I recently accepted a tea date with Andrew Dobson of DobbernationLoves - a fantastic food and travel blog also based out of Toronto, Canada. We had a grand old time catching up over fancy cups of tea, sweets and sandwiches. I have been to afternoon tea at almost every hotel in Toronto via our Hug Tea Tour and the desserts at the Shangri-La Hotel have been the most inventive and my favourite. I also love their central downtown location and modern lobby lounge - where afternoon tea is served.
Not sure about what kind of tea you are feeling? All of the servers are level one certified tea specialists. Two are currently training to become tea sommeliers through the Tea Association of Canada which requires eight levels of certification!
The Pastries - The desserts change seasonally, so they may be a bit different when you decide to go. The macaron was one-of-a-kind yuzu flavour - still sweet. There was also a decadent chocolate brownie, raspberry jelly, chocolate mousse and coconut cake
The Scones - My strategy is to always devour the warm raisin scones first as they are time-sensitive. The scones are served with a house made berry preserve and devonshire clotted cream. Additional scones are available for $3 each and I would definitely order extra to take home to friends and family.
The Finger Sandwiches - We enjoyed a smoked salmon and cucumber sandwich with herb crème fraiche on rye bread, egg salad with fresh herbs on country white bread (my favourite!), ham and brie with apple on marble rye bread and chicken with mustard and mayonnaise on whole wheat bread - all crustless of course.
The lobby lounge uses three different types of tea ware or ceremonies depending on which tea is ordered. Here is a typical Japanese tea service performed by our server above. She even made sure to heat up our teacups with hot water ahead of time, which was very impressive. The tea that I Andrew and I tried (above) was my favourite of the day - a Genmaicha which is a mild and smooth Japanese green tea that is blended with the aroma of roasted brown rice.
If you're feeling adventurous, Shangri-La also offers rare and exotic teas like Puerh which are known as they only type of tea that is aged and develops more complexity over time. Currently three different vintages are on offer by the hotel.
I loved all the glassware and the Asian-influenced tea sets. It was also lovely to be able to see our Vanilla Rooibos in the clear teapot. The Rooibos is a caffeine-free red tea from South Africa blended with sweet vanilla & almonds which is heavenly on its own or with a touch of milk.
On the right in a more traditional teapot is the Royal Earl Grey. It's everything you would ever want in a proper cup of tea. We tasted an incredibly rich and creamy bergamot blend with a sweet aftertaste and a hint of rose...divine and a perfect pairing with all the sweets and savouries that we sampled that afternoon.
Shangri-La offers a selection of 68 premium teas sourced from around the globe, including a few exclusive blends as well. Here is their wall of tea (above). Teas can range anywhere from $7.50 per pot to $70.00 per pot, so choose wisely! Afternoon tea is $40 per person and includes a selection of teas. Premium teas can be added for an additional charge.
Shangri-La is also one of the few hotels that offers afternoon tea daily from 2-5pm. Its perfect after a long day of shopping with your mom, sister or best friend, especially if you're playing a little mid-week hookey.
For more information visit:
188 University Avenue
(647) 788 8888