Good Weather for Loose Leaf Tea

Here’s the rundown on five local cafes serving fresh tea

A wide variety of tea waits on the shelf at Hard Times Café on West Bank.  Hard Times is one local café where fresh Loose Leaf Tea can be found.

A wide variety of tea waits on the shelf at Hard Times Café on West Bank. Hard Times is one local café where fresh Loose Leaf Tea can be found.

Dylan Hester

Sure, coffee may be the go-to drink when schedules are filling up, syllabi become foreboding and the bitter northern wind shows no sign of easing. But while itâÄôs great to help boost focus levels and work through one more task, coffee often just raises stress levels, and, in my experience, tends to produce nasty caffeine crashes and stomach aches. A properly prepared cup of tea, on the other hand, can provide a smooth energy lift and increased concentration without those tense side effects.

Minneapolis has many great coffeehouses that serve fresh loose leaf âÄî as opposed to bagged âÄî teas. Check out some of these places and enjoy a cup as you work through some readings or essays. Who knows, you may accidentally discover a bit of zen along the way.

Espresso Royale

411 14th Ave. SE

Our first stop is Espresso Royale, located right in the middle of Dinkytown. You canâÄôt miss their tea selection at the front of the counter. Take some time to enjoy the smells before deciding. The OâÄôMalley and Winston Breakfast (Irish and English, respectively) are excellent full-flavored black teas. The shop also has Darjeeling, alongside other black, oolong, green and herbal varieties.

Hard Times Café

1821 Riverside Ave.

Over on the West Bank stands the iconic Hard Times Café co-op, convergence point of late-night vegetarian grub, punk rock and top-notch people watching. It is perhaps the only appropriate café in which to converse with strangers about Marxist theory or DIY culture. Considering their dedication to great organic food, it comes as no surprise that they proffer a large collection of teas behind the counter. Nearly every variety is represented in many blends: green, black, roobois, yerba maté and a generous and eclectic assortment of herbals. Many are creatively named, so just give one a try. Personally, I am a fan of the Moon Tea.

Spyhouse

2451 S. Nicollet Ave.

2404 S. Hennepin Ave.

On the south side, the perpetually cool Spyhouse (two locations) is known for their impressive cappuccino work, but donâÄôt miss their list of quality teas to choose from. Though you can never go wrong with a classic like Earl Gray or Masala, Spyhouse is a great place to enjoy the herbal Evening in Missoula: an unmistakable blend of chamomile, mints, vanilla, raspberry and many other flavors. They serve their tea in individual pots for the perfect brew.

Urban Bean

3255 S. Bryant Ave

Urban Bean, like Spyhouse, provides teapots for an authentic, flavorful experience. Their second location on 24th and Lyndale boasts large windows for natural light to come streaming through. Any tea goes well with windows like those. Such an atmosphere is particularly helpful for inspiring the critical thinking necessary for long papers.

Plan B

2717 Hennepin Ave.

Just south of 27th and Hennepin is a neighborhood staple, Plan B. They maintain a healthy stock of herbal varieties and caffeinated staples. The pomegranate green tea is the best of both worlds, and with sofa seating in addition to study-friendly tables, itâÄôs a great place to escape the cold with a friend or two.

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This list is not exhaustive, of course. But all of these coffee shops are great places to try when youâÄôve grown weary of paying $2.50 for cheap bagged tea. Many locations also sell their tea in bulk, which is useful for the days when itâÄôs too cold to even venture outdoors. And donâÄôt forget that if youâÄôre drinking loose leaf, you can always combine different teas for a unique experience.

Interested in another steeping? Be sure to check out the A&E Blog on MNDaily.com for a quick rundown on some tea basics.