HOME > Chowhound > Austin >
What's your latest food quest? Share your adventure

Sit-down places for Hot Tea

chrhenry Feb 10, 2011 02:00 PM

Where do people like to go in town for hot tea? Preferably made from leaves, not tea bags, preferably made WELL (water proper temp for leaves, steeped proper amount of time, etc.)

There is the Steeping Room, of course. But it is North and I am South. Anywhere South Austin that does a decent job of it? Anywhere else at all (North South whatever), for those times I need to get out but I'm not in a Domain state of mind?

I know the Four Seasons will do an afternoon "high tea" if you reserve in advance. Maybe one of these days...


Steeping Room
11410 Century Oaks Ter Ste 112, Austin, TX 78758

Four Seasons
98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

  1. r
    Rptrane Mar 5, 2012 08:45 PM

    Steeping room sucks. Bombay Express has great chia tea but it's even further North. Don't know if it was from leaves but Upper Crust bakery has great hot beveragesl

    9 Replies
    1. re: Rptrane
      dinaofdoom Mar 5, 2012 09:23 PM

      so glad someone else finally echoed my sentiments about the steeping room.
      my first experience was pretty good, but everything else since has been awful.

      1. re: dinaofdoom
        TroyTempest Mar 7, 2012 10:11 AM

        Do either of you want to elaborate on why it sucks?

        1. re: TroyTempest
          dinaofdoom Mar 7, 2012 07:18 PM


          when it first opened, i was really excited because i missed tealuxe in boston.
          the high tea was the first thing i tried, & i enjoyed it despite the price/quality ratio.
          however, they were new (not a lot of people heard of it), and it was a weekday.
          ever since then, it's been an all out sh*t storm every time:
          woefully understaffed and/or inept servers.
          the food and tea is not very good, moreso when you consider the price point.

          the design of the place is lacking-- cramped, loud, inefficient.
          even the outside tables are poorly decided, and placed.

          the last time i went, i ended up getting a sunburn on half my face because of a broken umbrella. we could not move so that both of us could sit under the umbrella.
          that, our MIA waiter, the poorly made food, and the vibe of the place = last chance.

          i guess now i just lump it in with the "mall restaurant" category.
          overpriced, unoriginal food served in a frantic atmosphere of shoppers.

          1. re: dinaofdoom
            Rptrane Mar 7, 2012 07:35 PM

            I ordered some chia tea there and it was straight from the can, stuff you can buy from HEB. Not even the good kind. Totally flavorless. The scones are decent though.

            1. re: Rptrane
              dinaofdoom Mar 7, 2012 08:05 PM

              i dunno where they source their teas, but they are not anything special.

              i do remember liking the scones, which was part of the high tea assortment.
              haven't had them since, though.

              1. re: dinaofdoom
                TroyTempest Mar 9, 2012 09:03 AM

                Thanks to both of you, DofD and Rp. I have no horse in this race, but it is one of my pet peeves about chowhound when someone makes a statement, especially negative without any more elaboration.

                1. re: TroyTempest
                  dinaofdoom Mar 9, 2012 05:18 PM

                  always happy to elaborate :-)

      2. re: Rptrane
        rudeboy Mar 6, 2012 09:44 AM

        If you are just looking for hot tea, and not high tea, the Monkey Nest is a nice place. Yes, it is north of the river - Burnet and N Loop area.


        1. re: Rptrane
          chrhenry Mar 11, 2012 10:09 AM

          I think the thing that makes Steeping Room teas consistently excellent is quality of their water and their knowledge of how long to steep teas and at what temperature, combined with quite good teas. Their chai blends are excellent, the Kashmiri chai is great nad the house chai is good. Their flavored teas e.g. Earl Grey, apricot, jasmine green, are good, though don't order if you don't REALLY like bergamot, apricot, jasmine, et al. herbal tinane blends: have not had a lot but the ones I have are lovely. Oolongs nice. Green tea I am less into, but try the ancient snow sprout. Cannot comment on pu'eh, ask someone who likes it. The one thing I have had there that I have liked elsewhere and thought they served badly was matcha green. However, customer-service-wise, my server noticed I barely touched it and offered me a replacement tea, and I was only charged for one, so it may have been a tea fail (and I have liked matcha at tea ceremony demo) but was saved by customer service.

          As for atmosphere, you have to deal with the fact you are at the Domain. But once you are in and seated, the atmosphere may be a touch grandma, but I find it generally elegant and pleasant. Thursday-Sunday lunchtime, servers tend to be in the weeds and the wait can be long for Austin.

          I find the food B+. The big tea service (tea sandwiches, pastries) is LOVELY, among the top 5 I have had (and I have had some lovely ones). Buddha bowl is good, if you're in a startlingly healthy mood. Salads can be quite good. The only thing I've had that's so-so at best is if you add tofu or chicken to top of salad, it's dry and yuck. Scones are A+. Get the fig butter thing with it, or clotted cream and jam. Mmm.

        2. i
          ieathereforeiam Mar 5, 2012 11:10 AM

          Hillside Farmacy on east 11th is doing some sort of High Tea Service in the afternoons. i think around 2.

          1. girloftheworld Mar 16, 2011 08:15 AM

            If steeping room is too north then this would be way toooo north But Tucks Pantery in ROund Rock does a good Tea in case you are ever just toatalllllllly lost one day during tea time

            Is the Full English Cafe Still Around? I did tea there with my Poppa when he was visting...but I think they used bags rather than loose...it was pretty far south if I remember

            1 Reply
            1. re: girloftheworld
              chrhenry Mar 6, 2012 07:16 AM

              Yes, they are delightful! hey do a really nice high tea, lovely little sandwiches and scones and things. They have some loose teas and also bagged. Not so so careful on temp and steep time, but that makes it more authentically British to me--high quality teas, prepared with all-but-boiling water.

            2. kittythedog Mar 12, 2011 10:35 AM

              What about Zhi Tea?

              2 Replies
              1. re: kittythedog
                chrhenry Mar 11, 2012 10:10 AM

                I think they do the occasional demo and tasting, but it's not a sit-down, hang-out tea place--right? Someone tell me if this has changed.

                1. re: chrhenry
                  austinchowhound Mar 15, 2012 12:19 AM

                  Zhi Tea is a great place to have some tea and hangout. They have free wi-fi and a really comfortable couch to lounge on. It's usually pretty empty which is why I love it so much. And they have over 75 different teas!! The employees are super friendly and seem to really enjoy talking about tea and making free samples to help you find your perfect tea. Plus the other places that have been listed serve Zhi Tea (Friar tuck, Monkeynest, Hillside
                  Farmacy and I think the Steeping Room)

              2. Helind Feb 10, 2011 02:51 PM

                The Tea Embassy serves hot tea made from leaves with proper water temperature. They only serve tea though, nothing else - unless you go to one of their special high teas. They had one on Feb. 5 for Valentine's Day.


                I went to the Four Seasons high tea awhile back. I think they get their teas from The Tea Embassy, so the tea was good. The atmosphere and the food were okay but not outstanding.

                Tea Embassy Tea Treasures
                900 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78701

                Four Seasons
                98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

                2 Replies
                1. re: Helind
                  dinaofdoom Feb 10, 2011 03:06 PM

                  second the tea embassy.
                  they came to our work a while back for a demo and the teas were great.

                  1. re: Helind
                    Helind Mar 9, 2011 12:08 PM

                    The Tea Embassy is having another high tea on April 2, 2011:


                  Show Hidden Posts