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Monday, October 03, 2005

High Tea at the Swissotel, Sydney

Swissotel dessert smorgasboard
High tea smorgasboard at the Swissotel, Sydney

Which girl doesn't get excited at the mere mention of the words, "high tea". It's not the thought of wearing big flowery hats, white gloves and tittering over neighbourhood gossip that gets the pulse racing. It's the mere thought of deciminalised dessert decadence that has every girl nodding excitedly as she clears the diary with unabated enthusiasm.

Of course high tea as we know it, is actually afternoon tea. High tea in its correct usage refers to a substantial meal of meat, bread and cake eaten at about 6pm. Despite its lofty connotations, high tea was usually undertaken by 'the common people'. The consumption of delicacies by society types was, in fact, afternoon tea.

But let's face it. High tea sounds much more exciting than afternoon tea. And excited I was as we made our way to Sydney's Swissotel for a bit of tea and a lot of sugar.

Swissotel high tea

High tea (yes, I'll continue to use the incorrect terminology) at the Swissotel is held in its Crossroads Bar, a typical hotel lounge set-up with oversized arm chairs on a raised circular platform.

Immediately taking command of our attention though was the buffet station. A cascading chocolate fountain in the middle was flanked by a table of sweets and savouries on the left, and fountain dippers on the right. A wide assortment of available teas was also on display.

assorted finger sandwiches
Assorted finger sandwiches

fruits, cake squares and marshmallows for chocolate dipping
Pineapple, strawberries, kiwifruit, marshmallows, chocolate cake and fruit cake for dipping in the chocolate fountain.

In a supremely costly error of judgement, I'd actually had a light lunch before our arrival, not realising that the high tea here involved an unlimited buffet. I'd presumed our high tea would be delicate and dainty and arrive on silver tiered platters for two. Doh!

So I skipped on the sandwiches and headed straight for dessert. Perhaps it was just as well I didn't arrive here on an empty stomach.

my first dessert plate
My dessert plate #1: mini creme brulee, scone with jam and cream, pear tart slice, pistachio caramel tart and chocolate eclair.

I didn't do too badly for someone supposedly not very hungry (not that dessert is ever about hunger anyway). I particularly liked the pear tart slice which was light and tasty, and the pistachio caramel tart, which had plenty of nuts scattered on top.

pot of Roibosh vanilla orange flavoured tea
Roibosh vanilla orange flavoured tea

Our tea of choice was the Cream Orange which had a light citrus flavour enhanced with the sweetness of rooibos.

mini creme brulee
Close-up of my mini creme brulee

After my dessert plate, it was straight to the chocolate fountain.

strawberries cavorting under the chocolate fountain
Cavorting strawberries in the chocolate fountain

chocolate-dipped fruit skewers
Chocolate splattered plate of chocolate-dipped pineapple, kiwifruit, marshmallow and strawberries.

High tea, afternoon tea, just give me plen-tea!

Swissotel Crossroads bar

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High tea at the Crossroads Bar
Swissotel Sydney
Level 8, 68 Market Street, Sydney
(above Myer, enter from Market Street opp the State Theatre)
Tel: +61 (02) 9238 7082

High tea available Saturdays and Sundays 2pm-4pm
$25.00 per person or
$32.50 with a glass of sparkling wine

Updated January 7, 2009
High tea buffet available Saturdays and Sundays 2pm-4pm
$35 per person or
$44.50 with a glass of Chandon

High tea available on a tiered tray Monday to Friday 2pm-4pm
$30 per person

Related GrabYourFork posts:
High tea at the Swissotel Crossroads Bar (Jan09), (Nov06) and (Jun06)
High tea at the Observatory Hotel, Globe Bar
High tea at the Sofitel Wentworth (Sep08) and (Dec06)
High tea at the Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
13 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 10/03/2005 11:59:00 pm


  • At 10/04/2005 3:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love high teas alot..!! i used to make everyone go high tea with me.. just because i needed company..! hhehehe!!

  • At 10/04/2005 9:06 am, Blogger Jess (fushmush) said…

    ugh, I should not have read this post before eating breakfast.

  • At 10/04/2005 10:59 am, Blogger deborah said…

    10 points for the alliteration in the first paragraph! Hehehe.

    Also 10 points for choosing a South African tea - they make lovely tea in SA, which doesn't get much cup-play

    Sounds like a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

  • At 10/04/2005 11:43 am, Blogger Kelly said…

    Ooh, I love high tea! My bridesmaids organised a high tea for my hen's party. Unfortunately because it was the day before the wedding and I was feeling too nervous to eat much! What a waste :( I'll have to go back again one of these days!

  • At 10/04/2005 2:10 pm, Blogger Mona said…

    I just found your blog off of food porn. It's really beautifully done. I 've always wanted to go to a "high tea" but have yet to experience it. Take care!

  • At 10/04/2005 6:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    high tea!!! and unlimited? my gosh $25 is a good deal! hey i say hold the next food blogger meetup there!

  • At 10/04/2005 8:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ooooh...love high tea! And yes, I do find myself "clearing my diary with unabated enthusiasm" when high/afternoon tea is involved :) Must schedule one soon!

  • At 10/09/2005 8:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've tried dipping fruits in a choc fountain at Shangri-La Hotel, KL and it was lipsmackingly good!

  • At 11/05/2005 11:12 pm, Blogger DiveMummy said…

    Love your new blog header. My stomach still remembers how distended it was that afternoon after eating so many sandwiches and dessert. Lucky with all that sugar intake that the cups of tea were all-you-can-drink!

  • At 11/16/2008 10:46 am, Blogger kelliejane said…

    Great quantity of food, and variety. It left me a little empty with the fact I had to make my own tea. Service left a bit to be desired too.

  • At 11/17/2008 11:12 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Kelliejane - I actually don't mind that you have to make your own tea. At least you get guarantee you'll have tea instantly. I've often been frustrated by lack of tea refills at other high teas!

  • At 8/02/2010 2:08 pm, Blogger Kate D said…

    What you offer is a great excuse for friends and family to get together for a special experience at your establishment. I could not fault your service and delectible samples! I loved that your staff did not hover and just let all indulge until our hearts delight. Thanks a million and well done to your staff for the preparation and presentation.

  • At 8/11/2010 5:56 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Kate D - Great to hear you had such a positive experience. Service always make a huge difference to customer happiness.


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