Maybe you already high tea annually during the holidays, or maybe you’re eager to try out this tradition. Either way, these spots offer both classic favorites and innovative twists that make for a festive — and filling! — holiday experience. Read on to find out where to enjoy holiday high tea in the Pacific Northwest.
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia
Seeking a side of glamour and grandeur with your tea? This is the place. Right smack in the middle of downtown, with a view of Vancouver’s skyline, the Fairmont’s Nutcracker Tea (December 20 + 21; $64 per person, $27 for children) includes delicate honey yogurt panna cotta, curried chicken finger sandwiches, crab cakes, and a live pianist playing favorites from the score of the ballet. And while you enjoy a glass of port, Prosecco, or wine, kids are treated to the Prince or Princess tea service with bubblegum tea, scones, and Black Forest ham and cheddar sandwiches — all in a building that genuinely looks like a castle. Someone cue the sugarplum fairies!
Neverland Tea Salon, Vancouver, British Columbia
Neverland’s whole vibe is about whimsy, accessibility, and excellence. Accordingly, the High Tea service respects some traditions (the tea tower, small portions) and upends others (servers wear jeans and t-shirts and sport a relaxed attitude). Also central to the Neverland experience: food worth eating. “We’re not a place where the ambiance outshines what’s being served,” co-owner Terri Tatchell says. “Our food is actually worth indulging in.” To that end, the Holiday High Tea (offered through December 31, at $38 per person) features flank steak on focaccia with green peppercorn aioli, an insane macadamia and salted caramel brownie, and gooey sticky toffee bread pudding with brandied caramel sauce. Pots of tea are never-ending, and Neverland takes gluten- and dairy-free options seriously. In fact, the special order towers so closely resemble the standard ones that customers often think their requests haven’t been honored. “We want those with special needs to enjoy the full Neverland experience,” explains Tatchell. So while the ingredients have been tweaked, the taste is just as dreamy.
The Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia
Here, the setting’s the thing. There are 55 acres of lush gardens, plus the dining room is located in the Butchart family’s Craftsman-style former residence. Admission tickets to the garden are required for tea, but they’re worth it because they grant access to ice skating, strolling carolers, and a proper carousel. The traditional High Tea (served through December 22; $33.75 per person) features classics including egg salad sandwiches with watercress and Cornish pastry. But it’s the Flavours of Christmas High Tea from December 22-27 ($39.50 per person, $18.95 for children) that really screams happy holidays. Heavy on regionally sourced items such as Salt Spring Island goat cheese brioche and a Dungeness crab salad sandwich, the festive high tea can also be paired with wines from three Vancouver Island wineries to make it a hyper-local experience. Pro tip: Make a late afternoon reservation for tea, but arrive early. That way, you get to appreciate the garden during daylight hours and also see it dressed up at night.