The tradition of High Tea goes back many years to the late 1700’s. In England at that time there were two main meals daily, Breakfast and Dinner. Dinner was served very late in the evening, so it was a very long time between meals. The Duchess of Bedford(1788-1861) complained about a “sinking feeling” in the late afternoon. Afternoon tea was her invention to keep her going until dinner. She would invite friends to join her for tea at 5p.m. Other hostesses quickly copied her idea. Food at tea included such things as thin crustless sandwiches, shrimp or fish pate, toasted breads with jams and regional pastries such as scones and crumpets. The emphasis was on presentation and conversation. Today different versions of High Tea can be found worldwide especially in commonwealth countries. Victoria, BC has numerous tea rooms which strive to keep the tradition alive. Below is a listing of local Victoria establishments that Humboldt House recommends.
The Empress Hotel (721 Government Street – 250-389-2727)
For over 100 years, the majestic lobby of this landmark hotel has played host to England’s most beloved ritual. ($29.95-$55.00)
Point Ellice House (2616 Pleasant Street – 250-380-6506)
Overlooking the waters of Victoria’s scenic Gorge Waterway, Point Ellice House is, again, where the ‘locals’ go to enjoy Afternoon Tea! And just as British Navy officers and other guests could do over a hundred years ago, you can still be dropped off at the dock! Today you can step aboard the Harbour Ferry in front of the Empress Hotel and take a leisurely tour past Victoria’s Old Town on your way to Point Ellice. Of course, you can arrive by land as well! ($22.00 tea & tour)
White Heather Tea Room (1885 Oak Bay Avenue – 250-595-8020)
A local favorite…generous servings of traditional English Tea fare, located in the Oak Bay neighbourhood.
Murchie’s Tea & Coffee (1110 Govermnent St. – 250-381-5451)
The Murchie family has been making teas, roasting coffees from around the world since 1894. Their tea room offers some of the best pastries around. Downtown location…($24.00)
The Butchart Gardens (800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay – 250-652-8222)
Exquisite High Tea menu in the world famous garden’s setting…($28.75)
The James Bay Tea Room (332 Menzies Street – 250-382-8282)
Nestled in the heart of James Bay stands a little white house with black trim and a black and white awning. This quaint little house is known world wide as the James Bay Tea Room and Restaurant.