The High Tea Society Celebrates 10 Years at the Rialto

Eat / December 11, 2018

The High Tea Society celebrates 10 years of sharing the world’s best-kept high tea secrets with a sweet and savoury degustation dedicated to The Clarke Sisters who were known for their lavish high teas at the Rialto

Back in 2008, the High Tea Society was born out of a demand for finding quality high tea experiences in Australia. Following five years in London where a plethora of high teas can be found, Michelle Milton felt Australia’s offering fell short, and so began the High Tea Society.

The High Tea Society chose to celebrate the occasion with high tea at the InterContinental Melbourne the Rialto, where the experience is hosted in the sunlit Alluvial atrium. Here, the InterContinental pays homage to the Clarke sisters, who enjoyed going for luxurious afternoon teas together back in the 1800s. Through the untimely passing of Emma Clarke, her husband Patrick McCaughan went on to marry sister Margaret Clarke. Since the original Rialto building was commissioned by McCaughan, the Clarke Sisters’ Tea Party is now dedicated to the sisters.

Intercontinental Melbourne the Rialto, high tea in the Alluvial atrium

The tea takes the form of both a sweet and savoury degustation served on beautiful Noritake China, enticing not simply those with a sweet tooth to enjoy a luxurious lunch of decadent sandwiches and a main course with meat and vegetarian options. This transcends into afternoon tea with buttermilk scones and concludes with the famous Rialto Precinct Dessert Trolley.

Intercontinental High Tea setting

Before starting, we’re treated to a deconstructed Champagne cocktail that we craft ourselves under direction from our host. Adding bitters to a sugar cube and whisky from a miniature stoppered bottle to our champagne glass, this is topped up with Perrier-Jouët Champagne for an effervescent Old Fashioned.

Morton Bay bugs on black miniature brioche buns sit strikingly next to miniature bagels layered with cream cheese, salmon and capers. Open face cucumber sandwiches and a rare roast beef finger sandwich take the second tier, but it’s the duck liver pate en croute with caramelised onion and rocket that takes the cake.

High Tea Society Deconstructed Cocktail Rialto

After two hours of a lavish lunch, the finale has arrived: the Rialto’s dessert trolley encompassing the crème de la crème of its surrounding precinct. From Vue de Monde is its celebrated lamington, the last dish in its 16-course degustation; from Le Petit Gateau a the delicious lemon tart and pear tart; and sat alongside are delights by Merchant Osteria Venice: an indulgent flourless chocolate cake (GF) and delectable baked white chocolate cheesecake. You simply cannot go past Merchant Osteria Venice’s baked cheesecake.

High Tea Society Rialto Precinct Dessert Trolley

The sun drenched Alluvial atrium couldn’t be a more elegant venue to mark the 10-year anniversary for the High Tea Society. Hunting down quality high tea destinations around the world, the High Tea Society reviews and shares afternoon tea experiences to ensure readers can find the world’s best-kept high tea secrets, which you can search for with its venue directory on the website.

The Clarke Sisters’ Tea Party is offered on Saturdays and Sundays over two hours with the session times 12:30pm, 1.00pm, 1.30pm, 2.00pm, 2.30pm and 3.00pm. I highly recommend it!

If you’d like to keep the convivial gathering going after high tea, try one of these rooftop bars for cocktails and views

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