Murchie's is a long-established BC company which is famous for its British styled tea. Located in downtown Victoria on Government Street, their flagship location has both a gift shop and a casual cafe. The gift shop offers a selection of loose leaf teas, pre-boxed teas, coffee beans, gift sets, spices, fine china, and tea accessories. The cafe has a wide variety of little desserts, sandwiches, and baked goods. You can also order tea, coffee, or specialty drinks.
While some people recommend Murchie's as a replacement for the Empress' overpriced high tea, I wouldn't think of it as such. I don't think Murchie's is trying to be posh - it's a super casual cafe, but the company has been around for a long time, so a lot of locals have fond memories of the place. But I doubt any of the food is made on site, so while it's tasty, it's a cafe - it can't replicate a full high tea in a restaurant setting. Saying that, if you're looking for something that's casual and tasty, I highly recommend Murchie's. After all, it's a uniquely BC experience and a part of the local tradition.
Favorite Dish: The croissant sandwich ($6.95) is delicious. It was a tuna salad sandwich made with mayo and celery, served on a croissant with fresh sliced tomatos and lettuce. The opera bar ($2.95) is good too - it's a multi-layered mocha-creme/vanille cake dessert with chocolate icing on top. When you order this, they place everything on a decorative silver tray.
Taking English afternoon tea is something of a ritual among some visitors to Victoria but if you can't afford going to the Empress Hotel to do so, go to Murchie's where you find tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes in more ordinary surroundings. This has been on business since 1894.
Smack in the middle of downtown - Established in 1894, Murchies is a fabulous place for afternoon tea or a coffee, pastries, and fabulous fresh sandwiches and soups. Not to mention the great store attached selling fresh bulk tea (including Royal Jubilee tea, Empress tea, Prince Charles tea), coffee and spices; teapots, china and other items.
Tables and chairs are mostly in the lobby of the building which is a little strange but if you can grab the booth in the window you will be very happy. A tea room is also attached at the back and serves tea twice a day usually at 2 and 4pm throughout most of the year except sometimes not in December and January.
Prices are affordable:
$1.87 CAN for pot of tea
$6.50 CAN for large sandwich
$1.64 CAN for coffee with one refill
$1.87 CAN for muffin
Favorite Dish: Everything!
We poked our heads into the Fairmont Empress to get a look at their afternoon tea, it looked very elegant and the trays of sandwiches and pastries looked pretty decadent. Perhaps if it had been a special occasion or we wanted to spend a leisurely afternoon I might have considered this as an option but I really didn't want to spend that kind of money or that amount of time on tea. Rob's mom suggested James Bay Tea House but that wasn't close by so we asked a salesman at Roger's Chocolates where to go and he suggested Murchie's which was right across the street which was a perfectly fine place to go for a more casual afternoon tea.
Favorite Dish: I had a mango tea and a cream puff with strawberries, chocolate and whipped cream and then we busted open the box of Rogers chocolates that Rob had bought.
There is more to Murchies than coffee, tea and cakes. Other delicacies are on offer, and you can eat inside or pavement style.
"History of Murchies Tea and Coffee
In 1894 John immigrated to Canada - New Westminster BC. Here he established his business and perfected his art. John would buy tea from tea clippers who came from far off lands to sell tea from their boats in the harbour. He established a relationship with them and began importing the finest of teas for his clients. Deliveries were made by horse drawn wagons. He continued blending teas for individuals, families and businesses. John Murchie was the first to blend green and black teas. He kept his secret recipes in a book that has been passed on and added to through the generations. Today it contains almost 10,000 blends. Copies of the "Blend Book" reside in Murchies stores today .
Today Gwen Murchie continues the tradition of excellence that began over 100 years ag. Since Gwen has been the president of Murchies, the company has grown. In l967 Murchies consisted of two stores. Today Murchies includes five retail locations, two full kitchens, an enormous mail order clientele (35,000 people) office coffee service, not to mention a huge production and packing plant with their own coffee roaster. Gwen has taken the best of the old - continuing the tradition of custom blending, and promising the best quality to her customers, and added the best of the new - such as exceptional service through many departments and the internet. "
Favorite Dish: The Huge Cream Slice (that is what we call them in the UK) was delicious, and I had a beautiful mug of hot chocolate, with all the trimmings. - Not a lot of calories there then !!!!!!