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Exploring Ontario’s afternoon tea scene

Whether it be for Mother’s Day, a best friend’s birthday or simply a beautiful weekend, afternoon tea is always a delight.

The next time you’re in search of a memorable experience, gather the group and plan an afternoon tea date.

Whether it be for Mother’s Day, a best friend’s birthday or simply a beautiful weekend, afternoon tea is always a delight.

Not sure where to go? There is no shortage of Ontario destinations, and each one is steeped in history. 

First things first, what is the difference between “afternoon tea” and “high tea”? While the lines are rather blurry, the terms are used interchangeably, both appear to originate in and around the mid 1800s.

Traditionally afternoon tea was served mid afternoon and included snack-style foods like pastries, cakes, and finger sandwiches. High tea on the other hand was treated more like a meal, serving cold cuts, a variety of cheeses, and hot dishes like pot pie.

Afternoon tea was meant to be enjoyed sitting on the sofa or an arm chair. High tea was consumed at the dinner table, anytime after 5 pm and a hard day’s work. Either way you sip it, in today’s modern world tea is still the star of the show, and depending on your crowd and venue, maybe a glass of bubbly too. 

Not sure where to begin? Here’s our guide to six tea-time hotspots across the province. 

Omni King Edward, Toronto

In 2023, the Omni King Edward was voted one of the top 25 on the “Historic Hotels Worldwide Afternoon Tea Experiences List.” No surprise, as at every turn, this hotel is a history buff’s dream. Originally built in 1903, this was not just a luxury hotel, but a destination, featuring an impressive art collection. In 1921 the 17th and 18th floors were a hub of social activity, and the Crystal Ballroom was the place to be seen. 

Paletta Mansion, Burlington

This heritage property is nestled among a sprawling 14 acres of formal gardens, featuring Lake Ontario as the backdrop. Back in its hey-day of the 1930s, “Burlington’s Crown Jewel” was the pinnacle of high society. Today it’s a popular wedding and special events venue, but still houses original features like a dumbwaiter and servants’ quarters. 

Tea & Bloom, Sudbury


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Located in the heart of Sudbury, Tea & Bloom was opened by sisters Marianne and Helena. Here you’ll find over 70 varieties of tea and the butter tarts have been a Sudbury tradition for over 20 years. But don’t take our word for it, check out the testimonials on their website. The quality food, charm, and family feel keep the locals coming back for more. 

AquaTerra, Kingston

AquaTerra is Kingston’s go-to for waterfront dining. With finger sandwiches like chicken Waldorf on a brioche bun and shrimp po’boy, and tea flavours like masala chai and verbena blues, afternoon tea goes to the next level. And you can always kick things up a notch and sip on an innovative tea-infused cocktail, lakeside. 

Parisienne Patisserie and Bistro, Innisfil

The Champs-Elysees meets Lake Simcoe in this quaint tea shop. The iconic goodies are baked fresh daily and come courtesy of a graduate of the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. The afternoon tea menu goes from the elegant —Strawberry Tea, to the whimsical Teddy Bear Tea, where, at an additional cost, patrons leave with their own teddy bear.