Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel


By Linda Kissam


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Linda Kissam talks about her high tea experience at the Empress Hotel. Watch here in the YouTube player.


If you are a connoisseur of afternoon tea, you know how important it is to take part in high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C.  From the lovely teacups steaming with exotic tea scents to the tiny bites of scones, desserts, and sandwiches, this is the ultimate elegant experience in the art of afternoon tea.  Place your order, take a gentle sip of tea, and wait for the magic of afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress to begin.

The stateliness of the Empress never fails to enchant. It is a legendary international icon that houses guests from all walks of life and different parts of the world. It’s hard not to be awestruck by the glorious presence of this beautiful hotel towering over Victoria’s Inner Harbor.

Tea is served in a large, 138-seat Lobby Lounge dedicated area located near the lobby area. Guests are asked to wear nice business casual dress. Upon checking in, it’s hard not to get excited seeing the graceful tables immaculately set for the Empress’ one-of-a-kind service. It’s a beautiful and bright space that both calms and inspires the tea lover’s mind.

  • The Empress also offers hard liquor.
    The Empress also offers hard liquor.

The afternoon tea features custom-made tea, as well as sandwiches and pastries made from locally grown ingredients, some coming from the hotel’s rooftop garden and honeybee apiary. The tea is served with a China pattern custom-made in 1914 and used at the hotel since the visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.

Settle into a cozy rattan-backed chair, couch, or other comfortable random chair. Guests are quickly greeted by one of the lounge’s professional team of servers who present a tea menu. The beautiful and weighty wooden menu features 21 tiny glass “windowpanes” allowing for a peek at the fine loose-leaf teas available for sipping pleasure. The varied array of offerings runs the gamut from hand-rolled oolongs to flower-filled herbal blends.

The tea soon arrives in a China teapot carefully placed upon a candle-lit warmer and accompanied by a handy timer to ensure steeping perfection. As every tea expert knows, timing is everything.

Like any tea experience, the treats accompanying the tea are a strategic ingredient to the service. A sleek three-tiered platter will soon arrive. It will be brimming with a slate of goodies fit for any Diva, each more delicious than the last. There are finger-sized bites such as cucumber sandwiches, fall-apart scones, and decadent desserts. In keeping with tradition, it is suggested to work from the bottom to the top of the 3-tier platter eating in the following order: sandwiches, scones, and pastries. A delicious combination of sweet and floral, the preserves are made in-house from local berries and lavender grown in the hotel’s little-known, rooftop garden. It is very easy to be transported to foodie heaven, savoring each warm, gooey bite. Tea lover nirvana for sure.

Teatime at The Empress Hotel is not inexpensive. Afternoon Tea is about $95 per person. Open daily from 11 am – 4 pm. Make reservations way in advance.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit

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