Warm Up With the Best Spots for Tea in Town

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Photo courtesy Serenitea
Ditch those high-calorie coffee drinks and booze for some healthy tea in the new year.
Though winter officially began a while back, from now until February, the weather is just going to keep getting colder. There's a hard freeze in the forecast for Thursday night, and since the week isn't quite over, I don't recommend you warm yourself with a few too many hot toddies just yet. The solution: Tea.

If you're not a regular tea-drinker, you may not be aware that Houston has a wonderful selection of teahouses and tea purveyors, from the fancy British style (finger sandwiches included) to the hippie-dippy (complete with vegan pastries) and everything in between.

So next time you're feeling chilly, head to one of these eight places for a cup of something warm and soothing and, as always, calorie-free!

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Like Wine? Doing Good Deeds? Join Women of Wine Charities at Its Annual Benefit

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Courtesy mindyjoyce.com
Get ready to taste some great wines at the Women in Wine Charities benefit for the Houston Area Women's Center

The Women of Wine Charities hosts its Grand Tasting next week, a walk-around tasting event featuring world-class wines and bites from some of Houston's top chefs, including Reef's Bryan Caswell and Claire Smith of Canopy.

In addition, Karen Cakebread will be pouring from her new winery, Ziata Wines. Cakebread had spent 20 years with her family's eponymous vineyard and was recently named as one of Wine Spectator's "Six to Watch."

The organization, which started in 2007 as a peer networking group for women in the wine industry in H-Town, has hosted this annual charity event for the Houston Area Women's Center for the past six years, raising nearly $70,000 for the shelter and counseling center.

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Your Guide to Video Game Cocktails

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I tend toward role-playing games, and as a result I often end up in long, Zen-like bouts of level grinding that involve hours of defeating monsters over and over again in order to overpower my team to the point they steamroll over the bosses. It's honestly the happiest I am as a gamer, and it lends itself well to my other favorite non-Doctor Who hobby, booze.

That's me on any given night that I'm not, ironically, writing an article about video games. Just me splayed out on the floor with a Final Fantasy or Xenoblade in front of me a-murdering like I was a flabby white electronic Conan with a drink at my elbow.

So to spice up the adventure some, I like to kick back with some specialty cocktails. Here are my favorite video game-inspired infusions of spirits. Follow the links for the how-tos and what-do-you-dos.

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Where Are We Drinking? Clue: Get in Your Karbach and Drive

This limited release, oak barrel-aged Bodacious Double IPA from Karbach Brewing Co. has been a bit difficult to find in area restaurants, but we managed to find a bottle at this Sugar Land burger favorite. And just as with its popular growler program (which allows you to take home draft beer in a gallon jug), you can also buy unopened bottles of Bodacious to go.

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Where Are We Drinking?

The licuados served at this popular East End haunt are frothy, refreshing, not-too-sweet but maybe too big; the glass they're served in is practically the size of a fish bowl. If you can't make it through an entire cinnamon-topped papaya licuado (as shown here), don't sweat it. I think there's at least a gallon of liquid in there.

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Where Are We Drinking? Clue: Kickin' It

This popular Heights coffee shop serves more than just caffeine: Its breakfast tacos and fried egg croissants are excellent, and the beverage case has options like Maine Root soda and locally brewed Kickin' Kombucha (which would still be my favorite brand of the fermented beverage even if it wasn't made right here in Houston).

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Where Are We Drinking? Clue: Hotel Hotness

At this hotel bar, the menu is about to get completely revamped by new chef Jonathan Jones. The drinks, however, are still flowing until then. And with the nicer weather in the air, it's the perfect time to enjoy a glass of wine on the hotel's notably beautiful patio.

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Where Are We Drinking? Clue: Chinotto per Tutti

At this Italian import, you can find specialty Italian beverages on the menu that are otherwise hard to come by. My favorite is the Chinotto, which San Pellegrino claims to have created in 1932. Made from the fruit of the myrtle-leaved orange tree, it's said to be "bitter orange" flavored -- but I think it tastes more like carbonated, nonalcoholic Aperol. Either way, it's a great way to enjoy a cocktail-like drink senza the booze.

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Where Are We Drinking? Clue: Go Texas

The draft selection at this newish Washington Avenue lounge concentrates almost exclusively on Texas beers, with at least two local Oktoberfest brews on tap right now. All of the beers -- draft or not -- are $1 off during happy hour and bottles of wine are a whopping 25 percent off, making the daily 4 to 7 p.m. "hour" very happy indeed.

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Where Are We Drinking? Clue: Burgers and Beer

This unassuming Midtown watering hole has great happy hour specials, excellent sports-viewing perches and some fairly fine food for such a quiet little place: Its burgers are very good and its homemade gumbo isn't too shabby either, especially punched up with some Tabasco. Best of all, the typical Midtown crowds don't seem to have this spot on their radar, meaning it's usually cozy and calm.

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