By now everyone must know I am an absolute lover of high teas.
Not only is it a culinary journey of sweets, savouries and bubbles, it is an experience that often surprises and delights if you are a foodie like me.
Many years ago, during my SBS Food days, I was lucky to be introduced to a high tea aficionado, Michelle Milton, who had a vision to create a destination for all the high teas of the world to share the stories and tips of other fellow foodies.
Many years later, well almost 8 years, our paths crossed and I am now a reviewer for The High Tea Society, an online community for lovers of high tea with an audience of over 90k subscribers, fans and followers. And I have to say this is one of those dream tasks that I have to pinch myself every time I get a call for a new high tea to review. Here you can read my latest review of the Radisson Blu Plaza High Tea Sydney.
Now it was my turn to interview the wonderful lady who had interviewed so many chefs and hoteliers before me and delve deeper into her experiences, thoughts and dreams for The High Tea Society.
Tell us the High Tea Society story….
I started High Tea Society back in 2008. I loved going for high tea when I lived in London but when I moved to Melbourne I found it difficult to find good high tea venues. Blogging was become a thing back then so I started a little blog documenting my search for great high tea experiences.
Six months after publishing the blog I had a chance meeting with Aisha who at the time was the Editor of the SBS Food website at a digital media industry conference. As a result I was featured on the SBS Food website as a Featured Foodie – this article really was the launch of the website.
Today the website features high tea reviews from around the world directory, I have a team of ten contributors who do feature high tea reviews. The website also features a comprehensive High Tea Venue Directory. High Tea Society has been popular on social media and is about to pass 100,000 followers on social media and email subscription.
High Tea Society is a place where people can share their high tea experience – it’s not just my opinion or my contributors, but it’s a place the audience can share their own high tea experiences. People often go for high tea and tag in #highteasociety on Instagram and Facebook. I love this and I share the photos back for the whole audience to see.
What are the core ingredients to the perfect high tea?
I could talk all day about this – but essentially we would start with a glass of Champagne, a three tiered cake stand would feature a savoury items including delicate finger sandwiches, a selection of small cakes, and scones with jam and cream. A pot of tea would follow on from the Champagne and we would sit for hours talking about very important issues.
Any funny stories or experiences you would like to share?
I’ve had a chance to meet some wonderful people. A few years ago the late Lord Wedgwood was in Melbourne I had a chance to meet him and interviewed him for the website.
Where do you want to take the High Tea Society in the next couple of years?
I’ll be launching a new version of the website soon, as the Venue Directory is one of the most visited parts of the website, the directory will have a lot of new functionality. It will provide a better user experience and venues will have a chance to have premium experience in the form of a sponsored profile. The new website will also feature high tea recipes and interviews, and a lot more international content.
Has high tea changed since you started the site?
Absolutely, it’s grown in popularity over the past seven years. There are a lot more venues serving high tea so there is a lot more competition to be the best. High tea is important to a five star hotel as it brings in an aspirational clientele who may not be booking to stay in the hotel today but they may in the future. High tea offers a chance to experience the five star lifestyle – even just for a few hours.
Fashion is such a fabulous aspect of going to high tea – what are the high tea fashion accessory essentials?
It’s all about the dress. This is an occasion to get dressed up and wear a dress, with heels and your favourite handbag.
Favourite place for high tea around the world
I have some many favourite venues so I’d like to name a few. Most of my favourites are in London they ate: The Savoy, Fortnum & Mason and the Langham London. The Palm Court at the Langham London is the first hotel in the world to have commercially served afternoon tea back in 1865.
In the UK it’s referred to as afternoon tea, but outside of the UK both afternoon tea and high tea are used. Essentially it’s the same but in the UK it’s mostly a traditional experience in Australia there are a lot more modern and themed high tea menus.
5 things on your bucket list?
I’ve done a lot of travel but a few places I’d like to visit are: Reykjavík, Machu Picchu, Tokyo, Uluru and Santorini.
Bloggers, insta or websites that you look to for inspiration?
I follow Sarah Wilson’s @Iquitsugar as it features awesome healthy recipes but its also a great example of how a blog can turn into a successful digital publishing business.
5 items in your wardrobe you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my: denim jacket, black boots, a scarf, sunglasses and a black t-shirt.
And, of course, what’s your favourite Hills & West accessory and why?
I love the Morgan Business Folio from the Hills & West range. It’s just what I need to wrap up my laptop.
Thanks Michelle, I am very much looking forward to my next assignment 🙂
I looked up high tea in the Oxford Dictionary and the ‘British’ describe high tea as a meal eaten in the late afternoon or early evening typically consisting of a cooked dish, bread and butter and tea. Well I can tell you it has evolved a lot since then and is different in every country, even differs in every venue, so I would strongly encourage you to go to The High Tea Society website and find one near you. It will be an fabulous and fun experience.