The China Cup Tea Company

Sorry! Restaurant is now CLOSED. (Trust me, I’m as upset as you are.)

Restaurant: China Cup Tea Company
Cuisine: Tea/Bakery/Sandwiches/Desserts
Last visited: November 17, 2010
Location: Surrey, BC (Cloverdale)
Address: 5724 176 Street
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4.5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4.5
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Locally owned/operated
  • Local favourite
  • Specializes in high tea
  • Authentic Chinaware
  • Large variety of teas
  • Seasonal specials
  • Local ingredients
  • Hidden gem
  • Modern atmosphere
  • Freshly baked goods
  • Home made/Home style
  • Baked goods to go
  • Gift shop

**Recommendations: Scones (especially with clotted cream, lemon curd, and jam), sandwiches made with Rye Bread, any baked good/dessert/pastry (in particular raspberry macaroons, lime meltaways, hazelnut blondie), and the caramel sauce with apples. For the tea, Creme au Caramel Rooibos, Monk’s Blend White Tea, Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos, Raspberry Black Tea

What?! And I thought Cloverdale was a destination point for Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives? Well here’s a place that’s maybe even Ina Garten approved, or at least Follow Me Foodie approved. Believe it or not, The China Cup Tea Company is a little bit of modern English tradition in Cloverdale’s historic downtown. What? Cloverdale has a downtown? Trust me, all this was news to my ears too.

I was invited on behalf of Tourism Surrey and Vancouver Coast and Mountains BC to partake on a tour around Surrey’s good eats, but of course I’ll report back with honesty. I probably would have eventually discovered The China Cup Tea Company, but it was great to have the early introduction. I know the stereotypes, and I know the trek to Cloverdale seems incredibly long for those central to Downtown, Vancouver, but when it comes to food and a great experience, it’s worth the trip! I admit, I dine based on convenience at times as well, but once in a while it’s fun being a tourist and exploring another city.

The China Cup Tea Company is relatively new and it’s definitely a local favourite in the area. It’s not really hidden, but it is a hidden gem to those not living in the neighbourhood. It sounds and looks like a gift shop from the outside, but I was very surprised to see that it was an actual tea room with a gift shop in the front.

They offer a wide selection of about 50 teas from The Metropolitan Tea Company in Toronto and they bring them out on a tray for you to smell before ordering. The afternoon specialty tea times include cream tea, light tea, mini high tea, and high tea so it’s good for any time of day. All soups, salads, dressings, sandwiches, baked goods, and of course desserts are home made. A couple of the breads are brought in, but there is a focus on organic and local ingredients.

Before this, the only other tearooms I knew of in the suburbs were Applewood Country Gifts, Tea Room & Bakery in Delta, and Tracycakes Bakery Cafe in White Rock. They each have their own clientele with very different atmospheres, and I’m just happy to see this old English tradition making a comeback. The idea of high tea has the stereotype of being expensive and pretentious, but it’s made affordable and modern at The China Cup Tea Company.

Yes, they care enough to keep the authentic traditions of serving tea in real genuine fine bone china ware. All the tea cups and saucers from either Colclough, Royal Albert,or Ainsley. I would hate to be the dishwasher here, these are expensive to replace.

Overall I really enjoyed the experience at The China Cup Tea Company, although I personally prefer cozier tea rooms. They were good at what they needed to be good at: the tea, the scones, and the desserts. The tea wasn’t the best tea out there, but it was enjoyable. I would most definitely come again and  the scones are available in pre-mixed bags so you can bake them at home or give them as gifts.

On the table:

Teas

  • Creme au Caramel Rooibos
    • $2.25
    • This is one of their most popular herbal teas. It smells and looks like caramel and it’s naturally sweet and almost creamy.
  • Monk’s Blend White Tea
    • $3.25
    • This was delicious! It was naturally sweet with a lemony tang.

Mini Scone – 6/6

  • With Jam or Curd and Clotted Cream $2.75
  • The high tea comes with all 3 condiments, and I think they should just serve them with all 3 even if ordered separately.
  • The mini scone (actually pretty big) comes regular with no added sweeteners or sugar since it already has the sweet accompaniments. It makes them more suitable for diabetics or people watching sugar levels.
  • The scones were almost like biscuits. They were incredibly soft and fluffy with a crispy muffin top like exterior. The inside was almost bread like and they had a slight tang, which was due to the fact that they’re made with buttermilk.
  • They also have flavoured scones and even egg nog scones for the holidays!
  • I loved their homemade clotted cream, which was the real deal. It’s not that fake whipped cream tea rooms will sometimes serve it with. It’s really thick and has a tang.
  • The homemade jam is also a hit with fresh raspberries and it’s not too sweet.
  • The homemade lemon curd is something I wouldn’t have normally ordered, but thank god it came with it! (That’s why I think they should serve it with all 3). It’s creamy and tastes like the lemon curd filling in a lemon tart with a great balance of tart and sweet.

High Tea – 4.5/6

  • A mini scone served with clotted cream, fruit jam and curd, 3 tiered tray filled with open face sandwiches and a selection of seasonal fruit, 2 selections from our sweet tray, your choice of tea $19.95/person (Please book 24 hours in advance)
  • The presentation is fantastic, with lots of variety and they serve for the size of the table (one for each person).
  • The sandwiches are nothing spectacular and they’re quite ordinary, but the highlight for me was the homemade Rye bread.
  • The Rye bread is actually a homemade Honey Rye bread and it’s one of the best rye breads I’ve tried. It’s incredibly flavourful with a sweetness to it and it’s very moist with a deep flavour that stands up to the sandwich filling. I actually liked it dipped in their homemade caramel sauce too.

Assorted Sandwiches

  • Pomegranate Chicken Salad3/6
    • This is seasonal. It was chopped white meat chicken lightly dressed with pomegranate mayo topped with pomegranate seeds.
    • It was savoury and slightly sweet with a little bit of tartness from the fresh pomegranate seeds. I would have liked to taste pomegranate seeds throughout the chicken salad though.
  • Ham & Havarti Mini Croissant3/6
    • It was good, but something you can make at home. It was the only hot sandwich and they’re generous with the ingredients so it was ooey gooey with lots of melted cheese on a buttery croissant which is not made in house.
  • Quiche2.5/6
    • It was light, fluffy and moist, but a bit bland. It’s not that cheesy and it’s more eggy.

  • Chicken Salad – 2.5/6

    • This is a family favourite. It’s roast chicken, broccoli, celery, onion, dressing and toasted almonds, lettuce, slightly seasoned if ordered separately.
    • The high tea ones don’t have almonds which was disappointing because the description sounded delish!
    • I feel like the chicken in this one was dark meat chicken and oddly enough it was drier than the pomegranate chicken salad which was white meat chicken.
    • I liked the texture, but I found this quite ordinary. The dressing just seemed like mayo, but the crunch of fresh veggies were nice.
  • Egg Salad2/6
    • It’s eggs, dressing, celery and onion.
    • It’s a triple layered sandwich with white bread in the middle.
    • I found this quite bland and just your simple egg salad sandwich mom used to pack  for lunch.
  • Maraschino Cherry & Cream Cheese Roll Ups1/6
    • I didn’t know these were still on the shelves! I don’t know anyone who eats these cherries.
    • Even if it was only for presentation they could have used cherry tomatoes and cream cheese, or even grapes and cream cheese instead. It’s a good combination if you’ve never tried it – think wine and cheese.

The top tier was seasonal fruits which were apples and incredibly ripe pears. Although limited for the season, I would have loved to see more of an apple and pear variety.

The fruits are served with a home made caramel sauce which is to die for! Seriously it tastes like melted Werther’s Original candies.
I’m not even a big fan of caramel, and that’s because it rarely comes like this. I know it’s weird, but I dipped the Honey Rye bread in it and it was delicious.

Eat with your eyes! For the dessert portion of their high tea they bring out a two tiered sweet tray of home baked pastries and bars. This, and the scone was by far the best part… not only because I love desserts, but just because they were delectable and memorable. It was like grandma’s home baked goods and each person selects 3 which is a great idea since everyone has different tastes.

We were really full at this point, the high tea is filling and well worth $19.95/person.

Raspberry Meringue – 5.5/6 – This was my favourite. It had a light crispy meringue crust with a very tender, crumbly and tangy lemon bar bottom and a sweet and tart raspberry jam filling. It was really soft and flaky and a great balance of sweet and tart. It was almost a combination of their lemon curd and fresh raspberry jam in a bar form.

Hazelnut Blondie4.5/6 – This was also delicious. It was a very moist and tender brownie and it was something that would come from Butter Bakery. It was nice and chewy and tastes like a Ferrero Rocher in brownie form especially with the Nutella frosting. It’s quite sweet, but I just wish it had more hazelnut pieces.

Pumpkin Bar with Cream Cheese4/6 – I think this is seasonal. It was very moist with a tangy frosting and pumpkin spices, but it tasted more like a carrot cake than a pumpkin bar to me.

Sweet Marie Bar1/6 – I wasn’t a fan of this. I thought it was a Butterscotch Crispy Bar at first and I was so excited. It was roasted peanuts and caramelized corn syrup which was almost rock solid and it was too hard to bite into let alone chew and eat. It’s not a peanut butter brittle, but just a stiff caramel. It had a chocolate fudge topping which I wish had been creamier. I just found it too sweet for me and it gets all stuck in your teeth.

Raspberry Macaroon1/6 – I never liked these American style macaroons, so I’m biased. I much prefer the Parisian style macarons – see here. It was a light sugary meringue that was airy and kind of marshmallow like inside, but barely. It’s just way too sweet for me. It was sandwiched with chocolate and I’m just not a fan of them.

Lime Meltaways5/6 – These mini cookies literally melted in your mouth especially with the dusting of icing sugar. You barely bite into them and they just melt away! It almost dissolves instantly. Incredible. They are quite sweet, so the tang of lime was a great contrast.

Lime Coconut Bar5/6 – I thoroughly enjoyed these as well. It was almost like a creamy key lime pie with coconut flakes. It had a thin crumbly and tender crust with a thick layer of key lime custard made with fresh lime zest. It was sweet and tangy and if you like lemon tarts or key lime pie, you’ll love this. The toasted coconut gave it a nuttiness and it offset the sweetness.

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19 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    What?! And I thought Cloverdale was a destination point for Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives?

    Oh, boy, I can have a field day with this! 😀 But, isn’t Elisabeth’s Chalet in Cloverdale as well?

    While I do appreciate a good cup of tea, I don’t think I will be visiting a place like this anytime soon (not necessarily “my thing” unless they start including something with bacon!); however, I can’t stop wondering… Is there a reason behind the 24 hour reservation? If I had to guess, that would be so they have the goods baked for that day and not be seating there if no customers show up.

  • Sheryl says:

    Thank you oh-so-very-much for sharing this gem Mijune! My mom and I absolutely love high-tea but find there to be so few places to go in Vancouver. Other than Secret Garden Tea Co. and Sutton Place it’s so rare to find good high-tea. So thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for sharing this gem!

  • Mijune says:

    KimHo – lol yeah Elizabeth’s Chalet is for the… “mature” fine dining scene. Exactly! 24 hours to guarantee freshness! PS: Food bloggers should try everything… even girly and sweet things 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Sheryl – yes!! That’s exactly what I wanted to do! Highlight places other than the Secret Garden Tea Co. and Sutton Place. Sure they have high tea and their own clientele… but why not try other ones right? Can’t wait to hear what you though. PS: I’m also going to be going with mom 🙂

  • Nathan Chan says:

    I don’t know about shelves, but I think you can find the cherries at Save-On’s bulk section next to the dill pickles and pie fillings.

    Speaking of pie fillings, neither the Bavarian cream filling at Save-On nor the filling in the Tim Hortons Boston Creme or Maple Creme donuts seem to contain actual cream. There’s no way the filled donuts could have nutritional information so similar to their non-filled cousins if the filling was real cream.

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – Yeah the cream in those donuts are not creams, but more like custards. I think it’s probably a powdered form of custard too…. but don’t quote me because I’m guessing. It just tastes like powdered custard to me.

  • Bow says:

    I pretty sure that fressing on dessert was an enjoyable experience as opposed to cliche appies and mains. I do love roiboos tea and had some incredible black tea in the South Park Royal mall opposite side from Old Navy. What no crustless white bread watercress sandwiches?

  • Mijune says:

    @bow – I really must explore the North shore!

  • Adera says:

    Great choice, I absolutely adore the two owners. I am a huge fan of that clotted cream and lemon curd.. and I did walk away with a bag of the Creme au Caramel Rooibos tea. I look forward to reading your next foodie adventures.

  • Mijune says:

    @Adera – Welcome to my blog! Yes the owners are very friendly and create a cozy atmosphere. I love their scones as well. I update the blog daily so there’s always something to read 🙂

  • Cindy says:

    My friends I had High Tea this
    weekend and we all had a really
    nice time. There was lots of food
    and the service was good..we didn’t
    feel rushed. The food was very tasty!

  • Mijune says:

    @cindy – fantastic! It’s a great hidden gem in Cloverdale isn’t it? Thanks for commenting!

  • Denise says:

    sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
    China Cup Tea Company will be closing on March 19.
    we will miss them.

  • Mijune says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! That just made me soooo sad!!!! Those ladies have so much heart in this business!!! They’re scones were features in my “best of”… 🙁

  • Shoana says:

    Oh NOoooo !!! I was just looking this up to come with a new friend next Tuesday – and we have 3 special occassions coming up that I thought this would be perfect for………very sad !! Thanks for leaving the message – don’t know that I would have had time to check it out ahead of time……..

  • Mijune says:

    @Shoana – you know what I’d call them just to confirm if they are really closed for good already. i haven’t talked to these ladies, but I think it’s worth it to double check. I’m really really sad myself.

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