chicago_chinatownI set out about two weeks ago to explore Chicago’s Chinatown — just off the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop. I hoped to find tiny tea-houses tucked away off the main streets, tea importers, tea shops — I hoped to find a mecca of tea right in my own city. However, I found none of this. Not even an inkling of hope. I left completely and utterly disappointed.

I began walking around, first North on Wentworth to China Square on Archer, there were many shops, Americanized restaurants, Chinese Herbs, bookstores, and a few stores selling cheap souvenirs. The only store slightly of interest was the Chinese Cultural Bookstore [2145B S. China Place] which had a small selection of Yixing pots (all above $100USD) and an instructional video called “Learn China’s Art of Enjoying Tea With Me” which I purchased and have not yet watched.IMG_2992

I then walked down Wentworth into the heart of Chinatown, going down each side-street a block or two just hoping to uncover a gem of a shop. But there was nothing to be found. I stopped by the well-known Ten Ren tea shop on Wentworth. It is a classic Chinese tea shop, the walls lined with shelves of large tea tins. I had to wonder how long the tea had been sitting in the tins. They had one pu-erh cake priced at $20.00USD, and many tea-wares — few items to be found under $50.00USD.

Surprisingly the most “authentic” Chinese teahouse I’ve found in the Chicagoland area is in Evanston. It is called Dream About Tea if you get up there, make sure you check it out. Lastly, if anyone knows of any tea spots in Chicago’s Chinatown (perhaps I missed a few streets? maybe an entire section of Chinatown?) please enlighten me!

Title Photo Credit: pulaw