Did you know that Victoria has the highest Afternoon Tea per capita in the world?[citation not needed] To have a taste of what England may or may not have looked like 50 years ago, come to Victoria, BC. We went to all of these with my partner. Without further ado, we give you the Comprehensive Guide 2014.
Table of Contents
- General Information
- Our Pick - Venus Sophia
- Luxury: The Empress
- Tradition: Gatsby Mansion
- Local: White Heather
- Gardens: Butchart Gardens
- Down-to-Earth: James Bay
- Tranquility: Abkhazi Garden
- Location Map
- Additional Information
All tea rooms in this guide have excellent food and good tea: Fresh cucumbers, great salmon, freshly baked scones, et cetera. Typically, they are able to meet specific dietary requirements, like many other places in Victoria, BC. (We asked for a Pescatarian menu in all places, and had no problem getting it.) If possible, make a reservation. Relatively well-known places like the Empress and the Butchart Gardens do require it, and it may be necessary for the less-well known but convenient places like Gatsby Mansion. The price is typically about 30$ per person, including tax; but it does go up to 60$ at the luxurious Empress Room. The price includes the tea and the food that comes on a three-tiered tray.
Afternoon tea is really an afternoon affair: It is typically available only between 11:00 and 16:00. It is also quite a meal - you can easily skip lunch a go directly to the afternoon tea, or just have the afternoon tea at 11 as brunch.
Our Pick - Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery - Urban Chic
Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery: Aside from the excellent vegetarian food that they serve with the afternoon tea, they let you try as many of their different blends as you want, unlike other tea rooms in Victoria. This is for just under 30$ per person, including tax.
Venus Sophia is the best value for money if what you are looking for is trying new tea blends. Located in the middle of Chinatown, it is a five-to-ten minute walk from Downtown. With a different china set for each service and its loft-y looking decoration, it appeals to the urban modern connoisseur. They also have a seasonally changing menu. While the other tea rooms go for the traditional look and approach, Venus Sophia dazzles with its creativity and goes out of its way to service its customers.
If you are visiting Victoria for the first time, and the urban look appeals to you, (rather than the traditional) go for Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery. Make sure you have a reservation +1 250 590 3953+1 250 590 3953 .
The Empress Room - Luxury
The Empress Room serves the most luxurious and the most expensive tea in Victoria. It has the atmosphere - you will think you are in Europe once inside.
Reservations are required, ( +1 250 384 8111+1 250 384 8111 ) and you can ask for a lot of specific requirements. You also get a free pack of ten bags of Empress Blend Tea.
All of this comes at a cost - the price is around 60$ per person, including tax. This is the most luxurious and the most expensive tea in Victoria.
The Gatsby Mansion - Traditional Atmosphere
Gatsby Mansion is the best alternative to the Empress Room if you want to pay no more than 30$ per person. It is about five minutes walking distance from the Empress and has all the traditional atmosphere you can ask for. To get there, have the parliament building to your left and walk down the road. You will see the Gatsby Mansion on your left. As an extra, they do serve their own clotted cream. ( +1 250 388 9191+1 250 388 9191 )
White Heather Tea Room- Traditional & Local
White Heather Tea Room is in Oak Bay, a neighbourhood so proud of it British heritage that the houses look more British than England. Cozy White Heather has a nice atmosphere. We suggest having your afternoon tea there if you are already in Oak Bay. Otherwise, Oak Bay is only a 15 minute bus ride away from downtown on bus #2. ( +1 250 595 8020+1 250 595 8020 )
As an escape from the touristic areas, and to see local Victorians enjoy some afternoon tea, consider White Heather. They do serve their own "White Heather cream", which we found to be slightly too soft in texture - it is, however, a matter of personal taste.
Butchart Gardens - Traditional
The beautiful Butchart Gardens are about an hour's bus drive out of Victoria on bus #75. If you are there to see the gardens, consider having the afternoon tea at the gardens. Make sure you reserve beforehand +1 250 652 8222+1 250 652 8222 .
The afternoon tea is served in a cozy little room overlooking the entrance to the gardens. The pastoral atmosphere is a great alternative to the royal Empress Hotel, and the price is significantly lower, less than 40$. It is a great way to end your two hour walk through the gardens.
Pro tip: Make sure you take note of the buses back downtown posted on the Information Desk once you arrive at the Butchart Gardens, and plan your time accordingly. This way, you will avoid spending time at the bus stop.
James Bay Tea Room
If you do not have a reservation, or if you are a couple on a budget, do consider the cozy James Bay Tea Room and Restaurant. The great thing about James Bay Tea Room is that they let us to share one afternoon, making this the best value-for-money tea option. Take note: An afternoon tea is more than one full meal, by our estimation, it can be 1000 kCal with the full desserts. Sharing can be a healthy option, especially if you are planning a dinner.
Just 15 minutes walk from downtown, it is a relatively quiet area, sufficiently away from the touristic center for a quiet afternoon. The tea choices are somehow lacking compared to the other venues. To get there, facing the parliament building, take the street to your right and just keep walking until you see James Bay Tea Room. Call at +1 250 382 8282+1 250 382 8282 to make a reservation.
Abkhazi Garden - Tranquility
The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden features panoramic windows overlooking a reclusive garden. With a price tag close to $30 per person, and relatively difficult to get to using public transportation, it is not an attractive choice unless you tried all the other stops and want something different. It is, however, very quiet and very beautiful. Call at +1 778 265 6466+1 778 265 6466 for a reservation.
Info: Devonshire Cream
Apparently, Devonshire cream is not allowed in Canada due to food regulations. Typically, clotted cream is substituted.
Info: Vegetarians & Special Requirements in Victoria
Almost all places in Victoria offer vegetarian substitutes from most of the meals. Same goes for Victoria. Make sure that you let people know that you are vegetarian both during reservation and when you are sat down. Same goes for pescatarian and Muslim dietary requirements - you can typically have ham substituted for salmon.
The full afternoon tea can be as high as 1000 kCal, by me and my partner's estimation. Consider just having the afternoon tea instead of a full meal, or consider having it as brunch.