Tea Rooms in Victoria BC: Experience an Iconic British Tradition

The charming tea rooms in Victoria BC are the perfect destination to enjoy one of the most iconic traditions for visitors and locals alike. From classic tea rooms to modern cafes, there are several tea rooms in Victoria BC to have high tea - also referred to as afternoon tea - each with its own unique ambience and spin on the classic tradition. 

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What is High Tea?

 "High tea" traditionally refers to a substantial meal that is served in the late afternoon or early evening, typically between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. This meal is often associated with British culture and is also known as "afternoon tea" or "cream tea".

Contrary to popular belief, high tea is not an elegant affair served on fine china with dainty sandwiches and pastries. Instead, it was originally a working-class meal, designed to fill the gap between lunch and dinner. It typically includes hearty fare such as meat pies, fish and chips, baked beans, and toast, as well as tea or coffee.

In modern times, the term "high tea" is often used interchangeably with "afternoon tea," which is a lighter and more formal affair that features delicate finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and small cakes or pastries, usually served on a tiered cake stand. And a variety of teas of course. Locally, traditional afternoon tea is what is served although you will hear either term. 

1.    The Fairmont Empress Hotel

No list of tea rooms in Victoria BC would be complete without mentioning The Empress Hotel. This iconic landmark has been known for its luxurious high tea experience for over 115 years and is famous for its elegant setting and top-notch service. The tea is served in the storied Lobby Lounge with stunning views of the Inner Harbour. The menu includes a variety of ethically sourced teas, savoury sandwiches, pastries, and scones with clotted cream and jam, all beautifully presented on a tiered stand. The strawberry jam is made in-house with local berries, honey from their own hives and lavender from their roof-top garden. The Empress high tea is an unforgettable experience. Reservations are highly recommended. 

2. The Pendray Inn and Tea House

Pendray Inn and Tea House in Victoria BC

The Pendray Inn and Tea House is a charming Victorian-era bed and breakfast located in Victoria’s historic James Bay neighborhood. Formerly known as the Gatsby Mansion, the tea house has a vintage ambiance, with its stained glass windows, antique furnishings and elegant table settings. High tea at Pendray Tea House includes a selection of teas, scones, sandwiches, and pastries all made with fresh, local ingredients. The tea house also offers a gluten-free and vegan menu options. 

3. The Dining Room at Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is a world-renowned destination in Victoria. Along with its stunning floral displays, it also offers a unique traditional tea experience in the original Butchart family residence. Afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens features local ingredients and the garden's own blend of tea, served in vintage china. The menu includes a variety of sweet and savory treats, including scones, tarts, sandwiches and seasonal fruits. Note admission to The Butchart Gardens is required in order to access The Dining Room. The Butchart Gardens' afternoon tea is a wonderful way to combine two of Victoria's top attractions. Reservations are recommended. 

4. The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden

Abkhazi Garden is a beautiful heritage garden located in Victoria. Afternoon tea is a popular tradition at the gardens and is served in the Abkhazi Tea House, which was once the home of the garden's former owners, Prince and Princess Abkhazi. The tea house offers a traditional high tea service with a pastry and dessert selection that may include scones with Devonshire cream and jam, lemon tartlets, and macarons. The food is served on elegant tiered trays, and guests are invited to relax and enjoy their tea and treats amidst the picturesque surroundings of the garden. Abkhazi Gardens is one of the lesser known tea rooms in Victoria BC but is a delightful experience that combines delicious food with the beauty and tranquility of one of Victoria's most stunning gardens.

5. The White Heather Tea Room

The White Heather Tea Room is another one of the popular tea rooms in Victoria BC.  The charming tea room has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with an extensive selection of teas and a menu of traditional British treats including freshly baked scones with homemade preserves and savoury finger hor d’oeuvres. Guests can choose from a variety of tea services, including a gluten-free option. White Heather Tea Room is known for its warm hospitality and friendly service, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It is located in the heart of Oak Bay.

6. Rudi's Tea Room at Government House

Rudi's Tea Room at Government House in Victoria BC

Located at 1401 Rockland Avenue, Government House in Victoria, is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. It is also home to one of the most beautiful gardens open free to the public and Rudi’s Tea Room. You can find Rudi’s Tea Room in the historic setting of Butterworth Cottage in the Cary Castle Mews.  Afternoon tea is similar to what is found at other tea rooms in Victoria BC with seasonally-served lunch, sweets, and refreshments. Many of the products are sourced by the Government House vegetable gardens, fruit trees and bee hives. 

7. Murchie’s Tea and Coffee

Murchies Tea and Coffee House in Victoria BC

No list of tea rooms in Victoria BC would be complete without honourable mention to Murchie’s, a local institution that has been in business since 1894. Though not considered one of the traditional tea rooms in Victoria BC, the tea and coffee shop is known for its range of loose-leaf teas and coffees, as well as its delicious sandwiches, pastries and desserts. Located on Government Street in Victoria, there always seems to be a long line out of Murchies door. It is a popular option for locals and tourists.

What to Wear to the Tea Rooms in Victoria BC

Afternoon tea is typically a traditional and elegant affair, so you should aim to dress in smart casual or formal attire. For women, a dress or a skirt and blouse combination would be appropriate. You could also wear dress pants and a blouse or a dressy jumpsuit. Men should wear a jacket, dress pants, and a collared shirt. Ties are optional but recommended.

It's also a good idea to consider the season and weather when choosing your outfit. For example, if it's a cooler day, you might want to wear a jacket or a cardigan. And if it's a warm day, you could wear a lighter fabric such as cotton or linen.

In any case, avoid wearing anything too casual such as shorts, flip flops, or athletic wear. Jeans are also not recommended, unless they are dressy and paired with a smart top and accessories.

Remember that the goal is to look polished and put-together, while still feeling comfortable and confident.

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