If you are travelling anywhere around the Central Plateau, in the North Island of New Zealand, call into the magnificent Chateau Tongariro Hotel for high tea.
I’ve just had a delightful experience with my mother in the Ruapheu Lounge, which for want of a better description is the hotel’s living room. It’s a welcoming and outstanding room of generous proportions. The grandeur of the room comes from its many adornments including chandeliers with balloons of cloth, a grand piano and a roaring fire.
High tea is served daily from 11am through till 5pm and I can guarantee you won’t be left hungry.
An artisan menu of specialist teas from Harney and Sons will have you dilly-dallying and incapable of making a decision.
I eventually settled for the Earl Grey Supreme but it was by no means what I drink at home. With silver tips and tantalising oil of bergamot orange and floral tones, it was a sensational brew. You will be pleased to know these handcrafted tea blends are served at Claridges and The Dorchester, which brings me to how High Tea originally started but more on that later.
The tea is served in colourful and fun china, not Wedgewood but Maxwell & William, but what the hell – it looks good.
When the three tier platter of mouth-watering food arrived, we couldn’t wait to start.
Smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches were followed by egg and micro greens, light scones with cream and jam and an array of sweet treats including a generous mini-cup of cream caramel.
A setting hard to beat, the Chateau Tongariro Hotel built in the 1930’s is now a category one historic building. It was styled on the Canadian Resort in Lake Louise to offer overseas tourists an international standard of accommodation.
The Fletcher Construction Company undertook the contract for $78,000 pounds and started work in 1929.
How High Tea began
One of Queen Victoria’s (1819-1901) ladies in waiting, known as the Duchess of Bedford suffered from a ‘sinking feeling’ in the afternoon as the noon meal had become skimpier. The Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few breadstuffs. She began inviting friends and on returning to London, sent cards inviting friends. And so the practice of afternoon tea began.