Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Tea Time!

Hi Folks:

In a couple of previous ‘Food‘ posts we’ve discussed some of our favourite coffee shops in and around Victoria.  We thought we’d switch that up a bit and talk about tea instead.

1) Murchie’s Tea and Coffee: Murchie’s has been an icon in Victoria for somewhere around a century.  Located on Government Street, it’s a short walk from the Inner Harbour, and a ‘must stop’ location on many visitors’ agendas.  Murchie’s has a seating capacity of 110, and in addition to fine teas and coffees they have a wonderful lunch menu and many different choices for desserts or accompaniments to ‘afternoon tea’.  There’s also a large shop with loose teas, coffees, spices, teapots, coffeemakers, cups, saucers, kitchenware and more.  The ‘tea rooms’ at the top of the stairs also feature work by local artists.  If you’ve walked out of Munro’s Books (just up the street) with a package under your arm, this is a great place to sit and flip through your purchase!

2) Silk Road: A little farther north on Government Street, Silk Road is in the heart of Victoria’s ‘Chinatown’.  There’s no ‘tea bar’ here, but there is a huge space with many different varieties of teas – from organic blends to flower teas – along with all of the requirements to steep the perfect cup.  The staff are open, friendly, and offer wonderful guidance.  Silk Road also offers workshops and ‘tea tastings’ throughout the year, combining entertainment and information with wonderful tastes and aromas.  Finally, Silk Road offers aromatherapy products and there is a spa onsite.  Definitely worth a visit!

3) Teaopia: A newer arrival to Victoria, Teaopia has two locations in town.  One is at the Mayfair Mall, and the other is on Fort Street in the heart of downtown, between Government and Douglas.  They also have a number of other stores across BC, Alberta and Ontario.  Teaopia offers a hundred varieties of loose tea for sale, either for home purchase or to try in store.  If you’re hungry they offer muffins, scones and more to accompany your drink.    They also have cast iron and red clay teapots, cups and other accessories in a quiet, relaxed environment.  NB: If you order a cup or a pot of tea, you will have to wait a few minutes to receive it as each one is matched to it’s own tea timer to ensure perfect steeping time.

4) Fairmont Empress: A tradition in Victoria for more than a century, ‘the’ place to have high tea in Victoria is the Empress Hotel.  Not for the faint of wallet, it is nonetheless an experience not to be missed.  The Empress serves their own secret blend of tea, along with raisin scones, heavy cream and  strawberry preserves.  For this festive time of year, special dates and times have been set aside to enjoy gingerbread men and hot chocolate or hot apple cider as well.

Those are just a few of Victoria’s places to have tea.  We’ll cover some more in an upcoming blog post!  In the meantime, if you’re serving tea to company this season, why not a little ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ to accompany it?

From Martha Stewart magazine, Feb, 2007 issue:

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Makes 10

3 cups (750 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
¼ tsp (1 ml) baking soda
8 oz (225 g) seedless dates, chopped
½ cup (1 stick) (125 ml) plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for ramekins
2 cups (500 ml) packed dark-brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Toffee Sauce (see below)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter ten 4-ounce ramekins; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine dates and 1-cup (250 ml) warm water. Simmer until most of the water is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small food processor and process until smooth; keep warm.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs, and beat to combine. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the flour mixture, and beat until fully combined.
  4. With machine running, add date purée, a little at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Divide evenly between prepared ramekins, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Cool to room temperature, slice off top, and discard. Cut in half horizontally, and layer with sauce. Serve immediately with ice cream, if desired.

Toffee Sauce
2½ (625 ml) cups heavy cream
2 cups (500 ml) sugar
â…“ cup (80 ml) corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) (125 ml) plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) cream, sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel colored, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, let stand until cool, about 30 minutes. Place over low heat, and stir in remaining cream until smooth.



P.S. You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.

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