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Thursday
Oct102013

Tea Places - Verdant Tea Tasting Room & Tea Bar - Minneapolis, MN

Description:

Verdant Tea has a new home in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. More than a tea house, our Minneapolis Tasting Room and Tea Bar is a cafe, neighborhood hangout and collaborative event space, all-in-one.  Whether you’re meeting friends over a cup of tea, enjoying seasonally inspired breakfast and brunch, attending morning meditation and qigong, or indulging in local ice cream and chocolate, you’ll find our doors open, ready to welcome in new friends and neighbors.  

Other Information:

Address: 2111 East Franklin Avenue | Minneapolis, MN 55404
Phone: 612.223.8907
Hours: Sunday - Friday 8am - 8pm | Saturday 8am - 11pm

Important things to know:

Full menu, current specials and events are listed on their website. They offer ice cream from Sweet Science, chocolate from Real Deal Chocolate, and food curated by Birchwood.

Review:

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this past weekend by taking a road trip to Minneapolis while my mother babysat for us. I'll admit, I had ulterior motives for choosing to make the five hour drive to Minneapolis, I wanted to check out the new Verdant Tea Bar and Tasting Room. I was told ahead of time by many other Steepster members that I would be spoiled and they were absolutely correct.

The location:

I'm not at all familiar with Minneapolis, this was my first visit to the great state of Minnesota, but I'll have to say that I think Verdant picked the perfect location when they made their home in the Seward neighborhood. The area reminds me a bit of Willie Street, here in Madison and I think a business like this one would do wonderfully there. It's probably a good thing that Verdant isn't in my neck of the woods, I'd spend all my time there.

Anyway, back to the location.

It wasn't far off the interstate and incredibly easy to find, even to an outsider. The building itself was located on the outside corner of a strip containing several other business that I would have loved to check out if I hadn't been there at 8am on a Sunday. It didn't seem like much else was open that early (I don't blame them, I'm not a morning person either, especially on a weekend.) Parking is available in the connecting lot, which is convenient during winter, or on the street.

The building itself is absolutely perfect and I love all the windows letting in natural light. Rather than having a dark space like you often see with many businesses, the windows letting in the morning sunlight created a very inviting atmosphere. It would have been perfect if there hadn't been a moving van parked outside my window the whole time, ruining my view of the neighborhood. This same moving van prevented me from taking a good photo of the exterior, I hope you can forgive its absence.

The ordering process and menu:

I was greeted as soon as I walked in the door and since this was my first time visiting the gentleman behind the bar (in my sleep deprived state I completely forgot to ask his name, so he will have to be referred to as the the gentleman behind the bar from here on out) explained the offerings and gave me a menu to peruse.

I quickly settled on a pot of Zhu Rong Yunnan Black and a Pumpkin Chai-Spiced Gluten-Free Doughnut.

I should mention something just so the vertically challenged are aware. Verdant has been very sneaky in their placement of the pastries, they're kept at our eye level. This makes it impossible not to order at least one and in my case one of each. This isn't going to be an issue for anyone over 5'5". Short people you have been warned!

Rather than using a traditional tea pot Verdant gives you three items when they bring your tea to the table. A hand made ceramic cup, a Finum brewing basket, and a metal hot water pot. When you run out of hot water you just take the pot back up to the bar and water refills are free. I was able to steep my tea six times before I felt the need to switch to something else. The directions were easily explained to me including how to pour the water without spilling all over myself (incredibly helpful for a klutz like me), how long to steep the tea, and how the tea basket worked.

A little arm twisting went on when I later went up to order for my husband. The wonderfully helpful gentleman behind the bar made me order a second doughnut. He was ruthless I tell you, absolutely ruthless! Ok, not really, I'm just feeling a little guilty about eating one of everything. 

What is probably closer to the truth is that I was told that it was morning happy hour until 10am which included $2 tea and $2 pastries. 

I split a Vegan Blackberry Pear mini-muffin with my husband and had a Pumpkin Green Tea Glazed Gluten-Free Doughnut for myself. They were just so good! In fact, the chai spiced doughnuts were so good I forgot to take a good photo before I tore into mine. They had a slightly grainy texture to them and you could tell they were gluten free, but they were moist and melted like butter in my mouth. This is perhaps one of the best examples of gluten free baking I've seen in awhile, although I did wish there were a few standard options as well. Still, I think it is cool they offer both Vegan and gluten free options, those can be hard to come by in many places.

To go with my green tea glazed doughnut I decided on a cup of hot chai made with almond milk. I probably should have asked for it to have been made with whole milk instead. I discovered one new thing about myself, I just don't like chai with almond milk, which is odd because I love almond milk.

Other nifty things about Verdant:

The geek in me squealed at the fact that they had Munchkin and a bunch of other games to play. I could absolutely see myself sitting here with a group of friends for a game night. I love playing Munchkin!

If you like to take your laptop with you and work like I do, then Verdant is the perfect place. They have free wi-fi, you'll just need to ask for the password. There were also easily accessible power outlets that weren't hidden under the table. That meant I didn't have to go fumbling around in the dark trying to plug my laptop in. 

I really liked the music that was playing. It's nice and mellow, perfect for an early Sunday morning. I also loved the fact that I could rarely recognize a single song that was played. I download the indie rock playlist every month and pretty much ignore popular music, so this really appeals to me. Even better, the music was kept low making it easy to hear a conversation.

I've save one of the coolest aspects of the Tasting Room for last. See the photo above? That is what greated me as soon as I walked in the door. I don't even know what to say, other than it is such an amazing gongfu (tea ceremony) setup and I wish I had been able to take advantage of it this time around.

Price

My entire bill for 2 ended up being around $12, which I felt was more than reasonable. Had I not come in during morning happy hour it would have been a little higher, but I would have easily spent nearly $20 for 2 had I gone to a coffee shop instead. Keep in mind that this provided me with roughly 6 cups of tea, 2 doughnuts, 1 muffin and a hot chai. At the coffee shop I would have been lucky to come out with 2 medium cups of fancy coffee and 2 sub par pastries for twice the price. 

My Rating: 99/100
 
Would I visit again? Absolutely, but it would be so dangerous for me to live anywhere near here. If I ever make it back to Minneapolis this will be one of my stops. There were so many aspects of Verdant that I didn't get to take full advantage of and I really want to sample some of the ice cream and chocolates.
 

Disclosure:

I'd like to be open with my readers and let you know up front when I have been provided something for free to review as it does happen from time to time. In this case, I was not provided with anything from Verdant Tea and paid for this with my own money. As always, all opinions are my own. If you are a company and would like to send me an item for review feel free to drop me an email.