While the influence of the coffee-centric Parisian café looms large over Montréal, some of the city’s finest sipping spots are its teahouses. Coffee might get you up and out of bed, but a cup of tea is for chatting and relaxing, or reading and reflecting. Largely tucked away in secret in-the-know spots of respite and recharge, Montréal’s tea café culture is quietly gaining steam.
Perfectly situated for a tea break after a wander through Parc LeFontaine, Le Parloir is a bona fide English tearoom nestled along a charming residential street in the Plateau. The friendly staff and local customers lend Le Parloir a neighbourhood feel unique in Montréal.
A “Club for tea lovers,” Cha Do Raku specializes in teas from Japan and offers workshops on tea preparation and traditional Asian tea culture. Owner Shiho Kanamaru will even make flavour suggestions following a short survey via the café’s Tea Clinic.
One of the Mile End’s best-kept secrets, the Cardinal Tea Room’s sparkling atmosphere makes for a quiet refuge from the rush of Saint-Laurent Boulevard just below. Head here for a traditional tea selection coupled with savoury bites, all set to lightly twinkling ivories (there’s a baby grand piano on hand) and the quiet murmur of Montrealer conversation.
Camellia Sinensis is a laboratory of tea, featuring a seemingly endless tea list from internationally producers. There’s more to tea than Earl Grey and English Breakfast, and here’s where you’ll find it. There’s also a Tea School, offering classes in tea ceremonies and infusion techniques for students from the age of 7 and up.
Setting as a goal “to inform you about teas and herbals to punctuate different moments of your day,” Thé Kiosque couples education with enjoyment, each tea profiled in terms of place of origin, style of infusion, and taste. Thé Kiosque also offers up its space for community-driven events and workshops, keeping this café a constantly-evolving part of the neighbourhood.
While Old Montréal is surprisingly lacking in tearooms befitting the cobblestone streets and antiquated facades, two of the finest new cafés are setting the bar high for the rest of the city. A block away from the Notre-Dame Basilica, Tommy is constantly abuzz with the area’s creatives in a bright space bedecked in hanging plants. Converting one of Montréal’s old bank buildings, Crew Collective’s arching ceilings reach sky-high, promising a tea break unlike any other. Once you look back down, you’ll notice others staring upwards over cups of Assam Banaspaty and Red Moon Rooibos.
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And for those looking to go all out with a royal-standard High Tea service, the Ritz Carlton’s Afternoon Tea comes with a stacked tower of finger sandwiches, toasty scones, cream, and jams in one of Montréal’s poshest environs. This being the Ritz, you can finish the service with a Brut or Dom Pérignon Rosé. The printed menu even includes a history lesson on the Duchesse de Bedford Anna Maria Russell, for whom the unbearable Edwardian schedule of dinner at 9 p.m. prompted her mid-meal creation of Afternoon Tea. And really, without her pre-dinner hunger pangs, what would we do with our afternoons?