Best Places for Tea in Victoria, BC

Posted Feb 7th 2011 01:00 PMUpdated Feb 7th 2011 02:23 PM

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Whether steeped in the tradition of English high tea, or shrouded in the mystery and exoticism of the societies that first produced it, the culture of tea is flourishing in Victoria. We've searched high and low for the best places to have tea in the city.

To sample some of Victoria's truly English flavour, attend high tea where you can nibble on small sandwiches or scones with heavy cream and preserves while sipping tea from fine china. Choose from one of the city's many options offering traditional tea in a variety of price ranges and levels of formality. Or if you would rather steep your own, the city has some excellent specialty stores where you can choose from an astounding variety of teas that range from traditional to exotic in character. For the budding connoisseur, you can join a workshop and tasting to delve deeper into the culture, history and flavour of tea.

High Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel

Served in the ornate tea lobby overlooking Victoria's Inner Harbour at the landmark Fairmont Empress Hotel, this is Victoria's most famous and luxurious high tea. It is also the most expensive at $45-55(CDN) per person. If you choose to indulge at the Empress, you'll be treated to a lavish tea including fresh pastries and heavy cream served on fine china, presented in a regal setting with impeccable service. During summer months it gets very busy so make sure to reserve several days in advance to ensure your spot. Seatings begin every day at noon.

721 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W1W5
250-384-8111
1-866-540-4429
www.fairmont.com

James Bay Tea Room

Situated in James Bay, just a block behind the Parliament Buildings, this tearoom is a great place to experience traditional high tea served by friendly staff in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Although lacking the majesty of the Empress, the tearoom and restaurant, located in a quaint turn-of-the-century house, oozes old English charm. In addition to high tea, the James Bay Tea Room serves some more substantial traditional English fare like Welch Rarebit on toast or steak and kidney pie.

332 Menzies St.
Victoria, British Columbia
V8V 2G9
250-382-8282
jamesbaytearoomandrestaurant.com

Point Ellice House

Built in the 1860's for Peter O'Reilly, a Victorian socialite who made his fortune from the gold rush, Point Ellice House became a gathering place for Victoria's social elite. Over a century later, the house and all of its contents were purchased by the province, which operates it today as a small museum and teahouse. You can tour the historic house and its vast collection of Victorian era curios and stay for tea, which is served on the garden patio that is furnished with white wicker furniture and overlooks the Gorge waterway. If you're staying near the Inner Harbou,r you can take the harbour ferry to get there. Book ahead as reservations are required for tea. To reserve, email ellicehouse@gmail.com or phone 250-380-6506. Full luncheon tea is $23 per person plus tax (which includes the house audio tour).

2616 Pleasant Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8T 1Y4
250-380-6506
ellicehouse@gmail.com

Murchies Tea and Coffee

Founded in 1894 as a purveyor of fine teas and coffee, Murchies continues to be a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. With a huge selection of loose teas, Murchies has something for even the most discerning connoisseur, from single origin teas to blends, flavored teas to green, black, and oolong teas. They also have a fine selection of prepackaged sampler sets and an assortment of gift baskets. If tea isn't your thing, Murchies also has a nice selection of coffees and specialty spices. Although they don't offer a formal high tea, the café offers a selection of desserts and savory delights one might expect at tea, including pastries, scones, preserves and clotted cream.

1110 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W 1Y2
250-383-3112
www.murchies.com

Silk Road

This exotic boutique teashop and spa celebrates tea like the coveted treasure it once was when it traded alongside silk, jewels and gold on the trade route known as the Silk Road. Artistry and attention to detail are evident in every aspect inside this Chinatown shop. All teas are blended onsite with organic ingredients using ancient tea blending principles, and then sealed in elegant little reusable tins. Sign up for a tea tasting held every Saturday and Sunday at 2PM from September until the end of June and delight your palate with a wide range of exotic flavours and aromas while you learn about tea. You'll come away knowing a bit more about some of its health benefits, details about growing regions, and aspects of its cultural and historical significance.

1624 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W 1Z3
www.silkroadtea.com

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