Tea in Texas? It's served British-, Asian-, and Texas-style, from luxury hotels to courthouse squares.
Okay, I confess. I'm a guy, I drink tea, but I won't hold my pinkie out. Guess who else sips tea, too? Read on about these 10 great places (in no particular order) with three-tiered trays, petits fours, finger sandwiches, scones, and other sweets.
Bawdsey Manor, San Antonio
See the story about this little corner of England in "Texas Living: People & Places" in our May issue of Southern Living. British sisters Vicki Seder and Christine Thomas serve PG tips tea, Devonshire split scones, entrées such as shepherd's pie and a grocery of British goods, even down to HP Sauce. High tea is by reservation Monday through Saturday. Visit www.bawdseymanor.com, or call (210) 651-7500.
The Steeping Room, Austin
I prefer morning tea here, with sunshine slanting through windows at this tearoom at the new Domain shopping complex, near Braker Lane and MoPac. Emily Morrison from Eastside Café and Amy March, former tea expert at Central Market, offer meals, teas, and a shop of loose tea and other items. Visit www.thesteepingroom.com.
The Adolphus, Dallas
The pastry chef whips up opera cakes, petits fours and other delights for Afternoon Tea, served from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Lobby Living Room of the downtown landmark. A pianist entertains on the 1893 Steinway. Tea is served September through June. Reservations are required. Visit www.hoteladolphus.com, or call (214) 742-8200.
Merry Heart Tearoom, Granbury
It's the best little tearoom on a courthouse square. You can choose to be served sandwiches and savories, scones or confections with tea, served daily 3 to 5 p.m. Lunch is served too. Try the Merry Heart Chicken Salad Plate. For reservations (suggested), call (817) 573-3800. Visit www.merryhearttearoom.com.
St. Regis Hotel, Houston
Tea ends a Houston day here 3 to 5 p.m. with St. Regis butler service taking care of your tea with sandwiches, scones, Devonshire cream, and petits fours. Reservations are strongly suggested. Visit www.starwoodhotels.com, or call (713) 403-2631.
Serenitea, Sugar Land
What a perfect town for those who sweeten their brew with one scoop or two. Archana Pyatt serves lunch and afternoon tea with finger sandwiches and scones. You may also take home loose tea, tea products, and a small selection of books "steeped in mystery and romance"--all with tea central to the plot. For reservations Monday through Saturday call (281) 491-4588. Visit www.sereniteatearoom.com.
Jenni's Noodle House, Houston
Don't worry about holding your pinkie out here while sipping tea. This hip place at 3111 South Shepherd at West Alabama is great for a mid-afternoon break. Try the chrysanthemum tea, layer cake, and Dream Rolls. Visit www.noodlesrule.com.
Café M. Bloomers, Navasota
Painted a yellow as cheerful as chrysanthemums, this cafe is at the heart of Martha's Bloomers, a home and garden store. It serves lunch and tea 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with freshly-made scones (they're great!) and other pastries. High tea, 2 to 4 p.m. daily, is by reservation only. Call (936) 870-3277. For special event teas, visit www.marthasbloomers.com.
Rosewood Crescent Hotel, Dallas
Take a late lunch after a late night, and have tea instead, 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Beau's. You may choose from a dozen teas, including organic flowering teas, served with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and sparkling wine. Reservations are preferred. Visit www.rosewoodcrescent.com, or call (214) 871-3279.
The T Garden Café, Bryan
So here's the big secret: Aggies are tea sippers, too! They sneak over from College Station for lunch and tea with chef-owner Jennifer Hardeman Lilleker, a Bryan native, and a graduate of Culinary Institute of America and of The University of Texas at Austin. Yes, a tea sipper in Bryan serves tea to Aggies. The mind reels. With tea, by reservation only, 2 to 5 p.m., you might snack on a truffle but consider Jennifer's awesome desserts, such as peach-amaretto-blackberry cobbler. For reservations, call (979) 268-4171. Visit www.tgardencafe.com.