Victoria is a city where afternoon tea is a popular tradition. It has been this way throught the city's history, which was named in honor of the Queen. The teas can be enjoyed with fine British china and silverware, something that is seldom used today for other occasions.
There are a few places where you can have afternoon tea in Victoria which will be reviewed in this article. Included here are restaurants in different price ranges, from reasonable to very expensive.
The Fairmont Empress Tea
If you were to ask a Victorian what comes to mind when they think of their city, the Inner Harbour and Empress Hotel would probably be one of the first things they would mention. The hotel has been an iconic symbol in this city for over 100 years, and many local residents take great pride in it. It's scenic location, beautiful architecture and excellent service have made this a well loved destination for both local residents and international travellers.
Their afternoon teas are served in an atmosphere that includes beautiful hand carved furnishings, stunning tapestries, and live piano music. Guests also enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Inner Harbour, as the hotel is right across the street. When the weather is warm guests can choose to be served in the outdoor balcony.
While the menu may vary somewhat depending on the season, it features items as seen here in this photos, along with some fresh fruit and cream or a trifle dessert. There also is a very extensive selection of teas.
This is by far the most expensive place to have afternoon tea in Victoria, with prices currently at $60 Canadian, plus tax and gratuity. The price is cut in half for children under 12. There are a few seatings throughout the day, and reservations are recommended. The number of seatings depends on the season, but they do serve throughout the year. The tea is also served in the evening during the summer months.
I have had tea here twice, and can say the service is impeccible, and overall it is a very memorable experience. Guests are given plenty of time to enjoy the ambiance, food and lovely music. It is particularly lovely at Christmas time as the hotel is decorated with dozens of trees donated by various local businesses.
The Empress has also had special teas to celebrate Royal events. When Prince William and Kate got married, the hotel had a tea, complete with large screen tvs so guests could enjoy the wedding live. This event completely sold out at a cost much higher than normal afternoon tea, and despite the fact the wedding took place in the middle of the night Pacific time.
James Bay Tea Room
Tea at the James Bay Restaurant
If you want to experience an afternoon tea downtown for about a third of the price, this tearoom is a very short stroll from the harbour, and just down the street from the Parliament Buildings and IMAX theater.
When you walk into the restaurant, you may almost think you have entered a Royal museum, as there are many photos and memorabilia of the Royal family every where you look. Many of these images go back many years, and they are fun to view.
The tea is nice for the price, and service always good. It is normally a busy place at lunch time so mid afternoon is the best time to go.
The Gatsby Mansion
Tea at the Gatsby
The Gatsby Mansion is also located in the Inner Harbour, and is an excellent choice to haveafternoon tea in Victoria. It is almost directly across the street from the Washington state ferry terminal. The mansion is the cone shaped building you can see in the image above.
The Gatsby has several rooms in a lovely heritage building with lots of character. They can also accomodate large groups with advance notice.
The tea includes fresh fruit, a yogurt parfait. scones and sweet cakes, a variety of sandwiches and pastries for $32. One of them includes a lavender shortbread which is delicious.
Mattick's Farm and Adrienne's
Adrienne's Tea Garden
If you would like to try a different location, Adrienne's Tea Garden at Matticks' Farm is about a half hour drive from the Inner Harbour, located at scenic Cordova Bay.
There are several interesting shops to browse here, including a couple of gift stores, clothing shops and a garden center.
Adrienne's offers both a high tea and tea plate. The high tea is more extensive and includes an asortment of finger sandwiches, pasteries, seaonal fruit, a scone with devonshire cream and house made jam for $20. The tea plate is a smaller version with cake instead of pastries, and is half the price.
This is a very busy place, particularly on weekends, so a reservation is a good idea, unless you go later in the afternoon. Their scones in particular are absolutely mouth watering. I highly recommend Adrienne's. It makes a pleasant outing as there are nice areas for walking, and a golf course is adjacent.
Where to find Adrienne's
5325 Cordova Bay Road, Victoria, BC V8Y 1R1, Canada
Buying Tea in Victoria
If you are visiting from out of town and want to take some special teas home with you, I would recommend Murchie's. It is located on Government Street, just a couple of blocks from the Empress.
This is another iconic place in Victoria, with a large selection of tea as well as coffee. Other gift items, such as china, are available as well. They also serve delicious pasteries and other items for breakfast, lunch or afternoon.
All of the places mentioned in this article have been in the city for many years. The different price ranges make it affordable for anyone who wants to enjoy afternoon tea in Victoria.