The Story of High Tea

The custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised made popular in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife, the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, who brought a large amount of tea in her dowry. However, the concept of afternoon tea or High Tea as it is now known as, appeared only in the mid-nineteenth century and surprisingly, does not predate Hopetoun Tea Rooms too much. The credit of starting the High Tea is famously given to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who started the tradition around the year 1840. In those days, it was customary in royal households to serve lunch at noon while the dinner was not served until eight o’clock. However, the Duchess, who had quite an appetite felt hungry around four and would order a tray of tea, butter sandwiches and cake to her room. This habit soon turned into a social gathering as she started inviting her friends to join her for the High tea. By the 1880s, High tea became an essential fashion statement for the upper-class women who would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for the get-together which was usually hosted in posh Tea Rooms located in exclusive city clubs between four and five o’clock.
The British Aristocrats and Bureaucrats took the tradition of High tea to the colonies where they were posted. It was Lady Hopetoun, the wife of first Governor of Victoria, who is credited with opening the first Tea Rooms down under in 1892 in the premises of Young Working ladies club in the Block Arcade. The place appropriately was named after Lady Hopetoun as Hopetoun Tea Rooms and continued to operate uninterrupted even during the two world wars. Today Hopetoun Tea Rooms, located at the Bourke Street, are synonymous with the best High Tea and cakes in the country.

The Story of High Tea

Hopetoun High Tea

At Hopetoun Tea Rooms, we have taken the concept of High Tea and elevated the experience to the next level of luxury, while retaining the key elements of English tradition which are at its core. The experience begins with the concierge welcoming you at the portals of the 1859 building draped in a crisp white Hopetoun uniform. You are escorted you into a world reminiscent of the Victorian era. As you look at the ornate ceiling decorated with intricate artwork, your attention is drawn to the timeless logo of Hopetoun embossed in gold on the white Italian marble. As you are guided up the stairs and elevator, you inspect the long line of beautiful tea sets dating from 1896 to 1999 displayed on the wall, wondering about the lives of fashionable ladies of Victorian-era who enjoyed their afternoon tea in these teacups. What would they be gossiping about and what kind of dresses they adorned?
As you step into the High Tea section, you will feel as if you have transcended into an era which is long bygone, the 19th century England, into the ante-chamber of the powerful men and women who ruled the world in which the sun never set. Every touchpoint will accentuate the experience, may it be the leather of the sofa, the silver tea sets or the classical melodies being played live on the grand piano. The world’s finest speciality teas are served today exactly the same way as they were served in 1892 but they are now accompanied with savouries and pastries which appeal to the taste buds of the modern-day patrons.

Hopetoun High Tea Menu

Bottom Tier – Savoury:

  • Ribbons of smoked salmon sandwiches with dill cream cheese, cucumber and roquette
  • Roast beef sirloin sandwiches with onion jam, roquette, tasty cheese, wholegrain mustard mayonnaise
  • Pinwheel sandwiches with tomato, cucumber, ham, seeded mustard mayonnaise and egg
  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Vegetarian Quiche
  • Herbed pumpkin roulade with smoked salmon, goats cheese mousse and spinach

Middle Tier – Petit Fours:

  • Green Tea profiteroles – cream puff with white chocolate and green tea ganache
  • Blueberry lemon Swiss Roll – blueberry sponge with lemon mascarpone cream
  • Raspberry and Yuzu Macaroon – Raspberry macaroon with yuzu mousse and fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry Pistachio Opera – Raspberry and vanilla almond sponge layered with mascarpone cream, raspberry and pistachio paste
  • Apple Mango Cheesecake – biscuit base layered with apple, cinnamon cheesecake, topped with mango jelly

Third Tier – Fruit:

  • Fresh seasonal and exotic fruit and berries
Hopetoun Pinwheel Sandwich