It all started when a friend posted on the MEETin discussion board that she was “jonesing for a good cup of tea” and wondered if anyone would join her for a tea event. That simple post sparked the most discussion ever and our group of tea lovers have been exploring tea shops for the past six years. We have sampled the whole range from the traditional afternoon tea experience at some posh places to a good cup of tea in a tiny shop. In fact, we have visited too many tea shops to include in just one review. For Part 1 in this series, I will cover a few of the great places for traditional afternoon tea around Montreal.
Birks Café par Europea
On the mezzanine of Birks’ flagship store on Philips Square, it is one of the grandest locations to have afternoon tea in Montreal. I called ahead to ensure the vegetarian in our group would have a comparable plate, but a gluten-free friend joined us at the last minute and the kitchen had no problem accommodating her dietary needs. Both friends’ plates were just as creative and delicious as the regular plates. We couldn’t get enough of the tender, rich scones with Devonshire cream and homemade jam. The selection of green and black teas from Mariage Frères all sounded so exotic and wonderful, it was hard to choose just one.$26.50
1240 Place Phillips
The Ritz-Carleton Montreal is famous for its luxurious style and impeccable service and the afternoon tea is no exception. Usually served in the Palm Court, you can also enjoy tea in the peaceful garden in the summer. If you have your heart set on the garden, check whether there is a wedding or another event in the Oval Ballroom when making your reservation. The three-tiered plate has all the traditional favorites – tender scones, finger sandwiches and a variety of pastry selections – all made with high quality ingredients. Any one of the interesting choices of black and green teas will pair wonderfully with the food. Combine the afternoon tea with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on the next block for a thoroughly cultured and civilized afternoon.
1228 Sherbrooke St. W
Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
The afternoon tea is served in the spacious Le Montréalais, so they are able to accommodate larger groups, birthday or engagement parties, or a baby shower. Even for our table of eight, everything was already prepared when we arrived, including special dietary requests. All we had to do was choose from a wide selection teas and enjoy the service. If you are sensitive to caffeine in the afternoon, they offer two tisanes – Cascade Peppermint and Rooibos Provence – in addition to a wide selection of green and black teas. All the food was delicious. The incredibly rich desserts seemed to be their speciality, so be sure to arrive with an appetite.
900 Rene Levesque Blvd. W
While Gryphon D’Or is a small, casual, funky tea shop on Monkland, their afternoon tea service is as serious as the luxury hotels. Everything but the butter is made on the premises, so you can taste the love with which the food is made. The last group that went there enjoyed the scones and sweet cream so much they ordered a second helping. One even took home a batch fresh from the oven! Since the tea seems to be served on the lighter side, you will need to specify if you prefer your tea strong.
$25 (full service) / $14.95 (scones and dessert only)