The very British tradition of ‘High Tea’ is no longer confined to its homeland of Great Britain. Over the past few years, it has become a popular trend celebrated around the globe.
Amazingly, South Africa is no exception. Across the country but mainly around the breathtaking destinations of the Western Cape, there is now an abundance of unique afternoon tea experiences.
If like me, you love digging into a delicious spread of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes served with exquisite teas, I have found some really special afternoon tea locations for you.
Where to find the best afternoon tea in Cape Town and the Western Cape
Belmond Mount Nelson, Cape Town
The ‘Nellie’ as the beautiful Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel it is affectionately nicknamed by locals, is undoubtedly one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Located at a prime spot at the foot of Table Mountain not far from the Company’s Gardens in the historic heart of Cape Town, it dates back to the end of the 19th century.
Since its opening, the hotel has welcomed among its wealthy guests a high number of celebrities including Queen Elisabeth celebrating her 21st birthday at the hotel, as well as Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and even the Dalai Lama.
The Belmond Mount Nelson is also one of the most famous locations celebrating a traditional British afternoon tea.
Served in the hotel’s classy lounge and the glassed-in conservatory which during warmer months extends into the beautiful garden, at the Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea you can expect a tiered stand of savoury treats including sandwiches filled with cucumber, egg and salmon, roast beef with Dijon, along with various delicious filled pastries.
Next, some still slightly warm delicious fluffy scones will be served, accompanied by clotted cream, strawberry jam and butter.
Maybe the best (but admittedly I am biased here) will be the huge buffet of delectable sweets set up in the lounge where you will find raspberry-filled white truffles, éclairs, passion fruit squares, chocolate macarons, chocolate cake and lemon tart along with many other treats.
Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town
The award-winning five-star Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection that includes several very prominent luxury hotels around the world and today is one of the most iconic landmarks of Cape Town.
There are plenty of reasons to visit this stunning property nestled at the foot of the Twelve Apostles mountain range along the dramatic coastline between Camps Bay and Hout Bay from stylish hotel rooms to excellent dining and getting pampered at the Spa.
Another thing you cannot miss visiting the Twelve Apostles Hotel is the iconic ‘Tea by the Sea’ High Tea, served in the hotel’s stunning Leopard Bar.
If you are looking for excellent afternoon tea occasions in Cape Town, any list will include the Twelve Apostle’s ‘Tea by the Sea’ and there is no surprise why. The freshly prepared finger sandwiches, still warm and fluffy scones and sweets including delicious macarons, cupcakes and brownies were absolutely mouth-watering; and the way it is presented, in a fresh contemporary look with an extra splash of colour thanks to a totally delectable, smooth pistachio panna cotta is absolutely eye-catching too.
The hotel also offers a vegan version of its renowned high tea.
Le Lude Winery, Franschhoek
These days, not only the leading hotels in and around Cape Town offer excellent afternoon tea experiences. In fact, heading out to the Cape Winelands, you will find many of the excellent wineries have enlarged their dining options now include their own afternoon tea.
Even though you will primarily come for the wines, I can only recommend not to miss the occasion to book an afternoon tea at a winery too. Believe me, you will be in for a very special treat. Plus, you can still combine it with a wine tasting.
Le Lude Winery in Fanschhoek is one of the places I definitely recommend you check out for a combined wine tasting and afternoon tea experiences.
Located just off the Franschhoek main road, the small boutique winery is a fairly new addition to the Franschhoek wine scene. Founded as recently as 2011, the winery released its first bottlings in 2015.
Le Lude only produces sparkling wines, the so-called Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wine, which are produced according to the traditional fermentation process used to create champagne.
The winery is indeed one of the rising stars of sparkling wine producers in South Africa, having been rewarded the highest points to date for a South African Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) in London.
I cannot recommend the MCC and Canapé tasting enough, which is an absolute delight both for the three fantastic MCCs as well as for the freshly prepared delicious food.
In addition, make sure you also book the delicious Le Lude afternoon tea. Served at the small tasting room, there is a traditional choice of sandwiches (salmon tout and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and watercress as well as roast beef and horseradish).
You also can expect some still slightly warm and fluffy buttermilk scones accompanied by crème Chantilly and strawberry preserve and a sweet selection of salted caramel profiterole, a double chocolate Lamington, a fresh fruit tart and zesty lemonade madeleines.
What has been your favourite afternoon tea experience in Cape Town / the Western Cape so far? Have you tried any of the ones above? Let me know.