The Duchess of Bedford was hungry, fatigue was beginning to overtake her. How much longer until the servants bring dinner? Too long, she thought.
So she invited her friends to join her for tea and assorted snacks.
On the silver platters there were bread and butter sandwiches and small cakes. How scrumptious, the ladies of high society all thought. Soon her friends all began to copy her and viola, high tea was born.
This was England in the late 1770s.
Fast forward to Australia in 2011 and here I am nibbling on contemporary high tea at Sydney's luxurious Sheraton on the Park hotel.
In place of the Duchess' bread and butter sandwiches I have: tomato and goats cheese panzanella; capsicum and olive bruschetta; prosciutto, pear and endive salad; and deep sea scallop with green tea jelly.
Instead of the small cakes there is: boysenberry tartlet with crumble; baklava with assorted nuts and honey; cappuccino mousse and biscotti; and waffles and raspberries with honey yoghurt.
What would the Dutchess think of these top 20 dining rooms to take tea and cakes in Australia (as nominated by AAP journalists)?
The Hotel Windsor, Melbourne
The Hotel Windsor is unquestionable the place to have traditional afternoon tea in Melbourne. It has been serving a three-tiered cake stand of dainties since 1883. Book weeks ahead for the weekend spots.
Where: The Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street. (03 9633 6004; www.thehotelwindsor.com.au)
How much: Afternoon Tea $59 per person on weekdays, $79 per person on weekends (includes a dessert buffet).
Hyatt Hotel, Canberra
The beautiful and historic Hyatt Hotel in Canberra does a lovely traditional high tea. You need to book weeks in advance to get a weekend spot.
Where: Commonwealth Avenue. (02 6269 8815; www.canberra.park.hyatt.com)
How much: Afternoon Tea is $44 per person.
The Tea Room, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney
Afternoon tea here is served on authentic British three-tiered silver stands with Royal Albert China.
Located in what was once the original Grand Ballroom of Sydney's landmark Queen Victoria Building, this has to be one of the most beautiful places to have afternoon tea in Sydney.
Where: Level 3, North End, QVB, 455 George Street. (02 9283 7279; www.thetearoom.com.au)
How much: Traditional Afternoon Tea $37 per person on weekdays, $41 per person weekends. They also serve a gluten free afternoon tea.
The Tea Room, Gunners' Barracks, Sydney
The tea room at the charming Gunners' Barracks is run by the same team that created the sophisticated QVB tea room.
The view of Sydney Harbour from this tea room is magnificent.
Where: Suakin Drive, Georges Heights. (02 8962 5900; www.thetearoom.com.au)
How much: Traditional Afternoon Tea $40 per person on weekdays (weekend pricing available on request). They also serve a gluten free afternoon tea.
Stamford Plaza, Brisbane
The Stamford is a popular place for high tea in Brisbane, especially for brides-to-be.
This classy hotel also serves a chocolate high tea on weekends. Book ahead for the weekend spots.
Where: Corner Edward and Margaret Streets. (07 3221 1999; www.stamford.com.au)
How much: Traditional High Tea is not available until May 3. Chocolate High Tea is $42 per person (weekends only).
Tranby House (Peninsula Farm), Perth
Tranby House in Maylands on the Swan River is very popular for high-tea goers. It has lovely scones and delightful petit fours. Bookings are recommended.
Where: Johnson Road, Maylands. (08 9272 8894; www.peninsulateagardens.com)
How much: Parisian Afternoon Tea $38 per person, Peninsula Tea $19 per person. (Tuesdays to Sundays)
Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast
Luxury hotel Palazzo Versace does a sensational afternoon tea served in Le Jardin lobby bar. It includes fresh finger sandwiches, scones, jam and whipped cream and an assortment of "couture cakes".
Where: Sea World Drive, Main Beach. (07 5509 8000; www.palazzoversace.com.au)
How much: High Tea Splendour $35 per person.
Sandbar, Skycity, Darwin
Sandbar does a delicious traditional high tea and a high tea with a twist, which includes a selection of bite-sized treats accompanied by teapot cocktails served in gorgeous glass pots.
Where: Gilruth Avenue, Mindil Beach. (08 8943 8940; www.skycitydarwin.com.au)
How much: Traditional Tea $35 per person, Tea with a Twist $45 per person (bookings essential)
Sheraton on the Park, Sydney
This five-star hotel sits opposite Hyde Park, a tree-lined oasis in the heart of Sydney.
Sink into the large, comfortable chairs at the Sheraton and nibble away at a traditional high tea stand or a contemporary stand.
Where: 161 Elizabeth Street. (02 9286 6000; www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton)
How much: Afternoon Tea $40 per person. Contemporary Afternoon Tea $49 per person (only on weekends).
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Sydney
The Sofitel's Wentworth Afternoon Tea features a full range of sweet and savoury treats. It includes the Wentworth's signature cheesecake - resurrected from an original recipe created around the time the Wentworth opened as Sydney's very first five star hotel in 1966.
Where: 61-101 Phillip Street (02 9228 9179; www.sofitelsydney.com.au)
How much: Wentworth Afternoon Tea is $49 per person.
The Observatory Hotel, Sydney
Relax in comfortable leather armchairs or plush velvet sofas and munch on a selection of cucumber sandwiches, scones with freshly prepared jam and clotted cream and plenty of little cakes.
Where: 89-113 Kent Street. (02 8248 5252; www.observatoryhotel.com.au)
How much: Afternoon Tea is $49 per person.
The Victoria Room, Sydney
On Saturdays and Sundays the ladies and gentlemen of Darlinghurst gather for a nibble and a tipple at The Victoria Room.
Where: Level 1, 235 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst. (02 9357 4488; www.thevictoriaroom.com)
How much: Classic High Tea is $45.00 per person.
The Carrington, Blue Mountains
On Sundays The Carrington turns on its Grand High Tea, which includes gourmet sandwiches, little cakes and even a mini croquembouche. A pianist plays some soothing sounds while you sip and nibble.
Where: 15-47 Katoomba Street, Katoomba. (02 4782 1111; www.thecarrington.com.au)
How much: Grand High Tea is $32.00 per person.
Bygone Beautys Tearooms, Blue Mountains
These unusual tearooms in Leura must have one of the largest collection of tea pots in the region.
The high tea is brought out on a trolley by a waiter in tails and a top hat.
Where: Corner of Grose and Megalong Streets, Leura. (02 4784 3117l; www.bygonebeautys.com.au)
How much: Traditional Tea for Two $57.50 (for two people)
The Langham, Melbourne
The Langham serves a traditional afternoon tea and a scrumptious chocolate indulgence afternoon tea, which includes a selection of delectable chocolate treats.
Where: 1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank. (03 8696 8888; www.langhamhotel.com)
How much: Tiffin Afternoon Tea $39 per person, Chocolate Indulgence Afternoon Tea $43 per person.
Homestead Cafe, Hall, outside Canberra
The Homestead Cafe serves a delicious high tea. During a recent visit the lady who owns and runs the Homestead Cafe, Robyn, didn't have any bread for finger sandwiches but whipped up mini wraps instead. Also on the stand were hot savories, scones with jam and cream, homemade brownies and petit fours.
Where: 214 Gooromon Ponds Road, Hall. (02 6230 2349; www.homesteadcafe.com.au)
How much: Homestead High Tea is $32 per person (bookings are essential).
Boho Bar, Adelaide
Boho does amazing high tea on Saturdays, with specialty tea, sandwiches, scones and sweet treats, which consist of homemade shortbread, hand rolled chocolate truffles, mini vanilla cupcakes and classic lemon tartlets.
Where: 27 Unley Road, Parkside. (08 8271 5544; www.bohobar.com.au)
How much: High Tea $35 per person
Joseph Alexanders, Brisbane
Joseph Alexanders overlooking the Brisbane River in a stunning heritage listed terrace house does a delightful high tea.
Where: Corner of Park Rd and Coronation Drive, Milton. (07 3368 1200; www.josephalexanders.com)
How much: High Tea $35 per person (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays)
Parliament House, Brisbane
On the first Friday of the month a high tea is served in the Stranger's Dining Room at Queensland Parliament House.
The selection of delicacies are prepared by the Parliament's resident chefs. Guests at all of the high tea functions will be offered a special guided tour of the Parliament. Bookings are essential.
Where: Corner of George and Alice Streets. (07 3406 7381; www.parliament.qld.gov.au click on "visitors")
How much: Traditional High Tea $39 per person. Special High Tea $45 per person (includes a glass of sparkling wine).
Wrest Point, Hobart
Every Friday you can watch the world go round as you sit in the Point Revolving Restaurant indulging in the scrumptious treats of Wrest Point hotel's afternoon tea.
The revolving 17th floor offers views of the city, the waterfront and Mt Wellington. Bookings are essential.
Where: 410 Sandy Bay Road, Sandy Bay (03 6221 1700; www.wrestpoint.com.au)
How much: Afternoon Tea is $29.50 per person.