A Victorian Tradition

Ever since I was a little girl I enjoyed tea time at my grandparents’ home. At the Lea-Wilson home it wasn’t a huge thing, just a cup of tea with a little snack to break up the afternoon work.

My first high tea experience came when I was about 12 and my mom took me to a tea house to educate me on what the tradition was truly about. It was only fitting that my first Christmas in Victoria my mom took me to the Empress for high tea. Since that day eight years ago we have tasted the delights of various teas around Victoria. However there is none quite like the tea served at the Empress Tea Lobby.

This past Boxing Day my mom and I again visited the Empress Tea Lobby for their holiday Carol Tea – a tribute to our first Christmas together. The live carolers add a delightful holiday feel to an already amazing ambiance. The mix of the harbour view, the beautiful china and the historical hotel creates an elegant ambiance that cannot be found at any other high tea I’ve been at in Victoria. Maybe it’s my British roots but there’s something magical about thinking that I can have tea in the same place as royalty when partaking in tea at the Empress.

Every tea I’ve gone to offers the traditional cucumber sandwiches, carrot and cream cheese sandwich, scone with heavy cream and preserves followed by an assortment of squares. The Empress adds to that with a couple of their own sandwiches which change now and then and the squares sometimes include truffles. This past visit the sandwich collection included a smoke salmon and cream cheese roll-up, a curry on dark rye and a mushroom pate.

The true work of culinary art was found on the top tier of the impressive tradition three tier serving plate. Alongside the traditional Christmas fruit cake, shortbread cookie and a German cake, sat a delectable dark chocolate truffle from France.

The truffle was by far my favourite part of this tea time. Nestled in a marbled white and dark chocolate cup was a velvety dark chocolate ganache with a bit of rum. My mistake was not buying a box to take home.  This chocolate was heavenly.  I hope the next time I go for tea they are still on the menu.

Now as a mother I am constantly looking for places to dine with my handsome little guy.  I was absolutely thrilled to discover the Prince and Princess Tea offered by the Empress.  This is a slightly smaller tea service (at a lower price) than what is offered for adults.  As soon as B learns to sit nicely throughout a meal I will be teaching him all about the tradition of high tea in my favourite spot for tea – the elegant Empress Tea Lobby.

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