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.