Gary Clark, Meg McKinney
Tea is the new coffee. What, you didn't know? Nowadays, tea shops are bubbling up all across the South, enticing with a cup of civilized warmth. We've uncovered three spots scattered across the Lone Star State that will give you the jolt you're longing for in a new way.
Dallas: Tempest Tea
In the ultrahip Inwood Village neighborhood, this casual cafe caters to the young and on the go. You'll discover more than 75 teas, including two hot and two iced versions for daily take-out. In addition, owners Jody and Brian Rudman feature funky Asian bubble teas--a cold version with chewy tapioca balls as anchors. They'll startle you at first but will become addictive after a few gulps. If you choose to linger and enjoy your beverage in-house, you'll find lots of Southern Methodist University students that keep this trendy place fun and youthful. www.tempesttea.com or  351-4832.
Austin: Tea Embassy
Less funky and more refined, Tea Embassy tops tables with exquisite china teapots. Classical and jazz music plays in this charming 1872 house. Choose from more than 200 loose-leaf varieties, ranging from the Margarita Tea that tastes just like the lime drink to White Antlers, an unusual white tea from Malawi. Some want black tea, others want oolong, and if you don't know, resident expert Carol Sims, who owns the tea boutique with son Jonathan, will help you out. www.teaembassy.com or  330-9991.
Bracken: Bawdsey Manor British Tearoom
You'll want to don white gloves and something delicately floral when you enjoy tea at Bawdsey Manor British Tearoom. As you walk in the door of this traditional tearoom in Bracken, just northeast of San Antonio, you'll hear china and silver clattering and see portraits of Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family. You'll get the most authentic British experience in the South. Partake of lunch, afternoon tea, or high tea complete with scones made by the two British sisters who own the place. Pass the clotted cream, please. www.bawdseymanor.com or  651-7500.