Whether you’re just after a quick cuppa or you want to indulge in high tea with all the trimmings, Sydney has an abundance of exceptional tea houses and this article looks at six of the very best.
Best Tea – The Tea Centre
With over 180 different varieties of tea, the Tea Centre truly is the centre of the known tea universe in Sydney. As well as all the classic blends, they have a huge range of unusual flavours, sporting equally unusual names such as Arctic Fire, Snow Dragon, Black Adder, Blue Lagoon and Hair of the Dog.
For almost two decades, the Tea Centre has been sourcing teas from all around the world, buying only the finest quality teas, made with no artificial flavours or preservatives.
The aromas are simply breathtaking when you enter the Tea Centre and the shelves are groaning with everything tea-related, from tea towels and cosies to teapots, kettles and tins.
The Tea Centre is located on level 1 of the Glasshouse in Pitt Street Mall and is open from 9am till 5.30pm weekdays and from 10am till 5pm on Saturdays.
Best High Tea – The Victoria Room
Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst winds back the clock to the days of the British Raj and serves High Tea to its guests in plush surroundings reminiscent of colonial India.
Gentlemen and ladies crook their pinkie fingers and sip on English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea and nibble sandwiches arranged on fine silver platters.
Fillings include smoked salmon, chicken and wild herb, walnuts and goats curd and of course, the obligatory cucumber, along with scones, cream and strawberry conserve, followed by assorted sweeties, chocolate mousse and coconut and lime cupcakes.
The Victoria Room also boasts a right royal selection of teas, including Scottish Breakfast, Prince of Wales, Queen Mary, Russian Caravan, Darjeeling, China Sencha and Turkish Apple.
High Tea is served Saturdays and Sundays from noon till 5 at the Victoria Room in Victoria Street, Darlinghurst and a classic High Tea will set you back $45 per person.
Best Bagels – Coffee, Tea & Me
As the name suggests, this tiny premises in Potts Point specialises in coffee and tea, but what many people don’t know is that they also make excellent bagels that the locals rave about.
Deliciously soft, with a wonderful crunch when toasted, their Israeli bagels come with a variety of fillings, including cheese & tomato, roast beef, smoked salmon and spicy tuna and avocado.
To wash them down, you can order an excellent Campos coffee from the barista or choose from a range of teas and if the weather’s warm, they also have jugs of fresh homemade pink lemonade.
Operated by owners with an identical café in Redfern, Coffee Tea & Me is open 7 days a week in Macleay Street, Potts Point.
Best Setting – Boronia Tea Room
The only thing better than sitting down to a delicious High Tea is doing so in the surrounds of a delightful Victorian manor house.
Boronia Tea Room is located in an historic Mosman home built in 1885 by Sydney carriage building brothers, John and James Kearey. The light and airy ground floor room that houses the tea room is surrounded by a large verandah, which leads out to the extensive lawns and gardens surrounding the house.
High Tea is served every weekend and doesn’t disappoint, with a good range of green, black and herbal loose leaf teas to select from plus an excellent spread of scones and cream, finger sandwiches, savoury pastries and sweets.
While not as grand as the Victoria Room, High Tea at Boronia Tea Room is a genuine taste of things past and the perfect place for a relaxing get-together with friends. Mosman House is located in Military Road, Mosman and High Tea is served between 11am and 3.30pm daily.
Best Spread – Vaucluse House Tearooms Cafe
Another popular High Tea spot, Vaucluse House is an important historic home on Sydney Harbour, built by early colonial statesman, William Wentworth. The impressive Gothic facades and picturesque gardens make a wonderfully relaxed setting for traditional High Tea.
But it is the High Tea itself that really takes the cake (pun intended). What a spread! Smoked salmon sandwiches, cucumber fingers, pork and fennel rolls, mushroom tarts, scones and cream, followed by strawberries dipped in chocolate, vanilla macaroons and hazelnut fudge.
That can be washed down with coffee or a glass of bubbly, or you can choose from a good selection of teas including Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Chai, Peppermint, Lemon Grass, Chamomile and Gunpowder Green Tea.
Vaucluse House Tearooms Café is open from 10am to 4.30pm Wednesday to Friday and 8am to 4.30pm on weekends in Wentworth Road, Vaucluse.
Best Scones – The Tea Cosy
No one does tea and scones like the Irish and the Tea Cosy in the Rocks is a little piece of Ireland in the heart of Sydney.
Tucked away behind the Irish Design Shop, it’s a tiny establishment with a kitchen, a tumble of tables and a courtyard out the back.
And it’s in the tiny kitchen that they produce the best scones in all of Sydney. These are scones like nanna used to make; freshly baked, crisp and golden on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. They are served with double thickened cream and a choice of gourmet jams, including strawberry, blood plum, fig and ginger.
To top it off, because it’s Irish, what better choice of tea than Irish tea, a full-bodied, malty loose leaf tea served in a real teapot, decorated with a delightful hand-made tea cosy.
The Tea Cosy is a real treat for Devonshire tea lovers and is open from 10am till 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays and 10am till 5pm on weekends in George Street, The Rocks.
Hopefully, this article has whetted your taste buds for a good cup of tea and a feast of finger food. While the establishments described here are only six of the many tea purveyors to be found across the city, each of these six has something uniquely different to offer and hence deserves its place at the table for tea time in Sydney.