05 June 2014 by Lynnette Johns

High tea in South Africa

Harking back to our colonial past, high tea, or afternoon tea, is served at a number of fancy hotels and restaurants in South Africa. Classic cucumber sandwiches and scones remain all-time favourites.

High tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson is the height of sophistication. Image courtesy of monicawagner

High tea in South Africa is the height of sophistication, and while many people take a quick mid-afternoon tea break, there are better ways to enjoy it – in beautiful surroundings, feasting on cocktail-sized nibbles, and spoilt for choice when it comes to savouring fragrant, freshly brewed tea.

Be it tea for two or for a party, not much beats a traditional high tea with its attractive crockery and fine teas, served in beautiful surroundings. Dainty cucumber, smoked salmon or egg-mayonnaise sandwiches are de rigueur at any high tea, as are scones with strawberry jam and cream, quiches, and a wide selection of teas.

In Cape Town, the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel's high tea is legendary, with its finger sandwiches, dark chocolate cake and very South African milk tart. Tea is served in the lounge, on the terrace or around the garden fountain.

Scones with strawberry jam and cream – an all-time favourite. Image courtesy of <a href= Scones with strawberry jam and cream – an all-time favourite. Image courtesy of hijukal

At the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, the Cape Grace hotel's afternoon tea is served from noon to 6pm in its comfortable library. Guests can enjoy a stylishly served high tea that includes sweet and savoury scones, finger sandwiches and a range of cakes and pastries. There is a wide range of loose-leaf teas to choose from, including rooibos, an indigenous South African favourite.

In Cape Town's lush Claremont,  Vineyard Hotel's Lady Anne Barnard's afternoon tea is served on a three-tiered stand filled with sweet and savoury delights, and includes a selection of infused and flavoured teas.

The Michelangelo hotel in Sandton serves high tea at the table during the week, but at the weekend it pulls out all the stops for a buffet-style high tea. Skip lunch, because you are in for a treat. Hot and cold canapés, snacks, cakes, pastries, mini-desserts and a chocolate fountain are beautifully laid out.

The Sheraton Pretoria Hotel serves a range of delectable cakes and pastries for its high tea. The menu changes frequently, dependent on what is seasonal and fresh.

Durban's impressive Oyster Box Hotel offers a traditional afternoon tea in the Palm Court, which is decorated with chandeliers that originally hung in the Savoy Hotel in London. High tea is served accompanied by live piano music.

Josephine’s, in Waterkloof Ridge, Pretoria, is a beautiful restaurant with an old-world air about it. It appeals to many because of its romantic environment and is a perfect venue for bridal and baby showers, and when you want to treat yourself and a friend to a high tea. 

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