I rated this a little higher than I might have otherwise, because it’s really the only tea shop serving the southern Twin Cities metro, and as such it fills a few niches incredibly well. But it is situated in a back corner of a confusing strip mall complex with a frontage road, meaning you may need to whip out your navigator if you’re not familiar with the neighborhood. The variety of teas, accessories, and the serving menu are top-notch, but it’s very much a college café type of atmosphere reminiscent of the larger coffee chains. The young baristas know how to serve up a great boba milk tea, but if you have questions about steeping times or origins on the loose teas available for purchase, you may or may not get an experienced response depending on the day.
That’s where my list of criticisms ends.
Despite the austere strip-mall outer appearance, the inside decor is bright and inviting, and there are two tatami-mat tables that look out through the front windows. Plenty of sunshine even in the dead of a Minnesota winter. You may have to compete with the younger crowd for access to the Tatami mats, so if you’re seeking the more “authentic” experience, you might have better luck on a weekday. There are plenty of wooden tables and chairs on the other side of the store, benches with pillows and cushions.
The servingware selection is in the middle of the store and becomes the focus from each direction. Indigo has an impressive selection of Japanese servingware and teas – the first in my short experience around town that has had such variety. They also have other traditional serving pieces, infusers, Chinese Yi-Xing, and English style teapots and cups.
As for loose tea selection, they offer everything that’s mentioned on their web site, already pre-packaged and labeled with steeping times. They have smaller canisters with each type available in a lazy-susan display so you can smell or try your particular favorite before purchasing, the prices for each variety labeled to the side of each of the display shelves. This is why I don’t place too much hope that the staff is as versed in tea as the proprieter may be – the display is very much a “serve-yourself” experience. Oolongs, china blacks, 3 types of Pu-erh, tisanes, nice selection of flavored blends, and a larger-than-expected selection of greens and whites.
The café side of the store has a pastry/deli case. There were a few varieties of scones, macaroons, and panini sandwiches, but nothing that looked remarkably different than the average selection at other places. The beverage menu includes a large variety of syrups for boba tea and milk tea, as well as straight brewed tea. I tried a peach flavored iced milk boba tea and it was wonderful. It was actally better prepared than boba tea I’ve had elsewhere further into the cities (places that boast of being about nothing “but” bubble tea).
Prices were comparable to other places in town – you can get a brewed pot for $3 and up, a large milk tea with boba pearls for about $4, and you’ll find accessories ranging from the traditional to a JoeMo travel mug, at reasonable prices.
Their loose tea prices however can be a real bargain, depending on which variety you’re looking at. I came home with 4 oz. of organic pu-erh for about $3 less than I paid at a different non-chain specialty shop in the area, per oz.
Indigo’s clientele does seem to be more of the younger crowd, though there was a family and a few 30-ups there during my visit. Lots of bubble teas and lattés being ordered.
I do plan to go back to Indigo more often and look forward to trying some of their Japanese green teas in the near future. It’s a pleasant, quiet place to enjoy a drink, and (thankfully!) an alternative to Teavana for stocking up on accessories for the southern Twin Cities tea enthusiast.
This is a small “blink and you’ll miss it” place along Lyndale near Uptown. Tiny (5 small tables), quiet (yet there were 5 clients who came through in the half hour I was there), with an eclectic décor (Asian lanterns and European tea tins), the tea is the reason people come here. An amazing variety of teas in stock and available for purchase in 3 oz. increments. The proprietors are engaging and offered good advice on steeping times for different teas. I tried a pot of Rooibos Bourbon, perfectly steeped and offered with rock sugar. Came home with more Rooibos Bourbon and a Pu-Erh to prepare at home. I’m a suburbanite, so it’s not a place I’ll be able to frequent as often as I wish, but I do plan to return and try their greens and oolongs at some point.
A prepared pot of tea for 2 people can range from $3 and up, very reasonable. There were some pastries and scones available, but the selection wasn’t overwhelming. (Should be noted that it’s several doors down from a fabulous organic bakery, if you’re on-the-go and need a particular pairing). Given the size of the store, there was a pleasing variety of accessories: tins, Argentinian maté gourds w/bombillas, infusers, tea cups and pots – serious tea gear.
This is a place to stop for great tea, period. No frills, but the thrill is in the cup.
Excellent selection of teas, as you’d expect. Easy to locate. Always has two different blended teas to sample and an eye-catching array of teaware on display. Sells brewed tea to go as well as its famous loose leaf “Wall of Tea” selections. Not a café-type of store, more like a showroom where you can order a drink at the register.
The drawbacks are the foot traffic – during the holiday season they get so busy they’ve often had to discontinue their prepared drink “to-go” sales – and there has never been a time when I’ve walked into the store where they haven’t tried to “up-sale” at every turn – be prepared to feel "pushed’ to buy their proprietary tea tins and other accesories. The staff’s tea knowledge can be hit-and-miss, but always friendly. The quality of the tea is what keeps me returning several times a year, but I always have my shopping list prepared and I presume that I’m going to be asked the same questions each and every time. As time goes on, I’ve done more of my Teavana shopping online to avoid the up-selling atmosphere. The tactic of limiting the number of blooming teas for sale without having to buy an expensive $89 tumbler kit has recently been the first sour note in my Teavana experience. I’ve found more blooming tea options at other places that aren’t bundled.
But as it’s located in suburbia where there’s a drought of tea shops and an overabundance of national chain coffee stores, it is a true oasis.
Best features: variety, tea quality, location
Worst feature: sales pressure to buy more than you need, recent trend to bundling teas in expensive gift sets and making them exclusives