As you probably already know, reader, we live in trying times. From climate change to political differences and virus outbreaks, it can be hard to catch a break sometimes. So it’s important that we find moments to get away from it all and practice self-care. Where can you do that, you ask? Jardin Tea in South Lake Union is a good option. Whether you’re obsessed with boba or want a slice of artisanal toast, Jardin Tea has something for everyone.

The minute I walked into the shop I squealed about how cute it was. If you can get over the fact that it’s in an office building, the space feels like an intimate garden oasis. With colorful fake plants, chic chairs and marble tables, the setting is almost as Instagrammable as the food.

Jardin Tea opened in early January and is co-owned by Anh Pham and Toby Nguyen.  (Yasmeen Wafai / The Seattle Times)
Jardin Tea opened in early January and is co-owned by Anh Pham and Toby Nguyen. (Yasmeen Wafai / The Seattle Times)

The shop, which opened at the beginning of the year, was started by Anh Pham and Toby Nguyen. Pham, 34, said they wanted to create a laid-back space that serves high-quality products.

Looking at the menu, I was instantly intrigued by the tea-ffogatos, or tea poured over ice cream. I’d heard of affogato — espresso poured over ice cream (my two passions in one dessert) — but never this. We tried the chai-gatto, a shot of chai tea poured over vanilla-bean ice cream. It was, and I cannot stress this enough, HEAVEN. I’m already a huge fan of chai, and call me basic, but vanilla is probably my favorite ice cream flavor, so I just couldn’t say no to this. A sprinkling of coconut flakes and sliced almonds provided a light crunch that paired well with the soft ice cream, delicately sweetened by the chai ($6.45.)

For a sweet, tea-infused treat, try the chai-gato.  (Yasmeen Wafai / The Seattle Times)
For a sweet, tea-infused treat, try the chai-gato. (Yasmeen Wafai / The Seattle Times)

If you don’t want to have ice cream for lunch like we did, which I would recommend, by the way, the shop also offers a variety of banh mis and artisanal toasts. We went for the lemongrass tofu banh mi ($7.95.) This makes for a good, affordable lunch — the tofu was bursting with flavor and the baguette was warm and soft, with a crunchy outside.

The tofu in the banh mi at Jardin Tea was loaded with flavor.  (Yasmeen Wafai / The Seattle Times)
The tofu in the banh mi at Jardin Tea was loaded with flavor. (Yasmeen Wafai / The Seattle Times)

The artisanal toasts are less hearty than the banh mi, and more expensive. But, there’s more variety there, with a selection of both sweet and savory options. We got the Marvelous Margherita with pesto, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes ($9.25).

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But perhaps the star of our visit was the blooming tea pot ($12). When you order one of these, the server will bring out a clear tea pot with hot water and place a blossom of rolled-up tea leaves and flowers in it. Once submerged, the roll blooms open as it steeps. Pham said blooming tea pots are an artistic way of working with tea that is both beautiful and relaxing.

“It’s something that excites all your senses,” he said.

There are several fruit-flavored blossoms to choose from. We got mango, and while the taste wasn’t strong, the whole thing was a fun experience. Order this if you plan to stay a while and want to enjoy a hot beverage with a light taste.

The blooming tea at Jardin Tea was fun to watch bloom and had a delicate taste. (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)
The blooming tea at Jardin Tea was fun to watch bloom and had a delicate taste. (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)

Jardin Tea is unique in that it can be both a place you get a quick bite to go and a spot you can post up with a good book for hours. Happy sipping.

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Jardin Tea: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday; 1099 Stewart St., #101, (South Lake Union) Seattle; 206-466-6263, jardintea.com.