There are two types of caffeine-lovers in the world: those who can't be seen or spoken to before a cup of coffee and those who don't let anything come between them and their tea time. As a balanced mix of the two types, I enjoy both: grabbing coffee on a cold day or sipping tea with a crumbly scone. In the way of coffee shops, Houston already has its fair share of quaint hideaways and eclectic bars to satisfy your java fix, but it's afternoon tea that's finally becoming a more common fixture in town. In Houston's chic Highland Village, two restaurants provide guests with a full-service high tea complete with an elegant backdrop fit for a king (or queen!).
4100 Westheimer Rd., 713-960-8472, kiranshouston.com
This elegant Indian restaurant hosts a high tea every Saturday afternoon unlike any other in the city. Beginning promptly at 2 p.m., guests are welcomed with a glass of champagne or a spiced lemonade, after which the tea service begins. The three-course menu pairs traditional Indian teas with favorites from Kiran's exotic menu (think mushroom samosas with fig chutney) along with a spin on tea classics like the Waldorf chicken salad or the tandoor-smoked salmon with dill.
Though each table is treated to freshly baked scones and clotted cream to enjoy as a dessert course, additional pastries from the large assortment in the center of the main dining room are still hard to resist. The afternoon is complemented by soft music from a harpist, and you'll often find a delightfully cheery chef Kiran Verma herself greeting guests. Priced at $35 per person, you and your lady friends can channel your inner Kate Middleton—indeed, you'll find many women in fascinators during high tea at Kiran's—and indulge in a wildly flavorful afternoon.
3995 Westheimer Rd., 713-640-5416, uprestaurant.com
This Highland Village restaurant recently began pairing its signature stunning view with afternoon tea. Between 2 and 5 p.m. every Saturday, guests are invited to pair classic English tea with an assortment of sandwiches such as cucumber and watercress, chicken with mango chutney, or shrimp salad. Of course, you can't have tea with crumpets galore and Up has no shortage, from warm seasonal scones served with lemon curd and preserves to fruit tarts, Grand Marnier chocolate truffles, classic butter pound cake and caramel eclairs.
Priced at $38 per person, the new Saturday tea service at Up has already been met with much success. As holiday-focused shoppers increasingly populate the busy shops at Highland Village below, an afternoon of tea overlooking the scenic streets is sure to hit the spot when you need a break from all that buying. Pinkies up, my friends.