Originally published October 16, 2017 | Updated October 19, 2018

The international tea scene may be experiencing a resurgence (if you haven’t heard, tea is the new coffee 🙂), but Victoria has long been one of the epicenters for tea connoisseurs. After all, in a culture-rich town that offers a unique mix of Old-World charm and new world experiences, tea is the perfect mascot.

With a solid selection of traditional tea rooms, cozy cafes and trendy tea bars pushing the scene ahead, Victoria offers a seemingly endless supply of spots to sip on tasty leafed brews. Hop on a fast and scenic Victoria Clipper ferry with friends or family, pull up a chair, pick up a teacup and ease into the fall chill with a piping hot pick-me-up on these following ideas for a glorious Victorian tea pilgrimage.

1. The Fairmont Empress

A tradition for more than a century, tea at the Fairmont Empress is a rite of passage in the Pacific Northwest (a whopping 500,000 cups of tea are poured each year). Pop into the iconic, elegantly renovated building and cozy up on the plush couches for a comforting cup of tea.

Crack open the beautiful wooden menu and peek into the tiny glass window panes to pick from one of the 21 loose-leaf teas available for your sipping pleasure. By the time your tea has finished steeping, you’ll be ready to dive into the accompanying eats fit for a queen (after all, the Empress is the only place in town that has played host to Queen Elizabeth II herself).

Don’t Miss: Save room for the fresh, house-made scones. Topped with preserves made from local berries and lavender grown in the hotel’s rooftop garden, they will transport you to foodie heaven.

Indulge in exquisite tea at the Fairmont Empress. Credit: The Fairmont Empress
Indulge in exquisite tea at the Fairmont Empress. Credit: The Fairmont Empress

2. The Butchart Gardens

Acres of vibrant plants combined with an exquisite afternoon tea make The Butchart Gardens (NOTE: Clipper Butchart Gardens Day Trips also available!) a must-visit spot on a Victorian tea tour. While it is about a century too late be one of Jennie Butchart’s thousands of personally-served guests, tea in the airy and bright Dining Room Restaurant offers the perfect spot for a short break before continuing your exploration of The Gardens.

Sip on a cup of the popular 100th Anniversary Tea (a blend of Darjeeling and black Hunan and green gunpowder tea), and gaze out the window on what was Jennie’s private garden to get a taste of what it might have been like to dine out on the lawn in the early 1900s.

Don’t Miss: Pair your afternoon tea with the Backyard Flight. The Gardens’ expert culinary team has hand-picked a selection of three Vancouver Island libations to complement your tea treats. Sea Cider’s crabapple-based Pomona pairs excellently with The Dining Room’s signature ginger scones. The sparkling Glenora Fantasia Brut from Zanatta Winery goes well with savory sandwiches and Rocky Creek’s 100 percent blackberry wine is a superb companion to sweets.

Feast on three-tiers of tasty eats while being surrounded by a variety of gorgeous blooms. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Feast on three-tiers of tasty eats while being surrounded by a variety of gorgeous blooms. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

3. Pendray Teahouse

A less than two-minute stroll across the street from Clipper’s Victoria terminal will land you at the Pendray Inn’s stunning, 1890 heritage property (A little insider tip: look up to catch sight of original frescos painted on the ceilings of some of the rooms).

Duck inside the quaint Pendray Teahouse to sample the West Coast Tea for seafood-focused treats or feast on the Traditional Afternoon Tea. You’ll have your cake and eat it too with an overflowing lineup of locally-produced goodies, such as salmon pinwheels, cucumber sandwiches and macarons.

Don’t Miss: Sample TWG Tea’s signature 1837 Black Tea. A unique blend of black tea with fruit and floral notes, it is an instant classic. (Inside tip: The Pendray teahouse is the only spot on Vancouver where you can get these amazing teas imported from Singapore.) Marry your tea with the fantastic pumpkin spice scones found on the seasonal winter tea menu (available in November) and you have the perfect wintertime pairing.

Afternoon tea is a white cloth experience inside the historic Huntingdon Manor Hotel. Credit: Scott Meis
Afternoon tea is a white cloth experience inside the historic Huntingdon Manor Hotel. Credit: Scott Meis

4. Silk Road Tea

Situated at the gateway of Victoria’s historic Chinatown, Silk Road Tea provides a portal into the vast world of tea. With a fresh aesthetic and a relaxed vibe, the shop contains a wealth of all things tea. An impressive variety of locally grown and blended tea selections are sure to please novices well as avid tea enthusiasts.

Stop by the tea tasting bar and sip your way through a few tea varieties. After experiencing the different flavor profiles, finish by selecting your own perfect blend. Be sure not to miss the shop’s mouth-watering tea and chocolate pairings. Brush up on your tea education with one of Silk Road’s fabulous workshops and learn how to create everything from tea cocktails to tea slushies.

Don’t Miss: According to owner Daniela Cubelic, “The coziest of fall flavors can be found in Snow Apple Spice Tea. This seasonal release pairs sweet harvest apples with warming spices, sweet vanilla and hearty, yet smooth black tea. The tea is absolutely delicious on its own, but you can also easily transform it into a cocktail or an easy, instant dessert idea.”

Sample a flight of rare and exotic teas literally worth their weight in gold. Credit: Silk Road Tea
Sample a flight of rare and exotic teas literally worth their weight in gold. Credit: Silk Road Tea

5. Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden

Tucked into the lush, one-acre Abkhazi Garden, the teahouse of the same name is one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets. The intimate spot serves up some of the most delicious afternoon teas in the city. A selection of Silk Road’s fine loose-leaf tea pairs perfectly with an array of treats created with regional or Abkahazi grown produce.

Designed to complement the appearance of the plants and flowers blooming in the garden, the menu changes depending on the season. Settle into a chair and soak in views of majestic trees and dynamic plantings from inside the cozy teahouse. A romantic and inspiring spot, there’s no sweeter place to get your tea fix.

Don’t Miss:  Want just a light snack? Stop by for elevenses, a sampling of a scone and two tea sandwiches along with your tea!

Cuddle up with a warm cup of tea as you stare out on the stunning Abkhazi Gardens. Credit: Scott McDonald
Cuddle up with a warm cup of tea as you stare out on the stunning Abkhazi Gardens. Credit: Scott McDonald

6. Venus Sophia

A chic, modern afternoon tea room with an inviting vibe, Venus Sophia fully embodies its name, which is symbolic for beauty, love and wisdom. Situated in the heart of Victoria’s historic Chinatown, the shop offers a new twist on an old classic – a sumptuous lineup of entirely vegetarian eats. Have a penchant for just savories or sweets? Choose the Savory or Sweet afternoon teas to feast on three tiers of your favorite eats. Best of all, everything in this family-run café is made from scratch using the freshest ingredients.

Don’t Miss:  Why limit yourself to one tea when you can have two, three or more! True tea aficionados must try the Royal Afternoon Tea, which allows you to sip on as many of the shop’s organic loose-leaf teas as your heart desires. Oh yeah, and they’re paired with fall’s finest flavors, such as pumpkin pies and espresso chocolate puff pastries. Bottoms up!

Choose from a number of tasty teas at Venus Sophia. Credit: Scott Meis
Choose from a number of tasty teas at Venus Sophia. Credit: Scott Meis

7. White Heather Tea Room

A trip to BC’s capital city wouldn’t be complete without indulging in as much tea as possible, am I right? Follow the Victoria tea trail to the White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay. This off the beaten path eatery offers up a tremendous afternoon tea service, with a classic three-tiered platter overflowing with savory finger sandwiches and sweet pastries. You’ll leave with a full tummy and have enough leftover treats for a snack later.

Don’t Miss: Hungry? Feast on “the Big Muckle Giant Tea for Two.” Boasting a fruit cup, sandwiches, a sconewich, mini quiche, a special savory treat of the day and no shortage of fresh baked goodies, this three-tiered tray of treats will satisfy the biggest appetites.

Sip tea out of perfectly patterned china at the White Heather Tea Room. Credit: Michelle Grimord Eggers
Sip tea out of perfectly patterned china at the White Heather Tea Room. Credit: Michelle Grimord Eggers

Victoria takes its tea seriously, but how you take yours is up to you. Discover the hidden gems of the tea scene inside the city’s downtown core, sip a comforting cuppa while gazing out at a spectacular harbor or garden views or cozy up in a historic building to be served on china fit for a queen. No matter how you chose to enjoy your brew, you are sure to feel like royalty.

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Feature Photo: Lucas Anderson