Best Afternoon Tea Service in Vancouver? You Make the Call!

Vancouver afternoon tea services

Afternoon tea at Shangri-La’s Xi Shi Lounge

Love for afternoon tea usually begins in childhood. When I was a kid, we had an annual high tea tradition: my mother, my best friends and their mums all got together for tea once a year. After dressing up together, we raced through the tiny, crust-less sandwiches on the bottom tier to earn the scones and, finally, the fancy-pants cakes at the very top. It was all about the ritual; the conversation facilitated by bottomless pots of tea was a bonus.

As an adult, I have Vancouver friends who still love an afternoon tea get together. These days, the catching up comes first, the scones come second. But we still take the food and atmosphere seriously.

What are Vancouver’s best spots for a spot of afternoon tea? I’ve tried a few, most recently afternoon tea at the Xi Shi Lounge in the Shangri-La Hotel (1128 West Georgia). 

Vancouver afternoon tea services

Afternoon tea at Shangri-La Hotel’s Xi Shi Lounge

Shangri-La Hotel is very much the upscale urban sanctuary it claims to be. We sat in the elegant digs on Saturday, enjoying live piano and pampering. With effort, you can people watch the crowd outside, but you’re separated by floor to ceiling glass walls and filmy curtains.

The tea selection is vast and it comes in Blue Willow china, which would please a die-hard, pinkie-crooking afternoon tea traditionalist. I opted for Ceylon (although Lady Grey is the house tea) and enjoyed the constant refills of hot water as we awaited our tiered tea trays. The tea treats – ham sandwiches, cucumber tarragon sandwiches, lox on mini bagels, buttermilk raisin scones with cream and jam, pistachio macarons, tiramisu cupcakes, chocolate mousse cups and more – were pleasant. Nothing was knock-your-socks off; everything was well above average.

We had trouble finishing and got to take the extras home, which was nice, given that it’s $34-$45 per person. As for the service, the staff couldn’t have been friendlier and there’s no rush to finish. You can lounge and talk to your heart’s content. You can add a glass of bubbly. Your bladder will disrupt you before the check arrives.

I’ve also tried afternoon tea at the nearby establishment The Urban Tea Merchant (1070 West Georgia Street).  If you’re looking for variety, they have a wide range of luxurious tea service offerings including  seasonal Easter and Sakura (Vancouver Cherry Blossom) tea services, Signature Sweet Plates and even Childrens’ Tea. The tea selection is among the largest and most sophisticated I’ve come across – everything is exclusively by TWG tea. The chef really knows his stuff and is constantly inventing new treats, ranging from savory crab & artichoke tea sandwiches to sweet “French Earl Grey” chocolate pot de crème.

For budget-friendly afternoon tea with lovely scenery, Truffles Cafe at VanDusen Botanical Garden (5151 Oak St.) offers more casual fare, and great value for money at just $35 for two and $60 for four.

What’s your favourite spot for afternoon tea in Vancouver? Help out by commenting below.

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17 Responses to Best Afternoon Tea Service in Vancouver? You Make the Call!

  1. Great post! One of my favourite meals of the day! ;)

    I just had Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (again). Great service, amazing scones, and I looove their lemon meringue tarts.

    Urban Tea Merchant is fantastic! Haven’t been back yet since last summer. Sakura tea service sounds interesting though.

  2. Anon

    La Petite Cuillere! (http://www.lapetitecuillere.ca/)

  3. Serena

    I have really enjoyed afternoon tea at the Apres-Midi Teahouse in Gastown. They have a wonderful selection of both hot and cold teas.

  4. Apparently Serenas really like their afternoon tea! I’ve always loved Secret Garden in Kerrisdale, I’ve tried many around town and they are way too pricey for what you get, this place is quaint affordable and has a big variety.

  5. Ann

    Patisserie Fur Elise is a hidden gem :) In downtown close to the Robson Library.
    http://www.patisseriefurelise.com/

    Their tea selection, savouries and sweets are fantastic, and use a lot of local ingredients. It is in a beautifully decorated heritage home and they sell cakes and sweets downstairs too. The staff are super friendly with adorable apron-uniforms!

  6. Thank you! These are all fantastic.

  7. Karen

    Indigo Cafe has by far the best (and healthiest) afternoon tea – I liked their high tea much better than Fairmont Vancouver’s and it’s far better value as well. Everything is gluten and dairy free, unprocessed, and just incredibly delicious. Took a meat-and potatoes Irish friend who loves pizza there, and he exclaimed that their raw pizza (part of their high tea) was actually the best pizza he’d ever had!
    http://www.indigofood.org/High-Tea.html

    • Josephine

      Hard to say where is my absolute favourite. Secret Garden Tea Company never disappoints, but so many other options these days. A couple of nice ones that havn’t been mentioned yet here are T Room Bakery & Kitchenware in Point Grey, and Faubourg in Kerrisdale.

  8. Pat

    http://adoniatea.com in Kerrisdale is excellent !

  9. Jocelyn

    La Petite Cuillère is my absolute favourite. Their earl grey cream is the best blend I have tried and their afternoon tea offerings are always delicious. There are lots of vegan-friendly options too.

  10. I would love to invite you out to have Tea at Tracycakes Bakery Cafe in Fort Langley or Abbotsford! Let me know when you are coming and we will steep the tea and bake up some yummy cupcakes!

  11. Shelly

    I also would like to extend an invitation to SerendipiTea in Abbotsford!
    We serve High Tea Monday through Saturday at 2626 Montrose Ave. Please call for reservations, 604-853-0909

    We’d love to have you!

  12. The Secret Garden in Kerrisdale has a long history and feels very authentic. Lovely Tea and treats.

  13. Hilary king

    First day out with our new baby grandson was to the Wedgewood Hotel for afternoon tea, they did not disappoint…..cake and sadwich selection were to die for and the staff were very accommodating ………made our first family outing a day to remember….

  14. “Nothing was knock-your-socks off” is the experience I have had at pretty much every high tea I have gone to in Vancouver. Usually, the best part is the scones, because they come with clotted cream. If I had to choose, I would say I enjoyed the high tea at Indigo Cafe the most, because it was the most unique and pretty delicious.

  15. Pingback: 15 Fun Things to Do in Vancouver in April 2013

  16. I have to admit this is a very good article and worth reading !

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