If you’re looking to escape the “summer’s here in full force” heat that has slammed us Houstonians in the last week, I have a suggestion for you: High Tea.
Not what you were thinking, right? It wasn’t what I was thinking either, but when mom came to town, I needed to find activities that didn’t require a lot of walking and didn’t force us to be outside in the blazing sun, but were still sociable. Something she could go home and tell her friends about. High tea sounded like a good idea, so I made reservations at McHugh Tea Room on Bissonnet in Bellaire.
I invited my friend and her mother, and everyone was excited to do something different. If you’re worried about drinking hot tea in the summertime, don’t. Once you step inside in the tea room, you will find it to be pleasantly air-conditioned (not freezing cold like the tundra at many establishments) and before long, you’ve forgotten that it’s sweltering outside.
The ambiance is grandma’s house meets bustling café. The walls are adorned with shelves of beautiful tea sets alongside black and white portraits of movie stars. The tables are filled with women laughing and leaning in. Everything about the place screams “female bonding.” (Incidentally, if you’re a male, you can stop reading now, unless you’re a thoughtful male who wants to get this for a gift for his favorite girl).
Once seated, you will be greeted by a waitress who presents you with a menu of over 100 tea choices. I must admit, it’s a bit overwhelming. Each group gets three choices, so we collectively decided to go wild and chose Hazelnut Cookie, White Mango Pear, and Pecan Pie Rooibos. The tea is delivered in pots nestled in cozies to keep them warm. We enjoyed tasting and rating each one, sampling each with milk and sugar, and choosing our favorite.
Next comes the goodies. First are the scones, presented with strawberry preserves, clotted cream, and lemon curd. What a fantastic complement to the tea! Then the true delicacies arrive and fill the tiered serving stand in the center of each table. Pimento cheese, chicken salad, and cucumber finger sandwiches round out the bottom tier. These are not bite-sized, by the way. They are each equivalent to about a half a sandwich, so are much more filling than you would expect. The top tier overflows with sweets, including rich, chocolatey brownies; mini-cheesecakes; and raspberry cupcakes. Divine!
We spent about two hours chatting about everything under the sun, sipping tea, and pretending to eat daintily. It was a lovely way to pass an afternoon, and we left with full bellies and happy hearts.
It should be noted that McHugh Tea Room can also accommodate group outings. While we were there, one large group of older women occupied a private room, while another group of teenagers – all dressed in tea finery – celebrated a 17-year-old birthday at another. Apparently, tea and conversation have no age limits, either way.
High Tea at McHugh costs $30 a person and definitely includes enough food and drink to qualify as a hearty lunch. Gratuity is already added, and the waitress is kind enough to point that out when she delivers the check.
So if you’re looking for something different to do this summer that is appropriate for family and friends of all ages, think tea and crumpets. You won’t regret it.
McHugh Tea Room is located at 5305 Bissonnet Street in Bellaire. You must make reservations at least 24 hours in advance by calling 713-218-6300. For more information, go to www. Mchughtea.com.