This past week has been bitterly cold (by Toronto’s standards; folks from Edmonton or Winnipeg are free to chuckle and/or roll their eyes) so it’s no surprise that I’ve been guzzling cup after cup of hot tea to warm me up from the inside out: milk oolong, apple custard herbal, green dragon pearls, and birthday cake rooibos just to name a handful. All warm and cozy, all yummy. I’m making a nice dent in my tea collection which makes me super happy because the more my family and I drink, the more room there is for new ones! So amidst all the jolly tea chugging, I thought to myself, “hmm, I’m really behind on afternoon tea blogging, I should get on that. Like, now.” I have folders upon folders of photos I have yet to post just waiting to be shared with you guys so I hope y’all are in the mood for some afternoon tea posts because there’s going to be a generous amount of them in the coming weeks and months!
I’ve done afternoon tea about 15 times now and it’s become one of my favourite things in life, not just because I’ve enjoyed many of them with my best friend but because they’re such luxuries. Some folks go on trips. Others buy shoes. Or nice electronics. I do afternoon tea. It’s a treat, one that delights me and inspires me, so much so that I’ve devoted an entire bulging scrapbook to it with a sequel waiting in the wings. The tranquility that comes from pouring hot tea from a beautiful teapot into an equally charming and dainty teacup; the anticipation of the tiered stand being placed on the center of the table, brimming with finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets; and the utter joy that comes from appreciating pretty things, yummy things, and the awesome company and friendship that’s right in front of you.
While I’ve enjoyed each and every single afternoon tea experience for different reasons, my favourite place, hands down, is Annona inside the swanky Park Hyatt hotel in Yorkville on Avenue Rd. I’ve been to Annona twice and both times were absolutely fantastic. Not only is the food delicious and the space relaxing, the service is beyond gracious. One of the things I love about having afternoon tea here is the sense of balance. Their dining room feels luxurious without being too formal or stiff, their dainty china is colourful and whimsical, and their menu, which changes every so often, is chock full of variety. You can tell how much effort they put into their menu because it’s unlike anything you’d see or get at any other place. You can tell that they’ve made a conscious effort to give you a different type of experience and taste sensation with each finger sandwich and dessert: there are pinwheels, savoury tarts, sweet tarts, savoury cones, white bread, wheat bread, pumpernickel, cakelets, cupcakes, macarons, different cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits, the list goes on.
Their afternoon tea, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm for $36 per person, is comprised of a gorgeous assortment of five different finger sandwiches, three small scones, and SIX different sweets and desserts in addition to the loose leaf tea from their tea menu and clotted cream, jams, jellies and preserves for the scones. There are 12 loose leaf teas to choose from including several different greens, blacks, and herbals, my favourite being the Eros, a yummy orange and vanilla dessert tea.
They bring you your plate of finger sandwiches first, followed by a silver tiered stand containing the scones and sweets. While their menu does change periodically (which you can view on their website here), here’s an idea of the type of savouries you can expect based on the delicious assortment I enjoyed the two times I went: crispy cone filled with a creamy Boursin cheese mixed with cranberries and crushed walnuts; smoked salmon and chives with cream cheese on pumpernickel bread; chicken and asparagus salad pinwheel; watercress and cheddar cheese whole wheat pinwheel; shredded cucumber and carrot with hummus on white bread.
And if five different scrumptious finger sandwiches weren’t enough to tickle your variety-loving self, the desserts surely will! There is seriously no shortage of awesomeness when it comes to all the different types of sweets you get with your afternoon tea. There’s a mix of fruit desserts, chocolate ones, and ones with nuts (just a note to those with allergies – which I’ll actually get to later on in the post) including a lemon white chocolate vanilla cupcake, mixed berry tartlet, plum tart, raspberry macaron, peppermint white chocolate layer cake, and a decadent pistachio double chocolate eclair with chocolate custard filling, chocolate drizzle, and plenty of crushed pistachios on top. I just love how Annona mixes things up, plays with different flavour combinations and textures, keeping things fresh and exciting. Their afternoon tea is, in my opinion, so modern, contemporary, and fun.
It’s crazy to think that there’s even more to love about Annona, but there definitely is. I mentioned how gracious their service is earlier in the post and I meant it whole-heartedly. It’s not just in the way their staff services you in person but also in the care and attention they give you when you make your reservation. Annona is the first place I’ve ever placed a reservation for online and I absolutely love it because I’ve written notes for them regarding requests I’ve had for seating (given how I’m a blogger and obviously take photos, I always request a table beside a window so that I’ll have good lighting) and regarding my best friend’s allergies, asking them if there is any way to substitute those with other menu items and they have taken every single word to heart and have granted me everything I’ve requested with no question or hesitation on their part and with no reminders for them on my part.
I can’t even begin to express how much those gestures mean to me because it shows me that they truly care about making the experience a
good fabulous and memorable one. Not only did they grant my request for a window table each time, they actually went out of their way to make different pastries for my best friend. We were floored. So much time, attention and care was taken and we were never made to feel guilty or like a burden for making these requests which I really appreciate.
If you love afternoon tea as much as I do, enjoying it at Annona will be a happy foodie experience you won’t soon forget!
Annona is located inside the Park Hyatt Hotel in Yorkville at 4 Avenue Road, just north of Bloor St. West. Their afternoon tea is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm; reservations are not specified as absolutely required on their website but I would highly recommend making them just in case. You can call them at 416-324-1567 and also visit their website: http://hyatt.com/gallery/torphannon/tea.html.