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Nov 24, 2023

11 min. read

Fancy tea with little sandwiches and scones, anyone?

Afternoon tea is one of the greatest ways to feel super fancy without having to drop $400 on a full dinner. You can wear a hat and gloves and say things are “scrumptious” and “divine”. Devon cream, cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon and teeny tiny cakes. We’re feeling grand just thinking about it. Or sometimes, if you’re feeling more down-to-earth, a nice cuppa in a warm friendly shop with homemade cakes is what you need.


Origins of afternoon tea.

The Old Curiosity Tea Shop.

Abigail’s Tea House.

CLOCKWORK at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Montrose Inn & Tea Room.

The Prince of Wales Hotel.

The Savoy Room.

Scones with jam and cream on a plate next to a cup of tea.

Origins of afternoon tea.

Anna Maria Stanhope, The Duchess of Bedford, is largely credited as the creator of afternoon tea. The story goes that while Stanhope was visiting the 5th Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle in the mid-1840s, she got tired of the long wait between lunch and dinner, so she started eating a light meal of tea (usually Darjeeling) and cakes or sandwiches. The practice eventually became the norm all over England and other Commonwealth countries.

You may have heard the term “high tea” and think it’s the same as “afternoon tea”, but it’s not. Scones, tea sandwiches and little cakes are served with “afternoon tea” in mid-afternoon. A “high tea”, however, includes heartier fare like meat, fish and egg dishes, as well as breads and desserts and is served in the early evening.

Now that you have those bits of information, here’s where to enjoy afternoon tea across Ontario, from the stately to the small and cozy.

A table is set with a teapot, cups and saucers.

The Old Curiosity Tea Shop.

91 Main St N, Markham, Ont.

Markham’s Old Curiosity Tea Shop is a quaint, traditional tea room. Meals are served on Royal Doulton China and the Victorian Afternoon Tea includes a pot of loose leaf tea, two tiers of “freshly made dainty sandwiches” and another two tier of warm scones, clotted cream and preserves and English cookies and cakes.

Tea and pastries on a table next to a silver teapot.

Abigail’s Tea House.

2 Main Street S, St. George, Ont.

Take a trip to historic St. George, Ont. and enjoy a relaxed afternoon tea experience at Abigail’s Tea House. Choose from a selection of 12 loose leaf teas and sweet delights from their classic tea house menu. You can also purchase preserves, double Devonshire cream and their homemade Chantilly cream to take home with you!

A three tiered tea set with cups and saucers on a table.

CLOCKWORK at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

100 Front St W, Toronto, Ont.

If you are feeling extra fancy, indulge in a lavish afternoon tea service at the CLOCKWORK Champagne & Cocktails bar inside the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Served Saturday and Sunday, enjoy house-made buttery scones, savory sandwiches and delectable pastries, while you sip on Fairmont curated quality teas.

A table with tea and coffee on it.

Montrose Inn & Tea Room.

1725 Old Highway 2 – R.R. # 2, Quinte West, Ont.

At this boutique bed and breakfast, Afternoon Tea starts off with a seasonal beverage – a glass of lavender lemonade on the verandah or mulled apple cider by a warm fire. The meal itself consists of your choice of teas, a selection of savoury and sweet tea sandwiches, home-baked scones, homemade preserves and Devonshire cream and, finally, an assortment of home-baked sweets and treats.

A plate with sandwiches, cupcakes and a cup of tea.

The Prince of Wales Hotel.

6 Picton Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

The Prince of Wales offers an elegant Victorian experience in their Drawing Room restaurant, featuring artisan teas, finger sandwiches, delicate desserts and other English delicacies. Expect regal treatment with an imaginative twist.

A table set up with sandwiches and tea.

The Savoy.

375 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, Ont.

The Savoy serves affordable afternoon tea in a cozy, friendly classic Victorian atmosphere on fine bone china. The afternoon tea comes with house-made sandwiches, scones, tarts, mini quiches and delectable cakes and pastries.

Scones with jam and cream on a plate.
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