Steepery Tea Bar, a tea-centric franchise with five locations in Minnesota, is set to open its first Wisconsin location at 430 State St. on Monday, Sept. 24.
Steepery started out as the Tea Garden; four locations still have that name. Madison may be the first of many out-of-state locations.
"It's a vibrant town with a lot of students and young professionals, which is our main demographic," said Steepery CEO Nick Nguyen. "It's close enough that it's manageable, but it's far enough away to see if our concept will work well outside of the Twin Cities."
If all goes well, Nguyen would like to open more Steeperies around Madison or in Milwaukee. He also plans to keep growing in Minnesota.
"It's similar to the coffee shop in a lot of ways," Nguyen said. "It's a place to hang out and study and meet with friends."
The tea bar concept is different, Nguyen said, because tea is the focus — Steepery will offer 50 varieties of loose leaf tea as well as bubble tea, a Taiwanese dessert drink with chewy tapioca pearls on the bottom. There are also fruit-flavored jellies that can go in the bubble tea in flavors like pineapple, passion fruit and mango.
There are thousands of ways to customize each drink by combining teas and flavors — Nguyen offered the example of an iced jasmine green tea with mango and strawberry flavors.
"Tea serves a slightly different purpose" than coffee, Nguyen said. "People drink coffee in the morning to stay awake. Tea ... allows you to stay alert but on a more even level."
Steepery will havemore of a coffee shop/cafe environment versus the quiet, meditative space of tea houses like Macha Teahouse on Monroe or even the nearby Dobra Tea (449 State). There will be music playing, with a "relaxed but energetic buzz," Nguyen said.
The Tea Garden was opened in 2002 by Nick Nguyen's mother, Diana, and sister, Christina. In Madison, Steepery takes the place of Taste of Tibet.