Time Out Chicago Issue 32: Oct 6–Oct 13, 2005

Dream About Tea 1011 Davis St, Evanston (847-864-7464)

Hong Wu and her husband, Daquan Yao (pictured), want you to stop and smell the rose tea. Since opening their small store in early 2004, the Chinese couple has waged a quixotic battle against our coffee-fueled culture by selling only tea, and only during off-morning rush hours (Tue to Sat 11:30am to 8pm; Sun noon to 7pm).

“We’re sending out positive, slow-down energy here,” Wu says, gesturing toward the white-washed room’s bamboo screens, water-color paintings and light wood tables. Wu says that, like wine, tea’s visual effect and aroma are important to its enjoyment, which is why she doesn’t cater to the hurried, to-go crowd.

Tranquility begins at the back counter, where dozens of canisters filled with multitextured leaves and flowers await. Wu and Yao will ask a few health- and taste-related questions, then pick the perfect tea for you. Stressed? Try rose or lemon winter mint. Want a smooth complexion? Sip peach flower or hibiscus. Looking to drop a few pounds? Go with the fat-burning pu-ehr.

All of the tea comes directly from China, where Yao’s brother, a man with a 16-cup-a-day habit, procures the goods. The shop sells loose leaf for home brewing, but it’s best to sip it on site, accompanied by Chinese pastries and tea eggs (hard boiled in a sweet-and-salty broth of soy sauce, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel and pu-erh tea).

In October, Wu will offer tea classes, in which students can learn about varieties, proper brewing techniques and etiquette. Check www.dreamabouttea.com for details.—Karla Zimmerman