The Best High Tea in Sydney

Pass the cucumber sandwiches, please...
Food and drink at Shangri La Hotel High tea
Photograph: Supplied/Nikki To
By Time Out editors |
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Sydney is obsessed with high tea, and with good reason – we know how to bake a good scone. Once you pair them with beautiful harbour views, like at the Mosman Barracks, or cultivated gardens at historic Vaucluse House and throw in a cheeky glass of French Champagne you've got yourself an aspirational afternoon of leisure. Here's our hotlist of the best high teas Sydney has to offer for when you have a hankering for tea, scones, petits fours and civilised conversation. 

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RECOMMENDED: The 50 best bars in Sydney.

The best high teas Sydney has to offer

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Restaurants

The Gunners Barracks Tea Room

icon-location-pin Mosman

Go for: Jawdropping, 180 degree, uninterrupted harbour views
What’s for tea? The tea selection goes beyond the standard black blends (though the Earl Grey is excellent) to include seasonal green teas and a delicate peach flavoured white tea. They can accommodate vegetarians with no notice and no fuss, swapping roast beef and salmon sandwiches for fresh salad and pesto. There are crisp golden samosas and warm scones with gratifyingly short pastry. The creamy mango pudding with tapioca tastes of summer and a thin sliver of opera cake is as light as a chocolate cloud.
How much? $35-$70.

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Food and wine High tea at Park Hyatt Hotel
Photograph: Supplied
Travel

Park Hyatt

icon-location-pin The Rocks

Go for: Unbeatable views of Sydney Opera House.
What’s for tea? Bite-sized buttery puffs of olive madeleines, light fluffy quiche Lorraines, a swirl of smoked salmon with scrambled egg on rye – the savoury plate is five-star delicious, but save space for the sugar-gem topped scones with house-made strawberry jam and whipped cream. Wash it down with an Ovvio Paddington tea – lemongrass, liquorice and ginger – it’s like a hot toddy without the booze.
How much? $55-$70

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Vaucluse House Tearooms
Restaurants, Caf├ęs

Vaucluse House Tearooms

icon-location-pin Vaucluse

Go for: A taste of the country club life
What’s for tea? Three-tiers of sweets, savouries and scones, plus tea, coffee and sparkling wine is a lot to fit in so the key here is to clear out your schedule and graze slowly. Start with chicken sandwiches and move onto little Italian doughnuts, then back to a crisp cone filled with salmon and cream cheese (it’s like a tiny Cornetto) before turning your full attention to the scones. It is our opinion that it’s the scones that make or break a high tea, and here they are fresh, short and crumbly with a crisp outer shell – top marks.
How much? $55-$70

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High tea at InterContinental
Photograph: Supplied
Travel

The InterContinental Sydney

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for: Hotel swankiness with non-judgemental gluttony
What's for tea? Start with a warm flaky pie filled with chicken and mushroom before moving onto beetroot arancini and smoked salmon wraps with lemon cream cheese. The sweets selection – including a macaron bar and candy station! - is huge. Gorge on unlimited fluffy buttermilk scones, warm orange crepes and the chocolate praline cake that tastes like a Ferrero Rocher. The jasmin and hazelnut crème brulee is silky smooth.
How much: $62-$83.

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A tea room with chandeliers
Photograph: Supplied
Restaurants

The Tea Room QVB

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for: Old world glamour under the chandeliers
What’s for tea? There are three pages of tea on offer at this QVB classic. That’s a whopping 49 teas including their ‘splendid Earl Grey’ blend and a stand-your-spoon-up-in-it assam bari. You’ll sit up nice and straight on your little velour chair while making short work of chestnut and dark fruit slice, and hazelnut choux buns. Chubby scones with jars of mixed berry preserves and clotted cream, and soft little finger sandwiches filled with the likes of cucumber, egg, salmon and ham round out the experience.

How much? $50-70

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Cakes and wine High tea at Langham Hotel
Photograph: Supplied
Travel

The Langham Sydney

icon-location-pin Millers Point

Go for: A high tea tradition going back to 1865
What’s for tea? This famous line of hotel afternoon teas involves soft little finger sandwiches of salmon, ham and cucumber and tiny little chicken and leek pies. Sweets-wise, there are scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, squares of chocolate fudge, tiny banofee pies and miniature layer cakes. The tea selection is modest, but nicely curated – many of the blends made specifically for the Langham. There are also the Tiffin Prince and Princess teas for kids and mystic afternoon teas with fortune telling.
How much? $70-$100

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Restaurants

Burnt Orange

icon-location-pin Mosman

Go for: Vintage leisure with added shopping
What’s for tea? On the top tier of your tea tower, a light Moroccan orange-and-almond cake is full of citrus bite while a salted caramel and chocolate tart is salty enough to skew savoury. We'd have preferred plain cream rather than the too-sweet vanilla bean-infused stuff, but it’s a small niggle when you’re sitting on a grand old wooden balcony and casting your eyes over Middle Harbour below this café and gift shop, where you can take a copy of the crockery home with you.
How much? $45-$55

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A modular cake stand and scones
Photograph: Supplied
Hotels

Hilton Sydney

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for the: One of the most affordable teas in town
What's for tea? The lobby café mightn't be the most lavish space at the Hilton, but it's a slick set-up. You get a lot of bang for your buck with a mix of sweet and savoury treats – think scampi served with finger lime in choux pastry, chicken and cucumber roulades, kiwi fruit tarts, pistachio mousse cakes – and unlimited tea or coffee. And of course there are scones, served with clotted cream and a tarty Australian plum and rosella jam. Just be warned that you'll need to book two days in advance
How much: $40.

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Boronia Tea Room
Restaurants

Boronia Tea Room

icon-location-pin Mosman

Go for the: 38 tea blends drunk in grand, historic surrounds
What’s for tea? The resident chef at this gran old mansion diligently talks guests through the savoury and sweet selections, most of which nod towards high tea classics. On our visit it’s little mouthfuls of truffled risotto and mini smoked salmon brioche. Cucumber sandwich get an update with a light layer crème fraîche spread thinly on house-baked rye bread. The scones are light and fluffy with a hint of vanilla bean and the sweets including a passionfruit and chocolate mousse, macaroons and fruit tarts.
How much? $33-$55

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Generic high tea
Photograph: Creative Commons
Travel

Sir Stamford at Circular Quay

icon-location-pin Circular Quay

Go for: A smooth, luxurious time out from your life
What’s for tea? Staff will walk you through the system here: a three-tiered stand will arrive, eat from bottom to top, tea is served once the savoury plate is cleared. The tea list is extensive, from light, aromatic flavours to the usual suspects. The savoury plate includes artistic canapés, bite-sized pastry filled with spicy potato, and arty sandwiches – like curried tuna, wrapped in a swirl of green bread and topped with purple flowers. There’s a generous sweet selection: white chocolate and pomegranate mousse, mini macarons, and fluffy scones.
How much? $42-$79

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High tea at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
Photograph: Supplied
Travel

Radisson Blu Hotel

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for: An inclusive, accessible tea
What’s for tea? One of the ten, traditional Twinings loose leaf blends brews in silver pots on will be served at your table. Dietary restrictions are easy as all the cakelets on the top tier of the slate tea stand are gluten free. That means tart raspberry jelly, lemon curd tarts and chocolate beetroot cake are all fair game. Sandwich triangles come with cucumber or roast beef and salmon roses arrive on soft white bread. It’s familiar, rich and filling fare. You’ll only feel the gluten-free pinch with the flat, crumbly scones that are not match for their tall, golden, wheat-based counterparts.
How much? $49-$69

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Food wine High tea at Primus Hotel
Photograph: Supplied/Alana Dimou
Hotels

Primus Hotel Sydney

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for: Tea that can turn into drinks
What’s for tea? Down in the lobby bar, you might be in danger of finishing your pink pomegranate or Turkish apple tea before your tiered tray arrives. Consider the option to add a whole bottle of Champagne to your tea if you want to keep your fluids up. It’s a late afternoon tea only here, which can easily run into after-work drinks as the bar fills up. Scones are golden and short with lots of cream and sharp rhubarb and strawberry jam, and the fresh oysters are a classy tough to the savouries.
How much? $45-$125

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Food and drink at Shangri La Hotel High tea
Photograph: Supplied/Nikki To
Hotels, Luxury hotels

Shangri-La Hotel

icon-location-pin The Rocks

Go for: Tea down by the Quay
What’s for tea? We go with the classic option (there’s a chocolate high tea, too) and tackle the three-tiered cold snack tower from the bottom up. The scones are relatively fresh and come with cool clotted cream and raspberry compote. For savouries there’s your typical cucumber sandwich on thick white bread, and your not so typical (what we think is) rice paper topped with tomato and basil. This is accompanied by small squidgy syringe of balsamic, which leaves us slightly perplexed but is a fun addition.
How much? $55

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Food and drink at swissotel sydney high tea
Photograph: Supplied
Travel

Swissotel Sydney

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for: The buffet
What’s for tea? A Bellini on arrival is a fine touch, and there's a novelty in seeing all the staple goodies laid out at the buffet – one table holds cold savouries like the cucumber sandwich with almost petal-like cucumber slices between soft, fresh bread; another has hot food, including a mini samosa and quiche. The desserts table spilling over with meringue tarts and cheesecake slices, but scones are a little dry
How much? $69

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Cakes and food at High tea at Parliament of NSW
Photograph: Parliament of NSW
Things to do

Parliament of New South Wales

icon-location-pin Sydney

Go for: High tea inside the Parliament of New South Wales What's for tea? Overlooking the gorgeous greenery of the Botanic Gardens, each Friday a high tea is put on for the public. There are lemonade scones with strawberry gel (aka jam) and whipped cream, mini lemon meringue pies and tiny, delicious smoked salmon roulades with dill cream cheese, amongst two other tiers of treats. Go traditional with tea and coffee, or start your weekend early with a sparkling wine.
How much? $50-$60

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High tea at Hydro Majestic
Photograph: Supplied
Travel

Hydro Majestic Hotel

Go for: A minibreak tea
What’s for tea? This famous Blue Mountains hotel is back in action and serving the highest (altitudinally speaking) of teas. They also do a gluten-free high tea, as well as one specifically designed for children. If you’re some sort of renegade who refuses to play by the terribly British rules, there’s an Eastern tea that features dumplings, barbecue duck pancakes, vegetarian rice paper rolls and twice-cooked pork belly.
How much? $55-$79

Not sweet enough?

Woman holding gelato at RivaReno
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Restaurants, Ice cream and gelato

The best gelato in Sydney

Ever since Messina opened back in 2002, Sydney has been head over heals in love with gelato. Which we always should have been, really, given that we are a seaside city that’s also stinking-hot half of the year – because what do beaches and heat equal? That’s right: ice cream. There are a thousand places to get it – from the gummy, overly saccharine crap, to smooth, silky excellence. Rest assured, though, that these ten are all in the latter category. Here are our top ten favourite gelaterias in Sydney right now.

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