Evening cocktails and weekend brunch might be the heavy hitters in Toronto's social scene, but there's something incredibly civilized about sitting down for a cup of tea and scrumptious little pastries.
Versatile enough for an outing with friends, coworkers, your book club or even your mom, high tea is the daintiest way to while away an afternoon. And it doesn't have to break the bank. We take you to three places, from budget-friendly to boujee.
Kitten and the Bear ($)
1414 Dundas St. W
What’s the deal
The Jam & Tea Service at Kitten and the Bear offers just the bare bones of afternoon tea. At only $24.50 per person, it’s the perfect introduction to tea time. Served on fine English china with vintage silverware and daintily embroidered linens, their tea service will make you feel as if you’ve been transported across the pond, instead of just across Dundas West.
For some of us, taking tea is all about steeped leaves and scones – the rest is just filler. Here, traditional scones are freshly baked bundles of buttermilk deliciousness, served with hand-crafted preserves and double Devon cream. Their small-batch jams, jellies and marmalades feature local and seasonal produce blended in-house. A straightforward collection of teas includes Sloane, Bellocq and a house blend.
Still hungry? Enjoy their à la carte pastries.
3401 Dufferin St.
What’s the deal
Straight from France, this luxe patisserie opened its tea salon and boutique in Yorkdale Mall two years ago. Right in the middle of the road, as far as pricing is concerned, Ladurée’s afternoon tea service goes for $50 per person.
The bakery is billed as the inventor of the macaron, which was thought up by Ernest Ladurée’s second cousin in the mid-20th century. The recipe for the colourful confection remains unchanged to this day – and three of them are included with the Afternoon Tea service. A croque monsieur, madeleine, lemon tartelette and other pastries also make their way onto the robust menu. Their collection features mostly Chinese green and black teas with Sri Lankan and Indian teas in the mix as well. They'll also sub in coffee or hot chocolate.
A full brunch menu is also on offer at Ladurée’s Tea Salon. And while you're there, grab a box of macarons to take home.
188 University Ave.
What’s the deal
The Lobby Lounge here is the epitome of elegance. Live piano tinkles through the luxe space while guests cozy up on sleek leather couches, basking in the warmth of stylish fireplaces. In keeping with the vogue atmosphere, the theme of their tea service rotates with the season. Until May 31, you can experience their Seedlip Botanical Afternoon Tea for $75.
Inspired by the partnership with Seedlip, a non-alcoholic botanical spirit, the menu centres on herbs and spices, incorporating ingredients like cucumber, mint, blood orange and grapefruit. From savoury snacks to freshly baked scones and sweet pastries, the hearty Seedlip Botanical Afternoon Tea won’t leave you wanting. Items include foccacia piled with smoked salmon and thyme aioli; a ricotta tart filled with bacon jam; and a negroni verrine made with vermouth rosso cream and Campari gelee, topped with whipped Aperol. In addition to herbal, black and green teas, the service also includes a Seedlip mocktail. Into the Grove, a sweet and bubbly sipper sold us on sobriety – but imbibers can opt to top it up with sparkling wine for a low-ABV iteration.
For just $10 you can swap out the mocktail or sparkling for a glass of Veuve Clicquot. A list of swish cocktails is also available to add on.