Chicago’s Chinatown – Not a Tea Mecca.

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


About the Author:

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.


  1. emmett May 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I found one little shop at the southern end of wentworth at a side street to the west there is a shop called asian tea I forget what street name but will post next time im in there. it is a vegetable shop with a very small corner devoted to tea. the actual tea is not very impresive at first since it is prepakaged but i was looking for a gaiwan and found a very good one at very resanable price ended up buying 2. but the reason i will go back is that the owner invited me to drink tea with him some lung jing dragon well green. wich he served in the gung fu tea style on a 650 year old tea table.the tea was very good and the hospitality. great selection of yixing pots at good prices. and some adged pu eur as well. i also very mch enjoy dream of tea as i visit Mr Daquan very often and recomend his sellection of taiwan oolongs tung ting favorite.

    • Rick May 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      2802 S. Wentworth (from china town go south under the expressway almost the first store front on the right)
      not pricey and no frills chinese teas mostly for health and medicinal

  2. Lainie Petersen August 11, 2009 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Yeppers, Dream About Tea is a special place to be sure! I am in there often, and always come away smiling!

  3. Susan August 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    My husband is from Chicago and we have tried looking for tea shops and they are few and far between. Chicago Chinatown is a big disappointment when it comes to tea considering the size of the city. The only place we even found was a Ten Ren and that wasn’t even that impressive.

  4. Zinni August 10, 2009 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Thanks for the heads up to the tea shop in Evanston, I have lived here for a while and had seen is a couple of times but never thought it looked to spectacular or anything. I am definitely going to check it out now.

    • Tony August 10, 2009 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Yeah its a great shop, very authentic. They have some aged pu-erh tea cakes in there too.. ask about them when you get in there!

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