High tea and afternoon tea are terms used often interchangeably, however did you know 'high tea' is technically associated with the working classes during the industrial revolution whereas 'afternoon tea' was considered a past time of 19th century aristocracy?
While there is no direct proof of who came up with the ritual of afternoon tea (shh... don't tell anyone), credit is given to Anna the Duchess of Bedford during the 1840s who felt like the wait between lunch and her 8pm dinner was way too long. I can relate. In any case she began the habit of requesting tea, bread and cake in the afternoons. Soon she started inviting her friends to join in and it became a bit of a social event.
Currently there are many afternoon tea offerings around Cape Town however these are My favourite places to treat my sweet-toothed self or the awesome people in my life.
The Mount Nelson
With architecture that wouldn’t be out of place in a sequel for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, The Mount Nelson aka The Pink Lady rests majestically behind her impeccably manicured lawns. Afternoon tea is served daily in the recently refurbished Tea Lounge and features a decadent variety or sweet and savoury treats. Guests can enjoy over 40 full bodied teas and if you’d like to make the affair into a more educational experience, the knowledgeable and charismatic Tea sommelier will gladly indulge you.
The One and Only
What strikes me the most about this hotel every time I enter is the excellent use of space. It’s not about having an extravagant interior but rather the perfect balance of symmetry and glass with our beloved Table Mountain peaking out from behind the Waterfront Marina. Crisp yet inviting, an OCDs dream. Here, tea is served by The Vista Bar and features a buffet and a satisfying selection of 35 teas and coffees. You can look forward to delights of both the sweet and savoury variety such as cupcakes, macarons, koeksisters, biscuits, eclairs and satay skewers. pesto straws, savoury bobotie tartlets.
The Twelve Apostles
This ocean side gem provides relaxing sea views of the Atlantic will you sip your tea (literally or figuratively) either inside the Leopard Lounge while soaking in the sun if the weather permits. The eats selection consists of pastries, freshly prepared on site, finger sandwiches, scones, macaroons and a variety of cakes like the white chocolate cheesecake and the vanilla namelaka. There is also a vegan version of the tea which includes dairy free options.
The Cape Grace
Tea at the Cape Grace offers 8 choices of tea which is served in The Library. This afternoon tea is a fusion of a traditional offering with some Cape Malay influences. So we're talking about the mandatory scones and sandwiches, macarons and petit fours combined with spring rolls and satay skewers. The Deluxe tea option includes a glass of Methode Cap Classique bubbly or if you prefer you can have the Champagne tea option. What’s great if you're in a group you have menu options such as "for the not-so hungry" which is a slice of cake or you can choose all the way with a full afternoon tea experience.
The Table Bay Hotel
This iconic waterfront hotel serves a three course tea with a savoury first course of sandwiches, quiches, roasted parsnip and more followed up by scones and a variety of spreads such as preserves, cream and lemon curd, the third course is a dessert lovers fantasy, chocolate eclairs, creme brulee, red velvet, chocolate truffle cake, peach and white chocolate gateaux - all to the backdrop of the luxurious views the hotel is famed for.
Another tea which I've been hearing alot about is the "Royal Affair" at the Silo Hotel. Although the reviews have been positive, I have yet to try it. Hopefully before I leave again - will keep you updated on my verdict.
P.S If you're looking for an alternative, steampunk themed tea, then check out this option.
Looking for some sweeth toothed inspiration? Read: How cute are *these* desserts?