Walking into Secret Garden feels like coming home to your grandmother’s cozy, warm living room after a long, draining day. Despite it’s small space, the Bedstuy-based tea house and café is full of good vibes and positive energy. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re immediately welcomed by the charming sound of wind-chimes and upbeat Afropop music. Curlicue vines and leaf-entangled branches curve around the store’s corners, complementing the leafy green wallpaper and banquette seating. Every inch of the wall is lined with art, lights, inspirational quotes, yoga pose graphics, stacked books, and lotions and potions. The whole café feels like an overgrown hidden treasure garden that you’ve stumbled upon--hence the name.
It’s impossible to leave Secret Garden feeling down--emotionally or physically. The café focuses on holistic health, and boasts a menu full of vegan treats and drinks prepared to heal and nourish the body. Underneath the counter where you order, you’ll find several boards explaining the healing benefits of certain ingredients (cayenne relieves migraines and boosts metabolism) and guides to lead you to a specific tea based on what you’re looking for (drink ginger tea for better digestion and flu symptom relief). For astrology fans, there’s a board with drink suggestions for each zodiac sign. I’m a Capricorn, and was pleased to see that my suggested drink was chai tea, my favorite.
I’ve come to the cafe on several occasions and each time fall more in love. The staff could absolutely not be more pleasant, and always ask without fail how your day is going. If you’re stuck, they’ll have the perfect vegan nibble suggestion for you--curry chicken salad, BLT, cardamom cookies--you name it. If you’re starting to get the sniffles during the flu season, stop what you’re doing, and go order the lentil soup. The type of legume in the soup rotates seasonally, and I got to try the yellow split pea soup. The soup is served steaming in a large glass bowl resembling a cappuccino cup and is accompanied by a lime wedge and a few tortilla triangles for dipping. It’s difficult to put into words what the soup does to your body. As soon as I took the first spice-laced sip, all of my senses were heightened and my sinuses opened up immediately. The al dente, peppery split peas combined with the assortment of herbs and spices and zing of lime does wonders, and will make you realize that this is what eating soup is always supposed to feel like. It’s hearty, zesty, and delicious.
The drinks are equally as amazing. Take your pick of protein smoothies, fresh juices, spiced cacao, ginger shots, or moon milk (warm milk with turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coconut oil, and honey). I’m terrible at staying hydrated. I don’t why, but I somehow always neglect to drink enough water. But I’ve never felt dehydrated after coming to Secret Garden. As I write this, I’m sipping on sunshine juice (orange, mango, pineapple, apple, and carrot) and smiling as my body thanks me for the hydrating elixir. I know today I’ll leave feeling refreshed, recentered, and rejuvenated.