Review: Royal Tea Garden Tour During Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is Worthy Addition to Free Tour (with Tea & Scones Included in $15.00 Price)
Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion has offered free English Tea Garden tours for years during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. While that is still the case, there is now a new offering. For $15.00, guests can book a Royal Tea Garden Tour, which includes a similar but extended tour, with the addition of a full cup of tea and two scones. Guests can also shop in the Tea Caddy before it opens to the public. Right now, the tour can only be booked ahead of time by calling 1-407-WDW-TOUR. I am not sure if that will change. It felt like there was still some fluidity in the tour process, including the time that guests need to arrive by. Only about 15 guests can participate in the paid version each day, which begins and ends before World Showcase officially opens. While our group did not comprise 15 guests, I think that will happen as word gets out on the tour. The official start time is 9:30 a.m. (more info on that below), with just one Royal Tea Garden Tour per day.
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It was a beautiful day for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, I always like having some early time in the park.
We booked and paid for our tour a few days ago, and there were no discounts available on the $15.00 cost. The tour needed to be paid in full ahead of time, there is a 48 hour cancellation time period for full refund. We were told to arrive at 9:15 a.m. for the 9:30 a.m. tour, the check-in point is the Rose & Crown podium. This ended up being a little early - there weren't even Cast Members there yet. We were told today that 9:30 a.m. was more the time to shoot for, but better early than late and it's a great time for photos with few guests around.
We met our tea tour guides Francesca and Abby at the Rose & Crown. They gave an excellent tour, which is always what we've experienced during the tea tours here.
Have a little time on your hands while waiting? Peter Pan and Tinker Bell topiaries are across from the Rose & Crown (as are small fairy houses in the display).
The rest of the United Kingdom was closed upon arrival (as was most of World Showcase), but it made for lovely pictures while walking over to the English Tea Garden.
While World Showcase is mostly closed until 11:00 a.m., guests can walk between France - where Les Halles Boulangerie is open at 9:00 a.m. - past the UK, and to Norway, where Frozen Ever After opens early. This is my favorite time for World Showcase during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. And Disney keeps utilizing more of World Showcase early by offering this tour.
It isn't often you see nobody walking down this street, mostly very early in the morning or later after Illuminations.
There was a sign for the Royal Tea Garden Tour outside of The Tea Caddy.
This offers a little more information on the tour. I was asked how long the tour lasts, and I checked my photos - 45 minutes is how long our tour was from the first plant to the last. I think the free tour lasts about 20 minutes, but it didn't seem that different to me. Our tour actually didn't begin until 9:45 a.m. and ended at about 10:30 a.m.
There are twelve cups with tea plants in the garden, including English Breakfast.
I'm not showing all of the tea cups and signs, but the tour guide does take guests through all of them - including black tea, herbal tea and chai.
We were told that Buttermint is new, I've not seen it here before but it doesn't appear to be a totally new flavor to Twinings (at least not to the United Kingdom). So it may just be new to The Tea Caddy.
There is always a garden here, but the English Tea Garden is only available during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
Francesca talked about the Orange & Cinnamon Spice tea. It is herbal, with no caffeine. And while I called it a tea, the herbal teas are not considered real tea as they are not from the Camellia sinensis plant (which is something that guests learn on the free tour as well).
Pretty view of the English Tea Garden.
The Twinings Pumpkin Spice Chai is very popular in the U.S., but it is interesting to note that it isn't in the United Kingdom. Pumpkins and pumpkin as a flavor aren't as much a thing as it is here. Francesca said she didn't know much about pumpkins until coming to the United States.
Here is some information on the Pumpkin Spice Chai, which I don't think I've every tried.
After the tea tour, we were brought into The Tea Caddy to shop (if we chose to) before the store opened and to pick a cup of tea and a takeaway box of scones. One scone was savory (Irish cheddar) and then the other was a more standard scone. Clotted cream and Earl Grey butter were on the side. For the tea, we were able to choose from the 12 flavors that we learned about on the tour. I tried the Buttermint since that was new to me. At first taste, I wasn't a fan but then the flavor really took hold. It is a nice tea which includes peppermint, natural mint flavor, and a vanilla flavor - no butter.
Personally, I think the scones and tea were almost worth the tour price. I wouldn't pay more than $15.00 for the tour, but I feel it was a decent value at the price charged. We also received a small pack of tea samples, and I think those are still given on the free tour as well.
Beauty and the Beast boxed teas are sold here. We were told that they were exclusive to The Tea Caddy, but they aren't - they can even be found online.
The free English Tea Garden Tour is still available. We have taken this tour pretty much every year for a number of years, and it is available two times per day Monday - Thursday and three times per day on the weekends. The free tour is first come, first served - arrive at The Tea Caddy at 11:00 a.m. for best availability on signing up.
There are signs in the English Tea Garden also showing the steps of tea production. If you can't make it to a tour, you can still enjoy a self-guided tour and learn a little about tea (not to the extent of the guided tour, but it's worth a visit).
We highly recommend the Royal Tea Garden Tour. What's not to love? The tour starts before World Showcase gets crowded, and then guests enjoy scones and tea for breakfast.
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