A Lovely Afternoon Tea Experience At Fairmont Empress in Victoria

Experience Afternoon Tea At Fairmont Empress.jpg

Experience Afternoon Tea At Fairmont Empress in Victoria

On our travels around Vancouver Island, we enjoyed the natural beauty found everywhere we looked. But we did not want to miss out on a perfectly civilized tradition in Victoria. The Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria was high on our list of “must do” activities for a visit to Victoria.

The tea selection was great. We learned so much when we talked with the Food and Beverage Manager Christian, who was also a certified tea sommelier. The sweet and savoury treats were delicious. All served on the pretty custom tea service.

There was much to see and do in the Victoria area. But the Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria was one we were glad we did on this trip.

The Beautiful Hotel On The Bay

When we made our plans to visit Vancouver Island, we debated staying right in Victoria or outside. We finally decided we would stay at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort. It was a lovely retreat. And was an easy drive into Victoria.

We parked and wandered around the harbour. It was a busy bay with lots of ships moored. We saw the Victoria Clipper Ferry that went down to the U.S. outside of Seattle. Bright yellow water taxis stood ready. And we saw whale watching boats. But we planned to do whale watching when we visited Campbell River.

Victoria BC Harbour.jpg

Victoria BC Harbour.jpg

Victoria BC Harbour.jpg

We wandered up to the Parliament building. It was a classic building with domes and statue decorations. A statue of Queen Victoria stood prominently in fron

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From the waterfront, we saw the hotel sitting with a view out over the bay. We headed over for a relaxing Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

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Fairmont Empress Hotel - Experience Afternoon Tea At Fairmont Empress in Victoria.jpg

The Lovely Tea Room

The Lobby Lounge where Afternoon Tea was served was a large, bright room. While the room held a lot of people, we were happy to see that the room was not over-crowded. The tables were well spaced so that the noise level was reasonable. And there was some privacy. The windows looked out over the harbour. We were delighted to be seated right by the window in a quiet corner.

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When we arrived, a piano player sat down at the baby grand piano. Through our Afternoon Tea, we heard soft music in the background. It was a nice touch! It reminded us very much of our Afternoon Tea experience at the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle.

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The setting for our Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria was perfect.

A Great Tea Selection For The Empress Afternoon Tea

We are always interested to see the breadth of the tea selection offered for Empress Afternoon Tea. The tea options were presented in a small shadow box. This was a great way to see what each tea looked like. The teas with fruit had large pieces of dried fruit. and the leaves looked whole. While we like to smell the tea with samplers, we know that this can be deceptive.

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Half of the teas were from the Fairmont special selection and the other half were selected especially from Metropolitan Tea. One level of tea was included with the Afternoon Tea. Then there were two more premium levels available. David and I selected different teas to try different flavours. We had the chance to speak with the Food and Beverage Manager Christian. He was a certified tea sommelier and shared so much information with us.

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We Enjoyed Tea And Champagne

When we sampled Afternoon Tea at home around Toronto, we found such a variation in the teas and how they were served. We were happy to see that the loose tea was served in custom tea bags. And the flames under the tea pots ensured that our tea always stayed hot. The tea timer had 3 different sizes of grains for different tea settings.

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If we wanted a little sweetness added to our tea, we had 4 options: raw sugar, molasses, vanilla or hard maple sugar. We were interested to learn that the maple sugar was sent to them from Quebec. It had a subtle sweet maple taste. We both drink our tea without milk. It was interesting to hear from Christian that if you added just a little milk, it brought out the flavours in tea.

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Of course, I checked out the bubbly selection as well. It was the perfect complement to our Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria. When we went for Afternoon Tea at the St Regis in Washington DC, we even got an amazing sabrage demonstration as they sabred off the top of a champagne bottle.

A Pretty Tea Set

The tea setting was beautiful! A complete china setting was originally given to the Fairmont Empress Hotel by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. More than 50 years later, the hotel had Royal Dalton make the pattern just for them.

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Tea China Set - Experience Afternoon Tea At Fairmont Empress in Victoria.jpg

The gift shop sold a complete tea set if we wanted to have this pattern at home. We already have far too many good sets of china at home, so we passed. But this would be a great reminder of the Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

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The Tea Tray Selection Was Delicious

Our tea tray arrived and we were talked through the three layers. We started with the scones served with clotted cream made in-house in small ramekins.

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The middle layer added a great selection of savoury treats. David exchanged his egg salad on brioche with my salmon on a blini. The carrot salad with mascarpone and cucumber on dark rye sandwiches looked like a healthy balance to the sweet layer. My favourite was the ham and gruyere on cranberry bread.

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The sweet layer on the tea tray started with earl grey tea shortbread. The strawberry tart with ricotta mouse was a nice balance to the maple pecan cookie. David was happy to find two different chocolate treats on the tray. The dark chocolate and raspberry macaroon melted in our mouth. But David was delighted that they provided a double serving of the dark chocolate baskets.

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The menu was changed seasonally and all food was sourced locally. The hotel even had their own hives for honey and garden on the roof. We certainly did not leave hungry from our Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

A Magic Cocktail Experience

One of the teas available was called “Blue Suede Shoes”. It contained the purple pea shoot flower. When poured, it was deep blue. Christian pointed this out and suggested we might want to hit the Q Cocktail Bar after our Afternoon Tea.

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The bar served the hotel’s custom Empress Gin. It was made specially for them and contained the purple pea shoot flower. The gin was a beautiful shade of blue.

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But the magic happened when we added tonic to the gin. We selected our favourite Fever Tree Tonic to add. As I slowly added the tonic, the drink turned to more purple colour. Our bar tender Matt had as much fun as we did as we watched this colourful show.

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Our cocktail magic show was the perfect way to finish up our Afternoon Tea experience at Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

Plan To Experience Afternoon Tea At Fairmont Empress in Victoria

If you stay in the Victoria area or visit by cruise ship, plan to experience Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Empress in Victoria. It was a great way to spend the afternoon in a very civilized and tasty way.

We were so glad we planned a day to visit Victoria when we travelled around Vancouver Island. A lovely afternoon with a view of the harbour was the perfect complement to our travels out to wilder spots. It was such a good way to spend the afternoon, that we planned Afternoon Tea again at the end of our road trip in BC when we pampered ourselves with a stay at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver.

Did you experience Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Empress in Victoria? Were you staying in the area or visiting by cruise ship?

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34 Comments

    • Cynthia, Afternoon Tea at the Empress was on our list for so long. So glad we finally got to do it. It was a lovely afternoon and a tasty tea. Definitely something to plan if you visit Victoria. Linda

    • Katie, It was fun to watch the magic show with the gin turning colour. It was a very aromatic gin. I don’t have a lot to compare it to. But with the Fever Tree tonic it was a perfect G&T – not sweet but flavourful. Hope you get to try it one day. I am just not sure it is available outside of the local area. Linda

  1. This sounds and looks like a wonderful afternoon tea. I had afternoon tea once in London and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I’m not much of a tea aficionado but do appreciate sampling different flavors. The blue gin looks intriguing!

  2. This tea spread looks amazing! I love that you had a large selection of teas to choose from, and that the tea tray had so many delicious looking options. I would have wanted a double serving of the dark chocolate baskets too!

  3. What a fab tea experience. Such elegance and what an amazing selection of little bites. I think the savory options would be my favorite ones, thought the macarons would be high my list as well. We had the purple pea shoot flower in both Vietnam and Laos and it does make for striking tea. We had it as a cold drink and really enjoyed it. I’m curious if they talked about the origin of the flower. It’s been several years since my last high tea experience and this makes me look forward to my next!

    • Rosemary, I had never seen the purple pea shoot flower before. Unfortunately, they did not talk about the origin of the flower. I am sure it would make a great iced tea. We love the Afternoon Tea experience and try to do it when we can. Linda

  4. Wow! Such a grown up experience. The china is beautiful and all of the treats looks so delicious. I don’t know much about alcohol, but I love that the gin turned such a beautiful shade of purple. What a fun experience you had. It seems like a tradition. Do you do that everywhere?

    • Kathleen, Afternoon Tea has become a bit of a tradition for us. We love to try the iconic ones when we are travelling. We have had so many great experiences. The Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress was certainly a great one to add. Linda

  5. Thanks for describing to us in detail what we will be doing on July 22, just 3 weeks from today! We are in Victoria for only an overnight stay so we are going to do this on the first afternoon!

  6. I love the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria. I had the pleasure of staying there last year, and enjoying their fabulous Empress Gin, which I see you enjoyed as well! But I still haven’t had their famous tea service. How cool to have a tea sommelier as well, there really is so much to know about tea, isn’t there?

  7. This is such a classy affair. With that pretty tea set and an array of bakes, who would not enjoy their tea here. I am now craving for such an experience. Got to see if someone measures to the Fairmont one.

    • Ami, We are always amazed at the variety of Afternoon Tea experiences. Themes, decor, entertainment, tea and food all keep us trying it over and over again. We are so glad we added the Fairmont Empress to our list. Linda

  8. That is by far the prettiest gin I have ever seen. I wanted to do an afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, but we didn’t have time. But next time I am going to, because your pics are fantastic… and I want to meet a tea sommelier!

  9. I love Victoria, and I haven’t been there in so long… In fact, my grandmother and I were always going to do this afternoon tea, but somehow that never happened either. I don’t actually drink tea, but I always thought it would be so quaint to enjoy a high tea and all the little cakes and sandwiches that come with it!

    • Tami, Even if you don’t drink tea, the ceremony of Afternoon Tea is great. You can have coffee or champagne and enjoy the show. Hope you get to try it one day. Linda

  10. I am quite impressed with the elegance of the Tea Room at Fairmont Empress in Victoria. I have never had an Afternoon Tea Experience but I think I should surely try this out. I loved the tea tray and also the types of tea that you can choose from. Nice to see that the tea sommelier interacted with you all and also the magic color change in gin in the bar experience sounds fun to me. Overall, you surely had a great time.

  11. Sounds like such a beautiful experience. Not only is the architecture of Fairmont Empress quite impressive but their selection of teas, and option for sweeteners, as well as the food looks great. What intrigued me the most is that they had their tea set China made as a replica of what they originally had received as a gift from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth way back in 1939. Wow!

    • Medha, We too were amazed at the beautiful china set. It would have been great to take a place setting home. But we just have no room for it. It was such a great experience. Linda

  12. I always have this impression that doing an afternoon tea is nothing but ordinary.
    However, after reading your post I think it is definitely not specially if it is done
    in a posh hotel like Fairmont Empress Victoria. I got friends who are hooked to tea
    than coffee so now I can relate to how they really make time for this. I have a few
    staycations coming in five-star hotels – I couldn’t wait to do this too.

    • Christopher, We always like to see how different places make the Afternoon Tea event a little different and special. Hope you enjoy your experience when you try it. Linda

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