Afternoon Tea at the Butchart Gardens – can you imagine anything more perfect to combine a bunch of my interests in one lovely afternoon?
We didn’t have reservations, and Afternoon Tea is only served from 12 noon – 3:00 p.m. April 1 – September 30. We only had a short wait though before a table became available – though the tearoom we were in was full, and it looked like the porch areas and other tearoom/dining room was also full.
(How much do you LOVE the little strainer above too? If it had been more affordable in their gift shop, I totally would have bought one…)
The menu for Afternoon Tea is set – (though they’ll do a gluten-free menu with 24 hours notice) and includes:
- Berry trifle-Vanilla sponge cake, chantilly cream, mixed berry compote
- Traditional warm delicacies – House-made sausage roll with German mustard and Roasted vegetable quiche
- Savory tea sandwiches – Locally smoked wild B.C. salmon with whole grain mustard cream cheese, Egg salad with watercress, Maple glazed smoked ham salad on a cheddar scone, and Cowichan Valley chicken salad with curry and toasted cashews, and English cucumber with fresh ginger cream cheese
- House-made sweets – Chocolate brandy Napoleon, Orange poppy seed loaf, French macaron, Battenberg cake, Chocolate Irish cream truffle
- Signature candied ginger scone, with Strawberry jam and whipped vanilla Devon-style cream
Plus each person gets their own personal pot of tea, choosing from a range of options (below). I picked the Rose Tea – which I’ve had before and it’s totally wonderful, and my companion opted for the Lemongrass & Ginger tea (which I had a sip of, and it was terrific too)!
The loose leaf tea selection includes:
- “100th Anniversary A light black tea blend of Darjeeling, black Hunan and gunpowder
- Bachelor Button Chinese black and sencha tea flavoured with bergamot, rhubarb and blue cornflowers
- Teaberry Blend Black Ceylon tea flavoured with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and currants
- Rose Congou Chinese Congou tea scented with rose petals
- Mixed Greens Our own blend of green teas from China
- Lemongrass & Ginger A herbal infusion of lemongrass, ginger, citrus peel, licorice and peppermint
- Garden Peppermint Slow dried peppermint leaves for a superb, refreshing flavour
- Earl Grey Chinese black tea scented with oil of bergamot
- English Breakfast A traditional blend of premium Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan black teas”
Afternoon tea is $32.50 plus tax per person. Ouch.. that’s an expensive lunch – although… not as expensive as when we’re really hungry for sushi…
Starter – Berry Trifle
The berry trifle was pretty much as you’d expect – it was a sponge cake topped with berries, and then cream on top. It was light and tasty, but really just a set up for the rest of the meal…
After the starter, the large tiered tray of goodies arrived. Our server introduced each of the items, pointing out each of the items – we opted to start with the warm items first, moving our way to the sandwiches and then the sweets.
Traditional Warm Delicacies
The house-made sausage roll with German mustard was pretty good – it was pretty much like all of the other sausage rolls I’ve had (like the frozen ones from M&M Meats)
The roasted vegetable quiche was good too – but again nothing really special. If they had told me it was spinach, or cheese, or anything else I would have said ‘ok’ – there was nothing to suggest roasted vegetable more than any other quiche ingredient.
Next on the tray – sandwiches
Of the sandwiches we tried, my favourite by far was the maple glazed smoked ham salad on a cheddar scone – which had great taste and just a bit of saltiness which made for a delicious little bite. (These were mini-scones of course!) I’m not a huge fan of watercress but the egg salad was also ok, and the smoked salmon wrap was only ‘ok’ – a little disappointing since I normally love smoked salmon. The curry chicken I didn’t like at all, and the English cucumber was kind of boring – but oh-so traditional, so I think not including it would be a strange thing….
Mid-meal palate refresher – ginger and jam
We opted to have the top of the tiered tray next, since we wanted to end the meal with our sweets. The scone was really nicely flavoured with ginger, it was strong enough to be noticeable but not so strong as to overpower the cream or jam.
Ok.. now for the sweets! (Isn’t this usually the highlight of the meal?)
The orange poppyseed loaf was probably my companion’s favourite, but the orange flavour was a bit too mellow for me, and it didn’t stand out as anything unique. I thought I’d like the truffle best, but it had some sort of strange cereal-like coating (it reminded me of Special K cereal) and the inside didn’t taste anything like Irish Cream. The Chocolate brandy Napoleon was ok – nothing special though..
The two desserts I did like was the French macaron, which was actually a very tiny mini-macaron, nice and crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. The Battenberg cake was also really good, and reminds me of family get togethers as a child…
Overall, I liked Afternoon Tea at the Butchart Gardens. However, I liked it more for the “experience” of Afternoon tea more than the meal itself. We walked away stuffed full, but the food wasn’t GREAT for the price paid.
There are a lot more affordable (and price-appropriate) snacks and meals at the Gardens, like bringing your own picnic, or stopping at the coffee shop, but Afternoon Tea is less about the food, and more about the experience. (Plus, now I have a great menu for hosting afternoon tea!)