Indigo Tea Lounge knows its leaves, with fantastic food as a bonus
|I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, unless you count that unfortunate post-21st birthday stretch of Long Island iced teas.|
In fact, my one and only real experience having tea came just last year in London, at the Orangery at Kensington Gardens. That afternoon, sitting in the 18th Century conservatory surrounded by exotic plants, fancy hats and china teacups, I learned proper tea is as much about the food as the dried leaves and hot water. The delectable finger sandwiches, orange-scented scones with Cornish clotted cream and sweet tea pastries tasted heavenly, and the food was all so precise and elegant that it really became part of the experience.
Recently my sister suggested we skip the usual dinner or drinks and instead meet for tea. In Anchorage.
I was at a loss. If she’d offered to meet for cocktails or coffee, my cup (or wine glass) runneth over with ideas and options. But tea? In Anchorage? I envisioned my English experience. Ambiance! Tiny sandwiches! Teacups!
I turned to Google for help and happily, I found Indigo Tea Room. This chic shop, tucked into a corner of the Metro Mall in Midtown, is one of the more unique venues I’ve encountered in Anchorage.
Indigo Tea Room in a sense serves three purposes. It’s a wholesaler tea provider, supplying some of Anchorage’s best-known restaurants and venues. It’s also a shop, where you can buy tea stuff: tea accessories, books about tea, kettles, cups, tea itself – the works.
Third, and finally, there is Indigo’s cafe aspect, and it is absolutely divine. The décor is artistic and trendy. Plush couches, artfully designed hard-back seats saddled up to four-top tables and voluminous oversized chairs fill the space, offering a range of choice of comfort to customers. The space is surprisingly roomy and simultaneously cozy.
The tea selection is nearly overwhelming with so many flavors – from green to white to pu-erh to oolong to black. I threw myself on the mercy of the barista and asked the question that typically is helpful: What are your best sellers? He hoisted down canisters and let me inhale the various aromas of some of their most popular flavors.
That’s a cool customer service they do for everyone, anytime, I learned. They’ll also mix different leaves if you want to get creative. I put my faith in the power of the popular vote and opted for the cinnamon plum blend. On various visits, my guests tried Vietnamese green tea, a strawberry cream blend and hibiscus – all with happy outcomes.
And as the British well know, what’s tea without snacks? At Indigo, they have a simple daily menu with a few sandwiches, a beer and bacon salad and a couple of breakfast sandwiches, two versions of oatmeal, and usually a daily soup and quiche. There are always tasty baked goods made in house, too. Everything I tried was absolutely delicious.
I loved the lavender blueberry scone served with sweet homemade jam and a dish of decadent clotted cream. The shortbread cookie was simple but masterful.
On a separate visit, my date and I split the classic breakfast sandwich: a flaky croissant with sweet ham, melted Swiss, Dijon mustard, arugula and a perfectly over-medium fried egg.
Indigo features a highly recommended special where you can share two scones and a large pot of tea for $12.
Personally I can’t wait to get in there for their high tea service. It’s $25 a person, available Friday to Sunday, and includes refillable pots of tea and the full range of British favs, like finger sandwiches and pastries and mini cupcakes. Call 222-1619 to reserve a spot.
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