Tea Time on Vancouver Island

Tea time at the Fairmont Empress. (Image: Fairmont Empress)

Scones, pastries and other treats are served during tea time at the Fairmont Empress. (Image: Fairmont Empress)

Great golf and a spot of afternoon tea at Victoria’s stately Fairmont Empress Hotel make the perfect island blend. There may even be a tea leaf reading in your future as you tour the Vancouver Island Golf Trail.

 

Unlike many golfers who reach for the Scotch after a cold and rainy day on the links, my go-to comfort drink has always been a steaming pot of well-steeped tea.

I’ve sipped and savoured more than a few high teas across Canada, but I’ve found there’s no better place to indulge my passion for a cuppa than lovely Vancouver Island, by far the most Olde English of Canadian destinations.

In Victoria, the provincial capital, afternoon tea in the quietly elegant Tea Lobby of the Fairmont Empress Hotel has been a beloved ritual since 1908. Chintz fabrics, tapestries, wing back chairs and hand-carved tables provide a suitably Victorian setting for the delicious scones, pastries and tea sweets prepared by executive pastry chef A.J. Thalakkat.

Fairmont Empress Hotel (Image: Fairmont Empress)

Fairmont Empress Hotel: a suitably Victorian setting for afternoon tea. (Image: Fairmont Empress)

It’s the ideal spot to unwind after a round of golf at Bear Mountain, Olympic View, Cordova Bay or any of several other excellent local courses. And the house tea, called the Empress Blend, is one of my personal favourites. Created exclusively for the Fairmont Empress, it magically blends teas from Assam (thick, malty and full bodied), Kenya (floral-like, with a golden coppery infusion), South India (fruity and sprightly), Ceylon (airy, almost piquant) and China (burgundy-like depth, with light oaky notes). It’s a true tea lover’s delight.

More proof that Victorians take their tea seriously is found at the Tea Bar at Silk Road, a popular shop that has been creating its own premium quality organic teas since 1992. Tea is served in a variety of unique brewing styles, including tea flights, tea and chocolate pairings, and the Chinese tea ceremony.

Planning an extended stay on Vancouver Island to play Arbutus Ridge, Pheasant Glen, Crown Isle and other courses on the popular Vancouver Island Golf Trail? Then remember to look for these other essential tea shops, each guaranteed to sooth jangled nerves after a tough round — and maybe even help lower your next score.

  • Teafarm, in the Cowichan Valley, features tea-inspired treats and more than 30 original steaming blends that incorporate locally grown herbs. Teafarm is Canada’s first small-scale grower of tea.
  • Twisted Sisters Tea Room, an hour’s drive north of Victoria in Chemainus, is a cozy and convivial 10-seat establishment owned by twin sisters Teresa and Debra, who serve more than 300 tea blends.
  • Calico Cat Tea House, in Nanaimo, offers afternoon tea, homemade pastries and the irresistible invitation to let local tea leaf readers predict your future.

 

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