High tea is a romantic ritual that dates back at least to the 17th Century. It typically features dainty ribbon sandwiches, fluffy scones with jam and cream, petit fours, savoury bites, and a pot of the finest loose leaf brew.
Plus, if you really want to up the ante, many high tea venues will throw in a cheeky flute of champers. With its gracious Queenslander homes, elaborate churches and elegant commercial facades, Ipswich is the perfect setting in which to hark back to slower, gentler times by indulging in high tea. Here are several spots that do a sparkling job of it.
The Cottage Restaurant
The Cottage Restaurant really hits high tea out of the park. Seared scallops on creamed cabbage and a cup of earthy mushroom soup on the afternoon we visit are just a couple of standouts.
The Cottage Restaurant is set inside the historic Darver Cottage, built in 1861. From the verandah, gaze out over the Ipswich skyline, with the D’Aguilar Ranges in the distance.
Inside, the dining rooms are air-conditioned in summer, and equipped with fireplaces for winter. There’s an emphasis here on fresh produce sourced ultra-locally. For example, the mulberry jam which accompanied our scones was made from fruit from the backyard tree.
The Soul Nook Collective
Marburg’s Soul Nook Collective is a delightfully dreamy spot for a whole range of reasons. There are bell tents available for hire, creative workshops like dot mandala painting or crystal bracelet making, and a fragrant gift shop installed within the old Baptist church onsite.
Then there’s the artfully styled picnics which encourage guests to sprawl out on the grass under the ample shade of long-established trees and indulge in a gourmet grazing platter. Traditional triumvirate high teas aren’t among the standard offerings, but The Soul Nook Collective does host picnic style high teas for super-special occasions.
Fourthchild Cafe and Restaurant
A mini high tea is on offer, but for bigger occasions or appetites, it’s hard to go past the deluxe version.
Cosy up with your crew in the private dining room or stretch out on the breezy back deck to savour a selection of sweet and savoury items such as Thai chicken spring rolls, herbed mini pikelets with smoked salmon or mini corn fritters with sour cream and crispy prosciutto. All items are made fresh on the premises by qualified chefs.
Step inside the stained glass doors of Dinmore Cottage Tea House and you’ll be transported into yesteryear.
This 90-year-old building located just off the Cunningham Highway has had many incarnations, including as a residence and an antiques store. Four years ago, owner Lindy Leavy came along and, acting on a long-held dream to open a traditional tea house, ripped out the carpet, buffed the floorboards, laid out the collection of fine bone china she’d amassed over the years, and planned a menu to suit all tastes and budgets.
Leavy makes everything on the premises, from the cloud-soft scones to the arancini balls. There’s even a tea leaf and tarot reader on the premises.
Wild Rose Cottage
Wild Rose Cottage offers four options for high tea, all of which can be consumed on the premises or packaged up as the prettiest ever takeaway.
There’s the standard high tea, the mini high tea, and the top-shelf rendition, which pulls out all the stops – silver candelabras, linen napery, fresh flowers, and handwritten calligraphy place cards. Treats include fresh date with goats cheese and roasted pistachio, a mini caprese salad skewer with balsamic glaze and a mini carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Children’s high teas feature fairy bread peek-a-book heart sandwiches with a choice of a babychino, small hot chocolate, or a glass of orange juice.