Now, there's a new player in the local tea business, a company that's already penetrated most of the Canadian market.
They've already got two stores in Chicago with a third on the way. There's no doubt it's an urban experience, tucked into a narrow, Bucktown storefront on a busy stretch of Damen Avenue, but the experience at DAVIDsTEA, a Montreal-based company rapidly expanding in Chicago, is a little bit different than other tea-focused companies like Argo, in that they focus more on loose leaf teas than the assortment of drinks.
"We have 150 loose-leaf teas, so the customer can come in and they can experience all the teas on our tea wall, and they can purchase any amount that they would like to take home," said Lisa Tipton, the manager at DAVIDsTEA.
And when they get home with their oolong or green or herbal blend, they can also use one of the handy tea pots or mugs for sale, to help make that tea experience even more enjoyable. The sales clerks are knowledgeable - and if the weather's nice, aggressive, heading out along Damen to offer free samples. Back in the store, even if you're not in the market for loose leaf tea, anything can be made into a drink.
"And then if they want a cup of tea to experience here or to go, they can take that with them," said Tipton.
For hot tea, they portion the leaves into bags that are tied off and steeped for different lengths of time, depending on the tea.
"We do agave as a sweetener, or they can do honey or sugar, and they can do hot or iced," she said.
The iced teas begin with loose leaf tea in a special steeper, along with hot water; after a few minutes, they're set over a glass with ice and strained directly into the cup. Tipton says as they get into the holidays, special holiday sets with seasonal flavors are on deck.
"We have distinctive flavors that are known to us, exclusive. We do holiday blends, seasonal," said Tipton.
So the big push now is obviously on the holidays; Davids has that covered with these box sets of winter tea collections to these beautiful little ornaments that double as gift boxes of loose leaf tea. DavidsTea wants to make tea not just a big part of the holidays, but really everyday.
1645 N. Damen Ave.
3530 N. Southport