Home Miniature house Five of Melbourne’s best teas to try while toasting the Queen

Five of Melbourne’s best teas to try while toasting the Queen


However you choose to mark the Queen’s passing, you could do worse than sit down for afternoon tea on your Sunday best. Little egg sandwiches, little pies, burnt lemon meringue tarts – there’s plenty to love, even if you’re a staunch Republican.

It might smack of British tradition, but Melbourne, as always, put its own spin on the ritual.

Indigenous Australian ingredients are incorporated at The Langham in Southbank while Yugen Tea Bar in South Yarra sources rare teas from faraway places like Malawi and ensures that every bite complements what’s in the cup .

Afternoon tea at The Waiting Room includes Milawa goat cheese pie and hot Thermidor lobster vol-au-vents. Photo: Supplied

That’s not to say purists aren’t catered for. The reigning queen of our city’s afternoon tea, the Windsor Hotel on Spring Street, has had the stalls on several levels since 1883. Many believe it’s still the high point.

But can you explain the difference between high tea and afternoon tea?

Contrary to popular belief, the two are not interchangeable. It all depends on what kind of chair you’re sitting on and what time you decide to sit down for your fancy meal.

Afternoon tea in the Crown waiting room.

Afternoon tea in the Crown waiting room. Photo: Supplied

Afternoon tea was also known as low tea for the low tables and chairs on which it was served. It was mid-afternoon luxury for the upper classes and most closely resembles what we see today. High tea was a worker’s meal at the end of the day, eaten at a dining table and often more flavorful and substantial.

Another quirk to know before going to afternoon tea this weekend is that in Britain hotels often serve fruit and plain scones. Those who follow tradition closely in Australia can serve Buckingham Palace’s official recipe, which includes raisins soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to plump them up.

Armed with these tidbits, you’ll be the jester of the party, as you dissect who in the royal family said what and who stood where during official proceedings over endless cups of tea.

Yugen tea bar

605 Chapel St South Yarra inside the Capitol Grand

A contemporary tea house run by LK Hospitality’s Culinary Director, Stephen Nairn, puts a modern spin on tradition. You won’t find standard cucumber sandwiches here – it’s all about matching the flavors to the teas – where the salty and sweet are equally presented to perfection. Think puffed forbidden rice, shaved wagyu and horseradish, parmesan gougère, chives and kombu, while salmon roe from the Yarra Valley also finds a place on the menu.

Some of the inventive bits on offer at Yugen Tea Bar in South Yarra.

Some of the inventive bits on offer at Yugen Tea Bar in South Yarra. Photo: Simon Schluter

The Langham Hotel Afternoon Tea, Southbank

British High Tea is served with a twist at the Langham Hotel. Executive pastry chef, Markus Bohm, offers a selection of miniature sweet and savory treats for guests and freshly baked scones with cream and fruit preserves. The tiered tower’s biggest hits include the lobster cocktail tart and the beef bourguignon tart with bush tomato chutney. The scones are served with whipped cream and citrus curd.

Hotel Om Nom @ Adelphi

Age, good food.  High Tea at Yugen Tea Bar in Sth Yarra.  Pic Simon Schluter September 15, 2022

Age, good food. High Tea at Yugen Tea Bar in Sth Yarra. Pic Simon Schluter September 15, 2022

High Tea at Om Nom inside the Adelphi Hotel recalls the Queen’s love of horses (there is a life-size wire statue of her favorite animal in the center called Neville). He’ll wear a splash of purple in his honor for the weekend when you book for High Tea. The venue also offers a special royal tea all weekend.

The waiting room, crown

The Crown Towers Lobby Bar now offers afternoon tea from Friday to Sunday with variations on the traditional offerings. Ditch the cut sandwiches for a different take on the British ritual. Two hours of bottomless Piper Heidsieck champagne is an option along with two varieties of scones – traditional and raisin. There’s a mix of cold dishes like Milawa goat cheese pie and hot lobster thermidor vol-au-vents.

NGV Tea Room, Level 1, NGV International

From afternoon tea accompanied by French champagne to afternoon tea for children, the NGV tea room is also worth considering. Cut sandwiches with four toppings, including smoked salmon and poached chicken, feature heavily. Sweets include macaroons, chocolate brownies and scones served with double cream.