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Eat Me, Milk Me
Photograph: Courtesy Eat Me, Milk Me

The 8 best places to drink tea in Chicago

Grab a steaming cup (or an iced glass) at our favorite spots in Chicago for sipping tea.

Written by
Shanti Chu
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Tea is more than just a secondary option at the best coffee shops in Chicago—it’s an incredibly versatile beverage that can be served hot, iced, decaf or caffeinated. The best tea in Chicago can serve as a hot antidote to a frigid winter afternoon or as a refreshing break from a humid summer day. Ranging from milky boba tea in Chinatown to loose-leaf herbal tea and chai in Logan Square, you’ll find all sorts of amazing varieties throughout the city. We’ve rounded up some of the best spots for tea in Chicago, including cafes, restaurants and tea houses. 

The best tea in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Logan Square

You can get your authentic chai fix in several Chicago neighborhoods thanks to Chiya Chai’s locations in Logan Square and the Loop, plus a seasonal location on the Chicago Riverwalk. Chai options are bountiful at this tea spot, with the opportunity to have a savory, traditional masala chai or something sweeter, like a caramel sea salt chai. The tea served here features spices like cardamom and turmeric directly sourced from Nepal and India. If you get hungry while drinking chai, order some appetizers and entrees—try pairing a cardamom chai with comforting vegetarian momo dumplings and flavorful Chiya chili potatoes.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Uptown

This Uptown shop has an incredible collection of tea, including sweet milk tea, loose-leaf tea and refreshing sweet tea. First Sip also offers unique tea lattes such as the Pearl Noir, a pitch-black drink made with black tea, activated charcoal and jasmine coconut syrup. If you need something less gothic, you can try the caffeine-free sweet ginger tea or the adventurous magic mushroom tea, which combines blended mushrooms, butterfly pea flower and chrysanthemums.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • West Loop

With a provocative name like Eat Me, Milk Me, you can’t help but wonder what’s offered at this West Loop tea shop. The flashy blue storefront will also catch your eye, sporting checkered patterns reminiscent of a trippy set from Alice in Wonderland. You’ll find premium milk tea with a cold foam option, tea lattes and coffee. The tea leaves served here are imported from China and mixed with milk from local, organic farms—don’t worry, non-dairy options are also available. Try a jasmine green milk tea topped with salted cream cold foam accompanied by Chinese bao, sandwiches and sweets. 

  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • Bucktown

Immerse yourself during an informative tea session embodying “gong fu cha” or “tea with effort” at this Bucktown tea house. Hugo Tea Space takes tea education very seriously, with highly knowledgeable tea tenders who can offer you an individual tea session, a shared session with snacks or a private tasting. For a quicker tea experience, you can order a cup of loose-leaf tea imported from sustainable partner farms across Asia. Hugo Tea Space’s extensive tea collection includes an assortment of green, white, oolong, black, matcha and herbal teas.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bubble tea
  • Armour Square
  • price 1 of 4

Folks throughout Chicago can find an assortment of boba tea (also known as bubble tea, a beverage that originated in Taiwan and is often mixed with chewy tapioca balls) at Kung Fu Milk Tea, which boasts locations in Chinatown, Uptown and Evanston. This milk tea chain derived its name from the Chinese term “kung fu,” which refers to skills gained through self-improvement, diligence and hard work. The brand embodies kung fu through its careful preparation process, like brewing premium tea leaves at the optimal temperature. If you have allergies or any other dietary restrictions, a menu with clearly labeled allergens makes it very easy to order a drink. For those who avoid dairy, the Milk Strike Tea with lactose and lactaid free milk is available in any classic tea flavor. First time visitors should sample the signature Kung Fu Milk Tea, which combines Earl Grey tea, milk powder and sugar. 

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Logan Square

It’s best known for coffee, but Passion House has aromatic and beautifully presented loose-leaf tea options on its menu. Instead of flavorless bagged tea, you’ll find six different kinds of hot loose-leaf teas and a draft sparkling iced tea for the hot summer months. And with locations in Logan Square, Goose Island and Garfield Park, you’re never far from a great cup of tea served with ambient, experimental tunes.

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  • Restaurants
  • Russian
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Enjoy an upscale afternoon tea service at Russian Tea Time, a Loop institution that’s been brewing pots for more than 25 years. Each tea service includes a pot of fine loose-leaf black, green or herbal tea and plenty of sweet and savory snacks (mini toasts, sandwiches and pastries) that make you feel like royalty. You can also order a pot of tea without any snacks, if you’re looking for something simple.  Guests are seated in a red, mahogany-adorned room with plenty of delicate Russian dolls and dreamy balalaika music. Don’t skip the black house tea made with Darjeeling and black currant, which will give you an energy boost and is served in a podstakannik (an ornate tea glass holder).

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Rush & Division
  • price 2 of 4

Tea connoisseurs can shop for loose-leaf tea while drinking a cup at this shop in the Gold Coast. TeaGschwendner stocks more than 300 varieties of tea from all over the world, including black tea from New Zealand, green tea from Vietnam and rooibos tea from South Africa. Everything is fair trade certified and packaged sustainably by using wood and paper products certified from the Forest Stewardship Council. Are you looking for some fancy teaware to drink your new Japan Sencha or English Breakfast leaves from? TeaGschwendner has teapots, tea sets and mugs, too.

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