From a humble mid-afternoon pick me up to an elegant afternoon soiree, high tea is a tradition for all, and widely regarded as an indulgent affair.
With cream encrusted scones, delicate finger sandwiches, and precious petit fours, it’s no wonder that high tea is so popular today. Add the clink of elegant china and a crisp glass of champagne to the mix and what results is the perfect afternoon. Whether you are celebrating an occasion, reconnecting with friends, or gathering with family there is always an excuse to indulge!
Fortunately, Canberra is home to some of the country’s finest high tea establishments. With heritage and character in spades, our nations capital provides fertile ground for a littering of options. But when we say high tea, only the best high tea must do. So where does one find the best high tea in Canberra? Read on to find out.
What makes a great high tea?
A great high tea occasion should make you feel like you have entered the realm of aristocracy. With an air of abundance and the finest china all presenting a considered selection of bite sized goodness. Here are our tips to help you select the next venue for your high tea experience:
- Sophisticated surrounds. The best high tea occasions are served in memorable locations, those that are breathtakingly beautiful both inside and out, from the silverware to the floral arrangements. Look for character, refined décor, and no-expense spared china. After all, your high tea should be a feast for the senses so do not settle for anything less.
- Delectable delights. The best high teas are a carefully curated selection of savoury and sweet delights designed to tantalise the taste buds. They offer a blend of cold, warm, and fresh offerings coupled with the best scones and pastries. After all, a high tea is one of those rare food occasions where we allow ourselves to indulge in dessert first. So, ensure this treat is worth your while.
- Beautiful beverages. It goes without saying that an assortment of the finest teas should be expected at any good high tea venue. These days however, most patrons desire a little bit more. The best high tea venues will have a beautiful selection of beverages, from freshly juiced citrus to lightly doused cocktails, and a glass or two of champagne.
- Superior service. Having all the bells and whistles is one thing; but delivering them through warm and gracious hosting is another. For a truly special occasion, consider those venues that are known for their superior service. This should begin from the minute you are greeted at the door, during service, and when you depart.
- Astute ambiance. Without experiencing it, ambiance is a little harder to predict. It is a blend of patronage, surrounds, and service, and culminates in the overall atmosphere. When it comes to high tea, consider the style of event you wish to attend and review options accordingly, whether you’re looking for an outdoor soiree or a more cosmopolitan setting.
The best high teas in Canberra
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To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Nestled in the heritage-listed Tea Lounge, is a timeless high tea tradition at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. Famous for it's luxurious spread, this high tea experience features an array of savouries, sandwiches, and scones, all complimented by a selection of tempting cakes and slices.
The finest leaf teas are served, along with an extensive selection of espresso coffees, juice, and lengthy wine list. For a touch of elegance and old-world charm look to the Tea Lounge at the Hyatt Hotel.
As Andy shared on Google, “Beautiful afternoon spent at the Hyatt Canberra. High tea was well catered and a great option for something special and a little out of the ordinary. Staff were friendly and attentive, and the setting is hard to beat on a warm afternoon.”
The Burbury Hotel is home to one of Canberra’s most exclusive high tea experiences with their bistro, Buvette. Hosted weekly at noon on Sunday, the Buvette high tea offers a selection of fine French pastries, traditional scones, and savoury morsels. Paired with the finest of teas, tea cocktails, coffee or champagne, Buvette makes for an excellent choice.
As 'Local Guide' Svetlana Prokhorova writes on Google, "Delicious French dishes, beautiful presentation and great service!"
Set within a beautifully crafted English inspired garden, the Teahouse has been welcoming guests for high tea since opening it's doors in 2003. The stunning location is the perfect backdrop for a high tea affair, with David Austin roses and flowers aplenty.
Their set high tea menu features an assortment of delectable cheeses, savoury treats, sandwiches, and sumptuous sweet treats. All this with a glass of sparkling and complimented by tea or coffee. For that lavish countryside feel and the scent of beautiful blooms look to The Scented Rose Garden and Teahouse.
As Sue Orchison shared on Google, "Super delicious gluten free sponge cake. Amazing High Tea, beautiful staff. Great baby shower venue. Spectacular scented garden."
The White Rabbit is a local hidden gem, known for its whimsical charm and earthy atmosphere. Each Saturday and Sunday afternoon the White Rabbit hosts Tipsy Tea; a bountiful array of delectable savoury bites and moreish dessert treats.
Accompanying the high tea is a choice of the venues signature cocktails and the finest French bubbles. To be lost like Alice in Wonderland look to Tipsy Tea at the White Rabbit.
As Narelle Burton shared on Google, “Tipsy Tea - love it!”
Locally based Adore Tea, are one of the largest speciality brewing companies in Australia. First founded in 2006, this award-winning tea house now stocks over 200 unique teas sourced from Sri Lanka, China, and locally here in Australia.
Adore Tea is also home to one of the region’s most regarded high tea experiences. Serving both morning and afternoon high teas, they offer a rotating menu carefully considered to suit each season. For an unforgettable high tea experience look to Adore Tea.
Janette Jarrott shared this glowing review of Adore Tea on Google, “Lovely experience. Food delicious and teas a pleasure to taste. Service excellent. Great place to indulge.”
If you’re looking for more information on dining options in Canberra, you might like our articles on the best cocktail bars, the best wine bars, the best coffee shops, the best bakeries and the best fine dining Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with high teas in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the high tea listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is high tea?
High tea is British tradition whereby a late afternoon or early evening light meal is served. It first originated in the mid 1700’s as a meal for the working class taken standing up or seated on bar stools – hence gaining the name “high tea”.
What is served at high tea?
Today’s high tea typically involves delicate dishes both sweet and savoury in nature. Often served on a tiered stand, high tea offerings are usually canape sized and designed for sharing. Dishes include finger sandwiches with various fillings, miniature quiche, tarts or pies, scones with condiments, and petit fours. Beverages often include tea, coffee, juice, and champagne.
Does high tea cater for all dietary requirements?
Restaurants and cafes often cater for all dietary requirements. It is best to contact the place you are going to in advance, to enquire about their offerings and let them know of your dietary requirements.
What should I wear to high tea?
The dress code for high-tea is often smart casual. Don your nice shirt & smart pants, put on those dress shoes, and slip on your favourite skirt or dress. And make it fun!
What is the correct way to hold a teacup?
There is a common misconception that teacups should be held with the pinkie finder pointing upward. The correct way however is to adjoin the thumb and index finger in the handle, supporting the handle with the middle finger – and pinkie in.