Finding an afternoon tea buddy is a pretty special thing, and I would like to dedicate today’s post to mine. (You know who you are!) I have had a somewhat lengthy list of places/locations that host afternoon tea in my city, and I’m finally getting around to crossing a handful off of said list! Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I found myself in front of The Omni King Edward Hotel, full of anxiety for my first proper afternoon tea experience since last year. (Fun fact: this historic luxury hotel has been around for more than a century!)
My guest, just like my fiancé, was very punctual, so she was already seated in the lobby waiting for me. After oohing and ahhing over the regal decor of the lobby (complete with purple accents and life sized chess pieces), it was not long before we were led to our table inside of Victoria’s Restaurant. Because we were the first ones inside, we had the special advantage of getting acquainted with the extensive tea selection.
On our table were two wooden boxes containing a dozen tea blends each from local tea companies: Sloane Tea & TEALEAVES. Each tea was stored within a “sensory” jar, where you could remove the top and sniff at the contents and make your tea choice from there. Unfortunately, only one tea was allowed to drink throughout the service, but there were refills of hot water available, if needed.
Ironically enough, I nearly talked my friend out of ordering the Lapsang (Souchong), based off of the fact that this particularly smoky tea is generally an acquired taste. You either love it, or you hate it. To both of our surprises, she absolutely loved it, raving about it the entire service. I, on the other hand, opted for the bespoken King Edward Blend (a mixture of black teas with jasmine and rose petals) - made exclusively for the hotel. I found the tea to have an Earl Grey-like quality (despite not listing bergamot as an ingredient). Enjoyable enough that I didn’t crave the addition of milk, and the perfect amount of florals.
Although we were both there for “Summer Tea”, I ordered the Traditional Experience, while my friend who is a pescaterian, ordered Vegetable Sustenance. We first received cubes of “curbside” watermelon with mint syrup and feta served on a spoon as a palate cleanser. An interesting, but refreshing treat before diving into our finger sandwiches, which were displayed in a horizontal stack on an bright coloured, elegant looking plate that paired well with our teacups.
From top to bottom: Chicken Cobb with avocado, bacon, and blue cheese; Smoked Salmon with mango, mint, and coriander; Picnic Egg Salad with radish, sweet pickle, and chives; Seared to Pink Beef with Chimichurri; and lastly Heirloom Tomato Confit with crumbled goat cheese and snipped basil. To be honest, I was trying smoked salmon for the very first time, and I found it to be way too fishy for my liking, so that was the only sandwich that I wasn’t particularly a fan of out of the five presented to me.
After finishing our sandwiches, a tiered tray was brought out containing scones and various sweets that we each received a plate of. Even looking back at photos, I am still in awe of these desserts! Just another thing that really added to the overall experience. From the lemon & blueberry meringue tartlet in front moving backwards, there was a lavender & lady grey cheesecake, a chocolate & sour cherry cake pop, a coconut lime panna cotta with passionfruit, as well as a flourless pistachio cake topped with apricot mousse.
The cheesecake definitely came out as my favourite dessert on the plate, followed by the panna cotta and pistachio cake, Unfortunately, the meringue tart was a bit too sweet, while the cake pop remained untouched (apart from the bite I took to try it), due to my unfavourable relationship with chocolate. Shocking, I know!
Lastly, we feasted on two different kind of scones: classic tea & peaches ‘n’ cream, served with honeyed lemon curd, house made strawberry jam & Devonshire cream. My high hopes for the peaches ‘n’ cream scones were sadly shattered, as the scone lacked peach flavour altogether. But the saving grace of this layer was without a doubt, the strawberry jam! You could tell that it was homemade, and made with love. I enjoyed the chunks of berry, and the combination of jam and cream on the scone made for an exceptional strawberry shortcake moment.
Overall, I had an amazing time at The Omni King Edward. After sandwiches, scones, dessert, and two pots of tea, my friend and I both left the hotel feeling extra full, and more than delighted with our experience. My only “issue” was not being able to switch to another tea. Of over 20 teas, only being able to choose one is unfortunate. Our server, Kenny deserves an extra special shout out for being super accommodating. He kept great conversation, told interesting anecdotes about the hotel and otherwise, and ultimately enriched our time while dining that much more! I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, nor would I hesitate to recommend to friends or family.
Have you ever had afternoon tea in a hotel setting? Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned for a mellow Taiwanese oolong that’s also fragrant & earthy!
Until we steep again…