Tea in Victoria?

Old Apr 7th, 2004, 11:51 PM
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Tea in Victoria?

My husband and I are going to Victoria this summer. My first thought was to do tea at the Empress, but I'm wondering if there is another place that has a nice tea? Maybe someplace off the beaten path?
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Old Apr 7th, 2004, 11:56 PM
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I see that Butchart Gardens also serves both afternoon tea and high tea (different menus). Has anybody eaten there?
TIA
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Old Apr 8th, 2004, 05:22 AM
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Don't miss tea at The Empress. It's an event, worthwhile for the food, the atmosphere, and the people-watching. A caution, though: this is not so much a mid-afternoon snack as it is a full-blown meal.

Don't skip Butchart Gardens, though, It's an enormously pleasant place to stroll around and explore; if at all possible, be flexible enough to visit Butchart on a day when it's nice to be outside.
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Old Apr 8th, 2004, 05:52 AM
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Sorry I have to disagree rizzuto, teat at the Empress has become an overblown, expensive tourist trap. There are many other places to have a traditional tea, The Blethering Place on Oak Bay Avenue; there is another tea room in Oak Bay but unfortunately the name escapes me. Tea at Butcharts is quite lovely, you do need to make a reservation however and it is a little on the expensive side. Do not miss Butcharts, even on a rainy day, they supply clear umbrellas free of charge and the flowers are still lovely to look at.
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Old Apr 8th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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I'm always telling everybody to forget tea at the Empress - overpriced, and there are better places - but everyone goes anyway! However, for what it's worth: the White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay is more reasonably priced and the food is just as good or better, but my real favourite is Point Ellice House. It's a restored historic home; you can do an audiotape-guided tour, which isn't anywhere near as hokey as it sounds, and you get to have tea on the lawn. We loved it and plan to go back this summer.
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Old Apr 8th, 2004, 09:16 AM
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I think the White Heather Tea Room, 1885 Oak Bay Ave., has some of the best food in town. Further along the street is the Village. Anywhere though would be better than the James Bay Tea Room, which is ghastly.
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Old Apr 9th, 2004, 10:53 AM
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Do the high tea at the Empress. We did that with our two teenagers a couple of summers ago. They still talk about the experience.
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Old Apr 9th, 2004, 01:23 PM
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If I had never been to Victoria I would probably want to have the Empress experience once. However, at $35.95 to $49.95 (depending on the day), you could have about three of the White Heather's Not-so-wee-teas at $14.25 ea. Another tea room off the beaten path, further into Oak Bay, is the Windsor House Tea Room. I have not tried it but plan to.

Off the topic of tea for a moment, I think the breakfasts at Vista 18 at Chateau Victoria are quite good and reasonably priced, plus you get a bird's eye view of the city.
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Old Apr 16th, 2004, 01:34 PM
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We had tea at the Blethering Place. We have 3 kids, so the Empress was a bit stiff for us. For 5 of us we ordered 3 of the full teas, plus 2 extra actual cups of tea...so much food that we took some home.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 09:13 AM
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I am a local islander from Victoria BC and go for "High Tea" often.

Here's what you need to know:

The Empress... is worth the experience (very regal historical setting with harbour view and lovely posh surroundings in the lobby). However...the tea and food itself is "fine". Meaning it's not bad, but it's not out of this world either. It's the most expensive tea in Victoria.

The "White Heather"... in Oak Bay is quite honestly the best as far as the tea and food go..simply suberb. However...the atmosphere and surroundings are quite dull (I suppose when you have the best tea in town, you don't need to worry about your decor or surroundings). Space is very limited though so you must reserve a spot.

The Blethering Place... is still one of my favourites and I probably have high tea there at least once or twice a month. Predictably good food and tea and a lovely decor and atomsphere in the heart of Oak Bay Village.

The Windsor House.. is also worth noting for a nice setting and a nice tea. Not worth raving about maybe...but still quite good and no disappointments.

The English Inn (formerly Olde England Inn)... the high tea here is about to be reinstated after renovations. It had one of the best teas in Victoria as well...and so much for such a small price. Way too much food, but all of it was fantastic and ended with a huge sherry trifle. Lovely serene setting. Call first.

James Bay Tea Room... I was not overly impressed. Cramped and a bit dingy. Small portions and the actual brewed tea was not up to par. You get what you pay for here.

The Gatsby Mansion...please avoid this place at all costs. HORRIBLE! Bad service, awful food and tea...high priced. You're paying for the setting and atmosphere. Don't bother.

The Butchart Gardens... must be seen to be believed. However...the tea is very pricey and nothing to write home about. It's just "ok". I would simply forgoe the high tea and just have lunch or a cup of tea and a single dessert.

Someone mentioned "Vista 18" in the Chateau Victoria. While they don't do "tea", I agree, they have a lovely breakfast for a very reasonable price with the nicest view in all of Victoria. You don't need to be staying at the hotel to eat here, and the dress is casual for breakfast. They also have sunset dinners which are amazing, but the dress is more formal for evening.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 09:17 AM
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Oh yes, to add to my post above...I have also done the summer high tea and Christmas Tea at "Point Ellice House" and while it was a nice enough tea (I found a few items seemed less than fresh, but most of it was quite tasty), the atmosphere is really the draw here. Slightly pricey for what you receive in my opinion.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 10:06 AM
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I think what most of these posts are referring to is afternoon tea and not high tea. For those who may not know the difference, there was a recent amusing thread on the Europe board. Search under "high tea". You may learn more than you want to know about the British social classes!
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Old May 28th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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Most of the places I mentioned offer both "High Tea" and "Afternoon Tea"...you will see the difference on the menu, and also note that the time of day for both teas may be different as well
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Old May 28th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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Maybe "high tea" in Canada has become something different from "high tea" in England.... where it is a "working class" thing more like a supper, with hot dishes. Definitely not the Darjeeling, dainty sandwiches, scones and clotted cream affair everyone is probably thinking of on here.
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Old May 30th, 2004, 08:52 AM
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I think the initial question was about where to have afternoon tea in Victoria...I think most of us understand that this was meant to be about tea sandwiches, scones, pastries, trifle, etc.
I don't think it was meant to be a discussion of the social history of "high tea" or "afternoon tea" and how it has transcended from the early ages or from country to country.
In Victoria you will find a variety of "afternoon" and "high" teas in different locations, with some being more of a light afternoon snack, to others that are practically a full-out meal. But virtually ALL of them will include things like scones and fresh preserves and clotted cream, as well as pastries and/or trifle.
It's Victoria...not Britain, and in my opinion, I've had tea's in both places and they are far superior in Victoria.
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