SoGo Tea Company has long been Red Stick Spice’s brand of hand-blended teas. The brand’s name pays homage to the shop’s location on Jefferson Highway, south of Government Street. Online and in-store, you can buy a variety of SoGo tea blends and tea accessories to make your drinks at home. “Loose tea has always been something that we’ve offered at the store,” Milneck says. “As I’ve learned more about tea and earned more certifications, we expanded the brand and really came to love the beverage.”
Last month, she launched SoGo Tea Bar inside Red Stick Spice, offering all the relaxed ambiance of a coffee shop with but with a tea-focused menu. Offerings include an array of hot drinks like Lemon Lavender Matcha Lattes; Chai Lattes; and Reishi Mushroom Steamers; and cold barista-brewed drinks like Shaken Unicorn Tea; Butterfly Pea Lemonade; and Aztec Frozen Hot Cocoa.
Milneck wanted the tea bar to be a place where people could get a good cup of tea for whatever mood they were in, but she also wanted it to be a place where people could learn about tea and have the questions answered by eager and educated baristas.
“We’re a coffee-drinking country,” Milneck says. “We’re especially a coffee-drinking group in south Louisiana. I wanted to offer tea from a barista, so that’s where the idea for a tea bar came from.”
To prepare for opening, Milneck says she had a day where she and her employees made and tasted all the teas on the menu. All of her employees are cross trained throughout the store, so they were already familiar with the SoGo tea blends.
“I came up with the menu and wrote the recipes,” she says. “We made every beverage and tweaked the recipes as we went on. What I love about my baristas is that they’re constantly coming to me with little corrections to make the drinks perfect. So we’re always adjusting them.”
The cafe offers seating where customers can sip their drinks while logging some work on their laptops, as well as shelves stocked with tea blends, honeys, ceramic mugs, teaware and more available for purchase.
Whether you’re looking for caffeine, wellness drinks or simply want to know more about tea, SoGo Tea Bar is the place to go. By talking with baristas and seeing the steeping process first hand, Milneck hopes that customers will find tea less complicated.
“I didn’t know anything about tea when I bought the shop nine years ago, but I’ve come a long way,” she says. “I remember being intimidated by tea. I just wanted SoGo to be a place that made tea super approachable. What you’re going to get here is more of a coffee shop vibe that is very casual, but you’re also going to get super solid drinks with education about the beverages.”
SoGo Tea Bar is at 660 Jefferson Highway inside Red Stick Spice. The tea bar operates during Red Stick Spice’s business hours, which are currently Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Find it on Instagram for more information.