A very nice shop with a little of everything. All of the teas are prepackaged (10oz is the smallest), which I am not a huge fan of because it eliminates samples or smaller amounts (something every other shop I visit does). It also eliminates the need to talk to the people who work there, which is really the whole reason of going to a shop as opposed to just ordering online. There are sample jars by each tea so you can smell and look at the teas, which is a plus and helps make the search a bit more fun. Don’t get me wrong, I was greeted and was shown around (this is here, this is there, etc.)… but its a lot more like shopping at a candle shop than it is like going to a tea merchant. They have samples brewed on a little bar for you to pour and sip as you walk around. Prices are hit and miss… some things were reasonable, while others actually evoked laughter (the pu-erh selection comes to mind). Nice selection of teawares but again the prices are not really enticing. Probably not worth a long trip, but if you are near the area it is for sure worth checking out. Other reviewers speak of “Bill”, who was not there (or at least not on the floor) when I was there… kinda wish he had been, I think I would have had a better experience. I will return, I just don’t know when as its a bit of a trip from the city…
I adore this place. About as charming a tea shop you can encounter. While the selection is limited to mostly Chinese teas, they have a very nice collection of pu-erhs and high quality teaware. Classical music playing softly, friendly service and plenty of things to look at and purchase. You can sit at a quiet table, read from one of the communal books and be served just about whatever tea you want. This place is worth a trip out of the way to experience. An ideal Chinese tea room.
Very knowledgeable staff, wide well kept tea selection and a large assortment of tea equipment. Adagio Teas, with Ten Ren and TeaGschwendner make up a trio of Chicago area tea shops that pretty much cover all of your needs. The “Masters Collection” teas change seasonally and feature some vary interesting and quite rare teas that can be purchased in sample tins or in larger amounts. They will steep and sample you out on just about anything in the store as long as you are showing interest. A Great place.
This is not much of a tea shop, but it is an interesting store to visit. They have imported packaged food as well as tea hardware and a lot of miscellaneous items worth looking at. As for the tea, it is a small selection in bins that I do not trust and looks like they do not sell through enough inventory to make a quality purchase seem smart. Stop in to find yourself some bizarre item to take home and put on a shelf or in your cupboard… get your tea at a real tea shop.
Coffee & Tea Exchange is more of a coffee shop that has a nice amount of tea. While the selection of serious tea is not terribly large, there are a few that are not easily found elsewhere. I do not think that they cycle through their inventory very often, so be careful when purchasing anything expensive and make sure it smells of fresh tea as I made the mistake of buying a few ounces of dead and expensive silver needle white tea (lesson learned). The organization and storage of the tea is not what I would call inviting, but it seems to work for what they do. Honestly, if they had a smaller inventory of tea it would be a much more ideal place.
As for the shop, it is very difficult to get a good smell of the dry teas because the room smells very strong of coffee and those awful coffee flavoring syrups… so if there is any subtle nuance it will be muffled by the sickening smell of sticky hazelnut. The other items in the store are nice and I enjoyed looking around at what they had on display and even purchased a nice decorative tin. The staff is very friendly and, while not incredibly knowledgeable, they are at least willing to try and will admit when they do not know rather than make something up. This is not a destination tea shop by any means, but it is a fine place to grab something new if you are in the area or just stop in to look and grab a coffee.
This is not a tea shop for serious connoisseurs, although they have a handful of teas that are worth a trip to try. If TeaGschwendner is a great friend of yours, then look at this place as his irritating 16 year old sister. The staff is beyond friendly… either they are hopped up on caffeine and lorazepam or “David” just hires the most extraverted hyper people I have met. They really cater more to people who like flavored teas, blends and herbal teas than anything else and hide behind menu description words like “complex”, “lively” and “bold” to make it a very corporate, scripted, impersonal experience. The staff knows very little, but will gladly read what the back of the tin says to you. On the bright side, they will steep a cup of any tea they have for $3, although the water temperatures are inconsistent and can tend to over-extract more delicate teas. Whether you like it or not, you will be greeted enthusiastically and get a sample of something the second you walk in, which I guess is nice but its just kind of a turn off… like that younger kid who really wants to be your friend. On your way out, carrying 1-2 ounces of what little serious tea they have, make sure to say goodbye to them… I was afraid that if I didn’t one of the staff may go postal!! I will return, but only if I am in the neighborhood… there are much better places to make a trip to stock up your tea cabinet.
Great selection, but very hard to communicate with the service staff. They are always willing to recommend a favorite or try to help however they can but its difficult to get any insight into the collection without doing a little research on their website prior to going to the shop. So if you don’t mind using trial and error to weed through a HUGE selection, plenty of great cups await you. Their selection of Taiwanese teas are second to none in Chicago and they have many things that the other shops do not and will not ever have.