White Lions Tea House - Orillia

Experience The Charms of Tea


Looking for a refreshing drink this summer, try our easy peasy Marteani! We love mojitos but they are time consuming to make.  This is a much quicker solution and you can keep all the ingredients in the fridge ready to go!

Cold brew our Moroccan mint green tea double-strength (Pour 2 cups of cold water over 2 tablespoons of tea leaves and store over night in the fridge...it will keep for several days but remove the tea leaves). For the Marteani, mix 1 part rum (or tequila, vodka, gin...), 1 part Rose's Lime Cordial (available in the grocery store and it saves you from having to make a simple syrup andsqueezing the limes:), and 2 parts cold tea. Add ice and garnish with fresh mint and lime slices...Enjoy! You can also enjoy the iced tea virgin...


Amazing Muffins (Gluten-free and Vegan!)

I think I have finally created a decent Vegan and gluten-free muffin..Sugar free, dairy free, egg free, wheat free and still yummy!  I made a bunch for a friend's weekend getaway so I will have to check in with her when she returns but I had the runt of the litter this morning and actually liked it!  I make my own gluten-free flour blend but you could use a commercial one...the results might differ slightly.  My basic blend is 1/2 rice flour, 1/2 sorghum flour, 1/4 tapioca starch and 1/4 either corn starch or potato starch.  The sorghum flour gives it a less bland flavour.  You can use coconut flour as well.

Carrot Apple Muffins:

2 cups gluten-free flour blend

1 tsp zantham gum

1/4 cup oatmeal (gluten-free brand)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Stir these dry ingredients together.

Whisk together:

1/2 cup applesauce

2/3 cup liquid honey

1 1/2 cups soy/almond/coconut milk (I don't recommend rice milk because it is too watery)

1/4 cup coconut oil melted (or other vegetable based oil)

Pour over dry ingredients and stir until moistened


1 1/4 cups grated, peeled tart apple (1 large)

1 1/4 cups grated, peeled carrots (2 medium)

1/2 cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Stir until blended.  Using an ice-cream scoop (for consistent size) scoop into prepared muffin cups (lined with paper cups is best)

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over the tops (I use organic raw sugar 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon)  You can omit the sugar if you want them truly sugar-free but this little bit adds a nice touch.

Bake in a 350o oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean.  You can store in an airtight container for 2 days or freeze for up to a month.14305367 1231606216890765 1646909218570457098 o



Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Cake

Many Thanks for this recipe from my friend and teacher Raelene Gannon and her cookbook "Tea from cup to plate" 

Talk about chocolate cake elevation! This will take your basic chocolate cake to the next level; this is for the girlfriends' tea for sure.

Makes 12-16 servings

1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, at room temperature

2 Tbls (30 ml) loose Earl Grey tea leaves

1 1/4 cups (310 ml) cake flour

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) packed brown sugar13403983 1162222773829110 8856237931263761121 o

3/4 cup (185 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 tsp (12.5 ml) baking powder

1 1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) baking soda

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt

3 eggs

2 cups (500 ml) buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325oF (160oC)

Grease 2 9-inch (23 cm) cake pans or 1 10-inch (25 cm) Bundt pan and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Put the butter and tea leaves in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the butter has melted and it is infused with the tea. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

While the butter is cooling, put the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Put the eggs in another bowl and beat for 1 1/2 minutes, and then add the buttermilk and mix well.

Add the buttermilk mixture and the tea-infused butter to the flour mixture and bea until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and place in the oven. If using 2 cake pans, bake for 30 minutes, and if using a Bundt pan, bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife or cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before removing the cake from pans.  You can top this cake with chocolate Earl Grey tea ganache...

Tea Concentrate:

2 Tbsp (30 ml) loose Earl Grey tea

1/2 cup (125 ml) boiling water

To make the tea concentrate, put the tea leaves in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let steep for 5 minutes and then strain, reserving 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of the liquid.


1 cup (250 ml) semisweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar

3/4 cup(185 ml) whipping or table cream

To make the ganache, put the chocolate chips and sugar in a heat-proof bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Put the cream in a small saucepan and stir in the reserved tea concentrate. Over medium heat bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and then pour the hot cream over the chocolate-sugar mixture. Let sit for 60 seconds, and then whisk until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth. Place in the refrigerator and chill for about 20 minutes until thickened slightly before using as a filling or icing on the cake.


Some New Premium Teas

Perhaps it is time to expand your tea horizons. We have brought in a couple of higher-end teas for you to try. (I originally bought them just for me but loved them so much I am willing to share!)



Oolong is considered a semi-fermented (oxidized) tea meaning it is somewhere between a black and a green tea. This tea has a most unique character best described as a premium oolong with sweet milk and light orchid notes.  What makes it unique and gives it the wonderful milky flavour is the result of a sudden shift in temperature during harvest – a rare occurrence.  As the Chinese tell legends about their teas the story is that many centuries ago the moon fell in love with a comet passing through the night sky.  The comet passed by, burned out and vanished causing the moon great sorrow.  The moon created a great wind to blow through the hills and valleys bringing about a quick drop in temperature.  The next morning, local tea pluckers went out to collect their fresh leaf.  To their surprise, when the tea was processed it had developed an amazing milky character which was attributed to the motherly character of the old moon. One prepares Oolong by first briefly infusing the leaves with off-boil water, pouring of the liquor and then re-brewing for 2 minutes.  If velvet had a taste, this would be it…smooth in the mouth, creamy and with a bouquet of orchids for a light floral aroma.  It can be brewed 5 or 6 times! One of my favourite afternoon treats.




There is perhaps no tea on the market today as celebrated or as famous as Matcha.  An ancient Japanese poet named Sen no Rikyu, considered to be the most important influence on the development of the tea ceremony, or Chanoyu, penned this line during the 1500's, "Though many people drink tea, if you do not know the Way of Tea (Chanoyu), tea will drink you up.  What was once saved only for ceremony, has found its way into everyday life.  Matcha can now be found served cold, as an ingredient in health shakes, ice creams, even baked goods (we use it sometimes in our scones and in cupcakes).  2 cups of brewed matcha contains 7X the antioxidants of orange juice, 20X that of apple juice and nearly 20 g of calcium.  You can brew it hot using 1/2 tsp per cup adding 2 oz of hot water and whisk vigorously to make a smooth paste-like liquid. Top with more hot water or steamed milk and perhaps a touch of honey to sweeten.  Enjoy to wonderful benefits daily.

macha latte2

Black is the New Orange

Orange Pekoe is arguably the most popular and well known style of tea here in North America, but there's a lot of confusion about what it actually is. So many associate it with Red Rose, or extremely black and strong teas, but the reality is a lot more complex than that.

First of all, even though the history and etymology of the name is a bit murky, we can tell you this for sure:



No oranges were harmed in the making of your tea.

Orange Pekoe is not a flavoured tea, and has absolutely nothing to do with the fruit. Nor is the beverage supposed to come out an orange colour. In fact, the reason why it's called "Orange" is a question in tea making circles, but two arguments are generally accepted.

  • In the 1600s, the Dutch formed the East India Company, importing goods from Asia to Europe. It is thought that after presenting their finest quality teas to the Dutch House of Orange - the Royal Family of Holland - the company added the "Orange" to the name in order to impart a certain respectability to their product. Essentially it seems it was an advertising ploy, as there's no evidence to suggest the Royal Family actually gave the tea their royal warrant.
  • It is also thought that it may refer to the copper colour of a high quality tea leaf. This is produced when it's properly oxidised.
  • Pekoe refers to the white downon the surface of the final leaf on a branch of the tea plant...the number of final buds used in the tea provides a higher grade of "Pekoe"! There are many grades of tea such as FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe), TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) etc.  

In North America, "Orange Pekoe" has come to simply mean it's a basic black tea. 

Black teas have all undergone a rigorous oxidation process to make their infusions a copper colour unlike green, white, oolong or pu-er which are each processed differently.  Black teas can be from a particular country (China, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya...) or even a single estate which gives them a unique flavour profile such as a single estate Lover's Leap from Sri Lanka or a Margaret's Hope Darjeeling from India. Tea leaves from different regions are often blended for a particular flavour profile such as an English Breakfast or Tetley. They can also have a any number of flavours added to enhance them such as an Earl Grey or Cream of Avalon.  

So the next time you ask for a simple Orange Pekoe, or plain tea, remember there are many options under this banner of Black teas and you might want to try something new!

So Black is the new Orange...truly.









White Lions Scones

Making scones will take practice...it took me about 3 months to master them.  It helps if you have either cold hands or a cold counter (stainless steel or marble work best!)  The dough does require some working - kneeding in order to give the light layers but you don't want the butter to melt while working so do it quickly and on a cold surface to maintain the bits of butter.

Preheat oven to 375F

You will need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl (a cold stainless steel bowl will do the trick)

Cut in with a pastry blender (or 2 knives - although I've never mastered that process!)

1/2 cup cold butter (unsalted) until pea-sized pieces are interspersed in the flour mix

If you want to add some flavour at this point, you can use lemon zest, black currants, orange zest, ground up flavoured tea, maple syrup, dried lavender, dried fruit, grated chocolate...whatever you like.

Mix in 1 cup of plain yogurt (or you can use a flavoured yogurt)  Don't use fat-free as there is too much guar gum added...I prefer a 4% milk fat option.  (also, don't try Greek yogurt as it is too thick)  You can also substitute 1 cup of heavy cream if you don't care too much about your heart!

Partially mix the dairy into the flour mix - it will be messy.  Then remove all rings and get your clean, cold hands into the mixture to bring it all together as a dough.  At this point you can move the mixture to a cold counter surface to complete the mixing.  Once all the dry ingredients are incorporated you can start kneeding it into a smoother ball - this should take about 8 or 10 kneeds only. You may have to sprinkle some flour on the surface to keep it from sticking.The ball should be fairly smooth.  Pat it down on a floured surface...get out that old wooden rolling pin and give it a dusting of flour too.  Roll the ball out into a 1/2" flat disk and use a cookie cutter to cut out your individual scones.  Reroll the scraps once to cut more.  The final scraps can be rerolled and patted into a disk - this is the "Ends" scone which you get to try when they are hot out of the oven...it's not pretty but it is still tasty!

Alternatively you can cut the kneeded ball of dough into two pieces and roll each into a circle.  Cut each circle into 4 or 6 wedges.

Before baking, brush the tops of the scones with some cream.  I bake my on my baking stone but you can use parchment paper on a cookie sheet too. 

Bake at 375F for 12-14 minutes (less if you have convection, more if not) until just lightly browned.  If your oven has a hot spot (and most do), make sure to rotate the tray half way through baking.

Scones are really best almost right out of the oven with lemon curd, fresh jam, butter, honey...or whatever topping you like.  Even great with poached eggs on top for an Eggs Buckingham!  Enjoy.



Almost famous Lemon Curd

Although we can't sell our lemon curd publicly, you can try to make it at home.  All you need is a double boiler (which can also be just a stainless steel bowl set over a pan of boiling water).  The key ingredients are eggs, lemons, sugar and butter!

5 eggs

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1 1/2 cups of sugar

zest of one lemon

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

1/3 cup butter (cut in pieces)


Combine the first 4 ingredients in the top of the double boiler and whisk together.  Place over boiling water and keep stirring until the mixture thickens (or coats the back of a spoon!)  Do not answer the phone, watch TV or do the dishes...if you don't keep stirring while it thickens you will get something more resembling scrambled eggs.  This process could take about 5 minutes.  When thick, remove from the stove and stir in the butter until melted.  Chill in fridge and then enjoy on your favourite scones or toast or spoon into pre-cooked tart shells and top with cream.  The mixture must be kept refrigerated and will last about one week...although not in my house!  The extra lemon zest can be dried in a saucer and then used to flavour scones, pasta, cakes,muffins, etc.  ENJOY! 

White Lions Butter Tarts


We usually make double this recipe and keep it in the fridge to whip up some tarts as needed. You can keep the baked tarts in the freezer (they might last a little longer in the house!)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar

Combine everything in a bowel and whisk together or use mixer on low. If you want to add raisins I suggest you plump them up a little by pouring water over them, draining, covering and let sit overnight. Chopped pecans or walnuts are also a great addition (and our most popular choice). Use any sweet pastry but not too thick or too big (I like more filling than pastry personally). Zehrs have a good no-name tart shell in the freezer section...get the sweetened ones or Tenderflake . Do not overfill tart shells as they will bubble up in baking.
If you want to try making pastry, the magical method is using a food processor or Kitchen-Aid stand mixer...The dough comes together without overworking which makes it tough. Always let the ball of dough rest in the fridge for about 1 hour before rolling out. Here is a good pastry recipe to try:
1 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg (from fridge)
2 tbsp cold water
2 tsp white vinegar
Mix together dry ingredients in mixer or blender. Add cold butter and pulse or mix on slowest speed until crumbly texture is achieved. Whisk together wet ingredients and pour over dry. Pulse again until dough comes together...it is magical how this happens. Remove dough, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
I have used this exact same recipe and substituted a gluten-free flour blend plus 1 tsp of xantham gum. It doesn't hold together quite as well but it still works for a gluten-free option. (freeze the shells for 30 minutes before filling and baking)

Bake at 350 F for about 15-18 minutes until bubbly and golden.
Enjoy with an afternoon cup of tea such as Cream of Avalon, Ontario Blend or Creme du Caramel!

Teacup Weddings

Thinking Small...
How About A Teacup Wedding?

Your wedding day can be special without breaking the bank. If you want to "just get married", it doesn't have to be in someone's kitchen or at City Hall, you can still make it a memorable day. There are many things you can do to be totally unique, yet stay on budget and have fun.

There are many small restaurants and other venues that can host a small intimate wedding catering to different themed events. Just what kind of event? How about something like a Teacup wedding, for instance? If so, why not consider a tea house such as Orillia's White Lions Tea House.

Whether you are considering a tea house or other small venue for your special day, you will find that these smaller venues have hosted weddings for a few as four people to as many as 40. We have one private room that will accommodate as up to 14 and that can be used any time during the day.

We offer a charming and elegant environment right down to the silverware, bone china dishes, linen tablecloths, napkins and interesting decor, and, you don't have to spend $100 per person.

In addition, you don't have to worry about things like the weather, decorating or cleaning up before or after, a big advantage.

Now, when it comes to wedding costs, the two basics involve a marriage license-$150 and wedding officiant-$300 and, oh yes, two witnesses, priceless. Other costing depends on what you want to do. Do you want to have a breakfast, light lunch, afternoon tea, or evening dinner perhaps? Food costs, which usually includes the use of the room, will range from $10 to $25 per person, in our location.  With the addition of a Special Occasion liquor license ($25), you can add Champagne or wine to your event.

A lovely afternoon wedding ceremony conducted by the fireplace or the picture window followed by tea, sandwiches, scones, fresh fruit, tea or coffee and a small wedding cake or cupcakes would cost approximately $15 per person at White Lions Tea House, for instance. 

Oh, and don't forget to add in a few fresh flowers, perhaps a basic photo package or a friend with a good camera, not a cellphone, and you have a day to remember.

Using a smaller venue is something to consider. Why not save your money and make a down payment on a house or have a wonderful honeymoon!

Time for Tea

Most of us don’t often have time to pause in our busy lives and enjoy taking tea.  It’s time to dust off those special cups (the ones you got from Grandma or even as shower gifts when you got married) or attend at your favourite tea house with friends to relax, socialize and rejuvenate.  There are many teas and tisanes with which to tempt you for a relaxing moment in your day or week. Try a different tea from your usual…perhaps a subtle Pai Mu Tan White, citrusy Green, aromatic Oolong, fragrant Darjeeling, bracing full-bodied Assam, fruity Rooibos, or a Wellness Herbal.  

A fun event with friends is “Tea Tasting” where you choose to sample several teas.  Ideas might include teas from a particular country such as India (Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri or even Masala Chai); various blends of white teas or green teas; comparing teas from different countries such as Orange Pekoe from Sri Lanka, Kenya, India, and China.  There are endless possibilities and while you pause to sample, compare and discuss you can’t help but relax.  

Cream Tea is an enjoyable repast of tea and scones with jam (or lemon curd) and Devonshire or clotted cream.  Preparing your scone is part ritual and part anticipation of its yummy goodness. 

The major beneficial properties of tea include controling hypertension, reducing fatigue, strengthening your immune system, reducing cholesterol, balancing body temperature and detoxification so it is also a very “healthy” break.  Take time for tea and conversation (turn off the cell phone!) and the stress of your day will just melt away.

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