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QTea at QT Sydney
Photograph: Lauren Gray

The best places to get high tea in Sydney

Pass the cucumber sandwiches, please

Written by
Maxim Boon
,
Divya Venkataraman
&
Elizabeth McDonald
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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 palate 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 ever-so fancy leisure.

In search of another sugar high? Here's where to find Sydney's best doughnuts.

The best high teas Sydney has to offer

  • Travel
  • Sydney

 Go for: the incredibly 'grammable display, celebrity curated snacks.

What's for tea? The quirky, eccentric chic of the QT Sydney provides the perfect backdrop for dessert legend and celeb chef Adriano Zumbo’s vibrant high tea experience. It showcases a perfect balance of style and substance, with a yummy selection of top-of-class sweet and savoury bites presented with a specially designed cake stand made from an assemblage of black cubes, each housing a delicious morsel. Start off on the lowest tier with the luxe likes of the Champagne lobster roll, caesar sliders and dainty goats cheese tarts, before sinking your teeth into the signature desserts Zumbo is most celebrated for. These include a glazed chocolate mousse with pistachio praline in the shape of a heart, a mango tart with a silky-smooth cream filling and a complex yuzu vanilla cake, and of course, a selection of multi-coloured Zumbarons – Zumbo’s singular riff on a classic macaron. You can wash down this fancy feast with a class of Mumm Champagne, a speciality tea or even a cocktail.

How much? $95-$125.

  • 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? $45-90. 

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  • 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 Angus roast beef and free-range egg and little mushroom arancini and truffle brie, and more. Sweets-wise, there are scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, coconut-mango panna cotta, hazelnut praline, and dark chocolate mousse. The tea selection is modest, but nicely curated – many of the blends made specifically for the Langham. The Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood is available all week. 

How much? $49-$108.

  • 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. Think green apple & dill pavlova, strawberry & vanilla tart, and dark chocolate delice. 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 Hiramasa kingfish tartare.

How much? $79-$99. 

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  • 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. TWR's High Tea features a variety of sweet and savoury delights, including a parmesan, pea and mint tart, a rare beef sandwich, and tropical mousse. Just make sure you save space for the scones, which come out after the tiered snacks in two varieties – plain and ginger-lime – along with a generous lather of clotted cream and pot of jam.

How much? $85-$105.

  • 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 26 teas including their ‘splendid Earl Grey’ blend and a chocolate-lavender harmony tea. You’ll sit up nice and straight on your little velour chair while making short work of sweet and savoury pastries, chubby scones with jars of mixed berry preserves and clotted cream, and soft little finger sandwiches. Gluten-free options are available. 

How much? $45-$90.

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Burnt Orange
  • Restaurants
  • Mosman

Go for: vintage leisure and delectable delights

What’s for tea? The burnt orange tart with blood orange curd is full of citrus bite while smoked salmon on homemade brown bread with dill and crème fraîche serves up salty savoury. The freshly baked scones are served with homemade jams and chantilly cream for that extra sweetness, all the while sitting on a grand old wooden balcony and casting your gaze over Middle Harbour. Why not add sparkling wine to your High Tea for an extra $10?

How much? $55-$65

  • 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, bite-sized pastries, and arty sandwiches. There’s also a generous sweet selection, including fluffy homemade scones served with homemade jam and double cream of course. You can also add a glass of sparkling wine to your High Tea for an extra $4.

How much? $85-89

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  • Travel
  • Sydney

Go for: an inclusive, accessible tea.
What’s for tea? If you're going for the Traditional High Tea, one of the La Maison Du The teas or Vittoria coffee will be served at your table in true style, alongside a delectable selection of sweet and savoury delights. Dietary restrictions are easy to cater for, with gluten-free treats available. There's even a vegan and a chocolate high tea option.  

How much? $49-$54

  • 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 glass of champagne to your high tea if you want to elevate your experience. A late afternoon high tea here can easily run into after-work drinks as the bar fills up. The scones are golden and short with chantilly cream and delicious jams, and the smoked salmon and cream cheese on turmeric bread is certainly a tasty touch to the savouries.

How much? $55-$75. 

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  • 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 housemade jam. For savouries, think finger sandwiches, smoked chicken breast bagel, and a BBQ pork shoulder slider. You can add a glass of premium sparkling wine to your High Tea experience for an extra $20.

How much? $65-135.

  • Travel
  • Sydney

Go for: the buffet.

What’s for tea? Choose from an assortment of savoury finger sandwiches, delicious cakes, and of course scones with jam and cream, all served al-a-carte. In the beverage department, you'll be sipping on a variety of T2 loose-leaf teas, alongside a glass of sparkling wine on arrival. 

How much? $60-$79.

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  • 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 from 12 pm - 3 pm. There are vanilla scones with homemade jam and cream, chocolate truffle bonbon ice-cream pops, delicious smoked salmon blini, amongst two other tiers of treats. Go traditional with tea and coffee, or start your weekend early with a glass of sparkling wine or rosé.

How much? $55-$65. 

  • Travel
  • Sydney

Go for: hotel swankiness with non-judgemental gluttony.

What's for tea? 31 floors up, the Panorama Lounge offers stunning views for a truly elegant High Tea experience, with an array of sweet and savoury treats served with a range of La Mason Du loose leaf teas and either sparkling wine or French champagne. Gorge on fluffy buttermilk scones served with delicious jam and cream, alongside other delights such as a lavender-blueberry pearl tart and Tasmanian smoked salmon with dill creme. There's also a fully vegan take on high tea on offer, as well as a 'Sky Tea'. 

How much: $79-$89

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  • Travel
  • The Rocks

Go for: unbeatable views of Sydney Opera House.

What’s for tea? Sit back in The Dining Room and enjoy multiple courses of bite-sized delights, including a selection of sweet and savoury morsels. The savoury plate is five-star delicious, but save space for the sugar gem-topped scones with housemade jam and whipped cream. Wash it down with an Ovvio Paddington tea – lemongrass, licorice and ginger – it’s like a hot toddy without the booze. Or go all out with a glass of Veuve Cliquot.

How much? $109-$125.

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