Tea-rrific Spots to Enjoy Tea – Tea at the Empress

Tea-rrific Spots to Enjoy Tea – Tea at the Empress

Spending an afternoon at the Empress for tea

There is no question that afternoon tea is in style, and it has certainly evolved significantly over the last 200 years.  Culinary chefs these days express their own creative flair and are continually adding new twists to this indulgent British tradition.  Mind you, there are a few tea etiquette rules that still exist and can be fun to follow should you choose. Eat sandwiches first and with fingers, not with the cutlery.  Warm scones should be enjoyed next, and proper etiquette advises that these should be broken in two by hand, not with a knife. 

Afternoon tea was introduced in England in 1840 by Anne, the seventh Duchess of Bedford.  It is said that the Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, so the Duchess began asking that a tray of tea, bread, and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers, and she soon began inviting friends to join her for this ritual.  

Tea quickly became a stylish social event, and, during the 1880s, upper class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves, and hats for their afternoon tea which was served in the drawing-room between four and five o’clock, complete with silver teapots, fine linens, elegant teacups, and world-renowned teas.  

Today, traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and preserves, as well as an assortment of cakes and pastries.  

Join me as I sample some of Victoria’s wonderful tea venues.  Should my pinky finger be up when drinking tea?  Actually, no.  The correct way to hold your teacup is by making your thumb and index finger meet in the handle.  No pinky extending required!

Photo T. Drake

Tea at the Empress

Our first stop is the iconic Tea at the Empress.  Grab your fascinator and gloves if you wish.  This experience from start to finish will not disappoint.

Tea at the Empress has been as they say, “hot and steamy since 1908” when the hotel first opened.  A grand tradition for over a century, the world renowned-Fairmont Empress has served England’s most beloved ritual of afternoon tea to famed royalty, celebrities, and dignitaries alike. Afternoon tea is elegantly served in the timeless Lobby Lounge overlooking the beautiful Inner Harbor and provides live classical piano accompaniment. Tea at the Empress is a bucket list item for both locals and visitors to the city.  During the summer months, the hotel serves afternoon tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England. The Empress offers 21 different teas showcasing varieties from all major growing areas around the world.

Indulge in delicate sandwiches including smoked pacific sockeye salmon, roasted Alberta beef striploin, coronation chicken salad, warm ham and cheese tartelette, and English cucumber.  Enjoy freshly baked Empress raisin scones with house-made clotted cream and strawberry vanilla preserve.  The dessert tier offers red velvet citrus cheesecake, chocolate jasmine tea tart, banana caramel financier, almond Florentine, and cranberry shortbread.  Oh, la la… all so deliciously decadent!

Photo T. Drake

Tea at the Empress can also be enjoyed by the tiniest visitors between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. The young visitors will enjoy their own assortment of sandwiches, including peanut butter and jelly, turkey, English cucumber, honey ham, and cheese, as well as the famous Empress scone.  Goodies on the delicious top tier include items such as a vanilla lollipop, raspberry donut, and house-made double chocolate chip cookies, among others.

Photo T. Drake

Next tea experience – White Heather Tea Room 

Written by

June Dagnall

Guest Writer