High Tea in Cape Town
Upon deciding to treat ourselves one Saturday morning I had to phone 12 of the top rated establishments in Cape Town before I could get a booking for 2. Truly were impressed that the high tea’s were so high in demand here in Cape Town.
As per Wikipdedia: “Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten between 4 pm and 6 pm. Observance of the custom originated amongst the wealthy classes in England in the 1840s. Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, is widely credited as transforming afternoon tea in England into a late-afternoon meal whilst visiting Belvoir Castle, though Charles II of England‘s wife Catherine of Braganza is often credited with introducing tea to the court upon her arrival in 1662. By the end of the nineteenth century, afternoon tea developed to its current form and was observed by both the upper and middle classes: “the table was laid… there were the best things with a fat pink rose on the side of each cup; hearts of lettuce, thin bread and butter, and the crisp little cakes that had been baked in readiness that morning.”
Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served with milk and sugar. The sugar and caffeine of the concoction provided fortification against afternoon doldrums for the working poor of 19th and early 20th century England, who had a significantly lower calorie count and more physically demanding occupation than most Westerners today. For labourers, the tea was sometimes accompanied by a small sandwich or baked snack (such as scones) that had been packed for them in the morning. For the more privileged, afternoon tea was accompanied by luxury ingredient sandwiches (customarily cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon), scones and usually cakes and. In hotels and tea shops, food is often served on a tiered stand; there may be no sandwiches, but bread or scones with butter or margarine and optional jam or other spread, or toast, muffins or crumpets. It was the emergence of afternoon tea that saw Britain regard biscuits as something dunked in tea; a British custom that was later exported around the globe.”
We got a booking at the “Taj Hotel” in Cape Town. Upon arriving we were shown to plush lounge chairs with a small table which has been set-up for tea already. Our table booking confirmed with a printed card with my surname on it.
The venue is set in the atrium/lounge of the Taj hotel and small to big groups of people(mostly women;-) ) were seated on big sofa couches from an array of colours and designs.
The waitron was quick to take our drink (tea) order. The bagged tea was really easy to choose from. An English breakfast tea to start off, then followed by an Earl Grey. This gave us time to get a view and taste of the treats on offer from a buffet table. Some of the other establishments would provide 2 people with a 3 tiered tray with selection of savoury and sweets on them.
We were munching on square, triangle and rectangular shaped Egg, chicken & mustard and basil pesto, tomato and cheese sandwiches, small dainty wraps and mini quiche. After a plate was emptied the waitron would swop it with a clean one, the same happened with the tea cups. As who would like to mess up the aromas of the new tea with the old one. Ghmf.
From the bag teas we upgraded to the loose teas and looking through the tea menu which also included the different history of the blends, decided on a black tea. This tea came in a small cast iron pot which I adored. The loose tea is fresh and flavoursome.
The sweet treats like Lemon curd tartlets, cream filled eclairs, pecan tartlets, scones of course with cream, cheese and jam, lemon macaroons and small nutty and chocolate dipped biscuits were all beautifully decorated.
What a feast and if you are keen to try al the buffet table got to offer get a partner who does not mind sharing otherwise you are going to feel unwell the rest of the evening.
The last tea we had was the red chai tea, rooibos grown in the mountains of the Cedarberg infused with marigold some chai spice and orange. Truly a relaxing 2 hours spend over cups of tea and delicious snacks.