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“Worth the experience once”
Review of Tea at the Empress

Tea at the Empress
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Ranked #47 of 1,193 Restaurants in Victoria
Price range: US$28 - US$57
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Description: A grand tradition for over a century, the world renowned Fairmont Empress has served England's most beloved ritual of afternoon tea to famed royalty, celebrities and dignitaries alike. Reinvigorated in our timeless, sophisticated Lobby Lounge, Tea at the Empress will continue this quintessentially Victoria experience. Home of the Empress cake, which showcases an extra special customized chocolate developed by our Executive Pastry Chef AJ Thalakkat and experts in France, Tea at the Empress is among the world's best unique tea experiences. To complement our house-made signature Empress scones, pastries, clotted creams and strawberry preserves with fresh lavender from our rooftop herb garden, are 21 of the finest loose leafs teas available. Featuring our original blend of The Empress Tea and the exceptionally rare Tong Mu Phoenix Lapsang Souchong blend, the tea list is completely ethically sourced and certified by the Ethical Tea Partnership. Tea at the Empress is an absolute must-do event in Victoria.
Woodinville, Washington
Level Contributor
52 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Worth the experience once”
Reviewed 26 February 2012

I had tea here about 20 years ago and it is pretty much as it was then. I went this time to give my teenage daughter the experience of it. We had a nice table with a view of the harbor. Pleasant, old world British ambiance. The waiter was excellent - just the right of amount of attention. The tea and food were good, but definitely not worth the price.

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank SMP59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room Tips
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
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English first
Victoria, Canada
Level Contributor
33 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Excellent!!”
Reviewed 20 February 2012

Tea here is served beautifully. It is pricey but once again nice. Did you know the queen stays here when she visits Victoria.

Visited April 2011
Helpful?
Thank Ashley B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Victoria, Canada
Level Contributor
154 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“The tea was excellent, the food reasonable, the surroundings lovely, the ambiance lacking.”
Reviewed 20 February 2012

Let me start by saying that the Empress Blend tea was truly enjoyable. Drinking from fine china with tea poured from a silver tea pot is indeed the best way to experience an afternoon at the Empress Hotel. The sandwiches and sweets were served on a china, 3 teired, serving tray.

I will give my interpretation of the sandwiches and not the "offical" chef sort of description. The selection included a port pate on a tiny sliver of toast (not bad but too be honest tasted a lot like deviled ham spread with a hint of spam). There was a pinwhell sandwich of smoked salmon and creme cheese (quite tasty), a cucumber and horseradish sandwich (luckily I don't care for horseradish as I couldn't taste any at all) and a lovely egg salad with just a tiny bit of green onion (which I like) on a very sweet and tiny croissant. We chose to have extra's of these and pass on the curry and chicken offering. Nothing overpowering for the tastebuds and all and all quite pleasant.

The next tier found two small scones (I must be careful not to compare these to be found in a proper cream tea in Devon). The strawberry jam was lovely and was what proper jam should be. Simply consisting of strawberries and sugar it was enjoyable along with a small cup of Devonshire cream (but not clotted cream), so it was very light.

The final tier consisted of little sweets including shortbread (not buttery), marzipan surrounding a checkboard cake (alright but nothing special), a tiny lemon tart with a perfect little merangue on top, tiny cheesecakes and finally a rose shaped, white/milk chocolate shell containing a chocolate truffle (very nice indeed).

As always the surroundings of the tea room at the Empress take you back to the turn of the 20th century with their rich but calming elegance. The view is normally spectacular but it was a grey sort of day so there was no sun glinting off the harbour. Some of those around us were dressed elegantly complete with fascinators on their heads which added to the surroundings but others were in jeans which detracted.

Now the ambiance was somewhat lacking. The wait staff are nowhere near the quality of most staff found in 3 star hotels in Europe. Perhaps etiquette lessons and a lesson or two in gold star hospitality would be helpful. Reprimanding staff in front of guests is not professional and hopefully does not happen there on a regular basis. A pianist was in place but his ability was somewhat lacking and rather than smooth flowing, calming but popular melodies, his were sort of a bad jazz version and detracted from the surroundings. There are better pianists in Victoria, in my own family (to be fair they have 13 years of professional training).

I do have to admit that I am somewhat biased having received exemplary service while enjoying coffee and cakes in Venice just a few short months ago. For a similar price I also had an entire orchestra and impeccable service.

I recommend this on a sunny day and reserve ahead for a window seat. Make a point to try to dress up a bit. Do expect to get a large number of crumbs on your lap. The tables are very low and you can't quite fit under them so you have your entire lap to spill on. Luckily we had no major accidents but I worry a shaky hand with a hot cup of tea over one's lap might be unpleasant.

You can get anything you can't finish boxed up. It would be very nice if they would put a paper napkin inside the box and place everything inside for you. We had to do it which resulted in rather sticky fingers. They do supply a bag to carry it in and tea boxes of Empress blend tea which was a nice gift (especially since it is such lovely tea).

If you don't go with any grand expectations it is a lovely little break on an afternoon in Victoria. I rate it good but not very good or excellent.

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Baxterthetravelguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver,B.C
Level Contributor
48 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Always go back”
Reviewed 17 February 2012

Whether you have a guest or by yourself to eat their scones, one thing is for sure, it's something that I would always come back to. And from an honest point of view, there is really something with the ambiance that makes it all worthwhile! I have the exact tea they have, my own sugar cubes and fancy tea cups but somehow it doesn't take like as when I have it at the Empress! Love it!

Visited October 2011
Helpful?
Thank LonelyPTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Level Contributor
22 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Go to find out what all the hoopla is about.”
Reviewed 9 February 2012

Yes it is a pricey 'afternoon tea' at "The Empress", but the building is gorgeous, the service is exceptional, and the tea and 'meal' is very good. Try it once so that you can say you have had 'afternoon tea' at "The Empress".

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
Thank from1967
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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