I had long since given up hope of being invited to tea at Buckingham Palace but recently I had an opportunity to do the next best thing – enjoy tea at The Empress Hotel in Victoria BC. The majestic Fairmont Empress Hotel, a landmark in Victoria, has been serving its renowned afternoon tea for over one hundred years to royalty, famous and not so well known individuals. I belong to the later.
Boarding a BC Ferry with a friend, we travelled from the lower mainland to Victoria, took a bus into the centre of town and arrived in time to partake of the legendary tea. It did not disappoint.
Before entering the prestigious building we were greeted by a bronze sculpture of Victoria’s most cherished citizen, artist Emily Carr. Upon being seated in the elegant tea room, we were presented with fresh strawberries in a sherbet glass topped with whipped cr?me, while deciding on the perfect pot of tea. After much deliberation we chose Kea Lani Orange Pineapple, a refreshing aromatic herbal blend.
Soon after, a three-tiered china server arrived at our table with a variety of delicacies artfully displayed. We had difficulty deciding where to start. The selection of dainty sandwiches was amazing; cream cheese with crated carrots and ginger, smoked salmon pinwheels, mushroom pate crostini, egg salad croissants and mango curry chicken.
The pi?ce de r?sistance was the freshly baked scones with Devon cream and strawberry jam. This is a taste you tend to dream of later. The top plate held exquisite desserts, such as pink, brown and vanilla Battenberg squares, rose petal shortbreads, lemon curd and berry tarts, and my favourite — green tea cheesecakes trimmed in dark Belgium chocolate. We tried everything. As we relaxed over our tea, with a stunning view of the harbour and Queen Alexandra looking down from the mantel, we felt like royalty, or at least, like friends of royalty. We were certainly treated royally.
A commemorative box of Empress Tea was presented to each of us to take home as a reminder of our fabulous experience. It proved to be a lovely outing and an unforgettable treat.