With Canada’s roots as a former British colony, Toronto and its Torontonians love the tradition of high tea. There’s nothing like relaxing with scented teas, a plate of warm scones, and fine china on a lazy Sunday afternoon. With a ton of tea rooms in Toronto, here’s a list of some of the best places for afternoon tea in the city.
Omni King Edward Hotel
The King Eddy isn’t just a luxury hotel. It’s also a historic landmark. Built in 1903, this Toronto icon was once the tallest building in the city. Throughout the century it has attracted celebrities and dignitaries such as Mark Twain, Margaret Thatcher, and Ernest Hemingway. One of the hotel’s most memorable moments was in 1964, when 3,000 hysterical fans swarmed the lobby to get a glimpse of the Beatles, who were staying in the royal suite. But the King Eddy is also famous for its epic afternoon tea, served on site at Victoria’s Restaurant. First, a waiter opens a chest of teas, and asks you to smell each flavour. One by one, you inhale the scent of black tea with deep truffle notes and Brazilian cocoa, or Indian lemongrass and rosehip with a citrusy twist. It can take a while to pick one of the 12 flavours. Next, a tower of treats emerges from the kitchen, arranged with delicate pastries and finger sandwiches stuffed with gourmet fillings. Feasting on a mix of sweet and savoury goodies, sink your teeth into a freshly baked scone topped with Devonshire cream and homemade jams. After such an indulgent afternoon, it won’t take long to realize why the King Eddy continues to be one of the best tea rooms in Toronto long after 100 years in existence.
The Windsor Arms Hotel
The historic Yorkville Windsor Arms Hotel is a class act, with one of the poshest tea rooms in Toronto. From the French-inspired lobby, the waiter ushers you behind silk drapes into one of the luxurious tea rooms, elegantly decorated in vibrant purples, creams, and reds. A crackling fireplace warmly greets guests, as well as a rack of quirky tea hats you can wear. Sitting at the ornate table and indulging in three tiers of tea cakes, crumbly scones, and exquisite finger sandwiches, you almost expect the Queen herself to make a cameo. Peruse the selection of hot teas for something that strikes your fancy, from Russian Caravan to Sencha to the chocolatey Tibetan Tiger. For nocturnal tea lovers, try the Twilight Tea, a high-tea seating after 5:30 p.m.
Guildwood Tea Room and Cafe
The Guildwood Tea Room and Cafe, located in a strip mall in Toronto’s “Far East” suburban Scarborough, is well worth the trek for this unexpectedly awesome tea room, popular for its fresh baked scones, desserts, and crepes. Grab a seat by the window and admire the kitschy art and British memorabilia accessorizing the tea room. Then, loosen your belt and pile your fine china with sweet and savoury scones, finger sandwiches, petit fours, and, of course, a steaming cup of fragrant tea. Biting into a warm scone with a dollop of homemade jam and whipped cream, try not to swoon. And here’s a handy tip: the café takes reservations for afternoon tea any day of the week.
A chocolate-themed high tea? It’s not an urban legend and doesn’t require a golden ticket. With a reservation, you can gorge on chocolate-inspired teas and treats at the fancy Yorkville chocolatier, MoRoCo Chocolate. Once you’re seated, your first task is to select an artisan tea or sipping chocolate. If you choose the MoRoCo Blend, close your eyes and inhale the intense scent of rich cocoa and macadamia nuts—signature drink that’s known as “liquid dessert.” Teatime features all the traditional dishes of finger sandwiches and upscale snacks, but some scones have a chocolatey twist. Biting into one, a hint of vanilla bean puckers on your tongue; while another is packed with cocoa and chocolate chips, melted and exploding into the warm dough. Willy Wonka would surely approve.