Fancy tea with little sandwiches and scones, anyone?
Yes, please. And just in time to get together with friends and watch the upcoming Royal Wedding!
Afternoon tea is one of the greatest ways to feel super fancy without having to drop $400 on a full dinner. You can wear a hat and gloves and say things are “scrumptious” and “divine”. Devon cream, cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon and teeny tiny cakes. We’re feeling grand just thinking about it. Or sometimes, if you’re feeling more down-to-earth, a nice cuppa in a warm friendly shop with home-made cakes is what you need.
Interesting tea-related fact #1. Anna Maria Stanhope, The Duchess of Bedford, is largely credited as the creator of afternoon tea. The story goes that while Stanhope was visiting the 5th Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle in the mid-1840s, she got tired of the long wait between lunch and dinner, so she started eating a light meal of tea (usually Darjeeling) and cakes or sandwiches. The practice eventually became the norm all over England and other Commonwealth countries.
Interesting tea-related fact #2. Everything you know about “high tea” is wrong. Also, “high tea” and “afternoon tea” are not the same thing. And though “high tea” sounds fancier, it’s actually not. Scones, tea sandwiches and little cakes are served with “afternoon tea” in mid-afternoon. A “high tea”, however, includes heartier fare like meat, fish and egg dishes, as well as breads and desserts and is served in the early evening.
Now that you have those bits of information, here’s where to enjoy afternoon tea across Ontario, from the stately to the small and cozy.
The Old Curiosity Tea Shop.
91 Main St N, Markham, ON
Markham’s Old Curiosity Tea Shop is a quaint, traditional tea room. Meals are served on Royal Doulton China and the Victorian Afternoon Tea includes a pot of loose-leaf tea, two tiers of “freshly made dainty sandwiches” and another two tier of warm scones, clotted cream and preserves and English cookies and cakes.
Primrose Lane Tea Room & Gift Shop.
475 Lindsay Rd, Peterborough, ON
A small, elegant and charming spot with friendly service. Primrose’s seasonally changing menu offers a selection of teas, savoury soups, scones, cheese plates and desserts and is commonly praised for its lovely ambiance and delicious sweets.
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa.
Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON
A grand estate built in 1855, with beautiful gardens and a stately interior, Langdon Hall is the ideal setting for afternoon tea. The tea menu includes scones and preserves, savouries like “Smoked Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese on Roasted Beet Bread” and sweets like “Hazelnut and Cardamom Cheesecake”. It’s served with a breathtaking view overlooking the gardens and Carolinian forest.
Montrose Inn & Tea Room.
1725 Old Highway 2 – R.R. # 2, Quinte West, ON
At this Boutique Bed and Breakfast, Afternoon Tea starts off with a seasonal beverage – a glass of lavender lemonade on the verandah or mulled apple cider by a warm fire. The meal itself consists of your choice of teas, a selection of savoury and sweet tea sandwiches, home baked scones, home-made preserves and Devonshire cream and, finally, an assortment of home baked sweets and treats.
Prince Of Wales Hotel.
6 Picton Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
The Prince of Wales offers an elegant Victorian experience in their Drawing Room restaurant, featuring artisan teas, finger sandwiches, delicate desserts and other English delicacies. Expect regal treatment with an imaginative twist. The hotel also offers Candlelight Tea on Friday and Saturday evenings. This includes an assortment of sweet and savoury food with your choice of premium, organic gourmet tea.
The Savoy Room.
375 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, ON
The Savoy serves affordable afternoon tea in a cozy, friendly classic Victorian atmosphere on fine bone china. The afternoon tea comes with house-made sandwiches, scones, tarts, mini quiches and delectable cakes and pastries.