When you start looking up what to do in Victoria, BC, a lot of the blogs and websites suggest going to afternoon tea at the Fairmont hotel here. At $75 a pop, it’s not a cheap suggestion, but as a lover of all things tea, I wanted to check it out. So I thought I’d share my review of Afternoon Tea and let you know: Is it really worth the price tag?
I didn’t do extensive research about the history of Victoria, but judging by the province name “British Columbia”, we’ve got some brits in the mix there, which must be why they’re all about afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is a great English tradition wherein you eat tiny foods in large quantities and pour cup after cup of tea into your body, leaving yourself quite full and caffeinated. You can choose to counteract the caffeine with a glass of champagne, but it’s entirely optional.
Tea at the Fairmont Empress is no different. For a set price, they bring you one of 6 teas and a selection of savory and sweet snacks. You can add a glass of champagne for an additional charge, or pick a fancier tea for another charge. We did neither and still had a lovely time, so definitely don’t feel like you need to.
To pick our tea, they brought out one of the coolest menus I’ve ever seen. On one side, it described the teas, and the other had the actual loose leaf teas under clear plastic.
I went with the signature tea, and Dustin picked a green tea. I’d say to pick what sounds good, because the description on the menu totally matched what each of us ended up sipping. Just remember that black tea does have about as much caffeine as coffee, and you’re going to be drinking a pot of it.
Once you make a selection, they bring you a base for the teapot, which has a little candle to keep the tea warm. They also bring a little timer and flip it when they bring you the teapot. They’ll tell you which one to watch to know when to pour your first cup. It was a cute touch, and shows that they do actually care a lot about the tea quality.
Once you’ve enjoyed your first cuppa, they bring out a tray that has all of your food for afternoon tea. At first glance, if you showed up hungry, you’re going to panic, because it’s all tiny. Don’t jump out the window just yet, though—these tiny sandwiches are surprisingly filling.
We started with our scones, so they aren’t pictured. Sorry friends, no photo is worth waiting on a still-warm scone. They were delightful, and came with clotted cream and jam. The way to do it is to break off a bit of scone and spread first the cream, then the jam on the bite. The mix of cream and jam is amazing.
On our savory plate, we had cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon, chicken salad and a cone full of crab. The smoked salmon was far and away the best of the bunch, and I was hopping our waiter would sneak us a second one later. He did not.
On our sweet plate there were a pair of cakes, a lemon poppyseed shortbread cookie, a chocolate and passion fruit tart, and a white chocolate cup with pistachio cream. They were all delicious, but the chocolate and passion fruit was our favorite.
The most important thing with the food is to pace yourself and eat slowly, enjoying your tea, the room, the view out the window, etc. It may not seem like a lot of food until you find yourself suddenly stuffed.
Is It Worth It?
Of course, in the end, I won’t really be able to say whether or not it’s worth it for you to check out afternoon tea at the fairmont, because I don’t know you or your budget. That said, if you like (1) fancy experiences (2) tea, or (3) doing the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it, I think it’s worth checking out.
The price is pretty much on par with some of the fancier afternoon teas in London, and it does have the element of ticking off the box on your tourist list. Plus, it’s a fun experience. When in doubt, I’m often of the mindset that doing the thing you want to do now is cheaper than another flight out because you regret not doing it.
Let me know in the comments: Would the price tag scare you away? Or is it worth it for the experience?