Read about us on Evanston Round Table

by admin on February 8, 2015

1/28/2015 4:47:00 PM
Introducing The Evanston Beet Cuppa Tea for Health
Hong Wu and Daquan Yao, owners of Dream About Tea, describe the benefits of drinking tea.Photo by Anne Bodine
Hong Wu and Daquan Yao, owners of Dream About Tea, describe the benefits of drinking tea.
Photo by Anne Bodine
True tea comes from the Camillia sinensis plant

White Tea: Harvested by hand only a few days each spring, white tea is made from the tender bud from the tip of the plant. It has high levels of antioxidants and theanine, a rare amino acid believed to promote mental and physical relaxation, improve mood, reduce anxiety and boost immunity. It is also the lowest of all teas in caffeine content and has a gentle, nectar-like flavor.

Green Tea: Minimally processed and rich in catechins, one of nature’s most potent antioxidants, green tea boosts the immune system and may prevent numerous types of cancers. Green tea varies dramatically in flavor from grassy and sweet to nutty and roasted. Like fine wine, green tea’s flavor depends on the variety of the plant, season of harvest, soil, elevation, weather and origin.

Ooolong Tea: Often pronounced “wu-long,” it is semi-oxidized (or fermented) and expresses characteristics in between green and black tea. The cultivation of classic oolong tea is restricted to Southeastern China and the island of Taiwan. Oolong is said to reduce plaque in the arteries, lower cholesterol and boost metabolism.

Black Tea: Comes from leaves that are fully oxidized resulting in a richer, darker flavor. Black teas are rich in theaflavins, a potent antioxidant that has shown impressive cholesterol-lowering abilities and cardiovascular benefits.

Pu-erh Tea: A black tea that is made in Yunnan, China, it has a rich, earthy flavor. Many Chinese herbalists consider it very good for blood cleansing and digestion. For these reasons it is often consumed after heavy meals. Pu-erh tea is aged for many years while the leaves are inoculated with beneficial bacteria.

A health column by Anne Bodine

Hong Wu and her husband, Daquan Yao, owners of Dream About Tea, 1011 Davis St., came to Chicago from China in 1999 to earn their MBAs from North Park College. While doing research for a class project, they were surprised to learn Chicago had no authentic Chinese tea shops.

“We were young and we just thought, why not?” said Ms. Wu.

In 2003, Dream About Tea opened its doors. Decorated with red Chinese lanterns, shelves of clay tea pots and rows and rows of glass jars filled with the tiny dried leaves that make up more than 160 blends of tea, the store feels as authentic as the couple had hoped it would.

“We get a lot of regulars,” said Ms. Wu. “Most of our customers are well educated and health-conscious.”

The shop has attracted more and more health-minded individuals over the years as research continues to show the benefits of drinking tea.

While many things may be called “tea,” the term actually applies only to the Camellia sinensis plant, which has more than 180 varieties. The flowering shrub was believed to have been discovered during the Shang Dynasty during the second millennium B.C., where tea was highly regarded for its medicinal properties. Today studies are confirming the healthful benefits of tea that the ancients already knew.

The Camellia sinensis plant contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that damage the body’s cells. Studies suggest that the daily consumption of 3-5 cups of tea could prevent numerous types of cancer from developing. Other studies have found that tea’s antioxidant polyphenols may help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels, reducing   the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Drinking tea, specifically green tea, may also help ward off the flu. Studies have found that drinking green tea may improve immune response as it has the highest levels of catechins, a powerful antioxidant with antiviral properties.

The leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant are used to produce white, green and black teas. Different processing of the leaves after harvest produce other types of teas such as partially oxidized oolongs and fermented pu-erhs.

The term “herbal tea,” also known as “tisane,” refers to a beverage with herbs or any plant material such as flowers, fruits, roots or twigs infused in hot water and is quite different from traditional tea. For example, beverages brewed from chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves are considered herbal tea, as they do not come from the traditional tea plant.

The more processing the tea leaves undergo, the darker they become. White tea and green tea are the least processed teas, as the leaves are steamed shortly after they are harvested. Oolong, black and pu-erh teas are dried and fermented, resulting in a richer, more mature taste. The fermentation process also adds beneficial bacteria to the tea.

“Drinking fermented tea is very good for gut health,” said Ms. Wu. “It’s like eating a high-quality yogurt.”

Ms. Wu and Mr. Yao serve all types of tea in their shop: green, black, oolong and pu-erh as well as herbal tisanes. All of their tea is imported directly from China.

Ms. Wu expressed concern over the amount of coffee Americans consume each year. She says she believes tea is a better alternative. “Coffee is a tough habit to break,” she said. “The caffeine in coffee typically gives people a quick spike in energy, but then they crash. Tea does have some caffeine, but green tea and oolong tea in particular have low levels of it, and the caffeine is released gradually. There is no spike and no crash.”

Ms. Wu said growing up in China her mother always had a pot of hot water on for tea.

“We would drink it like it was water,” she said. “I’d come in from playing outside and have a cup. We knew it was good for our health.”

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Tea Tour

by admin on December 8, 2013

Dream about Tea Sightseeing & Tea Tour 2014

We are expecting a full tour this year.  To sign up for a tea tour, please contact us. You will need to place a $1000 deposit before December 31, 2013 to hold your spot, so we can start reserving hotels and transportation for you.  Your deposit is refundable until February 10, 2014 minus $350 air ticket cancellation and processing fees.

Below on this page contains general information about the tours, and some steps to follow to prepare for your trip.

Tour Details

Tour date: March 22 – March 31, 2013 (exact dates may subject to change)
Duration: 10 days in China
Tour cost: $4,850.00 (reserve before 12/ 31/ 2013)

$4,850.00+$630=$5,480.00 (in between 1/1/2014 & 1/31/2014)
Single room supplement: Rooms will be shared. Single room occupancy will require an additional cost of $850.
Minimum deposit: $1,000 (reserve a spot before December 31, 2013, and refundable until February 10, 2014 minus $350 air ticket cancellation and  processing fees.)
Tour cost includes: Airfare from Chicago to Beijing and Shanghai to Chicago. And all local travel, all meals, all hotels, and all entry fees to events/museums from March 22 to March 31.
Tour cost does not include: Insurance, immunizations, passport and visa fees, guide and driver gratuities, overweight baggage fees, international airport taxes, charges due to cancellation or re-ticketing, or personal expenses.  We’re happy to assist you to obtain your visa.


Day 1 (March 22, Saturday) Chicago to Beijing

We will fly from Chicago to Beijing.

Flight Info: TBA

Day 2 (March 23, Sunday)

Arrive in Beijing. Our tour guide will meet us at the airport and then take us to Jade Palace Hotel after the welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Hotel website:

Day 3 (March 24, Monday):

After breakfast at hotel, we will start the day with the tour to Tian-an-men Square, the Forbidden City, and then to the Temple of Heaven where Ming And Qing emperors prayed for good harvest and peace. There, we watch, learn and practice Chinese Taichi with a Taichi master. After some exercise, we continue the day with a tour to Hutong (Beijing old alleys) which includes a visit to a local people’s courtyard house, learning to make Chinese dumplings there, and a home style lunch at a Hutong resisdence. After the Hutong tour, we will visit the local market to experience local people’s real life, and then go to see Houhai Park – one of the best places to learn about local modern life style. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.

Day 4 (March 25,Tuesday):

After breakfast at the hotel, we will climb the Great Wall this morning at the Juyong pass! Lunch will be at a local restaurant. Following lunch, we will visit a cloisonné factory where you can watch skilled artisans at work making cloisonné jewelries and accessories. Then, we will visit the Sacred Path of the Ming Tombs. You’ll also have an opportunity to shop at one of the largest jade center in Asia. In the late afternoon, we have some free time to shop at Beijing Xiushui Silk Market. Group dinner  will be at a local restaurant. After dinner, we will take overnight speedy train (soft sleeper cabin) to Nanchang.

Train schedule info:

Z20 Beijing/Nanchang 20:00pm/07:22am+1(11.5 hours)

Day 5 (March 26, Wednesday), Day 6 (March 27, Thursday), Day 7 (March 28,  Friday):

We will stay at JiangXi Lushan Xihai International Hot Spring Resort.

We will visit local tea farms there and spend time meeting the local farmers and tea masters in their gardens and workshops, learning about the cultivars of Yunju Shan and tasting their distinct characteristics. We will also learn about the different bushes, soils, roasting techniques, and grades that all yield different flavors of teas. Come thirsty…we’ll taste a lot of tea today! Lushan Yunwu tea is grown in Jiangxi. Only a few old countryside tea masters know how to make this tea! We’ll have dinner at a local restaurant.

In Jiangxi, we will also visit the porcelain capital – Jingdezhen. Jingdezhen city lies in the Northeast of Jiangxi Province. As the world-famed ceramic capital, Jingdezhen City has a long history of ceramics making and a rich cultural heritage. In accordance with the historical records, “Xinping (as the city was known as then) began to make pottery in Han Dynasty”. It is evident that pottery was first made in Jingdezhen in Han Dynasty.

During our stay in the area, we will also visit Mount Yunju & Lake Zhelin National Park (云居山―柘林湖) which is the sixth batch National Park of China.

Day 8 (March 29,  Saturday):
Today we’ll take a high-speed train to Hangzhou, which is seen as one of China’s most important cultural sites. Hangzhou possesses a long tea making and drinking history. Marco Polo described this place as “…… most beautiful and magnificent city in the world.” In Hangzhou, we will visit the Tea Museum and Dragon Well tea farm. The same night, we will have some time to walk by West Lake and enjoy a cup of tea at one of the tea huts in serenity.

Hotel: West Lake Golden Plaza Hotel.

Day 9 (March 30, Sunday):

We will take a coach to Shanghai in the morning.

Immediately after arriving in Shanghai, we will visit the Bund, Nanjing pedestrian street and Ming Dynasty Yuyuan Garden. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After lunch, we will go to visit Shanghai Museum to see ancient Chinese art works and traditional Chinese furniture. From the museum, we will go to visit a silk factory to explore Chinese silk culture and traditional silk making. Our final stop will be Hengshan Road, which is known as the best place to experience the life of old and new Shanghai. There, we will have authentic Shanghai cuisine for dinner. After dinner, there will be an optional cruise tour in Huangpu River.

Hotel: Minya Hotel Shanghai


Day 10 (March31, Monday):

Breakfast at the hotel.  Then take a coach to the airport to fly back to Chicago.

Getting Ready for Your Tour

Please follow these steps to assist you in preparing for your trip.  We want you to have a great time with us, so don’t hesitate to call 847 864 7464 if you have any questions.

Step 1: Review These Important Dates

From now to December 31, 2013 reserve a spot for $1000.

Feb 10, 2014
Full payment is required by this date.  This is also the deadline for cancellations — if you decide to cancel please let us know by February 10 for a full refund minus credit card processing fees.  If you cancel after February 10, we cannot issue a refund.

March 1, 2014
All paperwork is due at this time.  We will send you the paperwork you need when you sign up for the tour.

March 18, 2014
We reserve the right to cancel a tour and fully refund all fees.

Step 2: Make Pre-Departure Travel Arrangements

  1. Sign up for a tour and paying for your tour.
  2. Send in your Tea Tour Waiver and copies of other documents (i.e. proof of health and travel insurance) as listed below.  We will email the Tea Tour Waiver to you.
  3. Make sure that you have adequate health insurance and travel insurance for travel in China. If you don’t have this insurance, you can purchase it at one of the links below (see “Insurance Links”).  Please send us proof of insurance along with your Tea Tour Waiver.
  4. Apply as soon as possible for your Chinese Visa.  Contact us if you need help completing this form.
  5. Discuss immunization options with your doctor (see link below).

Insurance Links
Make sure to have both medical and travel coverage.

Step 3: Gather Important Documents/Information

Upon full payment, please submit copies of the Tea Tour Waiver as per instructions in the document.  In addition to originals, please bring with you two copies of:

  • Yellow Immunizations Book
  • Passport (photo page and Chinese Visa page)
  • Health insurance information, in case you need to use it in China
  • Travel and/or baggage insurance information, in case you need to use it in China

Step 4: Prepare Your Luggage

Please note that you will only be allowed one suitcase.  You must be able to lift and carry your own bag as we will have no porters and will be in rural areas.

Please also consider bringing the following:

  • First aid: suture kit, antibiotics, personal first aid kit, prescription medicines in their original containers, sturdy shoes
  • Things to do on a bus: download some of your favorite podcasts, music, books, knitting, art supplies, crafts (knitting, crochet)
  • Things to share: Chinese love to see photos or post cards of where you live.  You can even give these as gifts to our hosts.

Step 5: Get Ready to Have a Great Time!

Be Prepared: Touring the Chinese countryside is physically demanding. On these tours, be prepared for the following types of activities: Walking, hiking, bus travel, and even bamboo boat travel! Even though the days are long we will provide a comfortable place to sleep, usually a 4 star hotel with a great breakfast.

Be Flexible: Over the past several years, we have learned that plans in China are always subject to change. Flexibility is key, especially in the countryside where few foreigners have ventured! We appreciate your flexibility, and will do everything possible to ensure that this tour exceeds your wildest expectations. Prepare to have your socks knocked off!

Travel Resources

  • US Department of State – A Safe Trip Abroad provides travel tips that may help you avoid serious difficulties during your overseas travel.
  • US Department of State also offers China-specific advice.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information to assist travelers and their health-care providers in deciding the vaccines, medications, and other measures necessary to prevent illness and injury during international travel.
  • Journey Women provides women-centric traveling and packing advice.
  • Lonely Planet’s guides can be purchased online and printed at home. You can purchase specific chapters. They have Thorn Tree – a great forum.

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Welcome To Dream About Tea: An Authentic Chinese Tea Shop in Evanston

April 5, 2009

Since we were little, we have always had this dream: There is a peaceful and hospitable place where people come and meet to escape from the turmoil of the world. At this place, tea is one of the things we share in common. We drink tea, talk about tea and even dream about tea. Growing [...]

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