Bubble tea, Earl Grey, iced, steeped, stirred -- Austin offers no shortage of novelty tea experiences. You could call my favorite British Austinite, Sophie Parrot, to throw you a tea party (her company is the beloved Marvelous Vintage Tea Party Co.), OR you could get sippin' at any of these fine establishments.
Unless you saw them at the farmer's market, you might not realize that Texas Coffee Traders sells an astonishing number of delicious loose leaf teas, as well as a handful of fun tea-steeping supplies -- in case you want to forego a fancy tea house, and throw your own damn tea party.
A holistic health heaven: The Herb Bar sells jars and jars of hyperlocal tinctures, essential oils, and of course teas -- and by "hyperlocal," we mean that the owner made them herself. Come here if the tea you crave is of the healing, medicinal variety.
Momoko was one of the first places in Austin to ride the bubble tea wave, and since its opening, the menu at this West Campus outfit has exploded into a mind-boggling compendium of tea customization options: All teas (jasmine, green, black, chrysanthemum...) are steeped to order, the tapioca bubbles come in a variety of flavors, you can get candy bits, flavored powders -- you get the picture. The atmosphere is also a trip: Think Hello Kitty Goes to Tokyo.
This tiny Victorian Rosedale bungalow specializes in coffee, but is the kind of place where you can always enjoy a cozy, tea-sipping rendezvous with a buddy.
Coco's is a less frenetic version of Momoko, and while the menu flavors are of course creative (peanut butter bubble tea, anyone?) taro milk is by far the most popular option. And they don't just serve bubble tea, but bubble tea smoothies, too.
Much like actual embassies, this one is a cloistered, tucked away station for ambassadors of peace and reconciliation -- two qualities I like to think the right cup of tea can provide. The Tea Embassy offers dozens of loose leaf varieties that you can bag up and take home, not to mention a super knowledgable staff willing to chat you up. If you've ever been to Antonelli's, think of this as the tea version.
When it started sprouting out of north Austin a few years ago, it took me a while to get over my Domain prejudice. But once I did, I discovered a little gem of a place -- The Steeping Room, which is part tea house, part restaurant. This is a proper English tea drinking experience, where you can order scones with clotted cream, as well as many gluten-free nosh options.
Don't let the fact that it's behind a gas station scare you. Whether its homemade, Indian chai or a strong brew of English Breakfast, Full English is a worthy tea stop, particularly since they serve all-day, edible English breakfasts too: Think bangers (aka sausages), crepe-like British pancakes, and fabulously sloppy baked beans.