Whether you call it high tea or afternoon tea doesn’t matter – the point is: teatime is back in vogue! The lavish ritual – made popular by Anna, Duchess of Bedford in the Victorian era – is a decidedly leisurely way to fill the gap between lunch and dinner.
Not surprisingly, hot capitals around the world, including Cape Town of course, are spilling over with permutations of this age-old tradition. The Insiders scoured the Mother City for the best teas around, and found a handful of places offering something rather unique in terms of location, ambience, service and the spread itself. As always, if we’ve left any of your favourites out, please add them in the comments below.
Afternoon Tea at Belmond Mount Nelson
The setting Above the Company’s Garden, behind famous white pillars, is a secluded oasis of elegance and time-honoured beauty. Tea is taken in the newly refurbished Tea Lounge, a warm space that reflects the hotel’s iconic pale-pink exterior – with Aubusson rugs and upholstery in subtle rose hues – and leads onto the hotel’s magnificent garden verandah.
The tea Afternoon tea is one of the hotel’s most time-honoured traditions, offering guests a selection of over 40 of the finest teas, and a delectable selection of sweet and savoury nibbles – not to mention a resident tea sommelier, Craig Cupido. Craig guides guests through various tea masterclasses, including a traditional tea ceremony and complex tea tastings, for an afternoon tea with an educational edge.
Good to know If you’re serious about tea, let executive chef Rudi Liebenberg and tea sommelier Craig Cupido guide you through a five-course loose-tea-and-canapé pairing designed to awaken all senses.
Cost Morning Tea: R285 (adults); R205 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Afternoon Tea: R365 (adults); R205 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Evening Tea: R365 (adults); R205 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Booking is essential.
Times Monday – Sunday, 1.30pm – 3.30pm; 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Contact 021 483 1948, email@example.com
Where to find it Mount Nelson
Tea By The Sea at The 12 Apostles
The setting The location of this five-star boutique hotel, neatly nestled at the foot of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, is what makes this venue stand out from the rest. Beautifully manicured gardens surrounded by the wild mountain landscape and stunning ocean views make this the perfect setting for afternoon tea – in the Leopard Bar, or on the balcony. (Get your favourite Instagram filter ready because it’s about to work overtime!)
The tea Freshly prepared each morning by pastry team Miquetta de Castro and Nivan Ferreira under the professional eye of top pastry dog, chef Gina Marziani, the tea stand flaunts various finger sandwiches, cheese scones, almond-covered egg mayonnaise sandwich pillows, macarons, white-chocolate cheesecake, nutty dark-chocolate brownies, vanilla namelaka and chocolate cake, to name a few. Pastries are made with real butter and Valrhona chocolate. When you’re ready for tea, there are 18 flavours to choose from. And, if you’d prefer a glass of bubbly with your tea, you’re more than welcome to order some by the glass – or bottle, of course.
Good to know The Leopard Bar is pet-friendly, so small to medium-sized pooches are welcome to come along and enjoy the pet-friendly menu. There’s a Vegan High Tea for dairy-free diners. On weekends a high tea buffet is served, in addition to the cake stand.
Cost High Tea by the Sea: R325 per person
Vegan High Tea R375 per person (excludes bubbly)
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Contact 021 437 9000, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Victoria Road, Camps Bay
Reviewer Michelle de Bruin
Low Carb High Tea at The Cellars-Hohenort
The setting A member of the Relais & Chateaux group, this delightful country-style hotel in the heart of the Constantia Valley is arguably one of the loveliest spots to enjoy an indulgent high tea at any time of the year. In winter, while away the afternoon in the elegant indoor lounge beside the fire; in spring and early autumn, sit in the light and airy glassed-in rooms; and in summer, relax on the sunny terrace where the 300-year-old oak tree and umbrellas offer reprieve from the heat while you enjoy vistas of the beautiful grounds and the back of Table Mountain.
The tea The Low Carb High Tea offers lighter (but still flavourful) items than those found at traditional English afternoon tea. Elegantly served on a three-tiered cake stand, offerings include items such as crispy prawn Vietnamese rice-paper rolls with a dipping sauce; broccoli, red pepper and goat’s cheese tartlets; three open sandwiches; grass-fed beef-and-peppadew sosaties; bite-sized dark-chocolate-and-beetroot cupcakes; fresh fruit (sugar-free) pavlovas, homemade seed and grain bars, tiny scones with sugar-free strawberry jam and whipped cream cheese.
The pièce de résistance is a delicious yoghurt-and-honey panna cotta served in a small glass jar topped with strawberry jelly and sliced strawberries.
An array of classic and herbal teas, single-origin coffees, hot chocolate and iced tea or coffee complete the beverage menu. Or enjoy a glass of bubbly from the Martini bar – the perfect ending to a sublime afternoon.
Cost Low Carb High Tea: R195
Times Low Carb High Tea: Monday – Sunday, 3pm – 5pm
A la Carte Tea: Monday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Contact 021 794 2137, email@example.com
Where to find it 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia Heights
Reviewer Jackie Lange
Steampunk High Tea at Truth Coffee
The setting Truth Coffee – the Mother City’s very own Steampunk HQ – has introduced an edgy version of the age-old afternoon tradition that packs a cool (and utterly delicious) punch, turning the sometimes-stuffy occasion into an unexpected experience of unique taste combinations and memorable pairings. The deep-buttoned leather booths at the back of the café are the perfect spot for an (over-)indulgent spread – a word to the wise: wear your loosest-fitting pants – you’ll need them!)
The tea is divided into three courses of perfectly paired bites and beverages, carefully conceived by esteemed French-born chef Kamal Hamzaoui, and presented on a three-tiered platter stand.
The Amuse Bouche is a citrus-flavoured spread of sweet treats, accompanied by a glass of Pol Roger Champagne. The Café Course – of baked goods and vegetarian savoury bites – is where the coffee (or tea) pairings come in. Included in the price is the opportunity to explore all the coffees on the extensive brew menu, should you so wish. The Le Grand Révélation is a charcuterie-inspired selection that culminates in a Pol Roger white-chocolate mousse dome.
Cost Classic High Tea: R360 per person (nonalcoholic, includes all tea and coffee)
Pol Roger Champagne High Tea: R480 per person (includes Pol Roger Brut Reserve)
Pol Roger Winston Churchill Champagne High Tea: R990 per person (includes Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2004)
Time Monday – Saturday, 3pm – 6pm
Contact 021 200 0440
Where to find it 36 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
High Tea at Cucina Labia
The setting If you’re partial to striking ocean (and garden) views as a side to your teatime tuck-in, the unofficial grande dame of Muizenberg is the spot. Built in 1929 to reflect the spirit of 18th century Venice, Casa Labia is the former residence of Count and Countess Natale Labia. The monument was recently restored by the family, and opened to the public in 2010, retaining every bit of its yesteryear magnificence and splendour. Muralled ceilings, ornate cornicing, chandeliers and vintage furniture set the scene for a Marie Antoinette-inspired affair, only you’ve got it one better: You have a view of the Indian Ocean.
The tea An Americano or selection of teas is served with mini scones, homemade strawberry jam and Chantilly cream for R50. Create the rest of your spread off the canapé and high tea menu (minimum order of 12 per item). Savoury options include cucumber sandwiches on French loaf, butternut-and-smoked-feta tartlets, mushroom-and-thyme pinwheels, Caprese salad cups and smoked snoek paté and apricot crostini. Sweet options include petit berry pavlova, granadilla mousse-filled choux pastries and lemon meringue slices (these are to die for). Please note that you have to pre-book for at least 12 people to be able to order from the canapé and high tea menu.
Good to know More panache is added to the proceedings with live classical music. On Saturdays and Sundays a pianist takes to the proverbial stage between 1pm and 4pm, echoing the sound of Venice through the grounds. It’s marvellous.
Times Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 3:30pm
Contact 021 788 6062
Where to find it Casa Labia, 192 Main Road, Muizenberg
Reviewer Michelle de Bruin
Royal Tea at The Silo Hotel
The setting Towering above the V&A Waterfront in The Silo District – and occupying six floors above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – is the momentous and stylish Silo Hotel. Royal Tea is taken in the stylish sixth-floor Granary Café, where dark-brown leather couches, large glossy tables and an eclectic collection of contemporary art enhance the regal atmosphere – not to mention the awe-inspiring multi-faceted windows, designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick.
The tea Come hungry – and in your most comfortable loose-waisted pants. Created by pastry chef Devin Jones, tea arrives on three-tiered wire trays plied with buttermilk scones; salmon-and-dill and cucumber-and-mint finger sandwiches; egg mayonnaise wraps; savoury pies; macarons, profiteroles; petits fours; salted caramel chocolate torte domes; and coconut and raspberry verrines. Everything is utterly scrumptious, and if you find yourself struggling to eat it all, you are welcome to take some home.
Good to know Special-occasion requests and dietary requirements will be catered for (just give the hotel 48 hours notice). All Royal Tea bookings need to be made 24 hours in advance.
Times Monday – Sunday, 2pm – 5pm
Contact 021 670 0500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it The Silo Hotel, Silo Square, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Reviewer Alicia Chamaillé
Afternoon Tea at The One & Only Cape Town
The setting Lofty proportions, grand decor and a magnificent view of Table Mountain greet you as you enter this splendid hotel. And then the wondrous arrangement of tea-time treats catches your eye. In the background a soothing saxophone sets the scene – not a backtrack; the real thing. Welcome to One&Only Cape Town.
The tea Served as an indulgent buffet, afternoon tea features platters of freshly baked scones, cheesecake, éclairs, cupcakes, macarons, koeksisters, biscuits, pesto straws, finger sandwiches, cocktail buns, satay skewers, bobotie tartlets, pastrami gateaux, and of course, a free flowing selection of Ceylon and Rooibos tea, and freshly brewed filter coffee.
Cost Weekend Morning Tea: R225 (buffet)
Weekday Morning Tea: 195 (tiered stand)
Weekend Afternoon Tea: R325 (buffet)
Weekday Afternoon Tea: R295 (tiered stand)
Themed Afternoon Tea: R325
Children (4 – 12 years): half price
Times Morning Tea: Monday – Sunday, 9am – 12pm
Afternoon Tea: Monday – Sunday, 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Themed Afternoon Tea: First Saturday of the month, 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Contact 021 431 4511, email@example.com
Where to find it One&Only, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Reviewer Michelle de Bruin
High Tea at MannaBay Boutique Hotel
The setting Perched on the slopes of Table Mountain overlooking the city bowl, this modern boutique hotel is a feast for the eyes. And once inside, there’s something to satisfy your other senses, too. Each afternoon an extraordinary spread of sweet and savoury treats is served up on the picturesque buffet table, below a flock of wooden origami birds.
Pile your plate, and relax in either of the two stylishly appointed lounges, or inside the dining area surrounded by large glass windows. Better still, head outside, and enjoy sweeping city views from a balcony lounger.
Taking inspiration from its lush surrounds, the interior features blooming lilies and bouquets of beaded orchids, offering a tranquil space to sip fine tea, savour tasty treats, and enjoy a peaceful afternoon.
The tea The decked-out buffet table has something for the sweetest of tooths as well as the savoury-inclined. Head chef Lori-Ann Kietzmann’s spread includes two cakes, mini pies, finger sandwiches, fresh fruit, savoury phyllo-pastry triangles, vegetarian quiche, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread biscuits – and the thing that will truly keep you coming back for more, creamy caramel horns: cone-shaped pastries filled with caramel and sweet cream, topped with a raspberry.
Although the specific featured ingredients may vary, the level of indulgence is consistent. Patrons are offered a glass of Graham Beck rosé on arrival, as well as a hot pot of your choice of tea or coffee.
Good to know The high tea is prepared every day for guests of the hotel, and although anyone is welcome to come and enjoy, bookings need to made ahead of the time for outside visitors.
Times Monday – Sunday, 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Contact 021 461 1094, firstname.lastname@example.org
Booking is essential
Where to find it 8 Bridle Road, Oranjezicht, Cape Town
Reviewer Kent Cloete
High Tea at Harbour House Constantia Nek
The setting Stunning valley and mountain views, a chic, all-white interior, and a buzzy, sophisticated vibe make this a lovely (if slightly unusual) spot for afternoon tea. There are no comfy couches, where you can languish for hours plucking things off your cake stand, but rather tea is served in the restaurant, where other diners tuck into bounteous seafood platters, and the like. Which was not problem for us, because we sat at our table working our way through two filled-to-the-rafters stands, sipping bubbly and soaking up the scene.
The tea We had the Deluxe menu: two pots of tea and two tiered stands filled with scones, cucumber, trout and egg sandwiches; bobotie and chicken samoosas; cheesecake; lemon tart; bacon and spinach quiches, red velvet cake, carrot cake, dark chocolate tart, lime panna cotta and chocolate trifle.
Good to know It’s a lot of food, so come hungry. Or, opt for the Petit menu (two pots of tea, accompanied by scones; cucumber and egg sandwiches; cheesecake; lemon tart and a dark chocolate slice).
Cost High Tea Petit: R300 for two
High Tea Deluxe: R500 for two; R640 for two (includes 2 glasses of bubbly)
Times Monday – Saturday, 2pm – 5pm
Contact 021 795 0688, email@example.com
Where to find it 1 Hout Bay Road, Constantia
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
High Tea at Winchester Mansions
The setting Harvey’s Restaurant inside Winchester Mansions is a bright, modern space with big glass windows offering views of the busy Sea Point promenade and the ocean beyond. Neutral tones of beige, cream and white are broken by pops of colour provided by faux flowers on each table. While you enjoy your tea, live music (and the clatter of cutlery from waitstaff setting up for dinner service ) provides the soundtrack.
The tea Everything on the well-filled three-tiered silver trays is tasty and flavourful but, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, this tea might not be for you, as the top two tiers are laden with brownies, scones, meringues, cheesecake, and more. The bottom tier comprises bite-sized savoury treats, including smoked-salmon sandwiches; a cheese-and-mustard palmier; brie and cranberry croissant; bacon-and-cheese quiche; chicken-mayo wrap; and mozzarella, tomato and pesto skewers.
Choose from a selection of black, green and herbal tea bags, and keep a watch or phone nearby to track steeping time or you may be left with over-steeped bitter tea. Drink two or three cups while you chatter away and listen to the live tunes.
Good to know Afternoon tea at Winchester Mansion is perfect for a simple outing with friends that won’t break the bank.
Cost R360 for two
Times Saturday, 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Contact 021 434 2351, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 221 Beach Road, Sea Point
Reviewer Alicia Chamaillé
The Cape Grace Hotel Traditional Afternoon Tea
The setting Across from the V&A Waterfront’s shopping precinct and encircled by the beautifully calm yacht marina, the Cape Grace Hotel offers a heady mix of traditional Cape culture and luxury. Its impressive location and panoramic views coupled with its welcoming and luxurious atmosphere leave a lasting impression.
The tea Afternoon Tea is a three-tiered platter of tasty finger sandwiches; a bite-sized smoked salmon and avocado mousse savoury; sweet and savoury scones, with lemon curd; blueberry macarons and mini lemon meringues.
There are some delicious, loose-leaf teas to try; the standard, single tea option is presented in a clear teapot, accompanied by pristine white teacups and saucers, and a useful, hourglass timer, allowing you to perfectly time (and watch) the straining tea.
Good to know There’s also the Not-So-Hungry option that includes a slice of homemade cake (R60) but notably excludes tea or coffee.
Times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 6pm (reservations are essential)
Contact 021 410 7100, email@example.com
Booking is essential
Where to find it West Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront,
There’s so much to do in and around the Cape. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll be your guide.