As darkness closes in on us faster each day, even the smallest burst of brilliance goes a long way. Luckily, pops of refreshment are something the folks at Linden Hills’ Jinx Tea have in spades.
Though customers in the cheery, Scandinavian-modern cafe sip on an assortment of drinks easily mistaken for cocktails, and a row of taps hand-labeled in chalk lines a colorful tile backsplash, this is no bar. There’s not a drop of alcohol on site. Jinx is catering to customers in search of healthier options in an alcohol-saturated society.
“Our menu satisfies that urge to explore and taste something new, without relying on energy-draining shortcuts like loads of sugar, fat, caffeine, or alcohol,” said Jinx co-founder Jennifer Wills.
In short: It’s a secret mocktail heaven, with a smorgasbord of offerings based on tea.
Alongside a selection of pastries from Rustica and gluten-free options by New Generation, Jinx offers a menu of drinks designed by Nate Uri of Prohibition Kombucha and Verdant Tea, all with textures and transportive flavors that defy easy description.
Take the Crafted Cold Matcha-Rita (made with a blend of spring green tea, matcha, lime, and simple syrup served over ice for $5.25) to start. On paper it reads like it might taste like a fresh-cut lawn if done poorly; instead it arrived bright green, with a slightly thick body, packing flavors that landed like the best elements of a wheatgrass shot, but without any hint of a health food’s lingering dirt or funk. Come February, when we haven't seen a green thing in what feels like years, we'll down this by the pint-full in hopes of putting our favorite atrium at Como Conservatory... directly in our belly.
“This is tea like you’ve never had before,” said Wills. “We use carbonation, nitro infusion, or tapioca pearls to play with textures, offer both hot and cold options, and just try to keep everything interesting so our drinks still feel like an indulgence.”
Wills is right. The Fizzy section’s Ultra Violet (a combo of butterfly pea herbal tea, bergamont, thyme, and vetiver, served over ice and garnished with a lemon wedge for $4.75) is a lovely representative of that indulgence she mentioned. Like a rare butterfly, it proved just as lovely in-hand. Electric purple in color and popping with a frizzante level of bubbliness, this concoction was nothing like drinking perfume (as we’d feared) and every bit like standing next to the first fragrant bush in your yard come spring, then stooping to see if it’s blooming yet, and breathing deeply to catch every sweet note possible.
Yet Jinx caters to tea purists, too. Despite the impossibility of pouring these from their nitro tap lines or adding a little bubble to your cup, offerings like the Turkish Delight ($4) proved mind-blowingly complex. Made from a proprietary blend of teas including Shu Pu’er, the drink's flavor ballooned into a full-on emotional experience thanks to its orange, rosewater, and balsamic elements—the last of which added rich notes of apple and molasses to perfectly balance the hint of rosewater. It bore little resemblance to the White Witch’s tempting candy after which it’s named, rather Istanbul’s markets that sell all that lokum, replete with deep notes of apple and molasses, leavened by the brightness of citrus and warm flowers.
But not all Jinx’s teas are so rococo, either—they do simple really well, too. The Palmer Pop is a carbonated version of an Arnie Palmer with fresh lemonade made in-house and a wild-picked black tea. It’s not so sweet as your average Arnie, and settles like a post-sneeze sigh.
Before taking our leave, we pondered taking home Turkish Delight in bulk. Instead we found that many of their cold drinks, including the effervescent options, are actually available by the growler ($9.95 and up). Plus they have a happy hour Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 a.m., adding a little incentive to build their lovely sippers into the front end of a rough day.
Along this same vein, the most impressive trick Jinx plays is offering the feeling of walking out their door more whole than when you arrived, all without coddling customers in a cutsey way, or talking down at them about their drinks' health benefits. One pretty little vessel brimming with delight at a time, they’re giving us the opportunity to be surprised with each sip... which is a priceless experience, and rarer yet to find in a glass.
4503 France Ave. S., Minneapolis