High tea: British tradition at Parramatta

It’s a time-honoured English tradition and it’s back in a big way.

Quintessentially English, the high tea has become an increasingly popular ritual in recent years, perhaps partly fueled by a resurgence in interest in the royal family.

Imagine Fortnum & Mason-brand loose leaf blends poured from Royal Doulton fine bone china, triple-tiered cake trays stacked with scones and petit-fours, an array of finger food and plenty of pomp - and there you have a traditional British high tea.

To give an idea of just how popualar high teas have become, four separate Mothers Day high tea events at Parramatta Park’s Gatehouse Tea Rooms were completely booked out a week ahead of Sunday, May 11.

‘‘Really it’s quite a magical experience,’’ said owner James Wilkinson.

‘‘It’s like taking a little step back in time, it’s a lot about the ambience of the place.

‘‘The architecture, the beautiful inlaid ceilings that we have, the cottage gardens and the old world charm of the place.’’

Mr Wilkinson said high teas at the gatehouse have grown in popularity since the business opened its doors in October last year.

‘‘That was the whole idea of this beautiful venue, to turn it into a place for high tea,’’ he said.

‘‘High tea dates back to the 1700s, it was an afternoon meal adopted by English society’s upper classes. The point of it was to allow the ladies and gentlemen of the day the opportunity to have a substantial meal before attending the theatre, or playing cards or things like that.’’

Asked to explain the high tea hype, marketing manager Dajana Wilkinson said it was all about bringing the class back into dining, without over complicating menus.

‘‘You can feel like a real lady for a few hours. It’s almost an excuse to put on a beautiful frock,’’ Ms Wilkinson said.

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