David’s Tea in Chicago

David’s Tea embodies everything I love about modern tea culture. The brand is bold and colorful, and they never fail to impress me with their creative tea flavors. You can’t go wrong with tea names like Sugar Plum Forest and Yes We Cran.  Glitter and Gold? Simply gotta have it…and I do!

davids tea 2Since December officially marks a month of endless shopping, I thought it might be a good time to share with you my visit to David’s Tea in Chicago last month. The shop I visited on Armitage Avenue lies in the center of a trendy, upscale shopping area on the north side of the city. The street is studded with one-of-a-kind, eclectic boutique stores like Art Effect, where I got my new favorite tea cup (it’s across the street from David’s Tea).

For a gal from Southern California, David’s Tea isn’t the easiest to find. David’s Tea is based in Canada and has several stores in the colder regions of the US (in New England and the Midwest), and a number of locations on the non-Canadian West Coast in Northern California.

For those like myself in far off places like SoCal, I love shopping online at David’s Tea. Their themed tea packages like David’s Starter Kit, Healthy Collection, or Teas That Say Thanks are ideal for gift giving and appeal to a wide range of tea enthusiasts. I love that they sell so many yummy herbal blends that everyone can enjoy, any time of day.

One of my favorite David’s Tea blends is Happy Kombucha, a fermented oolong blend that’s mixed with chunks of pineapple and mango. It’s ideal for the healthful hippie dreaming of a tropical vacation. Forever Nuts is another favorite. This caffeine-free, nut based herbal is perfection during months of cold weather.

What I love most about David’s Tea is that they make each blend entertaining. If you’ve never had a cup of one of their blends, you’re totally missing out! My only gripe is that they need to open up more stores, especially in and around LA. The Oh Canada! blend is great, but can you imagine how delicious a tea called Dawn’s Early Light would be? More David’s Teas in the US…that’s my vote!

David’s Tea-Lincoln Park

924 West Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
773.883.2183

TeaGschwendner in Chicago

If you’re in Chicago and find yourself in need of a break after shopping on Michigan Avenue, take a brisk walk north and you’ll find TeaGschwendner, an artisan tea company based out of Germany. Here in the US, we’re lucky enough to have 2 TeaGschwendner shops both located in the Chicago area, but in Germany there are over 130 TeaGschwendner stores, and even few more scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East.

If you think you might get lost on the way over to the store, check out this clip by TeaGschwendner where you can figure out how to pronounce TeaGschwendner, just in case you need to ask for directions. Not only will you get a glimpse of Thomas Holz, the Master Tea Taster at TeaGschwendner, but the clip should also give you a new appreciation for tea selection, steeping, and of course, slurping!

Entering TeaGschwender is like entering a bank vault packed with fragrant tea-filled aluminum safe deposit boxes. Instead of finding money, gold watches, or a string of pearls inside each box, you’ll find some of the world’s most exclusive teas…drinkable treasures waiting to be discovered and revealed.

Despite TeaGschwendner’s exceptional reputation among seasoned tea drinkers, the staff are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, not the least bit pretentious. On the day I visited, Ryan, the store manager, provided outstanding insight into the company’s teas and lead me to just the right blends to please both my palette and my pocketbook.

If you are a seasoned connoisseur of Indian and Chinese teas, the shop has a very impressive stock of teas from Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, and beyond. For aspiring connoisseurs like myself, there are some more modest blends to choose from, including Almond Milk (one of their new honeybush blends), Bamboo Pomelo (an award-winning herbal blend at the North American Tea Expo in 2013), and Asian Pear (a mild green tea with a soft pear essence…my favorite!).

If you need some more help choosing a blend, don’t hesitate to ask for a taste! Below is my “slice” of the Carrot Cake blenda tangy, spicy brew with large chunks of carrots, oranges, and raisins studded throughout.

The Black Oothu and Green Manjolai are teas grown in South India, in tea gardens located in the middle of a Bengal Tiger Reserve. These teas are the result of the company’s partnership with the Nature Conservation League of Germany, and part of the proceeds that come from these teas go towards helping endangered Royal Bengal Tigers in South India.

The shop on State Street isn’t that large, but it does hold a wide selection of tea wares from all around the world. I especially love TeaGschwendner’s signature teacups, which are very wide and shallow. It’s the type of teacup that takes an extra bit of finesse to drink out of, reminding you to slow down, savor, and take a break.

TeaGschwendner carries a few brands of rare gourmet chocolates, including these handsome bars from Mast Brothers, based out of New York. The only thing better than drinking tea is drinking tea with a complex piece of chocolate, and what a feast for the eyes these bars are!

Here’s a look at some of the colorful Moroccan teacups I found next to Japanese cast iron teapot displays at the store. Stay tuned…you’ll be seeing the blue cups reappear in one of my upcoming posts soon!

Part of the charm of this shop is that it allows you to travel the world through a cup of tea. If you are lucky enough to visit one of their shops here in the US or elsewhere abroad, TeaGschwendner’s excellent customer service and attention to detail are sure to leave you with a renewed appreciation for world-class teas.

TeaGschwendner 

1160 North State Street

Chicago, Illinois 60610

312.932.0639

Adagio Teas in Chicago

Greetings from Chicago! I’m in the Windy City this week searching for the most comforting fall blends I can find. Many people come to Chicago searching for some buttery deep dish pizza or a snappy hot dog. But what do I look for? Teas that I can’t find in a sunny, 90-degrees-in-October place like Los Angeles.

There’s something about Chicago that makes it uniquely tea-friendly. Long wool coats and bone chilling temps set the stage for a thriving tea culture, and Adagio Teas is one of those tea shops that makes tea drinking that much more enticing.

Although Adagio Teas is actually based out of New Jersey, they have 3 brick and mortar retail stores, all located in Chicago. I visited the Adagio store on State Street in Downtown Chicago. The store isn’t exceptionally large but it is filled with a huge variety of tea goodies from clay teapots to tea flavored chocolate bars to zodiac themed teas.

The Masters Collection is a set of high-quality international specialty teas at Adagio. Most of the teas from this collection are from China or Japan, and are single origin teas not blends. These teas come in Asian-inspired decorative tins where Formosa Ali Shan, Fujian Ti Kuan Yin, and Fujian Silver Needle are among the most popular steeps from this collection.

This tea shop is currently holding a World of Artisan Teas tasting tour, where each week 3 teas from one tea-producing country are featured for your tasting pleasure, free of charge. After your tea tastings, you’ll get a stamp in your “tea passport” just as you would if you had traveled to that country. A fully stamped passport entitles you to a gift from Adagio at the end of your travels.

If you are a picky tea drinker or want to try your hand at creating your own personal blend, there’s a station at the back of the store where you can mix and match teas to suit your taste. You can even schedule private tastings where you can learn about and discover new teas.

On the day I visited, I selected Adagio’s Formosa Bai Hao to try. This tea has a distinctive honey-like peachy essence that transforms into a sweet, woody brew once steeped. Bai Hao is also known as Oriental Beauty, and is highly oxidized which makes it reminiscent of fallen autumn leaves.

The friendly and knowledgable staff at Adagio Teas on State Street do a great job at taking the mystery out of tea drinking. I love that the brand celebrates tea in so many dynamic and creative ways, and aims to educate customers at the same time. You can also find some of Adagio’s teas and teaware on Amazon, but if you are in the Chicago area, a trip over to one of their vibrant stores is well worth your time.