Eryldene and tea are synonymous. The tea bush Camellia sinensis is part of the camellia family and one of the many camellias growing at Eryldene. Look for it near the pigeon house, a small creamy flower usually open in May/June.
Mrs Janet Waterhouse, the mistress of Eryldene from 1914 until her death in 1973, like most housewives of that period, was hostess to innumerable afternoon teas. She gave teas for friends and neighbours, visiting dignitaries and academics from around the world and governors of NSW.
Tea was purchased from Lloyd's the Tea and Coffee Merchants in the Strand Arcade and the youngest of the four Waterhouse boys, the late Professor Ian Waterhouse, remembered sometimes being asked to purchase it on his way home from university. The tea was probably stored in one of the two early 19th century tea chests still at Eryldene.
Formal teas were served in the sitting room from the white painted pine tray mobile still in the servery at Eryldene. Teaspoons and cake forks were kept in the drawer, and fine china and linen or cotton tea napkins were used.
On these occasions Mrs Waterhouse offered a choice of Indian or Chinese tea, served in separate silver teapots. There was also a padded tea cosy of fine polished cotton in a Chinoiserie pattern. Her own particular afternoon tea recipes such as toasted rosemary sandwiches, All Bran muffins, raspberry slice and tangy passion fruit sponge, are still remembered.
Eryldene continues the tradition of inviting guests to afternoon tea on the second Sunday of every month from April until September. Fine linen and china are used, sandwiches and cakes are home cooked, and the menu often includes one of Mrs. Waterhouse's favourite recipes.
In Australia, Mothers Day is celebrated in May of each year. To help both members and visitors give their mothers, family members and guests a real treat we offer a traditional high tea. These are presented in a style that reflects the more relaxed lifestyle of the early 20th century with table linen, fine china and home made delicacies. They are typical of the teas served by Mrs Janet Waterhouse when she was the mistress of Eryldene.
Bookings for the high teas are essential on the weekends when the house and gardens are open and especially for the teas served on the Mothers Day weekend.
You can download the booking form in PDF format here.
Do come to tea.