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 pastry chef Craig Hibbert and tea sommelier Craig Cupido guide you through a five-course loose-tea-and-canapé pairing designed to awaken all senses.
Cost Morning Tea: R305 (adults); R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Afternoon Tea: R395 (adults); R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Evening Tea: R395 (adults); R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Pricing valid until 31 October 2019. 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 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Tea By The Sea at The 12 Apostles
Team Team Photography
The setting At The 12 Apostles Hotel, beautifully manicured gardens and a wild mountain landscape make tea here the perfect setting for afternoon tea, served on three-tiered tea stands at your table in The Conservatory, the Leopard Bar, or on the Terrace (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, the tea stand offers a variety of sandwiches, savoury and sweet treats including cheese puffs, rose and strawberry verrines, forest berry and white chocolate macarons, lemon crème choux, Mrs T’s Cheesecake with strawberries, passion-fruit madeleines, Rocky Road fudge, 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, 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.
Cost High Tea by the Sea: R325 per person
Vegan High Tea: R375 per person (excludes bubbly)
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am; 12.30pm; 3pm
Contact 021 437 9000, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Victoria Road, Camps Bay
Reviewer Michelle de Bruin
Classic 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 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 the traditional finger sandwiches. The high tea also includes a fine selection of fragrant teas and coffees – and you may want to add a celebratory glass of bubbly!
Served daily in the Sun Lounge, on the Conservatory Terrace or in the Palm Arch, the Classic High Tea is perfect for a wide range of special occasions, from birthdays, hen parties, baby showers and ‘Sip & See’ (meet-the-new-baby afternoons), to corporate events.
Please note High tea is served as a buffet for 12 or more guests, and on stands for 12 guests or less. Special dietary requirements are catered for, but need to be booked 24 hours in advance.
Cost Classic High Tea: R245 per person
Times Classic High Tea: Monday – Sunday, 3pm – 5pm
A la Carte Tea: Monday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Contact 021 794 2137, email@example.com
Bookings are essential.
Where to find it 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia Heights, Cape Town
Reviewer Jackie Lange
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 A selection of teas and coffees are served with a lovely selection of treats. Savoury items include cucumber finger sandwiches, butternut, caramelised onion and feta quiche, sundried tomato scones with balsamic cream cheese and basil, smoked salmon and dill crème fraiche pancakes rolls, mushroom, thyme and parmesan pinwheels, beef carpaccio, and a hummus and rocket mini croissant. Sweet options feature homemade scones, strawberry jam and cream, mini orange and rosemary tea cakes with buttercream, baked cardamom spiced cheesecake slices, molten chocolate and salted caramel squares, gin and tonic lemon meringue shots, and hazelnut marjolaines with praline buttercream and ganache.
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.
Cost R225 per person
R296 per person with a glass of Pongracz Brut
Times Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 4pm
Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 10pm
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 four delicious buttermilk scones (accompanied by whipped and clotted cream, jam, butter and 6 month mature cheddar); salmon-and-dill and cucumber-and-mint finger sandwiches; egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches; bobotie empanadas and savory madeleines; two macarons, profiteroles with a flavoured filling (changes daily); and Cherry & 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 8 people will be considered an event and require liaison with the Silo Hotel.
Cost R375 per person (for bookings up to 7 guests).
For bookings more than 7 people please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Times Monday – Sunday, 2.30pm – 5pm
Please note Royal Tea will not be served on 25th December, 31st December, 1st January, 2nd January due to hotel high occupancy
Contact 021 670 0500, email@example.com
Bookings are essential (within 24 hours)
Where to find it The Silo Hotel, Silo Square, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Reviewer Alicia Chamaillé
Afternoon Tea at 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 tiered tea stand, afternoon tea features 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 R425, adults
R200, children 4 – 12 years
Free, children 0 – 4 years
Time Monday – Sunday, 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Contact 021 431 5888, Restaurant.firstname.lastname@example.org
Book through DinePlan
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 a selection of decadent cakes, mouthwatering pastries, and a selection of fresh fruit. 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, email@example.com
Booking is essential
Where to find it 8 Bridle Road, Oranjezicht, Cape Town
Reviewer Kent Cloete
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
Book through DinePlan
Where to find it 221 Beach Road, Sea Point
Reviewer Alicia Chamaillé
The Cape Grace Hotel Afternoon Tea
The setting On a private quay, uniquely poised between Cape Town’s vibrant V&A Waterfront and the tranquil yacht marina, lies Cape Grace – an ideal retreat to enjoy the splendour of the Mother City’s natural and cultural beauty, as well as a delectable high tea.
The tea Afternoon Tea is served on a three-tiered platter, and guests can choose between the following menu options: Cream Tea (homemade scones, strawberry jam and cream served with either loose-leaf tea or coffee); Traditional Afternoon Tea (plain and savoury scones, a selection of finger sandwiches and sweet treats, served with either loose-leaf tea or coffee); MCC Afternoon Tea (plain and savoury scones, a selection of finger sandwiches and sweet treats, served with a glass of Méthode Cap Classique and either loose-leaf tea or coffee); Champagne Afternoon Tea (plain and savoury scones, a selection of finger, sandwiches and sweet treats, served with a glass of French Champagne and either loose-leaf tea or coffee).
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.
Cost Cream Tea: R90
Traditional Afternoon Tea: R245
MCC Afternoon Tea: R325
Champagne Afternoon Tea: R570
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, Cape Town
There’s so much to do in and around the Cape. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll be your guide.