Pinkies out: High tea in Vancouver

Sandwiches, petits fours and litres of pekoe on a Sunday afternoon.

Credit: Hilary Henegar

Afternoon tea at the Urban Tea Merchant in downtown Vancouver.

An ‘experts’ guide to the best afternoon tea service in Vancouver


I have always loved afternoon tea. When I was a little girl my favourite activity was tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, and I remember many birthdays at the hotel in frilly dresses and white gloves. I am possibly regressing to my childhood, but I don’t mind admitting I have recently been reliving my glory days with that time-honoured English tradition.

While every hotel and teahouse puts their own spin on it, traditional afternoon tea is served with dainty sandwiches filled with cucumber, cream cheese, smoked salmon, eggs and watercress, and sweets like scones with jam, tarts and small cakes. This feast ranges from $20–50 per person, depending on quantities and fanciness.


High tea in Vancouver

SLIDESHOW: Sunday afternoon at the Urban Tea Merchant

bcliving‘s Krista Eide, Meera Bennett and Hilary Henegar don pearls and perky pinkies at the newly opened downtown Vancouver location of The Urban Tea Merchant



Afternoon tea in Vancouver:

Adonia Tea House

2057 W. 41st Ave, Vancouver


Monday–Sunday, 10–6:30 p.m.


Bacchus Lounge

845 Hornby St, Vancouver


Saturdays–Sundays, 2–4 p.m.


Urban Tea Merchant

1070 W. Georgia St, Vancouver


Saturday–Sunday, 10–6 p.m.

Thursday–Friday, 10–8 p.m.


All three recommend reservations.

Lately, my friends and I have been making afternoon tea a monthly tradition, and have spent many a lazy Sunday afternoon nibbling our way through tiered platters of miniature goodies and drinking countless cups of tea, often until our bladders can take no more. (Not surprisingly, Oliver does not share my passion for this activity, so when I go, I leave him at home.)


High tea in Kerrisdale: Adonia Tea House

I have been to tea at numerous locations in Vancouver, and have plans to test the rest of our city’s tea joints. So far, my favourite tea house is Adonia Tea House in Kerrisdale. It’s decorated with the sweet flair of a grandma:  floral print wallpaper, numerous decorative spoon collections, and fancy teacups displayed in old fashioned cabinets.

This, ladies (and a few men), is the real deal. The afternoon tea at Adonia is delicious, and reasonably priced as well.


High tea at the Wedgewood Hotel

A couple of weeks ago my friends and I blew our monthly budgets and splurged on tea at the Bacchus Lounge in the Wedgewood Hotel. This was a great treat, but the atmosphere was a change from our usual cozy digs. Bacchus boasts deep, comfortable velvet covered chairs, delicious high tea and impeccable service. The atmosphere reeks of old money, and the quality of the tea and the treats is comparable to Adonia.


French-style high tea: Urban Tea Merchant

Most recently we visited the downtown location of the Urban Tea Merchant to experience French-style tea. The differences, to an inexperienced tea goer, are negligible: basically, the French serve a greater variety of teas (we drank rooibos, green and a delicious milky oolong) and French sweets instead of the traditional English ones. That being said, the treats on offer (including lovely pastel macarons) were delicious, if not exactly environmentally friendly; the fantastic petits fours were apparently flown in from Paris.

The Urban Tea Merchant had a nice atmosphere, richly scented teas, and accommodated our varied dietary needs, as well. I had a lovely time.

However, of the high tea places I have visited in Vancouver, I still think that Adonia takes the “cake.” But the sampling continues…


Do you have a favourite local spot for afternoon tea?


Locals Meera Bennett and Oliver Pulleyblank love going to music shows, checking out local art and culture, and eating good vegetarian food. In their spare time, both are lawyers working for “the man.”


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