Traditional Afternoon Tea @ The Palace Tea Room, QVB

afternoon tea palace

The Palace Tea Room is a wonderful Victorian experience in the heart of Queen Victoria Building (QVB). The gilded gold chandeliers and mirrors, the delightful period décor and the impeccable service all makes this an afternoon tea to remember. Oh, and they also have a separate drinks menu with *over 30 different kinds of tea*!

the palace tea room

I was quite chuffed when I heard that we’ll be having afternoon tea here. Contrary to my image, I do like the occasional dainty finger sandwich and I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Palace Tea Room. They only use Royal Albert – 100 Years of Royal Albert, 1950s Festival and Wedgwood Harlequin fine bone china!

tea room

The décor is meant to awe but the friendly service makes this feel like you’ve gone back to the Victorian era and you’re having tea in your own drawing room with friends, which the wait staff pulls off with aplomb. The picturesque scene of quiet congregation (everyone seems to talk in whispers here, I felt the same urge) was only broken with the oohs and aah of satisfaction with their afternoon tea offering.

palace waiters

You can choose a Devonshire Tea (AUD 20) if you’re not particularly hungry or go for the full experience of The Palace Traditional Afternoon Tea (AUD 38). I highly recommend the latter, it comes with a fully loaded 3-tier platter of dainty delights!

tea menu

I asked the waitress for a recommendation, since I couldn’t decide after browsing through six (6) full pages of tea. She suggested the Paris Vanilla Tea, which is one of the more popular offerings but I noticed something called Indulge Chocolate Tea and asked her about it. She couldn’t decide between the two either, since both are good in their own way, so I asked what she would order if she were in my place – and Indulge Chocolate Tea it was!

indulge chocolate tea

I was very happy with my choice of tea. It’s indulgent, smooth and rich. The menu describes it as “wicked” and I very much agree. You can smell the chocolate when the tea is steeping and everyone wanted a cup of my choice (each order of tea comes in a pot). It has strong highlights and afternotes of chocolate, which I found delectable. The Indulge Chocolate Tea is an extravagant choice that you won’t regret (but everyone else will, and want a sip of yours).

wedgwood harlequin china

The manager personally came out and explained each of the beautiful creations on the 3-tiered fine china platter (each edge is gilded with *real gold* banding and highlights – from the teapot spout to the plates) – there’s scones, crab coronets and crust-less finger sandwiches on the bottom tier and the first two tiers are filled with sweet cakes and pastries.

traditional afternoon tea

I loved the cone shaped crab coronet – it was so tasty I wish it didn’t disappear in a bite. There are three kinds of finger sandwiches too – egg salad on white bread, tuna on brown bread and Chicken Caesar sandwiches on brown bread. There’s also a tiny morsel which looks like two biscuits sandwiching a salmon roe paste – it turns out to be a little cheese shortbread sandwich filled with creamy red capsicum mousse. It was my favorite bit from the savory offerings at the bottom tier.

finger sandwiches coronet

I absolutely loved the scones and demolished them with hearty helpings of clotted cream and raspberry jam (since no one else wanted them). There are two scones – one plain and one filled with fruit. The blowtorch finished mini lemon meringue tart and tiny vanilla cupcakes topped with lemon sour cream are delicious! I think the only bit that let me down was the coconut macaron since Adriano Zumbo Patissier is just downstairs.

macaroons scones

However, the chocolate macaroon (with double o’s) dusted with toasted coconut and filled with a sweet passionfruit filling was spot on. I also liked the lamington (it’s an Australian cake) but the most wonderful item on the platter is a marvellous creation of white chocolate, raspberry and basil (!!!) mousse layered sponge cake.

palace me

The flavors works so well together and it’s just too bad that there’s only one (1) of some items in this 2-person sharing platter so you’ll have to cut a tiny pastry into half. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful experience and if you appreciate the subtleties of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that all their teas are proprietary house blends. The owner told us they’re always so full that reservations is a must and also divulged that they’re bidding to buy over the opposite establishment so they can renovate it and take it over, which says everything about how popular The Palace Tea Room in QVB is.

the queens letter

Interesting tip: There’s a sealed letter from Queen Elizabeth II in QVB (Queen Victoria Building) which was written by Her Majesty in 1986 to be opened 100 years in the future in 2085 by the Lord Mayor of Sydney at that time and read aloud to the People of Sydney. It’s at the top floor and worth a detour before you head for afternoon tea, even if you can’t read the contents of the letter. I just love the idea.

queen victoria building

The Palace Tea Room
Shop L1 20-22, Level 1,
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

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29 thoughts on “Traditional Afternoon Tea @ The Palace Tea Room, QVB”

    • It’s actually a very reasonable price! :)

      It’s quite cheap even – AUD 38 is cheap by Sydney standards and even when converted, it’s cheap over here. RM 115 is what the higher end hotels charge for high tea anyway, I remember even back in my hometown and this was 20 years ago, it’ll be already RM 75 per head for high tea (in the 90’s!).

      I know some mid range cafes in KL and PJ charging about RM 140++ for the same amount of food but only one (1) shared pot of tea between two people here especially the ones in Bangsar. There used to be a quite popular cafe in BVII which had a RM 200++ high tea for 2 pax which works out to be the same price but with low quality food compared to Sydney.

      All the pastries and scones and even the tea I had was excellant, and worth it. I think Ye Olde Smokehouse charges the same price (around RM 30) for just the Devonshire tea (scones and tea) and not the full afternoon tea.

      I highly recommend The Palace Tea Room if you’re in Sydney, it’s quite good, the only letdown was the macaron and that’s coz Adriano Zumbo has an outlet at QVB too. Haha.

  1. I love everything there from the yummy food and interior settings to the matching China sets! You certainly know how to eat and live like a royalty! I am amazed how you knew all the names of all the cakes and pastries! You must be born with a silver spoon and learnt your ABCs from the dining table. Oh my Lord HB!

    • You can know all the names of the cakes and pastries if you’re not afraid to ask too! :)

      The owner came out to speak to us and asked us if everything is okay and I asked him what everything was, although one of the waitress already told me I didn’t remember everything since I was wondering how they made the crab coronet with the alfafa sprouts coming out of the cone when she described it

      I always ask if I don’t know, that’s the only way to learn. When we had our 2 Michelin star meal in France, everything was written in French and I asked the waitress to translate every single item from the menu into English and to describe it so we can make an informed order, which was very kind of her.

      No la, my parents were both in education, with so many timber tycoon in Sibu, mine was more like a aluminium spoon. Haha!

      I did work as a waiter part time when I was in Australia though.

  2. Oooooo….I love traditional English teas, so dainty, so classy. Gosh!!! I super-love their crockery, such fine China, so so so beautiful. I don’t need all those cakes, and I’m not fond of lamingtons either – just the scones with clotted cream and fruit jam, buttery fragrant and crumbly. Yum! Yum!!!

    • Yeah, those are REALLY expensive china! :)

      They use Wedgwood Harlequin and Royal Albert 1950s Festival china only and it all adds to the ambience. The plates are heavy and banded with real gold. Even the teapot spout has gold banding on it! It’s the little touches that matters, which is very much lacking in the local KL afternoon tea spots.

      I’m sure you’ll agree as you mentioned something about the importance of fresh flowers to me a couple of times. Haha! I feel the same too, for the entire experience, it has to be luxury all the way (at least for places like this).

      It’s the reason Michelin star restaurants have expensive pressed white linen tableclothes and tableware too.

      You’ll love their Devonshire Tea then! It’s AUD 20 for the scones and tea (which retails for AUD 6.50 per pot separately). I thought an additional AUD 18 for The Palace Traditional Afternoon Tea with other cakes and savory creations was worth the price too, but you can just order the Devonshire Tea e.g. scones, clotted cream and seedless raspberry jam and a pot of your choice of tea.

      • Ahhhhh yes!!! First time I tried it, I was in Devon, UK. English cream tea, they called it but had a choice between tea or coffee. I’m all for coffee, of course. ;)

        • Nice! That’s a proper place to have Devonshire tea! :)

          I’ve had lots of nice afternoon English teas in Britain during my two backpacking trips a couple of years ago and I found them to be the best, right up there with France for afternoon tea.

          I’ve never had it in Devon though I’ve been there – went to a place called Brixham (not your usual tourist spot, the main street is mostly closed and the ones that are open are gaming and liquor off-licences). Brixham is in Devon, was hunting for a headshop there coz at that time “bath salts” was legal in UK but not in Amsterdam.

  3. HB, glad you went for tea for while in Singapore to visit my cousin and his wife enjoyed high noon tea there.
    So many hotels restaurants have it and great. I prefer Earl Grey and like it very strong. Back in San Francisco I like it in ice tea and see it refreshing.

    • Yeah, it seems like this English tradition is making the rounds eh? :)

      I’ve had a few afternoon teas and Devonshire teas here in KL but none had met my expectations since I’ve had better in Australia and Europe.

      Glad you enjoyed your high tea! It was quite the rage in the 90’s too, when I was a teenager.

  4. I love everything on that 3-tier platter.. I’ve seen many friends posted this on FB few months ago, I don’t know where’s the place, but it’s local la, here, in KL.. At one time, very “hing” la this 3-tier platter high tea thingy.. You really know how to enjoy good life & good food..

    • I’ve had high tea in KL too but none that met my expectations. :)

      Even the “premium” English afternoon tea / Devonshire tea places like Carcosa Seri Negara doesn’t really cut it, not to mention places like T42.

      A lot of places here don’t understand it’s about the entire experience – that’s what you’re paying for, and you can’t get that with shoddy tables in the middle of a mall walkway.

      You need *exceptional* service, great food and the right ambience coz you’re basically paying for the WHOLE experience and you can’t get the right experience if something is lacking e.g. a lot of places skimp and buy cheap flimsy and light china.

      The Palace Tea Room treats you like you’re back in the Victorian era – you get handed a fresh towel as soon as you sit down, and it’s little touches like that which matters.

      Haha! No la, I just don’t spend on clothes and other frivolous things. Material possessions don’t matter to me – my expenditures all go towards travel and food with my better half so the lifestyle you want is attainable by what you choose.

    • Hello Kathy! :)

      Yup, the letter from Queen Elizabeth II is actually SEALED and stored inside that glass display.

      What you see is just the envelope, but not the letter itself. It was written in 1986 and meant to be opened 100 years later by the Mayor of Sydney in 2085 and read aloud to the citizens of Sydney.

      It’s like a time travel capsule (or envelope, in this case).

      I love the idea – you can see the envelope containing the letter from the Queen, but the contents of the letter will not be known until 2085 when it is officially cracked open and read to everyone. Cool idea eh?

    • Yeah, the place certainly lives up to its name! :)

      Great array of teas too! I remember in 2003, T2 came along in Australia and the tea scene took off.

    • Yeah, I know right! :)

      I was downright impressed with the china too! It was all ultra premium and old, renowned names for fine bone china!

      I was a little apprehensive of breaking the teapot. Haha! I’m not *that* clumsy, I just knew how much the china costs and it made me wonder what would happen if people started breaking their wonderful china. I’m sure if you did it accidentally, nothing would come of it, but it’s still very fine china.

      It really makes a difference, all that splendid china being used for afternoon tea!

      Yeah, I love tea too! There was a trend in Melbourne in 2003 regarding tea but I never got on it coz I was more of a coffee person…but it even arrived in KL (saw a T2 pop-up last year). I have now amended the errors of my ways – I love a good tea myself!

  5. that’s a lot of items on each tier of the platter! looks and sounds like a deliciously indulgent tea session … by the way, at first i imagined that the crowded dining hall would be noisy with chatter, but it’s interesting to hear that it’s quiet and that everyone speaks softly … very cool :D

    • Yeah, I thought it would be a little loud too, since the place was packed! :)

      To our pleasant surprise, it was actually very quiet. I can still remember a couple sitting beside us coz they were behaving a little on the odd side – the guy just kept on using his dSLR and looking *into* the lens and taking photos while his wife posed.

      This was a couple well into their 70’s, if not 80’s and I quite liked how the husband still pays so much attention to his wife and he was doing this for almost the entire time we were there (about an hour or so) with not a single word that I heard.

    • Yeah, the chocolate tea is amazing! :)

      I would have thought chocolate tea would come out as a cross between hot chocolate and tea, which would be weird texture wise but it’s just tea…with a very STRONG taste of chocolate!

      I was very impressed by how they infused the taste and smell of chocolate into the tea while still keeping the tea as tea with no artificial flavorings (or else it’ll be too easy).

      This is all organic, no artificial flavorings, artisanal tea – The Palace Tea Room owns the proprietary blends and you can’t find it anywhere else.

      However, I bet many other places have their own artisanal blends of chocolate tea! It’s delicious and really worth a try if you see it around.

    • Nice! You had the Devonshire tea! :)

      Yeah, I thought it was nice of them to give two different scones – one plain and one filled with fruit. I personally liked the buttery plain one, which I positively smothered with clotted cream and ate it…well, plain, before moving on to the fruit and eating it with cream and raspberry jam.

      I thought their seedless raspberry jam was quite good too – too bad they don’t sell it. I was quite tempted to get some of the Indulge Chocolate Tea back but if I recall correctly, you could only buy it in sets of 3 teas e.g. Induge Set. I had bought heaps of groceries at Coles and Woolworths, got bread from an artisan bakery, got Toby’s Estate hot chocolate, and heaps of other random food items that I had to lug onboard an oversized “baggage” which contained the spoils and couldn’t fit any more inside.

      I was studying in Melbourne when the T2 stores took off (went to the Chadstone Mall one) which was a bit of a precursor to the purveyor’s tea now in demand in Australia. I was never one for tea but I love it now!

  6. Like having a tea party! Niceeee! That place reminds me of the Agnes Keith Tea House in Sandakan, well… a little far off, but English tea party nontheless. I wish we have one here in Kuching.

    • Cool! I never knew Sandakan has a place like that! :)

      Yeah, a Devonshire tea can be hard to find in Kuching, unless you want to go to a hotel, IIRC Hilton used to offer them occasionally, as does Somerset Gateway (if it’s still open).

      It’s not really good though – hotel fare.

    • Yeah, that’s some VERY expensive china! :)

      They only use the good quality china for service…and their chocolate indulge tea is out of this world! It’s tea…except it smells and has an aftertaste of chocolate!

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