I love tea. I have issues with tea. Terry will attest that I buy too much of it– favorites include fruit teas from Europe, Red Label, and I can’t seem to walk out of Teavana without spending large amounts of money. It’s like the teenage girls who work there see the invisible sign that says “sucker” on my forehead and I walk out with $60 in tea.
So, when my lovely friend Myrita suggested we go to Essencha pre-yoga for a healthy lunch, I realized that I’d had Essencha tea– but not at Essencha. They also provide tea to Iris Bookcafe and other local restaurants, so you may have had their tea without knowing it. I had fallen in love with their Lemongrass Vanilla (pictured below), which smells like citrus, sugar and vanilla with just a touch of “green”– from the lemongrass and the green rooibos. It’s great as an iced tea, so I bought 4 oz ($12) to take home.
You can, of course, drink tea in the restaurant. When you sit down, you are presented nearly immediately with a sample of one of their teas du jour; the tea I had on Saturday was peppermint (delicious!). A menu is provided with all of their tea selections; I chose a matcha latte with soy (as did Myrita). So good, and just a little sweet.
I hadn’t even realized that they served food beyond pastries and desserts, but realized quickly that they had a very healthy-looking (and varied) menu. As I was about to head to yoga, I didn’t want anything too heavy, so the Matcha Goddess salad sounded perfect. It was a spring mix salad, topped with avocado, apple, jicama, carrot, cucumber, golden raisins and hulled sunflower seeds, with a matcha green goddess dressing, which was light– not the heavy, gloppy dressing green goddess often is. It was also used sparingly, which allowed the fresh fruit and vegetables to really shine.
Myrita picked two dishes that she often gets when we dine out– miso soup and edamame. Myrita commented on how perfect the miso soup was– particularly with good, firm tofu (not mushy, like some places’ tofu can be and good quality seaweed.
It’s a charming restaurant– with parking in the back (street parking is at a premium, particularly with the construction on Madison). It’s a great place for afternoon tea (they do both a European and an Asian tea service), or as a relaxed alternative to your regular coffee house.