I’ve heard about the incredible tea service at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia for years. My mother-in-law, who introduced me to high tea, told me that it was a place I had to visit. It was a bucket list tea stop and I just got to check it off my bucket list!
I just got back from a fabulous cruise with my girlfriend Melissa Lema that traveled from San Diego, California to Vancouver, Canada, and when we found out it had one stop in Victoria, we booked ourselves the full afternoon tea experience at the Empress hotel. I couldn’t wait!
When the cruise ship docked in Victoria, Melissa and I decided to walk from the port to hotel so we could stretch our legs, get some exercise, and take in the sights. It was an overcast day and there was a slight breeze, so the walk was delightful! We wandered through local neighborhoods, down by the wharf, around the marina past the Parliament building, and past cute little shops.
When we arrived at the Empress, hundreds of gorgeous, brightly-colored tulips and spring flowers were in bloom. We were early so we had time to snap some photos of the gardens and check out the tea shop in the lobby, with loose leaf teas and cookies, tea accessories, kitchenware, fine china, gifts, and souvenirs. I found the cutest rainbow-striped, elephant-shaped teapot (the trunk is the pour spout) and had it shipped home for my daughter who is an elephant fanatic!
Tea At The Empress
Tea at the Empress is a quintessential Victoria experience.
Since 1908, the world-renowned Fairmont Empress has served afternoon tea to famed royalty, celebrities, dignitaries, and tourists alike. Today luxury teas and freshly prepared scones and tea pastries are served in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge to around 400 guests per day.
We were seated promptly at our reservation time and our server was friendly and welcoming. After browsing the tea menu, we selected our teas (I upgraded to a White Peach Tea that was delicious), relaxed, and enjoyed great conversation in a beautiful, sophisticated, historic location while live music was played on a baby grand piano nearby.
The Empress teas are luxury grade, seasonal, hand-picked whole leaf teas that are sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, and 100% traceable from tea garden to cup and the menu features fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The strawberry jam is made in-house from local berries, the honey is from their own bee hives, and the lavender comes from the hotel’s rooftop garden.
While enjoying our tea, we tried the variety of sugars provided, testing the flavors and textures, and oogled our tiered trays of savory scones, tea sandwiches, and treats before devouring the delicious finger-foods. Normally, we would receive one tiered tray for the table, but we each received our own because of my dairy-allergy. Everything I was served was made with vegan butter instead of cream cheese or made dairy-free so I could enjoy all of the goodies!
Tea at the Empress was an unforgettable experience and I am so happy to have enjoyed it with a friend who appreciated the ritual of afternoon as much as I did.
Know Before You Go
- Tea At The Empress is served in the Lobby Lounge of The Empress Hotel and Victoria Conference Centre, located at 721 Government Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1W5, Canada.
- If you have a dietary restriction and require a special variation of Tea at the Empress, you must provide at least 24 hours notice. I shared my dairy allergy several weeks in advance.
- The Empress can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose/dairy free, peanut and tree nut free, seafood and shellfish free, and diabetic friendly dietary restrictions. They are unable to cater to other restrictions or combinations of more than one of these dietary restrictions.
- The Empress was dedicated as a National Historic Site Of Canada in 1981.