Greetings from Chicago! I’m in the Windy City this week searching for the most comforting fall blends I can find. Many people come to Chicago searching for some buttery deep dish pizza or a snappy hot dog. But what do I look for? Teas that I can’t find in a sunny, 90-degrees-in-October place like Los Angeles.
There’s something about Chicago that makes it uniquely tea-friendly. Long wool coats and bone chilling temps set the stage for a thriving tea culture, and Adagio Teas is one of those tea shops that makes tea drinking that much more enticing.
Although Adagio Teas is actually based out of New Jersey, they have 3 brick and mortar retail stores, all located in Chicago. I visited the Adagio store on State Street in Downtown Chicago. The store isn’t exceptionally large but it is filled with a huge variety of tea goodies from clay teapots to tea flavored chocolate bars to zodiac themed teas.
The Masters Collection is a set of high-quality international specialty teas at Adagio. Most of the teas from this collection are from China or Japan, and are single origin teas not blends. These teas come in Asian-inspired decorative tins where Formosa Ali Shan, Fujian Ti Kuan Yin, and Fujian Silver Needle are among the most popular steeps from this collection.
This tea shop is currently holding a World of Artisan Teas tasting tour, where each week 3 teas from one tea-producing country are featured for your tasting pleasure, free of charge. After your tea tastings, you’ll get a stamp in your “tea passport” just as you would if you had traveled to that country. A fully stamped passport entitles you to a gift from Adagio at the end of your travels.
If you are a picky tea drinker or want to try your hand at creating your own personal blend, there’s a station at the back of the store where you can mix and match teas to suit your taste. You can even schedule private tastings where you can learn about and discover new teas.
On the day I visited, I selected Adagio’s Formosa Bai Hao to try. This tea has a distinctive honey-like peachy essence that transforms into a sweet, woody brew once steeped. Bai Hao is also known as Oriental Beauty, and is highly oxidized which makes it reminiscent of fallen autumn leaves.
The friendly and knowledgable staff at Adagio Teas on State Street do a great job at taking the mystery out of tea drinking. I love that the brand celebrates tea in so many dynamic and creative ways, and aims to educate customers at the same time. You can also find some of Adagio’s teas and teaware on Amazon, but if you are in the Chicago area, a trip over to one of their vibrant stores is well worth your time.