High Tea in the Swan Valley
by Savour The Moment
Cottage Tea Rooms, Henley Brook
I haven’t been to many high teas before, but I knew I had to have one on a sunny Saturday afternoon for my birthday. Cottage Tea Rooms had been on my wish list for a while now, so I made a booking the week before, with a compulsory $35 deposit to secure the booking.
Here’s a little story. My siblings and I had a discussion once about, if you had to only have two meals a day, which two would you have? I chose brunch and dinner, as breakfast I could go without for an hour or so. After all, that’s just how it used to be like centuries ago. Cottage Tea Rooms explains the origin of high tea well on their website. Back in the day, people would have brunch and a late dinner (due to the men working until late) and understandably, the women would get hungry. Because of their hunger pangs, they invited their friends to come over and have some assorted snacks with tea. ‘Afternoon tea’ or ‘high tea’ as we now call it, was born.
Cottage Tea Rooms is off the main road in Henley Brook, surrounded by lush green trees and vines. The house is a 1950’s cottage that reminds me of my grandparents’ vintage house. As soon as we walked in, I felt like we had entered into someone’s house. Some call it clutter, but there were many hallway tables with little trinkets for your home for sale. We continued to walk on through, excepting someone to have welcomed us. We walked into what seemed to be the kitchen and a few of the staff were there.
After I told them I had a booking at 2pm for high tea, they led us to a table by a sunny window, in a room that may have been the living room back in the day. There were even more things for sale on the wall and the shelf. The somewhat awkward lady at first asked us if we preferred English Breakfast or French Earl Grey tea. I always love a good English Breakfast, so I gladly accepted it. My boyfriend has never had tea before and decided to have a cuppa. Even if he didn’t like it, he could get a bottled drink that they had.
Our tea came out and so did our tier of food and scones! It doesn’t seem like much in the photo, but this was all $35 per head (for weekends). Admittedly, we were pretty full already from my birthday brunch with my family. We tried to make as much room as we could in our stomachs and I must admit, we did pretty well in the end, but we were so stuffed by the end of the high tea.
First and foremost, the English Breakfast tea was piping hot and it tasted nice. The tea cut through all the food and the sweetness. I have learnt to have no sugar in my teas now (maybe one teaspoon once in a while – I used to always have two) and I like mine black. It was perfect to have with the assorted treats we got. My boyfriend, not a tea drinker, surprisingly liked the taste. However, the thing I dislike the most about tea, is the more you drink from the pot, the way more stronger it gets. We didn’t get a refill as we were too full at the end, but it just got waaay too strong for me.
Truthfully, we should’ve ate the scones first. The scones were the first to come at the table, but we decided to leave it closer to the end and that was our mistake. I’m positive that they would’ve tasted better when they had just arrived at the table, but by the time we got to them, the cranberry and almond scones were hard. It was still edible and nice, but just a little bit dry. The other scones were plain versions and they were deliciously soft. The scones came with wild strawberry jam, lemon curd and cream, which were delicious. The lemon curd (curd is one of my absolute favourite things in the world) was freaking delicious and so good to have with the scones. The jam was soft and smeared so well on the scone. Oh scones, how I love you!
The sandwiches were presented as little, bite sized pieces with two pieces per sandwich flavour for each person. The different flavours included avocado and sundried tomatoes, curried egg and baby spinach, cucumber and cream cheese and ham and sweet mustard. To be honest, these sandwiches weren’t that special. My favourite sandwiches were the cucumber and cream cheese ones, which had a generous amount of cream cheese. The curried egg and baby spinach were average and wasn’t too significantly great (then again, I am not a huge fan of the curry flavour). The avocado and sundried tomatoes were an interesting ingredient choice, but it was still average. The ham and sweet mustard were standard sandwiches. My boyfriend didn’t particularly like the sandwiches and thought they were all average and could be easily done at home.
Just on the other side of the sandwiches were the assorted hot food, which included creamy mushroom quiches, spinach and cheese risotto balls, asparagus and ricotta quiches and sausage rolls. We ate these first out of all of them, as they we didn’t want them to get cold quickly. The creamy mushroom quiche was OK, though not very creamy as it claimed to be. The asparagus quiche tasted a little burnt and used the same pastry as the mushroom quiche. It left a weird aftertaste. The pastry was dry and a little unpalatable. The risotto balls were hollow inside – was that normal? I was expecting rice to spill out, but it was literally hollow. Apart from that, it was OK (though nothing special) and kind of bland and oily. The sausage rolls on the other hand were cute, small rolls but also dry inside. By now I was thinking whether I was being too harsh, or if it was just an off day.
Then it was time for sweets! Now this looked promising and it didn’t disappoint. This tier included raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, lemon meringue tart and ginger slice. The cheesecake – oh my god, to die for! I was so full though. I’m a huge fan of cheesecake and I know that other cheesecake lovers would enjoy this too. The cheesecake looked so pretty and I felt bad for biting into it, but that feeling completely disappeared once I ate it. It was sweet and had that cheesecake taste to it. The pastry was somewhat similar to its savoury counterpart on the bottom tier, but worked out to taste much better with the sweets.
The meringue tart was delicious. It had a melt-in-your-mouth meringue, which was lightly toasted on top. The delicious lemon curd was underneath the meringue, which I was happy about. I’m not a huge fan of ginger, so I didn’t have all of my ginger slice, though my boyfriend was more than happy to finish the rest of it off. The ginger slice was apparently from New Zealand and made by one of the Kiwi staff members. They were happy to hear that my boyfriend wanted more, more and more. It was of course, sweet, sticky and chewy.
These macarons were teasing me throughout our high tea. For the price that we were paying, they only had one of two flavours. Couldn’t they have given us two of each? I had also noticed that the blue macaron had different sized biscuits, which was quite odd. Nevertheless, the macarons were delicious. Both macarons were soft and crispy once you bit into it. I’ve had better macarons before with better and more unique fillings and these were your average flavoured ones. There were also chocolates on the plate, but we ended up taking them home as we were way too full.
There was outdoor seating in the sun and shade if you wanted a bit of fresh air with your high tea. It was beautiful outside and it would’ve been so nice to sit outdoors. The service got better at the end of our high tea and we had a conversation with the staff. I’m quite positive that we came to Cottage Tea Rooms on a bad day. Cottage Tea Rooms has a rather high Urbanspoon rating – though I shouldn’t really rely on their percentage, it has a high rating with consistent reviews. I was more confused than anything. I wanted to really like Cottage Tea Rooms, but honestly, there was none of that special appeal that entices people to come. Actually, that’s a bit of a generalisation. There was nothing too special about the food that would make me want to come back and I felt there was no special touch with their food. The food could be made at home and I could get better and more interesting teas at T2. I was really disappointed and I really did want to like Cottage Tea Rooms. Despite this, the desserts made up for the disappointing savouries.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Address: 8560 West Swan Road, Henley Brook WA 6055
- Open six days a week Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am until 5pm.
- Cottage Tea Rooms don’t only serve high tea – they also serve scones, sandwiches, cakes and more.
- The high tea must be booked in advance for at least 2 days. It costs $30 on weekdays and $35 on weekends. All bookings incur a $30/$35 deposit.