Where: Chicago, Illinois Style: Russian tearoom Tea Selection: 24+ loose leaf teas Teatimes: Sunday to Monday 11 to 6, Tuesday to Saturday 11 to 8 Reservations: Reservations highly recommended for weekends; walk-ins welcome Contact: 312-360-0000 or reserve here Cost: $55.95 Queen Tea Service; $35.95 Regular Tea Service; $23 – $30 Sweets with Tea; $23 – $33 Tea Sandwiches with Tea; $16 Cream Tea Destination Tea Tips: Upon arrival, guests have the opportunity to view the full lunch and tea service menu, so each guest may order to their liking. When ordering the afternoon tea service, see below for our notes about choosing your tea.
Destination Tea Notes: One of the delights of exploring the United States’ tearooms is that you may have the chance to experience global cuisines and culture without going abroad. While today’s iconic afternoon tea service is renowned as a British custom, check out our Tea Story page and you’ll find that Russian tea ceremonies preceded the afternoon tea tradition. The Tea Road from China through Mongolia to Russia was established so that camel caravans could cross Siberia, to trade Russian furs and other goods for coveted Chinese teas and spices. Indeed, a Russian Caravan tea — like the Russian Breakfast tea offered at Russian Tea Time — gets its name from the trade route where this popular smoked black tea blend was accidentally invented. As traders traversed the long road to Moscow, smoke from their campfires would seep into the wooden tea chests, giving the tea a smoky flavor that became popular with Russian tea drinkers, as it recalls the warmth and comfort of a fire in the cold. At Russian Tea Time, you’ll sample classic Russian dishes and get to see some of their traditional teaware — like samovars and exquisite samovar covers (more about how these work below). Service here is attentive, and if you’re lucky, educational as well, as our lovely server Mark, a Russian expat, took the time to share his reflections on American vs. Russian culture. Friends converse over leisurely meals, sipping quality teas, or if you like, cocktails, imported beer, champagne or vodka flights (we don’t judge). One of the guests we spoke to commented that the tearoom itself (opened in 1993, remodeled in 2020) is the point of coming here; it just feels good to sit with friends in this charming setting, a pause from modern life.