Have you noticed that more and more of your friends are pickling their own beets, preserving jellies, and dropping out of CrossFit to take felt hat-making courses? Blame Kate Middleton if you must, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the more the internet makes it impossible for anyone to be “all about this new band you’ve never heard of” and “going to a secret illegally-imported miracle fruit party,” the more we’re going back to pre-Internet society basics. Enter afternoon tea. Given that Tinder has made going to bars almost pointless, why not spend your going out money on a more decadent, albeit more hip, activity? Here are the top places to get afternoon tea in Toronto…
Why here: Even before the Royal York got its china out, the Windsor Arms was breaking biscuits in the name of afternoon leisure. You can take your tea in the French-style lobby tea room for a more low-key experience, or opt for a more formal affair in the Russian Red Tea Room. ($38 on week days; $45 on weekends)
Menu highlights: Expect nothing but haute couture pinwheel sammies like the Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Sour Cream with Salmon Caviar finger sandwich. Save room for the Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Tart. You can even go gluten-free if you call at least 24 hours in advance.
Tea to try: Chai Arms, a cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, pepper and organic black tea.
When: Daily at 12:30pm, 1pm, 3pm, 3:30pm
Why here: If high tea is going to sub in for late-night drinks in your social life then MoRoCo is the place to pick up a fellow tea enthusiast while you reach for a crumpet. The tea service is Old World but the crowd is yuppie-meets-hipster. When you overhear a cranky tea totaler making a “back in my day” style complaint about the modern era at MoRoCo, he’s probably referring to the 90s. ($35 to $58)
Menu highlights: The simple yet exquisite throwback Egg Salad and Cucumber finger sandwiches are so perfectly old school they make us nostalgic for a time we never knew – when afternoon tea was society’s Twitter. One bite of a freshly-made scone and you just might burst into tears and vow to only read Jane Austen novels from now on. By the time the mini pastries come out, we expect you’ll be researching how to bring back telegrams in lieu of Facebook… which is really hard to research without the internet, by the way.
Tea to try: The spicy Masala Chocolate Truffle Tea rules hard, but MoRoCo offers straight sipping chocolate instead of tea if you’re going for more of a sugar high than a caffeine fix.
When: Tuesday to Sunday, all day
The Fairmont Royal York
Why here: Afternoon tea at The Fairmont Royal York looks like a scene out of one of those “A Part of Our Heritage” commercials. A tradition at this hotel since 1929, tea is served motherland-style in fine china in the Library Bar. In the summer, tea-time guests are free to peruse the hotel’s famous rooftop herb garden and bee apiary. ($39.50)
Menu highlights: Salute Queen Liz and the royal gang from across pond by munching on old school finger sandwiches with a Toronto twist like the St. Lawrence Market Caprese, Smoked Aurora Turkey Breast, and St. Mary’s Smoked Salmon. Show the British-style scones and French macarons what your North American appetite is made of. Add $25 to your bill for Smoked Salmon canapés paired with a glass of Moët Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne.
Tea to try: 1907 Fairmont Centennial Blend is described as “rich and moody off the nose, it opens with malty astringency and finishes with hints of oak cask and a dusting of delicate citrus.”
When: Saturday and Sunday with seatings at 12pm, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm
The King Edward Hotel
Why here: There’s no better place to test out your fake British accent than at high tea at the King Edward Hotel, which boasts the city’s oldest tearoom. Make friends with other guests by recounting faux tales of the massive power outage that ensued in Jolly Old when all of England boiled tea at the same time to watch Will and Kate get married on the telly. When all else fails, reference Coronation Street. ($42 to $59)
Menu highlights: There’s nothing like the Egg Mimosa and Asparagus Pinwheel sammie and the Lobster and Shrimp Brioche to curb afternoon hunger. The Maple Sugar Shack Tartlet with Silken Maple Mousse is the perfect dessert for celebrating Canada’s place in the Commonwealth, but you won’t be able to resist stuffing your face with classic cream scones and house-made lemon curd. There’s an ocean between you and the Queen’s judgment.
Tea to try: The King Edward Blend is the hotel’s signature tea, described as “floral Jasmine and Ceylon blended with the malty character of Yunnan. Finished with rose petals.”
When: Friday to Sunday from 2:30pm to 5pm
Where’s do you think the best High Tea in Toronto is? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.