Generally speaking, there's not a bubble to be found in bubble tea. Instead, the "bubbles" that the cold Taiwanese drink takes its name from are chewy tapioca pearls or jellies resting at the bottom of the glass, waiting for a straw to suck them up. The tea is there, however—but it's not alone. Mixed with it is the flavor of mango, matcha, or peppermint. In fact, at Steepery Tea Bar—owned by the same aficionados as the Tea Garden—more than 30 flavors combine with 10 bubble varieties to exercise creative muscles and comfort anyone who's afraid of repeating themselves.
Bubble tea is just one of the drinks at Steepery Tea Bar. And it's not even the only drink that can contain bubbles. Shakes and coolers can also hold the chewy treasures in their depths, as well as the cafe's signature drinks such as the royal tea latte. Of course, being a tea bar, Steepery brews up hot drinks too. More than 50 kinds of green, black, white, and herbal loose-leaf tea—most of which are fair-trade, organic, and inclined to give only positive fortunes to tellers—fill cups and pots.
Every time Tiny Footprint Coffee uses a little bit of earth's resources, it also puts a little bit back. Since roasting coffee produces CO2, the staff have taken it upon themselves to donate a portion of the proceeds from every pound of coffee they sell to reforestation efforts in Ecuador. In this sense, they've established their business as a "carbon negative" one?the carbon they produce is eliminated by the trees that are eventually planted. And that's not even getting to the coffee itself. Workers dote on the artisanal beans every step of the way, from the family-owned farms where the coffee cherries are picked to the carefully trained baristas who eventually transform the roasted beans into the perfect cup.
At The Tea Garden, the brewers can blend exactly 2,331,091 drink possibilities. Besides iced black or green tea, they whip up iced tea lattes or chai shakes, with or without sippable tapioca pearls or fruit jellies in flavors such as pineapple and green apple. If someone needs to warm up or seek vengeance upon the snow for covering their car, the tea experts can create hot tea lattes or simply brew a cup of tea with 1 of more than 50 loose-leaf tea varieties, most of which are fair trade and organic. Art from local artists adorns the walls at The Tea Garden, and on weekend nights, ears prick up at the sounds from a live DJ or jazz players.
Neighborhood cafes should be warm, welcoming, and filled with good coffee. Muffin Top Cafe raises that bar and does one better, throwing baked goods made from scratch into the equation. The cafe, founded by the former manager of Minneapolis hotspots Annie's Parlour and Bobino Cafe, boasts a large interior primed for leisurely afternoons of coffee sipping, writing, and contemplating writing about coffee sipping. The menu offers up namesake muffin tops baked in house along with croissants, cookies, and brownies, which all pair deliciously with the cafe's Milan-style espresso and dark French roast.
Cafe Inc is a private workspace created with productivity in mind for modern workers who only require a laptop and Wi-Fi to do their jobs. Beyond its members-only area, Cafe Inc shares its space with Makers Cafe, which offers food and beverages to the public.
While living in China, Master Chef Yang learned how to saut?, season, and stir-fry every dish at Cafe 99. His menu honors Chinese culinary traditions, with entrees paying homage to regional cuisines Yang sampled while traveling through the country. After each trip, he hand-picked region-specific foods to comprises dishes such as whole halibut stewed in wild chili sauce, mandarin beef with golden garlic, sizzling steak in black pepper sauce, giant walnut shrimp, and a chrysanthemum sole fillet in tomato sauce, a 2012 Taste of Chanhassen Grand Prize winner. In addition to popular items such as sweet-and-sour chicken and vegetable lo mein, he also uses his culinary talents to showcase some of China's more exotic ingredients and flavor combinations, such as wild sea cucumber or beef tendon in chili sauce.
No matter what you order, the eatery's no-frills decor allows these colorful dishes to be the stars of every visit. Those eager to sample more exotic flavor combinations can visit Tian Jin, Cafe 99's sister restaurant, which was also featured in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.