It felt an especially festive occasion before we even began sampling the special afternoon tea at Taj Cape Town as we took in the tremendously tall Christmas tree adorned in traditional red, silver and gold; the wreaths adorning the windows and church bells ringing across the road to celebrate wedding celebrations at St George's Cathedral, as an unseasonal light drizzle began to fall.
Swiftly shown through the impressive hotel lobby, we took in the newly revamped enclosed outdoor terrace area and impressive golden lights in Mint restaurant before making our choice of tables in the the Lobby Lounge and bar area for afternoon tea.
There are two- and four-seaters to choose from, all with comfortable chairs to make you feel like royalty.
Once seated, we perused the Ronneveldt tea menu, offering tea excellence since 1825. Options included such exotic delights as a sweet berry infusion; peachy fruity white tea; an ‘Ayurveda herbs and ginger’ option, rich with lemongrass and liquorice; and the Rooibos cream orange.
“Tea. Earl Grey. Hot”
That said, we stuck with what we know – I went for the fragrant Masala Chai, a strong Assam tea featuring cloves, fennel and served slightly milky, while my husband went for the Earl Grey.
This richly aromatic autumn Darjeeling includes the refreshing citrusy scent of Bergamot, but he went for it as it’s the tea of choice for Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise. (Yes, we’re talking Star Trek here...)
The teas were served in special black cups and pots to keep the liquid steaming hot. The teabags were left to steep for the required 4 minutes each before we started to savour them, as we began the tea ritual. But of course, tea is made for sweet and savoury accompaniments alike...
Standout savouries and a berry merry Christmas to all
The sweet treats are served buffet style, so you can go back repeatedly for your favourites, while the savouries are served at your table.
Forgoing the traditional tiered stands, we were each presented with a carefully curated black slate featuring more-ish mini lamb bobotie pies; cured ostrich with mango chutney; pastrami beef, tomato chutney and parmesan; caprese vol au vents; truffle quail egg and spinach tartlets; tiny smoked salmon-cucumber pinwheels and more.
There are also skewers of delicious charmoula chicken and soft apricot brochette, drizzled in a delicious dark basting. Before we knew it we had cleared the plates and the tea pots and were ready to sample the sweet selection.
My husband moved on to the Summer Gold Darjeeling tea for this, while I went for a cappuccino – Americanos and lattes are also available, and just the thing if you need a caffeine kick. With the tea bag attentively removed so as not spoil the tea once correctly steeped, we were ready to roll, and roll we did.
We made our way through such delicious festive delights as chestnut macarons; white- and milk-chocolate dipped strawberries; blueberry and chocolate-topped tartlets that reveal a coconutty South African Hertzoggie surprise
You can also take your fill of strawberry ‘Bakewell tarts’; crunchies; sandwiched meringue kisses; brownie bites; mini black forest cakes; while the chocolate-coffee Yule log cake is so fresh and light that the rippled icing top melts away as you lift a slice.
A taste of the non-traditional
If tradition is your thing, there are stacks of fresh scones to dress with preserves, cheddar cheese and whipped cream, but Taj Cape Town has taken things up a notch by offering such festive season musts as marshmallow snowmen and berry trifle cups.
We also noted a taste of India, incorporated in the burfi, which softens the sweetness of the traditional tea.
As we sipped the last dregs of tea we were presented with finger bowls of hot water and lemon to wash away the last of the sticky treats – the perfect way to get into the mood for Christmas and the festive season ahead.
*Leigh Andrews was a guest of The Taj Cape Town and Wired Communications. Click here to download the full Taj Cape Town festive season brochure, which includes the festive afternoon tea as well as a Christmas Eve dinner buffet and Christmas Day lunch buffet at Mint Restaurant and Terrace, or plated set menu dinner on both days at Bombay Brasserie. Taking place in The Lobby Lounge and Bar from 2pm – 6pm on 21, 22, 28 and 29 December, the afternoon tea costs R295 per person and includes either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic welcome drink as well as a selection of teas and coffee. Mint restaurant will also offer an à la carte menu for New Year’s Eve, with the Reserve will host a dinner dance buffet, with live entertainment filling the hotel throughout these special occasions this festive season. Bookings for all days are essential, so call 021 8192000 or email to secure your seat. You can also follow The Taj Cape Town on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.
Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.
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