Instead of planning to meet up with a friend for a five-minute latte, take your time, eat carefully prepared snacks and enjoy the peaceful ritual of afternoon tea. There’s a plethora of afternoon and high-tea experiences in Sydney. They offer a new way to take your 4pm breather, or even a late meeting.
If you like a little art with your tea
Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery is home to an extensive contemporary Chinese art collection (currently featuring the Paradi$e Bitch exhibition). There’s also a gorgeous tea house onsite. The menu features a dip plate, with house-made hummus, labne and olive tapenade; four varieties of dumplings, including tofu coriander and chicken lemongrass and the very necessary scones with jam and cream. There’s a broad range of tea options, with everything from ginseng-infused oolong to chrysanthemum and goji berry, and the staff is happy to keep refilling your pot (which, really, is how it should be).
If you’re mad about matcha
One Tea Lounge and Bar is dedicated to matcha, the finest form of green tea and one of Sydney’s current favourite culinary inspirations. To drink, try any of the green-tea options, including potted varieties of hot green tea as well as a genmaicha lattes or matcha cappuccinos. Pair it with a ujikintoki green-tea parfait, or a tofu white-chocolate cheesecake. To satisfy your savoury side, try out one of its matcha “baogers” with braised pork rib.
If you want a little wonderland with your cuppa
Make some time to check out the newly opened Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar in Redfern. It’s by Corinne Smith and Amara Jarratt – owners of The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea wholesale business and the co-founders of Sydney Tea Festival. The space is bright, white and full to the brim with tea. Almost everything on the menu is tea-inspired. There’s a rotating tea menu of more than 22 varieties, including chilled, sparkling or steampunk, a brewing style using a steam-extraction technique. For the ultimate experience, try the dessert degustation. It involves four treats matched with four teas. That could include house-made marshmallows inspired by teas in such flavours such as matcha, mint, or lime pie; matcha popcorn; or the signature lavender shortbread.
If you can’t pass up an afternoon coffee
Get your caffeine fix at The Intercontinental Sydney, which does a High Coffee in addition to its classic high tea. The coffee-focused menu matches treats to your coffee of choice, and features an espresso martini to start the occasion and an affogato to cap it off. Feast on Belgian waffles with chocolate spread; Moroccan vegetable rolls with garlic aioli; and basil lemon pavlova with Valrhona Opalys chocolate. If you want to step it up a notch, The Intercontinental Double Bay offers a High Martini experience; the classic three-tiered tea tray features bite-sized treats matched to three martinis.
If you like to keep it traditional
Parliament House has just opened The Stranger’s Dining Room to the public, and it’s inviting in high-tea fans on the last Friday of every month. Three options are available and all feature a selection of sweet and savoury treats, such as smoked salmon and chive cream roulades; flamed lemon meringue tarts; and the unmistakable lemonade scones – designed by executive chef David Learmonth. Pinkies out.