A Tribute to High Tea Diversity

A Tribute to High Tea Diversity

We can give credit to Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, for coming up with the idea of high tea. Suffering hunger pains as she waited for her evening meal, Anna requested a tray of tea, cake and bread to be brought to her. Perhaps she had seen the working-class taking tea from high tables after their long days on the farm. No matter. The idea soon caught on, and high tea became an easier way for ladies to entertain than having people to lunch.

The new colony of Australia followed many English trends, including high tea. Tea houses spread across the country with colonisation, many offering treats such as sandwiches, scones and small cakes, fare common to an English high tea experience.

Today, as a multicultural nation that values inclusivity, high tea has diverged from English tradition to encompass a flourish of world flavours. Let’s veer away from the expected for a moment to appreciate some high teas with a difference.

A Nation of Immigrants

Although we have not yet seen a First Nations high tea, we honour the many diverse traditions that pay homage to homeland and family.

In a poignant synergy of history, South African born mother and daughter team Ursula and Leigh-Ann Shead founded Pickers & Co in the early 1900s Cobb & Co homestead in Upper Coomera. Melding wares from old and new lands with rustic charm, Pickers was the family’s way of settling into the Gold Coast. The venue fulfills many roles including gift and homewares shop, coffee house and eatery. A South African-themed Karoo House High Coffee provides a taster for many of the South African treats on their menu. Sweet specialties include Oumas melktert (South African Milk tart), a traditional carrot cake, and a fluffy Maitjiesfontein traditional scone. Pickers & Co also offers a Farm-House Kids’ High Tea for birthday parties.

Although we may have expected India to celebrate high tea due to English colonisation, renowned Indian-born chef Sabir Merchant only saw high tea for the first time as a chef at Palazzo Versace. The owner of Garlic Clove (Ormeau and Brisbane) and Green Olive Italian, Sabir toyed with the idea of making high tea from Indian cuisine. However, it was Sabir’s wife, Dolly, also a chef, who brought the concept to life. Garlic Clove’s Indian High Tea is served for two people as a three-course experience. Firstly, India’s most popular street food, pani puri, arrives in individual glasses. Then comes individual aloo tikki chaat. Lastly, a 3-tier stand is served. One tier carries sweets from throughout India, their colours, shapes and flavours so different from each other. Another carries savoury food such as cocktail samosas, gujarrati dokla, momo, mini kebabs and Indian hash browns with tapioca pearls and peanuts, served with mint and tamarind sauces. On the final tier lie Indian burgers, so popular in Mumbai, together with Indian sandwiches. , a vegan high tea available by request

“Our Indian High Tea is not just about remembering the food we grew up with,” Sabir tells us. “It’s a celebration of Indian street food, but also about nostalgia – being with family and bringing back the feeling of being back in India. Nobody else brings Indian street food all together like this on one table,” he says.

Providing guests with an exotic taste of the Middle East and Mediterranean, Mecca Bah (at Broadbeach and Hope Island) brings us food that is carefully curated, delicious and made with love.Mecca Bah’s Middle Eastern High Tea Experience is served in a pyramid of savoury delights and sweet treats. Many of the savoury dishes, such as the Lamb boureks, Sesame falafel and Kofte balls are also featured on the main menu, so this is a great way to try Middle Eastern food with friends as a celebration. Mecca Bah’s high tea also includes an exquisite selection of Middle Eastern sweets such as Lebanese ladies’ fingers, Orange blossom cheesecake, Kataifi and Turkish delight, accompanied bya glass of sparkling on arrival, unlimited tea and coffee. Apple tea and Turkish coffee are also available.

An Aussie Country High Tea

Hudson & Rosie’s Table in Highland Park presents a true Aussie country high tea in rustic glory on their verandah. Their delectable selection of sweet and savoury treats including homemade sliders, croquettes, arancini, scones, mini cakes, deconstructed cheesecake and salted caramel banoffee with toffee popcorn is deliciously different to high tea offerings elsewhere. It’s a selection that suits everyone, with all dietary requirements catered for on request. Including coffee, tea or soft drink, you can upgrade to beer, cider, wine, bubbles, or even a cocktail. All you need to do is gather your friends and book your event a day ahead. Let’s raise a glass to that. Easy!

A Dietary Friendly High Tea

High tea can be a celebration where everyone is included. At BonAppetea Teahouse, high tea encompasses dietary requirements, cultures, gender and age. Owned by siblings Bianca and Adam, Bianca brings her passion for food and service to the high tea experience, making all the components by hand. Not only do they serve a traditional Luxe high tea, but also fresh Breakfast High Tea and a Kids high tea, all available as vegetarian, vegan or gluten free. Seated on the historic Queenslander’s veranda overlooking lush gardens, we enjoy excellent service, with BonAppetea happy to accommodate us by serving one regular high tea and one vegan high tea, each on a separate tower.

Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free high teas are also available at Greendays and Bumbles.

‘Genderless’ and ‘Ageless’ High Teas

Not content with a quirky ‘Very GC’ high tea, QT Gold Coast also offers the only Man Tea in Australia. Of course, this name is a misnomer. Accompanying such gentlemanly delicacies as Moreton Bay Bug Roll is a Gentleman’s Éclair, Cheeseburger Dumplings, Maker’s Mark Smoked Pork Shoulder, Truffle and Parmesan Fries and a chocolate Cigar, filled with a Glenmorangie 10yr single malt whiskey mousse, candied bacon and lemon ash. Getting the drift? You can choose to wash your food down not with tea or coffee, but with a craft beer, Glenmorangie 10year or Johnnie Walker Blue.

And for the littlies, a Teeny High Tea is available at JW Marriott’s Chapter & Verse, QT, Greendays, Pickers & Co and BonAppetea.

Happy High Tea, everyone!

Featured venues

Pickers & Co, 388 Tamborine Oxenford Road, Upper Coomera, Ph: 0431 947 490

Garlic Clove Indian, 7 Eggersdorf Rd, Ormeau, Ph: 07 5547 5501 Also in Brisbane.

Mecca Bah, 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5504 7754 Also at Hope Island and Gasworks Plaza, Brisbane.

Bon Appetea Teahouse, 7 Johns Rd, Mudgeeraba Ph: 07 5525 3053

Hudson & Rosie’s Table, 16/106 Alexander Dr, Highland Park Ph: 07 5574 7953

QT Gold Coast, 7 Staghorn Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5584 1200JW Marriott Gold Coast, 158 Ferny Ave, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5592 9800