Uptown favorite The Tea Garden will open new location in Stadium Village

Stadium Village renovation plans encourage growth of other such locally based businesses.

Kelly Gulbrandson

Stadium Village will have another tenant in business when the neighborhood’s newest beverage shop opens in the Stadium Village Mall.

The Tea Garden, a tea bar with two other metro locations, will open Saturday.

Stadium Village Mall owner Justin Zavadil said The Tea Garden is “a perfect fit” for the mall since it is a locally based company, a trend he would like to expand upon.

The store specializes in tea-based products, owner Nick Nguyen said.

While it can be difficult to compete with national beverage chains, Nguyen said The Tea Garden offers a product different from coffee shops in the area.

The business specializes in bubble tea, which is a “unique dessert drink” originating in Taiwan, he said. Bubble teas start as fruit tea, a tea latte, a cooler or shake. Then, “chewy balls of tapioca” or fruit jellies are placed on the bottom of the drink, Nguyen said and a wide straw allows the “bubbles” to be sucked up while drinking.

The Tea Garden offers more than 30 flavor combinations, he said, so customers can choose their tea and mix-ins.

Loose-leaf teas, along with other teas, sandwiches and desserts will also be on the menu.

University food science and nutrition professor Joanne Slavin said tea’s health benefits include promoting cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of cancer.

Just drinking tea won’t necessarily carry these benefits, Slavin said, but many people experience them in combination with exercise and a healthy diet.

She also said she has noticed an increase in the amount of caffeine students drink because of the popularity of coffee and energy drinks, which contain caffeine and other stimulants.

Tea also has caffeine, but in amounts less than both those items, she said.

“If I was worried about caffeine exposure, it would be more about energy drinks and coffee than tea,” Slavin said.

Nguyen said he plans to work with University student groups such as the Asian-American Student Union and the University’s greek community to get the word out about his store.

“Hopefully students will see it as they walk by and check it out,” Nguyen said.

Caribou Coffee manager Michael Robideau said while the store sells “a decent amount” of tea on a weekly basis, it sells more coffee. He said he hasn’t seen an increase in the popularity of tea at Caribou.

Robideau said though he thinks The Tea Garden won’t be much competition for Caribou, some University students’ preferences refute that belief.

Tea vs. coffee

What will it be, coffee or tea?

For most students, it depends.

Biology junior Kaitlin Sikich said she prefers tea to coffee.

“The taste is less harsh and the health benefits are definitely a plus,” she said.

Psychology junior Tom Cole said he likes tea because of the taste and potential health benefits.

“I drink tea often and would be interested in checking out the new place,” he said.

Nutrition sophomore Claire Anderson said, however, that she prefers coffee to tea because it has more caffeine. Other students, such as nursing sophomore Olivia Berg, prefer coffee because there are simply more coffee shops in the area.

But journalism senior Jessica Siefer said she likes bubble tea because it is different from other teas.

“I like to save the bubble tea’s bubbles until the end,” she said.