Fancy a cuppa? Why not make it a fancy cuppa and indulge in one of the region’s high teas.

Tea is a leveller. From the Japanese matcha, South American mate, Indian chai, Chinese cha-dao or the Moroccan mint, the ritual of drinking tea connects people.

Following the trend for afternoon tea to feature on English aristocracy social calendars in the mid 19th century, opulent tearooms started to pop up in Australia. With variations on the theme, Australian high teas have not only stood the test of time, they’re more popular than ever.
Here are our picks, so grab a few friends, dress up and head for the hills for that decadent treat we’ve all longed for.

The Artistic Blend

“There’s something extra special about a high tea. It has the scope to be dramatic” says Marija Fina function manager at the Convent Gallery in Daylesford. “When we walk through the gallery with the high tea stands, everyone says wow.”

An eclectic collection of fine china adds to the artsy vibe of a high tea in one of Daylesford’s most iconic buildings. “Looking at each other’s china creates a buzz, because no two are the same. We’ve got around 80 different sets we can mix and match.”

The sumptuous high teas at the Convent Gallery start with a mimosa and feature Aussie organic teas, and generous lashings of sweet and savoury treats. Set amid a backdrop of art work, a variety of inspirational spaces cater for parties from two to 56.

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The Convent, photograph by Beck Walker

The Secret Blend

Creating a unique experience is the signature of The High Tea Mistress. “Our mobile high teas can be set up anywhere for various sized groups,” says owner Emma Beilharz. “People curate their own high tea event by choosing the menu, crockery, soft furnishings and decorations from our extensive collection.”

Then there’s the location. From a private home to a rugged outdoor setting, (with cosy weather-proof igloos available), there are an abundance of options. “We love the Hanging Rock area and also the Botanic Gardens in Kyneton, Malmsbury and Daylesford. But naturally we also have our secret spots.” Showcasing and supporting local produce, the menu shifts with the seasons and has a modern twist.

And with the demand for high teas sweeping across the region, The High Tea Mistress has recently opened a cute-as-a-button tea shop in Clunes.

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Bellinzona High Tea. Photo by Red Fish Blue Fish

The International Blend

Julian Albioli, Executive Chef at Hotel Bellinzona in Hepburn Springs appreciates the history surrounding high tea. “It’s always been synonymous with this region. People love it because it’s lighter than lunch and not the full-on commitment for dinner, it’s a playful experience.”

Julian’s family bought the historic hotel at the start of 2020 and after extensive renovations re-opened in early 2021. Served in the new Oxford Dining Room where touches of Paris, Vienna and Florence roll into one glamorous space, Julian and his team are taking high tea to the next level. “We have an amazing pastry chef who’s passionate about all things sweet.”

Expect the unexpected with everything made in-house from scratch, tapping into the abundance of local produce. Teas and bubbles are locally sourced as well as a selection of high-end French champagne as a premium option.

About the author

Jocelyn Pride
Jocelyn Pride
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Jocelyn Pride is an award winning freelance writer / photographer who made a long awaited tree change to Castlemaine in early 2020. Her work has been published in a range of Australian and international travel magazines including; Signature Luxury Travel & Style, Vacations & Travel, Selector, Australian Traveller, International Traveller,  Sawasdee (Thai airways), Cruise Passenger and WellBeing. Jocelyn has a strong interest in writing stories about wildlife, nature, sustainability, history, food / wine and cultural experiences. She loves to keep fit and is handy on a horse.