High Tea at the Fairmont Empress – Victoria B.C.

Most of you who follow me on Facebook(hint! – if you don’t please do ūüôā ) , know that I took a recent trip to Victoria B.C. Living in Seattle, going to Victoria can be done as a daytrip or over a weekend. Although we have lived here for over 5 years now, we had never visited Victoria. For this Mothers’ Day, DH decided to take me for a relaxed weekend trip to Victoria. We took the ‘Clipper Ferry’, and stayed at the Fairmont Empress. On Saturday we visited the Buschart gardens, and on Sunday we did the ‘High Tea @ the Fairmont Empress’.

This ‘tea’ has been a tradition at this hotel since 1908, and is considered a ‘must have’ if you are visiting Victoria. If you are wondering what a ‘High Tea’ exactly is, and how it originated at the Fairmont Empress, here is what the plaque in the Tea Room read: “Early in Victoria’s reign, the Duchess of Bedford, who habitually suffered a ‘sinking feeling around five o clock’, started taking tea with thin sandwiches and cakes, out of which the afternoon tea hour was born – a custom the evolved ultimately into a serious meal known as ‘High Tea’.”

What typically is offered here – is your choice of tea, and small platters of food. Although there are about 7-8 choices of tea blends, our ubiquitous choice was the tea called ‘Empress blend’ which is the most popular blend – of teas from different regions such as Assam, South India, Ceylon, China and Kenya. I am not someone who likes to drink tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.(even without milk). What follows is a fruit course – for us it was ‘Strawberries and Creme’. Now, if you are like me, you would be expecting something extra special on this venture which costs 75 USD per person. But, the simplicity of the dish was the reason it was so delicious.

This then followed suite with a 3 tiered platter – the bottom most with savory and the top most with sweet. The savory platter was an array of finger sandwiches, the obvious Cucumber tea sandwiches, for which I have posted my reicpe here. I was pleasantly happy that it tasted exactly the way I had made it. :), it then has a crostini with pork pate, curried egg sandwiches on a croissant, which made it a rich crispy sandwich as opposed to other egg sanwiches I had eaten. Smoked Salmon pinwheels, Mango and curried chicken over carrot and ginger cream cheese. My favorite was the egg sandwiches, DH’s favorite the chicken ones. This platter we consumed effortlessly. ūüôā

The next platter was a tender, melt in your mouth raisin scone, served with strawberry jam and empress cream. I split the scone and slathered the jam and cream. Now the scone by itself was awesome, but this was decadent, sweet and almost matched the dessert tier. If you do not have a sweet tooth, I would suggest, please have the scone by itself. (You can find my whole wheat buttermilk scone recipe here.)

The dessert tier was shortbread cookies, lemon meringue tartlets, raspberry swirl cheesecake, chocolate tulip – filled with white chocolate mousse and topped with a wild cherry and a battenberg cake – a checkered cake wrapped in a rose fondant. Now by the time we got to this tier, we were done. Although I have a sweet tooth, I couldnt eat the chocolate tulip, it was toooo sweet. I liked the shortbread cookies, they were so buttery, the tartlets and the cheesecake. The battenberg cake I did not like. But, to each their own, I am not a big fan of fondant covered cakes in general.

Verdict: It was good, but definitely not worth 75 USD per person. We actually skipped breakfast(coss we woke up pretty late) and lunch – as we knew our reservation was at 1: 30 PM , but we still couldn’t eat the whole thing. It is open to refills and we ordered another chicken sandwich, just because we wanted to change the sweet taste that we had lingering. Was super decadent – Worth a try, if you are an adventurous foodie…or looking for a different way to celebrate a special occassion.

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