Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world. – T’ien Yiheng
I am so behind on my blog posts, my last one was published on the 31st of October and time has just flown; the past few weeks have been pretty crazy with work, exams, Christmas parties and on top of everything an unplanned operation I had to go in for last week which kind of slowed me down for a few days but not entirely, to my ma’s dismay. I have an entire list of posts that I need to get up but as I am going away this afternoon I only have time to get to one last post for the year done. I have decided to share our experience at Rosemary Hill first. This place is unbelievable and should definitely be on your “places to see” list for 2013 and as indicated above there is no better way to retrieve some sanity and peace than indulging in some tea with the added bonus of a beautiful setting and delicious treats.
At some point in the day Wes uttered the following words, “I can only imagine your blog post on this monkey. I’ll have to buy you a server for Christmas!” – you have been warned 🙂
Rosemary Hill provides an authentic High Tea experience and from the minute we arrived on this beautiful farmland just East of Pretoria we knew the day would be an unforgettable one. Wes found the place whilst searching online for new mountain biking trails for us to try and suggested that for my 23rd birthday we should indulge in the High Tea, enjoy a cycle through the beautiful lands and then spend the night in one of their gorgeous rooms. Unfortunately they were fully booked that weekend to stay over but the rest of the day was magical and we will be going back and spending some more time there in the future.
My gran, ma, sis and her boyfriend joined us to celebrate my birthday on a perfect summer’s Saturday.
On arrival the loveliest hostess pointed us to our table which they had decorated in my colour choice of light blue and we all chose from the fun selection of hats on offer.
We then toasted in the best way possible with some champagne (oh sorry, sparkling wine for the connoisseurs) and enjoyed a fantastic variety of savoury treats.
We indulged in cucumber, cream cheese and mint sandwiches; biltong and Peppadew tartlets, whole grain bread cups with salmon and caper berries; and mini pancakes with chicken terrine.
They prepare all the food and drink using only fresh organic ingredients which they produce themselves on the farm and where this is not possible they source only the best from other places.
The flavours were exquisite!
I was most impressed with the gluten-free platter they had prepared for me. I could enjoy the exact same treats as everyone and at the same price, sometimes places over charge ridiculously for the gluten-free options and Rosemary Hill was so accommodating it was a pleasure.
We then went on a tour of this working organic farm. The family that runs this land has farmed for almost 35 years, have planted over 30 000 trees and shrubs, currently grow African Potato, Sutherlandia, Rosemary, Lavendar, Artemisia, Lippia, Spearmint, Eucalyptus and various other plants from which they distill essential oils. Other crops include pecan nuts and vegetables and the vast nursery sells all of this as well as a variety of these shrubs, flowers, herbs and trees.
They have recently built a maze which is 80m in diameter. It is beautiful and we took full advantage of this photo opportunity!
My ma noted numerous times that wedding photos at this venue would be unbelievable.
After our exploratory photo shoot we headed back to our table for some much need mint-lemon water and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Test tubes of tea was delivered to our table where we all spent some time smelling all the creative different flavours and struggling to pick which one we would like to try!
Choices included blueberry, vanilla peach Rooibos, mint chocolate chili, Vanilla chamomile, lemon mint and so many more. Each one more enticing than the next.
Another highlight of our day – the teapots! They are so clever.
There is a mechanism of some sort on the bottom of the pot and you gently place it on top of the tea-cup and the tea comes streaming out the bottom, a fun novelty for all of us 🙂
Here, again, the sweet treats surpassed all expectations. We kept noting how wonderful it is to pay for food and end up receiving so much more – an experience; superior flavours and textures, an ambience and exceptional service.
We enjoyed passion-fruit cheesecake served in espresso cups; rose-water glazed scones with cream and jam; homemade chocolate truffles (my favourite!); mini Pavlova’s topped with seasonal fruit; and traditional french Madeleines. Gluten-free alternatives of everything was prepared for me as well, I did not miss a thing which was the best part.
My mouth is watering in remembrance.
After a morning very well spent Wes and I got changed into our cycling gear and headed out on the farm’s newly built trails.
Photograph’s do not do this trail justice. There is no greater feeling in the world than cycling through endless Rosemary and Jasmine fields.
I have never been on a better smelling trail…
The trail is exceptionally well maintained with lots of bridges built over fences – all of which I cycled over! Tick!
Halfway through the 18km route, as we were starting to think it was going to be a beautiful but very chilled and flat cycle, we got to the technical section.
There is a steep drop and then you go head first into this little “haunted” ruin of a building with narrow passages to navigate.
As you exist the building on the other side it is quite eerie as we could hear animals howling, chickens cuckooing and the sound of wood being chopped. (Dexter?) and it took a while for our eyes to adjust as we were suddenly out of the harsh sunlight and in a dark dense forest!
Our favourite part of this trail was most definitely the floating bridge!
It is such a strange feeling to be cycling on something that is moving and almost disappearing underneath your tyres.
Next time (there will definitely be a next time) we will be doing the cycle first and then the High Tea. Apparently champagne and little bites of deliciousness and empty calories is not the food of champions! We suffered and if anyone had to see us cycle this trail they would not believe we successfully completed the 55km 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge the week before. I will leave it at that.
I definitely recommend a visit here to anyone who enjoys a stunning venue and even better food (is there anyone in the world who doesn’t?). The High Tea is perfect for a Kitchen Tea, birthday party or for spoiling your ma on Mother’s day or the like. There are also various spots for a wedding (the barn, hothouse, packhouse, big outside bonfire area under the stars…) The shorter MTB trail is also a walking trail so no need for a bike, you just need your two feet to be able to explore some unparalleled beauty right on our doorstep. Well, if you’re from Johannesburg or Pretoria anyway. If you’re from further away, it is worth the travel time. I have inserted many links back to their website throughout this post but for if you missed it, because I would hate for you to miss going to Rosemary Hill, visit the website here.
As we, and I am sure most people this time of the year, feel like this…
…we are off to my aunt’s farm in the Free State for Christmas with my family and some much-needed rest and rejuvenation (and lots of farm food!) followed by a few days in Margate with Wes’s parents and brother. Some sun, sea and sand. I honestly cannot wait to get into the car and start our trip.
Travel safe to everyone that is, enjoy this festive time with friends and family and I will try get up to date with my posts in the new year. For now, daiquiris await 🙂Click on images to view larger versions.