First published on 5 Jul 2013. Updated on 20 Feb 2014.
High tea isn't all about scones and bitching anymore (OK, it is), but now it's also about doing craft and watching movies at the same time. Here are some twisted high teas.
Take your tea with a Hungarian twist. You'll be served up a whopping nine courses, including pogácsa (savoury potato scones) and somló (walnut sponge cake). Not enough? Devour the truffles made by hostess Dr Hanna Frederick – a chemist in another life, and an absolute glamourpuss. You can also nibble on 'regular' high tea items – fruit, tarts – that don't have names with fun accent marks. Collingwood, Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm. $55-$65.
The staff at Cinema Nova hand-pick movies that go well with tea. They tend to be food-related, or at least include something delectable (Ryan Gosling, for example). Pick a selection of sandwiches, cakes, and finger food, then raise a toast to fine acting with a glass of bubbles or Pimms. Carlton, Sat-Sun, 3pm. $39 including film.
The grande dame of Melbourne's high tea scene, this is as traditional as it comes. Since 1893, Melburnians have been taking their mums to this dark wood-panelled room to sate their craving for mini sandwiches and macarons. Melbourne, 10am-2.30pm. $50.
Go for triple tier platters of sandwiches and macarons, or a simple Devonshire cream tea for $15.50, all backed up by some delicious, delicious culture. You could just come for the tea, but the National Gallery also offers spectacular high tea tie-ins to their current exhibitions. You can currently try a high tea featuring dishes inspired by the Monet's Garden exhibit. Melbourne, $15.50-$81.
When your idea of afternoon tea is more booze-and frills-oriented, hit Madame B's terrace. This is an excuse to try Madame Brussels' amazing cocktail jugs of Pimms (or the 'DD Cup'). Proprietress Miss Pearls has devised a return-to-your-childhood menu. It's all about ham and pickle sandwiches alongside cupcakes and sausage rolls, which are made by her mum. Melbourne, Sat noon-3pm, Sun (summer only) noon-2pm $42.
Scones, finger sandwiches, loose leaf tea – they're all precursors to the show-stopping sweets. Pastry chef Darren Purchese (from sweet haven Burch & Purchese) is the man in charge and what he can't do with sugar, eggs and a paint gun filled with chocolate isn't worth knowing about. Southbank, Monthly on Fridays, 10.30am-noon, 12.30-2.30pm, 3-5pm. $69.
Channel your favourite Downton Abbey character and take tea in the library. In a mansion. The hotel-formerly-known-as-the-Werribee-Mansion serves up a classic high tea, with ribbon sandwiches and plenty of desserts. But what really sets it apart are the views – and the cocktails infused with tea. Werribee, last Sunday of the month, 3-5pm. $80.
Owner Christina Re offers a high tea alongside an hour-long craft session (yes, they do it for grownups). You'll get all the usual cake and sandwich action plus scrapbooking gear. She also does straight sparkling and cocktail high teas if that's too Etsy for you. And astrology high teas if it's not out-there enough. Collingwood, Wed-Sun. $35-$99.
If your beverage of choice is more black gold than herbal infusion then high coffee is for you. None of this fine china business, here you will drink espresso martinis while eating wagyu beef sandwiches and mini pavlovas. Top off with the signature Café Corretto, a shot of espresso and grappa. Melbourne, 2-5pm. $55.
Bursaria Fine Foods hosts an extravagant high tea at the Abbotsford Convent on the third Sunday of each month. Think canapés and Champagne, as well as a bit of burlesque and stilt-walking. It's an afternoon of vintage-inspired indulgence where sweets do the rounds on trays carried by frocked up dudes and dames, all set to the sweet sounds of Motown. Abbotsford, third Sunday of the month. 2-4pm. $55.
Sign up to our monthly food & drink newsletter