This cozy little mom-and-pop Lakeview spot specializes in loose-leaf lounge teas like smokin' earl, cherry rose, and (brace yourself) pumpkin pie. Try one of the cute little tea flights (healthy dessert, white, herbal, etc.), all of which come with tasty bites from Bennison's Bakery in Evanston and your choice of tea to take home with you in a nifty jar.
LooseLeaf Lounge, 2915 North Broadway Avenue (between Oakdale Avenue and Surf Street); 773-348-7881.
This brand-new Canadian import is a must-stop shop for tea lovers! Along with a mind boggling array of global loose-leaf teas and exclusive seasonal blends, you'll also find accessories galore and unique items like tea martini kits — seriously. Literally everything you could possibly want to make the most amazing cup of tea, ever. And if that wasn't enough to feel good about, this shop strives to offer as many organic and environmentally friendly goods as possible.
DavidsTea, 1645 North Damen Avenue (between Wabansia Avenue and Concord Place); 773-697-9737.
Nada Tea & Coffee House
The word "nada" might be a jivey way of saying nothing in your world, but in Japan, it's a place famous for its pristine spring water. Touted as Chicago's only Japanese-style tea house, the contemporary space features a zen-like décor to match. While you'll find all the tradish loose-leaf blends, it's the iced matcha (powdered green tea) and chai that keep customers coming back for more.
Nada Tea & Coffee House, 1552 West Fullerton Avenue (between Bosworth and Ashland Avenues); 773-529-2239.
Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co.
Next time you venture out to Chinatown for a Dim Sum experience, you simply must take home some of its authentic teas. Ten Ren feels a bit witch doctor-like — but that's part of the charm. Colorful boxes of teas covered in Chinese writing will definitely necessitate a few questions before purchasing, but you can bet they'll kill your cold faster than Celestial Seasonings ever could. And if you really want to be adventurous, tell the tea master what's ailing you and he or she will craft a special, one-of-a-kind blend.
Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co., 2247 South Wentworth Avenue (between 22nd Place and Alexander Street); 312-842-1171.
Coffee Tree & Tea Leaves
From rose hips to green tips, the friendly and knowledgeable owner of this neighborhood spot can answer any of your burning tea questions. The cozy shop features a well-edited selection of black, green, and herbal teas, as well as a small selection of cookies, crackers, and jams for your pairing pleasure. Unique tea kettles like a Persian-style pot help to make home brewing more of a ceremonious experience.
Coffee Tree & Tea Leaves, 3752 North Broadway Street (between Waveland Avenue & Grace Street); 773-871-7818.
Photo: Courtesy of DavidsTea