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Aug 3, 2008 05:34 AM

King Edward Hotel - Afternoon Tea + photos

After a very pleasant High Tea experience in Hong Kong (at the Peninsula Hotel), I finally got around to trying a local Afternoon Tea purveyor. I settled on King Edward Hotel on King Street, as the location brings many fond memories of past significant events.

My SO and I decided to sample the gamut of offerings by sharing the King's Tea (finger sandwiches: egg salad with pommery mustard and arugula, duo of smoked salmon and lemon shrimp, turkey waldorf with sun dried fruits, cucumber cream cheese and coriander cress; selection of delicate pastries: lemon blueberry meringue tartlet, passion fruit mascarpone cheese cake, queen of hearts raspberry sandwich cookie, lavender honey scented madeleine, chocolate pistachio ribbon square; current scones with devonshire cream and strawberry preserves; choice of premium tea from our humidor: we selected the King Edward Blend - floral jasmin and Ceylon blended with the malty character of Yunnan, finished with a sprinkling of rose petals), and the Ploughman's High Tea (pate en croute, savoury sandwich selection, aged tuxford cheddar with raisin walnut crisp bread, Scotch egg with Branston pickle, warm tourtiere, choice of tea: Golden Assam is the one we chose - second flush, large-leaf golden-tipped Assam produces a full-bodied cup with a copper liquor noted for its lively character and distinctly malty flavour - this was their marketing description, not my own).

The atmosphere of the dining hall was excellent, as the ceilings were high and the space well lit by natural light streaming through the sun-roof (sittings are in the hotel lobby). The sandwiches were nice and light - though I would have preferred less usage of mayonnaise throughout. The desserts were their strong point (the lemon tartlet was sweet, yet pucker-inducing), and the scones with cream divine (though I would have preferred an artisan's local jam, or preserve as opposed to the mass-produced Swiss offering of Hero).

However, the Ploughman's version left something to be desired. The tourtiere was a bit tough and chewy and the cheese presented was a very plain, non-aged cheddar. I would have preferred something a bit sharper. The Scotch egg had a crust that was soggy, dense and flavourless (perhaps it just wasn't to my liking).

High Tea:
Close-up of Desserts:
Seating Area:

The teas, unfortunately, were a bit of a letdown. I sampled a rose-scented tea in Hong Kong and was blown away by its subtle floral aroma. I could drink that tea all day long without being bored. However, I found that the K.E blends were very robust (for my tastes) and left me quite parched, probably from the high caffeine content. Perhaps my tastes were nurtured alongside more Asian tea blends, such as floral jasmine and chrysanthemum, or Ceylons, Genmaicha and Sencha - so I am most likely biased since I was not raised on more traditional British blends.

Overall, their classic tea remains their strong suit, though the variety was a pleasant addition with the introduction of the Ploughman's option. For taste alone, I would not order the Ploughman's again, but for the sake of diversity, I would order it again - who knows, maybe it was just an off-day?

What are people's thoughts on the best Afternoon Tea venues of the city? The next on my list to try is Windsor Arms, followed by the Park Hyatt. Any other suggestions? The emphasis for me would be the decor/atmosphere as I like to lounge for a few hours while sipping on my tea. Thank you in advance.

Cheers and Happy Eating!

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  1. Good post, thanks BokChoi. I really enjoy The Windsor Arms high tea, and have been a few times. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on it as compared to the King Edward's. Judging from the pictures alone, I would have to say WA's serves a more elegant selection. Besides that, their scones are wicked good!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: millygirl

      Thanks millygirl, I'll post my photos once I get around to trying it - though I think I'll be all Tea-d out for a while (LOL)! I'm still searching for that great-tea-experience that will live up to Peninsula (live string music, white-gloved service, usage of actual silverware - I was actually shocked to see that K.E. used very basic ceramics/porcelains and not actual silverware. Not in the least impressed). One unexpected highlight of the Peninsula's version was the inclusion of a delicious 'frozen tiramisu'. Excellent contrast to the other offerings in terms of temperature and texture.

    2. Interesting. My only experience was at the Royal York and it rated a resounding meh. I think I am not an Afternoon Tea sort of person.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mogo

        agreed - I would have to say that there was a time when I would have definitely found high tea to be a let-down. I think I've developed a hankering for it now though! I basically just go as an excuse to sit somewhere with a nice atmosphere and chat for 3 hours without feeling rushed. Though good food is also on my list of criteria!

        1. re: BokChoi

          I haven't had high tea in ages, last time was at The Four Seasons in Yorkville, can't comment because it was so long ago. The best high tea we've had was in Maui at The Sheraton. It was so good that we remember it to this day.

          The Ploughman's version didn't look all that great, sorry you did not enjoy it either. I would love to try High Tea again in Toronto, however my husband has a GI-normous appetite and it would not suit him at all ...LOL. He would go and enjoy it just for me, but it would not fill him up!

          As always, beautiful pics. Bokchoi? Do you get the same stares as I do when I take my camera out and start snapping away? I did this when we visited Chicago and had deep dish for the first time. I actually talked back to the customers at their remarks!

          1. re: red dragon

            Yes, I would agree that Maui would probably have a nice atmosphere (white sands, cool ocean breeze...LOL), but alas, I am stuck here in the great, cold north! I actually don't get too many stares when I whip out the camera (as well, it's more common now than when I upgraded my camera a few years back). Thank goodness - I actually get a few kitchen tours as a result - my most recent one being at WD~50 in NYC. I got to meet Chef Wiley, which was a great highlight of the trip. Could also be a combo of my inquisitive mind with respect to ingredients and preparation method alongside the copious amounts of picture-taking though...I have photos posted from that tour as well. Thanks for the compliments re: photos. I'm glad they're appreciated. I'll keep it up!

            Too bad about those sitting around that didn't appreciate your photo taking - do you tend to use flash? I try not to, so maybe I'm a bit under the radar...But at a pizza's not like you're destroying the atmosphere or anything... strange

      2. I have been to the Four Seasons afternoon tea twice this year. The first time was with 15 girls for a bachelorette party, the second time was with my family for Father's Day. I love it there. The teas are hit and miss, but the food is amazing and the service is awesome. I really like the fact that they are okay with people being vegetarian (the veggie sandwiches are just as good if not better than the meat/seafood ones). They even served sparkling fruit water one time I was there (on the house)! I highly recommend it. Go hungry.

        2 Replies
        1. re: canadianbeaver

          Canadianbeaver - how much was the Four Seasons afternoon tea? From their website, the tea was held in the lobby bar then?

          1. re: jennjen18

            It was $30/person. They held it in the front bar, not the main restaurant. They close the whole thing off for afternoon tea. It's really pretty.

        2. I have heard the Sutton Place Hotel does a wonderful tea, the Old Mill does one with great scenery and if you do not mind driving I love going for tea at the Doctor' house (on Saturday's you can watch the bride and grooms getting ready for the chapel ceremonies throughout the gardens) in schomburg after an outting to the McMicheals gallery.

          4 Replies
          1. re: smr714

            Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'll put it on my list to sample.

            1. re: BokChoi

              Just my usual note: High Tea is the working class Englishman's supper meal: strong tea, lashings of bread and jam, with eggs or side meat or some other stick to the ribs dish, served without ceremony as in effect a family meal. Afternoon Tea or just "Tea" is what this thread is really about, and what the various venues written about attempt - more and less successfully - to charge a great deal of money for !

              1. re: Bigtigger

                that is why the High tea is correctly the protein-rich and rustic "Ploughman's" one.

            2. re: smr714

              Quick correction -- the Doctor's House is in Kleinburg, not Schomburg.

            3. I'm not an afternoon tea expert, but I do enjoy going. I've been to a few around the city.

              I wasn't that impressed with the tea at the King Eddy. The first time I went, the food was fine. The second time, the KE served their Christmas themed tea menu and it was horrible and the service was appalling. We sat in the cordoned lobby area both times and the atmosphere wasn't relaxing.

              Four Seasons has I think, a better enclosed space, but I haven't been too impressed with their food. The first time we were served less than fresh food (think mold). The staff immediately replaced the entire tiered tray with a fresh offering (which unfortunately also was less than fresh). Third time was a charm and the manager offered a bottle of champagne for our troubles. Service is attentive, that's undeniable and they do have the flowering teas.

              Park Hyatt is great. I've been a few times. It's a nice space and servers are friendly. The pastries are not as good as I've had elsewhere but the sandwich offerings seem fine. It's a laid back feel and I've always enjoyed my experiences there.

              I wasn't that impressed with Windsor Arms. The staff were a little condescending in that they felt we needed to be coached on the proper tea to select. I don't mind receiving a recommendation, but do not appreciate when my own choice is looked at with some mild derision. The food was okay, nothing spectacular.

              Red Tea Box offers a more hearty type of bento box style tea. It's interesting to try if you want something beyond convention. While some comment that the space is cutesy and eclectic, I personally find it uncomfortable to relax and sit in. Also, I've walked into the shop a few times and can swear that I've gotten the look where the person giving me the look seems to think that I'm going to abscond with one of her cupcakes. Call me nutty, but I don't really enjoy being treated as if I'm a criminal in an establishment.

              The tea at the Royal York is average, nothing fantastic. It's spacious and comfortable but there's not much more to be said about it other than we were given a tour of the rooftop herb garden.

              1 Reply
              1. re: daeira

                Thanks Daeira, I will try to check out some of your recommendations the next time I have a craving for afternoon tea. Cheers