High tea, also known as afternoon tea in the United States, is a traditional tea service that draws on British tea culture. It features savory tea sandwiches, sweet pastries, and English favorites like clotted cream. The experience is amplified by dainty china, floral decor, and beautiful spreads that make afternoon tea a picture-perfect experience. Discover the best places to go for high tea in Austin with this quick guide.
What Is High Tea?
High tea and afternoon tea are terms that are used interchangeably in America, but once meant two very different things. Traditionally, high tea service referred to the evening meal enjoyed by the working classes. The meal usually included hearty menu items such as meat, fish, breads, and savory desserts.
Afternoon tea service, on the other hand, is what we’ve come to associate with dainty, fine china and exquisite table settings. It’s a tea service that features scones and finger sandwiches as well as English and French pastries like macarons and madeleines. This tea service is often used to celebrate special occasions like hosting foreign dignitaries. It’s also practiced on weekends or a few times throughout the weekday to enjoy the company of friends and family., For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the terms interchangeably, but you can learn more about afternoon tea here.
The Best Spots For High Tea In Austin
1. Full English
2000 Southern Oaks Dr.
Full English takes a high-class tea experience and makes it more casual and accessible to the masses. Located in South Austin, the tea room features a cozy and eclectic atmosphere that is amplified by vintage teaware and old-school vibes. High tea is served three times per week and you can also reserve private tea parties for groups of 30 or more. The high tea menu costs $18 and includes a pot of tea, tea sandwiches with house-made chutney as well as scones and five different sweets. Check out their Google reviews and you’ll see why this place is a must-go for high tea.
2. The Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos St
The Driskill Hotel delivers an exquisite afternoon tea experience with a touch of Texas hospitality. The hotel has served patrons for more than a century and features a vintage, cozy atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a pot of tea. Afternoon tea is a long-standing Driskill tradition held each day at 3:00 pm and 3:30 pm in the lobby. The tea menu features three courses plus bottomless tea sourced from local tea house Zhi Tea. Savory and sweet treats include petit fours, loose-leaf teas, and gluten-free options. For an extra special experience, reserve a spot for the premium Veuve tea, holiday tea, or anniversary tea events.
3. The Steeping Room
4400 N. Lamar Blvd
The Steeping Room is an award-winning tea room that serves one of the best brunch menus and tea time with unique artistry. Here, you’ll discover traditional Chinese teas such a pu-erh and black tea as well as infusions from across the globe. Join one of their tea classes to learn the basics of tea or discover the art and history behind your favorite type of tea. In addition to the British tea service, the shop also serves a Zen tea service and Kasbah-Express service which includes Middle-Eastern delights like hummus and dolma.
4. Zhi Tea
1023 Springdale Rd, 7A
Zhi Tea focuses on crafting premium-quality teas that keep customers coming back for more. The farm-direct teas can be purchased online on enjoyed in the tea room. You’ll also find a cozy and vibrant hangout space and aroma bar to discover the scents and magic of different kinds of tea.
5. Brentwood Social House
1601 West Koenig Lane
Brentwood Social House offers afternoon tea every Wednesday through Sunday with seatings at 2:30 pm. Reservations are required and the afternoon tea service costs $30 per person. The service includes a three-tiered stand of savory and sweet snacks including French patisserie creations and British clotted cream. You’ll also select your favorite pot of tea and enjoy the experience as you sip from vintage china.
6. The Four Seasons Lobby Lounge
98 San Jacinto Blvd
The Four Seasons is known for its culinary offerings including a margarita cart, brunch, and afternoon tea. Served in the Lobby Lounge, the afternoon tea menu features herbal tisanes, true teas, and blends like chai along with classic afternoon tea snacks like scones and cakes.
7. Fluff Meringues & More
4800 Burnet Rd #450
Fluff Meringues is a modern patisserie that uses only the finest ingredients in their delicious sweet treats. Teas are imported from the Tea Palace London and coffees are sourced from one of the best coffee shops in Austin — Cuvee Coffee. The afternoon tea service comes in two options: light and full fare. Light tea features scones with homemade clotted cream and other house pastries with your choice of single estate, unique blend, or herbal infusion hot teas. Full tea also includes a charcuterie selection of cheese, cold cuts, crackers, and local honeycomb.
8. Guan Yin Tea House
4705 N Interstate Hwy 35
This tea room serves up exquisite hand-sourced teas in a unique way. All teas are sourced from the West China Tea Company, which selects teas on annual or biannual trips to China and Taiwan. The tea room serves teas and pairs them with traditional movement and relaxation events such as Tai Chi Chuan and Circling. You can also stop in for a tea class to learn more about the art of serving tea and traditional tea ceremonies like gong fu cha.