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Cakes and wine High tea at Langham Hotel
Photograph: Supplied

Where to find the best high tea in Sydney

Pass the cucumber sandwiches, please

By Divya Venkataraman and Time Out editors
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Crustless cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and tiered plates of petit fours.  Sydney loves a pinky-lifting high tea, and with good reason. Once you've got baked goodies, tea selections for every palette and beautiful surrounds – maybe harbour views, like at the Mosman Barracks, or cultivated gardens at historic Vaucluse House – you've got all the elements of an aspirational afternoon of leisure.

Rather have a tea party at home? These are the best desserts you can get delivered to your door.

The best high teas Sydney has to offer

A close up shot of a selection of desserts at The Gunners Barrac
A close up shot of a selection of desserts at The Gunners Barrac
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The Gunners Barracks Tea Room

Restaurants Mosman

Go for: jaw-dropping, 180-degree 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. Staff 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. You can get a non-alcoholic version or add a cocktail or glass of Champagne.
How much? $40-85. 

Tiers of little snacks
Tiers of little snacks
Photograph: Supplied/Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hotels The Rocks

Go for: tea with a side of people-watching
What's for tea? Perched on the mezzanine-level overlooking the hotel lobby, Mode Kitchen and Bar is an excellent place to keep an eye on the comings and goings of the clientele of the Four Seasons Hotel in Circular Quay. Watch overnighters flit in and out of the grand, chandelier-decked reception as you pick a Jing tea from the trolley wheeled out for your perusal and watch it brewed in front of you. The tiered trolley is all killer, no filler. Delicate, futuristic desserts deliver a flavour-whomp: a tiny, lime-green pear reveals itself to be fashioned from white chocolate mousse, while an innocent-looking pavlova is filled with a zesty passionfruit custard. Pillowy scones pair well with a tart swipe of marmalade, while a savoury ledge carries a fluffy (crustless, natch) truffle and egg sandwich, a vol au vent with optional caviar and an inspired lemon-stracciatella filling and a gruyère-topped quiche.
How much? $69-$89. 

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Tables in room with mirrors
Tables in room with mirrors
Photograph: Supplied/Crown

TWR, Crown Towers Sydney

Hotels Luxury hotels Barangaroo

Go for: a reason to stickybeak around the swanky Crown building. 
What’s for tea? Casually opulent lobby bar TWR (aka the Waiting Room) is set on the ground floor of Barangaroo’s Crown monolith, and opens up onto bright, harbour views over the cove. The prawn toast is a crisp, zesty surprise of flavour, while the smoked salmon canape takes a tried-and-tested combination (horseradish, capers, cream cheese) and assembles it on brioche for more substance. The sweets are delicate and sometimes gravity-defying: a puff of lilac mascarpone is the foundation of a five-tiered blueberry choux pastry, while layers of sponge, osmanthus flower cream and confit are stacked in a petit four where yuzu packs the closing punch. Just make sure you save space for the scones, which come out after the tiered snacks in two varieties – plain and lemon-cinnamon – along with a generous lather of clotted cream and pot of jam.
How much? $85-$105.

A tea room with chandeliers
A tea room with chandeliers
Photograph: Supplied

The Tea Room QVB

Restaurants 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 29 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. Gluten-free options are available. 
How much? $55-$80.

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

The Langham Sydney

Travel 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. The classics. Sweets-wise, there are scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, squares of chocolate fudge, tiny banoffee pies and miniature layer cakes. The tea selection is modest, but nicely curated – many of the blends made specifically for the Langham. The Wedgewood High Tea is available all week. 
How much? $49-$123.

Burnt Orange

Restaurants 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? $40-$65.

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Generic high tea
Generic high tea
Photograph: Creative Commons

Sir Stamford at Circular Quay

Travel 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, a 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? $79.

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

Radisson Blu Hotel

Travel 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 a match for their tall, golden, wheat-based counterparts. There's even a vegan and a chocolate high tea option.  
How much? $49-$79.

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

Primus Hotel Sydney

Hotels Sydney

Go for: tea that can (and probably will) turn into evening 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 touch to the savouries.
How much? $55-$75. 

Food and drink at Shangri La Hotel High tea
Food and drink at Shangri La Hotel High tea
Photograph: Supplied/Nikki To

Shangri-La Hotel

Hotels Luxury hotels The Rocks

Go for: tea down by the Quay.
What’s for tea? Go with the traditional afternoon tea and tackle the three-tiered cold snack tower from the bottom up. The scones are 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. You can even book in a window seat (for a little extra fee). 
How much? $65-130.

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

Swissotel Sydney

Travel 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? $59-$82.

Cakes and food at High tea at Parliament of NSW
Cakes and food at High tea at Parliament of NSW
Photograph: Parliament of NSW

Parliament of New South Wales

Things to do 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 or rosé.
How much? $55-$65. 

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High tea at InterContinental
High tea at InterContinental
Photograph: Supplied

The Intercontinental Sydney

Travel 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 jasmine and hazelnut crème brulee is silky smooth. There's also a fully vegan take on high tea on offer, as well as a 'Sky Tea'. 
How much: $35-79.

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

Park Hyatt

Travel 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. Or go all out with a glass of Moët. 
How much? $109-$125.

Not sweet enough?

Woman holding gelato at RivaReno
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best gelato in Sydney

Restaurants Ice cream and gelato

Ice cream: there are a thousand places to get it – from the gummy, overly saccharine stuff, to smooth, silky excellence. Rest assured, though, that these are all in the latter category.

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