Minneapolis is home to one of the only teahouses in America milling its own matcha. Ground on a granite wheel imported from Japan, it’s the specialty of newcomer Northeast Tea House.
“The quality of the tencha is very important,” says Northeast Tea House co-owner Simon Parish, referring to the tea leaves used to make matcha. “Real tencha is shaded for 40 days at the end of its growing cycle, and the high-quality stuff will be from the first picking of spring. Ours is all first flush from Uji, the best place for tea in Japan.”
The ideal way to experience fresh matcha is through a flight of imported cultivars; tasting notes help newbies suss out the nuances in every cup. For people who aren’t fans of matcha’s grassy, earthy, fresh-cut lawn flavor, Parish has more than 35 other teas in stock, including green, black, white, oolong, sheng pu’er, and shou pu’er.
Parish first got serious about tea while working at Puerh Brooklyn in New York City. For him, tea was more than just a drink; it was an antidote to depression and something he could incorporate into a meditative practice.
It was also in Brooklyn that Parish first experienced gongfu, a Chinese method of re-brewing the same tea leaves. “With each new infusion, the flavors change,” he says. “This way, you’re getting more tea out of the leaves, more caffeine, and more antioxidants.”
Team Minnevangelist must be tea drunk on Northeast Tea House: Ashlea Halpern wrote about the shop for Conde Nast Traveler and Andrew Parks interviewed Parish for Minnesota Monthly. We also love the shop’s sweet and savory snacks (melon-flavored mochi, sesame enso), many of them baked by Parish’s mom and fine selection of beautifully wrapped tea cakes, teapots, and Japanese incense. (Also good to know: Parish offers three monthly tea subscriptions, starting at $35.
After a month of focusing on lockdown takeout, Northeast Tea House’s in-store service resumes January 12. The airy, contemporary space is well-suited to our pandemic times with its socially distanced smattering of tables and a long chabudai surrounded by cushions. A serene fish tank bubbles mid-shop, drawing its share of gawkers, but Parish encourages guests to leave their laptops at home.
“Tea’s otherworldly effects occur when it’s just you,” he says. “No screens, no books—nothing. You have to taste your tea.”
Northeast Tea House
224 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-321-8218.