Ten Ren Teas - Chicago, Chinatown


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Ten Ren Teas - Chicago, Chinatown

Postby RussianSoul » Mar 26th, '08, 20:29

I went to visit my local Ten Ren Teas store and was somewhat disappointed. It was a rather small place with a small selection. The people working there were nice, but did not appear knowledgeable to me. Maybe it was a language barrier – they spoke excellent Chinese (I cannot tell which dialect), but limited English. They offered me a tiny cup of “green tea”, which was room temperature and did not taste anything special. I couldn’t get an answer about what kind of “green tea” it was.

I brought a list of teas I was hoping to find – all dark oolongs. Out of five on my list they only had one - Da Hong Pao, and kept offering me various green oolongs affecting to not understand what I wanted. They had a selection of TKY, Long Jing, several green oolongs and several jasmine. Oh, and I saw one Pu-Erh cake. They also had a multitude of tea bags.

In terms of teaware they had a good number of clay and porcelain pots and cups, but I felt they were overpriced, and to me they did not look attractive – all modern teapots with porcelain in wild colors and clay beasts and pumpkins. I saw perhaps a couple of traditional forms, no more than that.

I did like a tiny gaiwan with a spout - it would be easy to use for a newbie like me that never handled a gaiwan before. But I was so distracted by the lack of teas I wanted that I forgot to buy the gaiwan.
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Postby tenuki » Mar 26th, '08, 20:53

Ya, I know how it goes - I used to live in the midwest too....

The good news is, if you like architecture, baseball, hot dogs or pizza, or you want to listen to jazz or blues you are in one of the best places in the world. :)

You can order tea online, but you can only see the white sox play home games in Chicago!
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Postby RussianSoul » Mar 26th, '08, 21:11

Thank you, Tenuki - you made me feel better.

Sports and pizza - no, thanks! But I love our Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera. The Art Institute is not too shabby either. You are right about the Blues!

I just hoped to sniff my tea before I buy and find an YiXing pot that I can touch before it is shipped. It was not to be. Internet rules!
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Mar 26th, '08, 21:17

tenuki wrote:You can order tea online, but you can only see the white sox play home games in Chicago!


Internet telecast? :twisted:
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Postby tenuki » Mar 26th, '08, 21:36

RussianSoul wrote: The Art Institute is not too shabby either.


Oh man, I miss that place sooo much. Say hello to their modern collection for me, I miss it especially. What do you think of the new modern wing opening next year? I haven't seen it yet, design looks nice to me though.

If you do find a good teashop in Chicago, let me know, my sister lives there and I'm getting sick of keeping her in supply. ;)
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Postby RussianSoul » Mar 27th, '08, 09:47

tenuki wrote:If you do find a good teashop in Chicago, let me know, my sister lives there and I'm getting sick of keeping her in supply. ;)

If you are tired of sending teas to her, you can send them to me! :D

There are three teashops in Chicago I like.

My Place for Tea is a tiny place on Sheffield just north of Belmont. Enrico, the proprietor, certainly knows his teas, speaks English (always a plus) and is very nice. He has tastings on Saturdays. His Sencha Fukamushi and Chicago Breakfast (his own blend) are just great.

Tea Gschwendner on State just south of Division has a vast collection of high quality teas and very knowledgeable and professional staff. They have several teas ready to make you a cup every day. I love their Assams and Darjeelings.

Todd & Holland is a bit of a schlep as they are in Oak Park. Top notch teas, great selection, but somewhat expensive. Great teaware. Bill Todd is a great guy and a tea master. If he is in the store, she should try and have a chat with him, it's worth it. Ladies who work there are nice, but their tea knowledge is a little shallow. Queen Victoria's Original 1876 Blend from T&H is my favorite. I also tried their Yunnans and Keemuns and liked them.

I bought tea from all of these places and loved all I bought. But keep in mind that I am Indian Black and Japanese Green kinda girl. I don't know Chinese greens or oolongs from these places yet.
Last edited by RussianSoul on Mar 27th, '08, 13:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Pentox » Mar 27th, '08, 12:28

RussianSoul wrote:Tea Gschwender on State just south of Division has a vast collection of high quality teas and very knowledgeable and professional staff. They have several teas ready to make you a cup every day. I love their Assams and Darjeelings.


How is the tea from them? I have taken a look at their website a few times and it looks like a nice place, but due to the breadth of their selection I'm curious as to individual quality.
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Postby RussianSoul » Mar 27th, '08, 13:45

Pentox wrote:How is the tea from them? I have taken a look at their website a few times and it looks like a nice place, but due to the breadth of their selection I'm curious as to individual quality.


They are a nice place. A company based in Germany, it is interesting to note the German precision with which they do business.

I only tried their Indian blacks: Assams, Darjeelings and unflavored blends. On the website they rate their teas quality. I learned that when they say the quality is High or Top - I like the tea. When they say the quality is Medium - I don't care for the tea, it's not bad, just meh.

In their Tea Book (their printed catalog - free) the ratings get even more exacting. They rate the quality on a 100 point scale and they are honest in that. Anything I tried above 80 was very good.

Their leaf is beautiful to look at, shiny with no dust. And they know how to store it, which says a lot in my book.
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Postby Victoria » Jun 24th, '08, 12:46

You are lucky RS, Ten Ren's oolongs are nothing to rave about, IMO.

Hang in there girl .... the box pass is coming!!
Last edited by Victoria on Jun 24th, '08, 13:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Chip » Jun 24th, '08, 13:31

Ten Ren has some cool Asian Tea tins, but the tea was pretty mediocre, nothing toxic tasting like a few China Town teas that I bought for the tin, and after tryng once, felt the urge to call an exorcist. :evil:
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Postby forkyfork » Jun 25th, '08, 14:02

I went to a Ten Ren recently in Toronto Chinatown, and it was VERY expensive. I know everything is a little more in Canada, but this was pretty outrageous. And I didn't really see anything "special" either.
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Postby heavydoom » Jul 17th, '08, 14:00

not trying to dis ten ren but.......ten ren, well, you guys know the deal with ten ren. let's just say that if you go on a holiday, on a tour, usually you get dropped off at tourist traps where you always end up buying useless trinkets and overpriced second grade items that the seller claims to be made of superb material etc....those who who are hard core purveyors of tea should not come anywhere close to any ten rens.
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