I am a tea drinker. Perhaps in some minor, passive rebellion against my coffee drinking parents, I’ve really taken to tea as my beverage of choice. It may be that I drink too much of it. It may not have as much caffeine as coffee, but it does have enough, and it may be an issue for me if I don’t get my infusion in the morning. I’m not picky about the types; I enjoy green, black, oolong, all of them, provided they’re properly prepared, of course. See my entry on the TeaSource. Okay, okay, maybe I’m a bit of a snob, but it seems that a lot of people have been coming to tea themselves lately. In the past, I’ve often found American tea choices lacking; Christopher Hitchens may have been a bit of a blowhard, but his thoughts on American tea, traditionally, at Slate is spot on. As we slowly evolve ourselves into a society more aware and knowledgeable about the proper way to have tea, however, I’ve been finding more and more spots to enjoy some around the Twin Cities. Here are a few of my favorites places to stock up on some loose leaf teas. Especially as we’re starting to get into that cold season, I’ll definitely need to supplement my supplies to keep a warm mug constantly at the ready.
Of course, I’ve mentioned the TeaSource, which has been my go to standby for years now, so I’ll leave it at that for now. They’ve got locations in St. Paul, St. Anthony, and Eden Prairie. Each are recommended.
La Société du Thé on Lyndale in Minneapolis is another good place to browse tea selections, and the proprietor is extremely knowledgeable. With a cozy and elegant location, it is a wonderful place to sip some tea, in both European and Asian styles. I’ve gotten some great teas here, too.
Hidden away in the Skyways of Downtown Minneapolis, I recently discovered Northern Lights Tea Company, which is a nice place to grab some tea before work, either a hot cup of it or some loose leaf varieties. I found a few interesting teas I hadn’t seen anywhere else here.
Mrs. Kelley’s Teas have been a long standing purveyor of tea in the Twin Cities, often present at the farmers markets. I believe it was Mrs. Kelley that introduced me to good loose leaf tea They seem to specialize in tisanes, herbal teas. On occasion, they have open houses in their cool warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis.
For traditional English style teas, including afternoon teas, cream teas, and all of those elegant little feasts involving piping hot pots of tea and tall racks of little sandwiches and desserts, I think the best is Lady Elegant’s Tea Room in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, off of Como. It’s been a little while since I’ve been there, but that would be a great place to make a reservation for a birthday. Not the cheapest, but worth it!
For a different style of tea, it’s worth checking out Chatime in Dinkytown, a Minnesota location of a Taiwanese chain specializing in boba tea, always refreshing on hot days like we’ve been having recently. There’s also one in the Mall of America, if you feel like subjecting yourself to that (if you have to, might as well have a treat while you’re there).
A few restaurants have great tea choices, too. Some of my recommendations are Namaste Cafe on Hennepin Avenue for its chai. Normally, I prefer to keep milk or dairy substitutes far away from my teas, but here, the blends are delicious. It’s also great that you can choose soy milk instead of diary!
Wally’s in Dinkytown has some great tea, as well, black tea infused with fresh sage, mint, or other herbs. Definitely goes down well with some falafel. The house blend at the Kyber Pass restaurant in St. Paul is also a favorite, a black tea with cardamon.
Of course, we can’t forget to mention St. Paul’s Russian Tea House on University Avenue, as I discussed last year, here. Their tea is piping hot, slightly sweet due to an infusion of saffron, and super cheap!