MATT: What do you want to do for dessert?
ALLI: Whatever you like! We could stay here... or maybe go to The Tea Garden.
MATT: Well what would you rather do?
ALLI: I don't even eat dessert. You have to choose.
MATT: I'm up for anything!
ALLI: Here or Tea Garden?
MATT: I could go either way.
ALLI: ... Fine, Tea Garden.
MATT: Let's never fight again.
|Image from a time when the sun actually shone. Also from nelso.com|
2601 Hennepin Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
This place has a huge menu, literally and figuratively. You can ask the staff what's vegan or look here for a little info. Basically, the easiest thing to do is pick out what you like - a tea latte, bubble tea, loose leaf tea, shake, whatever - then tell your friendly Tea Garden employee that you'd like it vegan, please. Chances are the response will be, "Would you like to replace the dairy in that with soy creamer, soy milk, or almond milk?" Sometimes it gets a little more complicated - for example, you could unwittingly pick a bubble tea jelly flavor that's not vegan. In this case, be flexible. The staff'll still help you figure it out.
This time I ordered a cup of loose-leaf tisane - that's a tea-free herbal infusion. My blend? Rooibos, with almond milk, for $2.80.
Unlike at Starbucks, this stuff is really freaking hot when you grab it off the counter. I let mine cool for about 20 minutes before drinking it. And when I finally started to sip, I tasted hints of the sweet and mellow tastes described in the menu. It has like a grillion health benefits - antioxidants, protein, natural minerals, vitamins, and it apparently even does wonders for the digestive system. Which all sounded pretty good to me, having just eaten a couple crispy deep fried hufflepuffs. I mean, hush puppies. But when I got home, I admit, I felt that I had to add a little of my unsweetened vanilla almond milk to it because it tasted a bit boring and bitter. The small addition of vanilla markedly improved the flavor.
A lot of the other drinks at Tea Garden are fun, too. The Thai Tea is super yummy but far too sweet for any normal human being to consume in a single sitting. The jellies and pearls rock - they're made from scratch right there behind the counter. Ordering a bubble tea can be a little overwhelming, though, because there are so many choices. If you're in doubt, go with a fun-sounding tea and classic tapioca pearls. Or, seriously, ask the staff.
The ambiance is stellar. I don't know what music they played, but it was 10,000 times better than Fiona Apple. Their music is always 10,000 times better than Fiona Apple.