury snacks, all prepared freshly on the day.
Each and every canapé bears testimony to the freshness, and bursts with intense flavours and mouth-watering textures, but it was the the Valrhona Jivara chocolate ganache and white-chocolate crème diplomate with crispy chocolate tulle that stole my heart. They have to be the most delicious thing I have tasted in a long time, and I would drive back just for that!
Cost R200 (adults)
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 2pm – 5pm
Where do find it Leeu Estates, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek, Western Cape
Reviewer Annabel Short
The Conservatory, Cavalli Estate, Somerset West
The setting Located in the Helderberg’s magnificent Cape Floral Kingdom, Cavalli Estate is known among foodies and scenery-seekers as the place to go for top-drawer wining and dining, and now also decadent high teas! Tea is served in The Conservatory – a beautifully bright, glass-enclosed private dining area, overlooking the sparkling dam and mountains beyond – for 10 guests or more on an exclusive basis.
The tea is a wonderfully bespoke experience, where chef Michael Deg prepares a spread tea for his guests, based on their selection.
Presented on a three-tiered stand, the indulgent spread features an array of finger sandwiches (egg mayonnaise, watercress, and gherkin; cucumber and whipped dill butter; gypsy ham, tomato, and aged cheddar; rare roast beef, pickled onion and English mustard), a selection of bite-sized friandes, including profiteroles with salted caramel, white chocolate and strawberry macarons, Millionaire’s shortbread, chocolate mocha cake, mini carrot cake, and vanilla brown butter madeleines, with the featured cheesecake of the day, and a bowl of freshly baked buttermilk scones with a side of strawberry jam and chantilly cream.
Guests also have the choice between a selection of black, green, and rooibos tea, or filter coffee. Cappuccinos are available on request, at an extra cost.
Good to know Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for; let the kitchen know of any dietary concerns prior to your visit.
Cost R220 per person (minimum of 10 guests)
Opening times Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 3pm (lunch and high tea)
Friday – Saturday, 6pm – 9pm (dinner)
Contact 021 855 3281, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Cavalli Estate, Strand Road, R44, Somerset West
Reviewer Kent Cloete
Le Verger, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Franschhoek
The setting Entering the grounds of Le Franschhoek Hotel, you can’t help but pause and breathe in the silence and tranquillity of the setting – which offers a sense of wonderment that just cannot be found in the hustle and bustle of the city. Surrounded by mountain and vineyard views, the estate offers multiple venues where guests can enjoy high tea. We were lucky enough to enjoy ours in a private conservatory – surrounded by the scent of roses. Welcomed with sparkling wine by the incredibly attentive staff, was the perfect way to begin our feast on a hot summer’s day.
The tea To start, we were offered a selection of light and refreshing savoury delights. Between the salmon blini sandwich and rice wrap, butternut-and-ricotta quiche, and blanched asparagus with Parma ham, we realised we’d need to loosen our belts before the sweet treats arrived.
A selection of fragrant teas was served, accompanied by a tiered stand of decadent sweets. Beautifully arranged and decorated with roses from the garden, the delectable array of delights included double chocolate brownies, purple dark chocolate Turkish delights and citrus-scented scones.
A trip out to the winelands is always a great way to escape the city, and this was no exception. Le Franschhoek Hotel spares no expense when it comes their welcoming staff, luxurious setting, and ambrosial spread to suit every palate.
Good to know While most of the delicious items served during my visit are available, some new items are being added to the menu according to the celebration or occasion at hand. Arrive hungry!
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm
Contact 021 876 8900, email@example.com
Where to find it Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa, 16 Minor road, Franschhoek
Reviewer Lindi James
Manor Kitchen Restaurant, Lanzerac, Stellenbosch
The setting Lanzerac is famed for many things – a stupendous view-drenched spa, breathtaking vistas (of vineyards and mountains), and for being the home of the world’s first bottled pinotage. It’s striking restaurant – the elegant Manor Kitchen – also deserves special mention. One of four restaurants on the estate, it dazzles with eye-catching chandeliers, large windows and a light and bright space beautifully adorned in soft pink, olive green and slate grey.
The tea As you’d expect from a winelands high tea, Lanzerac’s offering is a decidedly decadent and sophisticated affair. We were greeted with a glass of MCC, followed by the choice of two TWG teas (per person) to be enjoyed with our treats. We picked the Grand Wedding Tea, Moroccan Mint (perfect for cutting through the sweetness of the petit fours and gateau), Silver Moon, and 1837 Black Tea (the most divine blend of berries, anise, and caramel).
Our sweet and savoury treats were served buffet-style, and looked fit for a grand banquet. The mouthwatering savoury selection included classic finger chicken sandwiches; prawn cocktail, dill and avocado en croûte; Parmesan biscuit with goat’s cheese, asparagus salad and edible flowers; and whipped egg pastry cups with cress and cured mustard.
The delightful and colourful sweet selection on the other end of the table included almond profiteroles with rose-water cream; baked cheesecake bites with lemon zest and strawberries; raspberry mini battenberg; and macaroons. Every morsel was fresh, flavourful, and looked almost too good to eat!
See the full menu here.
Good to know The service is impeccable – friendly and attentive without being overbearing, and you’ll want for nothing except perhaps a loose-fitting frock!
Opening times Saturdays, 2pm – 5pm
Contact 021 887 1132, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Reviewer Alicia Chamaillé
Orangerie Restaurant, Le Lude, Franschhoek
The setting The pinnacle of a winelands high tea destination, Orangerie Restaurant at Le Lude not only boasts sweeping vineyard, valley and mountain views, but also a rose and herb garden for guests to roam through. The restaurant interiors hint of a colonial-inspired greenhouse with cane chairs, ceiling fans and leafy palms and ferns dotted throughout. Double-volume arched windows surround the entire restaurant, putting the marvellous view centre stage.
The tea starts with a glass of Le Lude Brut NV or Brut Rosé NV (or you may opt to have your bubbly at the end). A selection of nine Twinings teas is offered, served in the most beautiful tea service we’ve seen in a while!
Tea is presented on a silver-tiered platter (that’s shared between two at R280 per person) and consists of three savoury and four sweet treats, including cucumber, dill, salmon and caper cream cheese sandwiches, rare roast beef and horseradish baguettes, spinach and Gruyère frittatas, buttermilk scones with crème chantilly and strawberry preserve, salted caramel profiterole, double chocolate lamingtons, and fresh fruit tarts!
Cost R560 for two people (R280 per person)
Opening times Daily, 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Contact 021 100 3464, email@example.com
Where to find it Bowling Green Avenue, Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
Reviewer Michelle de Bruin
Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room, Anthonij Rupert Estate, Franschhoek
The setting Driving up the treed drive as you enter Anthonij Rupert Estate, one is transported to a Downton Abbey-esque country mansion, with perfectly manicured lawns, dotted with an array of Dylan Lewis bronze sculptures. Breathtaking mountain views complete the picture.
And, as you begin to explore, you’ll arrive in a perfectly preserved Tasting Room that’s steeped in history: a perfect venue for my favourite pastime.
A welcoming (and welcome) glass of L’Ormarins Brut Rosé ensures that your palate is refreshed on a hot summer’s day. Seated on the veranda, we were given the choice of Premier Cru tea, artisanal coffee, or more sparkling wine. Being out in the winelands, we opted for the latter.
The tea The high tea menu is a continuously evolving, seasonal affair. We were treated to a lavish tiered stand of inventive, palate-enticing creations, both savoury and sweet, such as cardamom panna cotta, cinnamon and apple macarons and smoked salmon blini roulade – with an Italian charcuterie skewer (with melon balls) adding a refreshing touch.
All in all, the welcoming atmosphere, picturesque surrounds, and the opportunity to taste some of Anthonij Rupert’s delicious of wines, made this a perfect venue to be enjoyed with friends.
Good to know The entrance to Anthonij Rupert is a little bit hidden so it’s important to slow down as soon as you see the first sign.
Cost R180 per person (minimum of 4 guests)
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 12.30pm; 2.30pm – 4pm
Contact 021 874 9004, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it R45, Franschhoek
Reviewer Lindi James
La Paris Bistro & Deli, La Paris Estate, Franschhoek
The setting Tucked away among trees and foliage, just a few minutes outside of Franschhoek, is La Paris Estate. With the choice of sitting inside, on the shaded veranda or on the deck (for larger parties), it’s the perfect spot for sipping on a variety of freshly brewed teas and tasting the kitchen’s miniature baked delights. A multi-functional estate used for weddings, parties and festivals, its picturesque rose garden, mini vegetable patch and children’s play area are sure to enchant guests of all ages.
The tea Fusing traditional English afternoon tea with a nod to modern French patisserie, La Paris unveils a fresh perspective with its high tea offering. Prepared in the bakery just a few metres away from the bistro, the two-tier spread sees scones replaced with giant profiteroles and cucumber finger sandwiches upgraded with freshly baked sourdough, cheddar cheese, pastrami ham and fresh tomato.
Catering to all preferences, there are Pescatarian and vegetarian options including smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis and mini vegetable tartlets.
The main event, however, is the sweet spread. From decadent chocolate brownies and coconut-and-white-chocolate macarons to pistachio-and-cranberry fudge and mini meringues – it’s a sugar extravaganza!
If you’re a stickler for tradition, choose the delicate Earl Grey blend, the Six Orchids Ceylon or the classic English breakfast. The more adventurous tea totallers should try the Chinese Gunpowder green tea for a perfect palette cleanser.
Good to know Steeped in rich history dating back to 1699, La Paris Estate was originally a wheat, grape and stock farm. Echoing this nostalgia in everything they do, care is taken to uphold respect for local seasonal ingredients.
Cost R275 for two people
Opening times Wednesday – Monday, 8.30am – 5pm
Contact 021 867 0171, email@example.com
Where to find it La Paris Estate, Wemmershoek Road, R301, Franschhoek/Paarl, Western Cape
Reviewer Francesca Gransden
Bosman’s Restaurant, Grande Roche Hotel, Paarl
The setting On the sweeping verandah at the entrance of the restaurant, looking out over vineyards towards the mountains, you can take tea with nothing but the gentle hush of nature to add to your sensory experience.
The tea After selecting your tea of choice, it’s a matter of minutes before a savoury platter of thinly sliced cold meat, cucumber sandwiches was presented with decorative flourish. Beautifully prepared using seasonal ingredients (menus change weekly), this serves as the prelude to a three-tiered sweet seduction of irresistible bite-sized morsels created by Michelin-trained executive chef Roland Gorgosilich. The profiterole (chocolate eclair) was the supreme favourite, followed by the carrot cake. There was also a mouthwatering peach mousse with poached peach, a mini scone and a white chocolate-dipped strawberry in the mix.
Forget about the conventional buffet. Here you’re catered for per booking only, so if you have any particular dietary requirements the chef can cater accordingly. We enjoyed a savoury platter of thinly sliced cold meat, cucumber sandwiches and a few accompaniments was the forerunner to a tower of bite-sized sweet treats.
Times Monday – Sunday, 3pm – 5pm
Please note Grande Roche Hotel is closing from 1 – 30 June 2019 for annual maintenance, so be sure to book your tea time treat before then!
Contact 021 863 5100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 1 Plantasie Street, Paarl, Western Cape
Reviewer Debbie Hathway
Explore the Cape’s beauty with the help of our weekly newsletter.