A centuries-old ritual that’s sumptuous and special.
This lavish ritual – made popular by Anna, Duchess of Bedford in the Victorian era – is a decidedly leisurely way to pass the hours between lunch and dinner.
Being a culinary hotspot, Cape Town is spilling over with copious permutations of this age-old tradition: from a grand Bridgerton-esque extravaganza to a matryoshka-laden Russian tea ceremony, with a dim sum tasting thrown in for good measure.
Naturally, we selected our favourites, each of which stood out for their uniqueness: in terms of setting, ambience, service and the spread itself.
Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Where would you like to take your tea?
Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town
The setting Above the Company’s Garden, behind famous white pillars, is a secluded oasis of serenity and time-honoured elegance. Tea is taken in the outdoor conservatory, the gardens or the 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 Under the guidance of resident tea sommelier Craig Cupido, guests are invited to sample over 40 of the finest teas accompanied by a delectable selection of sweet and savoury nibbles, served on a silver tiered stand. The assortment showcases local and global classics, such as melktert with cinnamon and cardamom; and baked cheesecake with white chocolate and tangy berry tartlets; baskets of warm, freshly baked scones; koesisters sprinkled with coconut; the hotel’s famous mushroom empanadas; cauliflower and onion pakoras; Farmer Angus beef frikkadels; and delicate finger sandwiches filled with smoked Franschhoek trout.
Be sure to try the signature Mount Nelson blend with pink rose petals, or opt for the earthy, yet delicate orange and spice rooibos from the Cederberg.
X factor All this, while Henry Dike plays classics on a baby grand.
Good to know There are plant-based and gluten-free menus – you need to book those in advance.
Cost R395 per person
R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Times Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm & 3pm (two seatings)
Contact 021 483 1948, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
The Twelve Apostles
Team Team Photography
The setting Beautifully manicured gardens and a wild mountain landscape make this the perfect setting for afternoon tea, which is served on a three-tiered stand at your table in The Conservatory, the Leopard Bar, or on the Terrace. (You might want to get your favourite Instagram filter ready because it’s about to work overtime!)
The tea Freshly prepared each morning under the professional eye of top pastry dog, chef Gina Marziani, your tea stand is filled with a variety of savoury and sweet treats, including apple and cinnamon verrines, vanilla and lemon macarons, forest berry and white chocolate choux puff, Mrs T’s cheesecake with strawberries, passion-fruit madeleines, cheese scones with jam and cream, and Death by Chocolate brownies. 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.
Good to know The Leopard Bar is pet-friendly, so small to medium-sized pooches are welcome to come and enjoy the pet-friendly menu. There’s a Vegan High Tea for dairy-free diners.
Cost High Tea by the Sea: R325 per person
Vegan High Tea: R375 per person
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am; 12.30pm; 3pm
Contact 021 437 9000, email@example.com
Where to find it Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town
The setting 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 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; 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.
The tea Imagine savoury treats such as roasted vegetable and goat’s cheese tarts, and grass-fed beef and peppadew sosaties, followed by an array of sweet delights including classic Madagascan chocolate cake, a mélange of flavoured cupcakes and fresh fruit pavlovas – not to forget traditional finger sandwiches. Tea also includes a fine selection of fragrant teas and coffees.
Please note High tea is served as a buffet for 12 or more guests, and on stands for fewer than 12 people. Special dietary requirements are catered for, but need to be booked 24 hours in advance.
Cost Classic High Tea: R265 per person
Times Classic High Tea: Monday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Contact 021 794 2137, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia Heights, Cape Town
Casa Labia by Ideas Cartel
The setting There’s something decidedly civilised about tea overlooking the sea. In addition to a delicious high tea, Casa Labia by Ideas Cartel’s magnificent Venetian-inspired interiors are worth the trip alone. Built in 1929 and opened to the public in 2010, the former residence of Count and Countess Natale Labia boasts muralled ceilings, ornate cornicing, impressive chandeliers and vintage furniture with a modern, eclectic injection.
The tea Sip a selection of teas or coffees while you partake in your made-to-order assortment of teatime treats. Savoury items include salmon, cucumber and zesty cream cheese roulade; butternut, sundried tomato and feta tartlets drizzled with basil pesto; mini pita pockets with coronation chicken and fresh coriander; crostini topped with ostrich carpaccio and pickled baby beetroot, wild mushroom pinwheels with garlic aioli; and a garlic bruschetta with hummus, rocket and confit cherry tomatoes. Sweet items include fresh scones with fresh chantilly cream and homemade mixed berry jam; mini profiteroles with Frangelico crème patisserie dipped in dark chocolate and topped with strawberry dust; sticky lemon slices with caramelised orange rind, mini fairy cakes, homemade Turkish delight and strawberry skewers; and decadent dark chocolate and almond brownies.
Please note High tea is made to order and bookings close at 10am the day before your visit.
Good to know If you’re partial to a spot of live piano while sipping your tea, make sure to visit on Saturday or Sunday between 1pm and 4pm. It’s quite delightful.
Cost R350 per person (includes unlimited tea and up to two coffees)
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 7pm
Contact 021 180 3119, email@example.com
Where to find it Casa Labia, 192 Main Road, Muizenberg
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The Silo Hotel
The setting Towering above the V&A Waterfront – and occupying six floors above the Zeitz MOCAA – is the momentous and stylish Silo Hotel. Royal Tea is taken in the glam sixth-floor Granary Café, where dark-brown leather couches, large glossy tables and an eclectic collection of contemporary art complement the awe-inspiring multi-faceted windows, designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick.
The tea Come hungry – and in your most comfortable loose-waisted pants because head pastry chef Devin Jones has created the ultimate spread, which arrives on three-tiered wire trays piled with a selection of petit gateaux and exquisite teatime treats, such as four delicious buttermilk scones (accompanied by whipped and clotted cream, jam, butter and six-month mature Cheddar); salmon-and-dill and cucumber-and-mint finger sandwiches; egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches; bobotie empanadas and savoury madeleines; two macarons, profiteroles with a flavoured filling (changes daily); and cherry and pistachio-and-dark-chocolate lemon petit fours.
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. Groups of more than six people should be booked through The Silo Hotel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cost R325 per person
Times Monday – Sunday, 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Contact 021 670 0511, email@example.com
Where to find it The Silo Hotel, Silo Square, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
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One&Only Cape Town
The setting Lofty proportions, grand decor and a magnificent view of Table Mountain greet you as you enter this resort hotel at the V&A Waterfront where a wondrous arrangement of tea-time treats beckons.
The tea Served on picturesque O&O tea stands, afternoon tea features freshly baked scones served with chantilly cream and local preserves, an assortment of brightly coloured, elegant pastries, delectable savoury bites and, of course, a free-flowing wide selection of luxury, full-leaf teas.
Cost R395 per person
R200 (children 4 – 12 years)
Free (children 0 – 4 years)
Time Monday – Sunday, 2pm – 5pm
Contact 021 431 5888, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it One&Only, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
The setting Situated in Artem Galleria on Sea Point Main Road, Coco Safar’s interiors evoke the grand hotels of the 1940s and 50s. Think old-fashioned rattan trolleys with tableside plating, exceptional service from waiters in full linen uniform, not to mention couture pastries – and without any snobbish exclusivity. Teatime here feels accessible and welcoming.
The tea All aboard, the Coco Safar experience! This 17-item culinary journey, not your usual high tea, is a flurry of sensations. From siphon-made botanical teas to dry-ice smoked palate cleansers, you’re in for a wild ride (or should we say flight?). We particularly enjoyed our visit to Shanghai – one of the four cities that inform the experience – which included a cucumber “spring roll” with white chocolate and basil. Other treats include mini Canadian scones, chocolate truffles, a selection of mini French-style pâtisserie, and on the savoury side, arancini risotto balls, grilled aubergine with shimej and miso-honey glaze, and potato mille-feuilles with wasabi mayo. The high tea is served with your choice of specialty teas or coffees, but we recommend tea, the perfect accompaniment. We recommend you allow at least two hours for the experience.
X factor More Murder on the Orient Express (sans the murder, of course) than Sea Point Main Road, Coco Safar high tea is perfect for a special occasion, conveniently close to the city.
Please note Booking 48 hours in advance is required.
Cost R695 per person
Times Friday – Sunday, 2pm – 6pm
Contact 021 433 1336, email@example.com
Where to find it 277 Main Road, Artem Galleria, Sea Point, Cape Town
The setting Opposite the Zeitz MOCAA at the V&A Waterfront, The Yard is a multifaceted space that houses a restaurant, bar, coffee shop and lifestyle store. The restaurant has a contemporary feel thanks to the raw concrete and slick marble, plush leather seats and huge industrial-style sliding windows that look out onto The Silo District and its oversized art installations.
The tea Served on a classic tiered stand, The Yard’s high tea incorporates a Pan-Asian twist into a quintessentially British tea experience. The sweet selection features red-velvet cake, macarons, carrot cake and lemon meringue, while the savoury selection introduces some Indian and Chinese flavours, with a chicken kathi wrap, tempura prawn and vegetable samosas.
X factor We can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than a visit to Zeitz MOCAA followed by a fusion high tea at The Yard.
Cost R351 per stand (serves two)
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 3pm (during lockdown)
Contact 021 879 1157, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Ground Floor, Silo 4, Silo District, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
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The setting Set in the quiet, shady Courtyard 53, this hidden gem is the ideal spot to enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea. Café-style tables and chairs are dotted around the pretty, peaceful garden, where an enchanting water fountain takes centre stage. The beautiful deli, with its floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, invites you to explore the bounty on offer. Think biscuits, meringues, tea, tea paraphernalia, and more.
The tea In keeping with the charming surrounds, the weekday afternoon tea is delicious and delightful. Delivered on a divine three-tier cake stand, the spread – which can serve between two and 12 people – includes fresh cucumber-and-cream cheese finger sandwiches; fluffy scones with jam and cream; perfectly crisp and chewy macarons; moreish Florentines; melt-in-your-mouth shortbread and decadent brownies. You can opt for any beverage of your choice. Might we recommend the refreshing homemade lemonade or one of the speciality teas? The tea selection includes morning tea, green tea, honey and ginger rooibos, Earl Grey, rooibos, berry fruit infusion, oriental black chai, blood orange rooibos, camomile herb infusion or peppermint herb infusion.
Good to know You will need to book two days in advance, but payment can be made on the day.
Cost R110 per person (drinks are ordered off the menu and charged for separately)
Times Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 3.30pm
Contact 021 797 1421
Where 53 Constantia Road at Courtyard 53, Cape Town
Orangerie at Le Lude
The setting The pinnacle of a Winelands high tea destination, Orangerie at Le Lude boasts sweeping vineyard, valley and mountain views, as well as a rose and herb garden for guests to roam through. The restaurant’s interiors hint of a greenhouse of yore, 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 Tea begins 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 served in the most beautiful tea service, while the snacks are presented on a silver tiered platter. The combination of savoury and sweet treats includes 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.
Please note Booking 24 hours in advance is essential.
Cost R295 per person
Opening times Morning Tea: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 11am
Afternoon Tea: Tuesday – Sunday, 2.30pm – 5pm
Contact 021 876 2961, email@example.com
Where to find it Bowling Green Avenue, Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
Anthonij Rupert Estate
The setting Driving up the treed drive as you enter Anthonij Rupert Estate, one is transported to a Downton Abbey-esque manor house with perfectly manicured lawns and awe-inspiring mountain views completing the picture. And, as you begin to explore, you’ll arrive in a perfectly preserved Tasting Room: a perfect venue for this wonderful pastime.
The tea The high tea menu is a continuously evolving, seasonal affair. The lavish tiered stand is full of inventive, palate-enticing creations, both savoury and sweet. Think chocolate bar with almond sponge cake; mini carrot cake roll; tonka bean flan; cherry dulcey éclair with cherry compote; salmon frittata; mini venison pies, and more. Each high tea includes your choice of drink, either Premier Cru tea, or an artisanal coffee or a glass of L’Ormarins Brut NV.
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. Booking is essential, and needs to be made at least 48 hours in advance.
Cost R250 per person (minimum of 4 guests; maximum of 10 guests)
Times Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Where to find it R45, Franschhoek
Le Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel
The setting Surrounded by mountains and vineyards, Le Franschhoek Hotel offers a sense of wonderment where guests can enjoy high tea in numerous settings, such as the private conservatory – surrounded by the scent of roses.
The tea To start, there’s a selection of light and refreshing savoury delights – including the salmon blini sandwich and rice wrap; butternut-and-ricotta quiche; and blanched asparagus with Parma ham.
A selection of fragrant tea is served alongside a tiered stand of decadent sweets, beautifully arranged and decorated with roses from the garden. Think: double chocolate brownies, purple dark chocolate Turkish delights and citrus-scented scones.
Cost R295 per person
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 1pm – 5pm
Contact 021 876 8900, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa, 16 Minor Road, Franschhoek
The Conservatory at Cavalli Estate
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 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 Chef Michael Deg prepares a bespoke feast based on your 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; gipsy ham, tomato and aged cheddar; rare roast beef, pickled onion and English mustard), a selection of bite-sized friands; passion fruit opera cake; apple and lime macaron; strawberry shortcake; vanilla cupcake with lavender buttercream; cheesecake of the day; and a bowl of freshly baked buttermilk scones with a side of strawberry jam and chantilly cream.
Guests may choose from a wide selection of teas 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 R280 per person (minimum of 10 guests)
Times Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 3pm
Contact 021 855 3281, email@example.com
Where to find it Cavalli Estate, Strand Road, R44, Somerset West
La Paris Bistro & Deli
The setting Tucked away among trees and foliage, just a few minutes outside of Franschhoek, La Paris Estate is the perfect spot for sipping a variety of freshly brewed teas and tasting the kitchen’s miniature baked delights. With the choice of sitting inside, on the pergola-shaded deck, or in one of the chill pods on the lawn, this multi-functional estate has wide appeal, with its rose garden, mini vegetable garden and children’s play area.
The tea Fusing traditional English afternoon tea with a nod to modern French patisserie, La Paris High Tea unveils a fresh perspective. Prepared in the bakery just a few metres from the bistro, the two-tier spread sees scones replaced with mini pavlovas and cucumber finger sandwiches upgraded to freshly baked mini Cuban sandwiches.
Catering to pescatarians and vegetarians, too, the tea includes smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis and truffle-scented mushroom vol-au-vent puff pastry.
The main event, however, is the sweet spread. From decadent gluten-free chocolate brownies and macarons to salted-caramel tartlets and mini lemon meringues with curd – 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 R192 per person (minimum booking of two guests)
Opening times Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 867 0171, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it La Paris Estate, Wemmershoek Road, R301, Franschhoek
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The setting Versailles in Franschhoek, La Residence is an elegant hideaway set among sweeping vineyards, orchards and olive groves. Tea is served in either the loggia (an Italian-style patio) overlooking the dam, or inside the lounge in front of the fireplace on colder days.
The tea A delicate combination of luxurious and down-right delicious, the spread is accompanied by a selection of teas, coffees and juices, and covers all bases. A variety of savoury snacks – such as ratatouille and Belnori puffs; ricotta, field mushroom and sundried tomatoes baked in phyllo pastry – is complement by freshly made sandwiches filled with smoked Franschhoek trout and herby crème fraîché with salmon roe. The sweet selection features classic scones with chantilly cream and preserves; gratinated lemon tart with elderflower-infused Italian meringue; macadamia and white chocolate brownies; and salted caramel, vanilla and rum canelé. A royal affair, to be sure.
Cost Mini afternoon tea: R325 per person (includes six items, coffee, tea and juice)
Afternoon tea: R575 per person (includes 12 items, coffee, tea and juice)
Times Monday – Sunday, 3pm – 5pm
Please note A minimum of two guests is required for mini afternoon. A minimum of seven guests is required for afternoon tea. Booking is essential and a deposit is required.
Contact 021 876 4100, email@example.com
Where to find it La Residence, Elandskloof Road, Franschhoek
Manor Kitchen Restaurant at Lanzerac Estate
The setting Lanzerac is famed for many things – a five-star boutique hotel, a stupendous spa, breathtaking vistas 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. After being greeted with a glass of MCC, choose between two TWG teas (per person) to be enjoyed with your treats.
The opulent Afternoon Tea has been reconceived and is now a seven-course extravaganza, served family-style, directly to the table. Enjoy a reimagined canapé, an assortment of savoury plates (prepared with only the finest seasonal ingredients), a flavourful piping hot croquette, a selection of finger sandwiches, as well as Lanzerac’s famous scones served with clotted cream, strawberry jam, lavender cream, cheddar and rich butter. Did we mention the sweets? Cupcakes, petit fours, tartlets, éclairs and macrons take centre stage.
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!
Cost R280 per person
Opening times Saturday, 2pm – 5pm
Contact 021 887 1132, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch
Book Through DinePlan
High teas with a twist
Hazendal Russian Tea Ceremony
The setting Russian High Tea is served in the elegant Avant-Garde space where hand-painted murals and crystal chandeliers evoke the grandeur of Russian nobility. Hazendal itself is such a unique destination, combining Russian tradition with contemporary Winelands flair. While you’re there, peruse the car museum, do a tour of the recently renovated manor house, let the kids roam free at Wonderdal or chill on the lawns with a babushka picnic.
The tea The Russian-inspired tea experience starts with your waiter explaining the history behind certain Russian practices: why their tea is smokey and why they use jam instead of sugar (we won’t give away the secrets!). Each person gets their own plate of sweet and savoury food, which includes treats such as Vatrushka (sweet cheese tart), Oladyi (crumpet with smoked salmon trout, dill and sour cream) and Medovik (honey cake).
X factor Apart from the unique Russian style, parents can book their kids into Wonderdal while they enjoy a sophisticated high tea.
Good to know From 2 to 28 February, Hazendal is offering a complimentary glass of their 23.5 MCC to all High Tea guests.
Cost R395 per person
R255 (children’s high tea)
Times Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm (24 hour pre-booking with deposit is required)
Contact 021 903 5034, email@example.com
Where to find it Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch
Book Through DinePlan
Nigiro Dim Sum Tea
The setting As you step through the bright red gate of Nigiro Teacafe’s new home, you’re greeted by a warm, welcoming space. At Nigiro, tea is the main event. Here, you’ll find a vast selection of blended teas as well as freshly brewed Origin coffee, delicious vegetarian and vegan food, tea to take home, beautiful glass, cast-iron, porcelain or terracotta teapots, plus delightful deli items. If you appreciate proper tea, a visit to Nigiro is a must.
The tea Owners Mingwei and Lisa Tsai believe every cup of tea should be a ceremony, and while they don’t serve traditional finger sandwiches and macarons, their dim sum high tea is a veritable feast. Think sticky rice with seaweed, vegetable bao, crunchy spring rolls, oyster mushroom tempura, har gau, salad drizzled with a hibiscus-infused dressing and the most delicious chewy, sesame-encrusted dough balls filled with red bean paste. Lisa paired our meal with a refreshing Jasmine Bai Hao Oolong (semi-fermented tea scented with jasmine blossoms) and the enticing Vanilla Coco Rose (classic black tea flavoured with vanilla, roses and Ethiopian cacao husks). Tea master Mingwei has blended over 150 teas (green, white, oolong, black, pu-erh red, Chinese artistic show, fruit infusion, herbal infusion, rooibos, honeybush and buchu) in addition to creating exclusive blends for some of Cape Town’s top hotels and restaurants.
Good to know Nigiro was formerly O’ways Teacafe. Their new space has plenty of parking.
Cost Dim Sum Platter for two: R280; pots of tea range from R35 to R45
Times Monday – Saturday, 8am – 4pm
Contact 021 671 2850, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 71 Gabriel Road, Plumstead, Cape Town
Compiled by Liza West, Hannah Littlewood, Bianca Hausle, Michelle Louw
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