#34 – Have “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress

Did you know that “Afternoon Tea” was started by the Duchess of Bedford in the 19th century? She had her chef prepare a little meal with tea to lessen a “sinking” feeling she would experience in the afternoon. Soon it became known as the British “Afternoon Tea”.

The Empress

The Empress Hotel Victoria BC

I was invited to an “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC as a thank you for helping a friend. The Empress is a luxury hotel and renown for its “Afternoon Teas” enjoyed by royalty, celebrities and dignitaries.

The Ladies

An invite to “Afternoon Tea”

It was a simple yet elegant menu; a tower of delicate sandwiches, impressive confectionary and a plethora of tea choices. The fresh baked scones with strawberry jam and Empress cream were light, fluffy and delicious.

Setting

Setting, Tier, Tea

Considering the Empress was undergoing renovations, the Hotel managed to deliver a relaxed and entertaining afternoon. The setting was beautiful in the upper windowed foyer where every seat had a view of the harbor while an accomplished pianist played relaxing music. The 3hour Afternoon Tea was simply delightful!

Dessert

We were spoiled to a delicious Prosecco that married well with dessert

I had an experience of a lifetime when I was in grade 10, a trip across Canada to Vancouver BC with our high school volleyball team. It was my first major travel experience. My mother arranged for me to meet her friend and I was invited for lunch. We went to a beautiful hotel in downtown Vancouver. I had never seen so many knives, forks and spoons at a table setting before and everyone was dressed to the nines. I followed Mrs. Bell Irving’s every move during the meal. All went well until the tea service came out.

The gentlemen server with white gloves, silver tray set with ornate tea pot, sugar cubes, brown sugar sticks, a choice of cream, milk in matching silver bowls, lemon wedges on a porcelain dish, fancy demi-tasses and dainty spoons were more than impressive. He approached me first so I dove in. Before he could ask, “Mademoiselle, what do you take in your tea?”, I grabbed a sugar cube, lemon wedge and a spot of milk and stirred everything in my tea. I knew right away I had done something wrong. The server cleared his throat and Mrs. Bell Irving held her laughter by pressing her finger to her lips. I watched the curdling come to the surface of the tea. If I stirred it, it went away. So, I drank the tea while simultaneously stirring with the spoon. And then put it down and replied, “I drink it like this all the time”.

I told this story to my Mom. She immediately picked up pen and paper. I drink my tea black now.

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17 thoughts on “#34 – Have “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress

  1. I can’t believe we ate the whole thing!! Thanks for including me, it reminded me of when I took Mom there to enjoy afternoon tea. Your Seester xo

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  2. Looks like a fun time had by all. Been there done that.. great before I knew I was Celiac.. so I could enjoy all the “goodies”..
    Loved.. your high school experience… you have come a long way gal..
    Keep the fun blogs coming…

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    • A first at The Empress but will never forget the tea with Mrs. Bell Irving. Interesting that when I came up with the list I was not thinking of these events. Yet while experiencing, the memories rush back.

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  3. I so enjoyed your story about tea with Mrs. Bell Irving! I can only imagine you at the Hotel Vancouver where “high tea” was always served in formal fashion in the beautiful banquet room on the 15th floor.

    Your recent experience looks much more relaxed and sharing tea with dear friends is a most memorable pleasure.

    Enjoyment of the tea ritual became more gratifying to me last fall when we were in London. My favourite afternoon indulgence; savouring a sweet Crème Anglaise or Lemon Tart along with a warming pot of “green serenity” at Peyton and Byrne or Pauls after a few hours at the National Gallery, British Museum or Wallace Collection. Miss those days!

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  4. so much fun and so happy that I could be a part of it!! I worked in the pastry shop at the empress over 25 years ago. My first summer there we were doing over 1000 teas a day – that’s a lotta scones! And they are just as delish now as they were then. Super nostalgic for me, thanks so much for the experience Charline!

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  5. Glad you had a great afternoon with your friends and our seester!! (Nice photo of the four of you!). The pastries looked delicious! I must take a trip out West and experience the “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress!! 🙂

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