Guidebook steeped in Chicago's tea

Susan Blumberg's interest in tea began at a young age.

The Chicago author says both of her parents drank a lot of tea when she was young. Her mother worked for an airline and traveled frequently to countries where afternoon tea was a tradition.

Her father, a DePaul University chemistry professor who was Jewish and of German and Lithuanian descent, often made large pots of strong tea in the Russian Jewish tradition, which Blumberg describes as "one part tea in a cup with 9 parts water."

So when the Chicago-born writer discovered that no one else had tackled the topic of tea in Chicago, she decided to do it herself.

Her book, just released in a second edition, is "All the Tea in Chicago."  It includes a description of the city's many opportunities for adventurous tea lovers.

At a recent book signing at Provenance Food and Wine in Logan Square, owner Joey Patt called the book a "great resource for Chicago."

Kent Seaver, a distributor for Rishi Ancient Teas who passed out samples of iced black and mint tea at the event, was also a fan. The book, he said, "was a great tool to learn about the tea business."

The book includes information about pricing, accessibility and tidbits of history about tea. There is information about   afternoon tea, teahouses, tea shops, restaurants, bubble tea and tea websites.

Popular shops like, Argo Tea and Third World Café are featured. 

Blumberg, who lives in the South Loop, says she was searching the Internet for a book on tea in Chicago, but found only guide books for San Francisco and New York.  So she began her research and in 2006 self-published the first edition of "All the Tea in Chicago." It sold over 1,000 copies, she says.

The second edition, distributed by JPG, has already received over 100 pre-orders, she says.

Blumberg's favorite tea shops in Chicago are Hi Tea, at 14 E. 11th Street, for its “artsy atmosphere” and the Julius Meinl Cafe at 3601 N. Southport Ave., which Blumberg likes for its “European feel.”

After Japan and China, Blumberg - who has a master's degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and has traveled throughout Asia - says Chicago is her favorite place to drink tea.

"Chicago is a better tea city than both San Francisco and New York because it has more afternoon tea venues, a dedicated tea chain, and more tea places in a smaller concentrated area," she says.

Correction: Thailand is not among the countries Blumberg included in her comparison of tea drinking experiences. An earlier version erroneously included the country.


JODI HOLIDAY, 06-25-2008


2 quick comments on this tea article but let me preface this with its great there's a chicago tea guide book!

All tea chains, i.e., argo and teavanna have saturate the market with poor poor quality of tea leaving the new consumer confused and usually dissatisfied.

Regarding afternoon tea! tea is for all day!!!!!! afternoon tea is very much a thing of the past and not the future of tea.

limited and isolating tea to an afternoon pasttime is just silliness.

looking forward to the book!