Tea & Crumpets: The Top 5 Tea Parlors in Chicago

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“The soul of politeness is not a question of rules but of tranquility, humility, and simplicity. And in the taking of tea it finds perhaps its most perfect expression.” -Ms. Dorothea Johnson, Director of Protocol School of Washington, in her book Tea and Etiquette.

Across cultural lines, high tea is an accepted and refined mini-break during the day. Combining sweets with savories, it is a time-honored tradition accessible for the royals to the regulars. Pinkies up.

1 The Drake Hotel

The heavenly sounds of a live harp enhance the daily English afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, fruit breads, scones, and French pastries served in Palm Court. Cocktails and light hor d’oeuvres served daily. Featured guests have included Queen Elizabeth in 1958, Diana the Princess of Wales and the Empress of Japan. They also offer mint, chai and lemon tea-tinis.

140 E. Walton St. 312.787.2200. www.thedrakehotel.com/

2 Russian Tea Time Restaurant

A fourteen year old landmark in the heart of Chicago's arts district, Russian Tea Time reinvented nostalgic cuisine of the former Soviet Union. Its extensive, elaborate and descriptive menu features excellent vegetarian fare, along with wild game, poultry and specialty meat dishes. A mix of "hearty" and "comfort" Russian, Slavic and Jewish classics is well complemented by upscale dishes of Imperial Russian Courts.

77 E. Adams St. 312.360.0000. http://www.russianteatime.com/

3 The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Savor one of the most established English rituals as if you were in London. In addition to the traditional service of finger sandwiches, light-as-air pastries and freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and homemade preserves, the menu may feature afternoon tea with a new twist, poached quail eggs with truffle mayonnaise on white toast, smoked Scottish salmon on granary bread, or a Maldavian tuna chapatti. To complement the spread, the wide-ranging tea selection runs from Darjeeling to Jasmine Blossom, from Earl Grey to lemon spice.

4 The Peninsula Chicago

Afternoon tea at “the Pen” Lobby features a traditional selection of finger sandwiches, pastries, scones, tarts and proprietary blends. Sauce it up with a glass of champagne on the side or host a kid's tea party with upscale selections for the little ones.

5 Nada Tea & Coffee House

Named after the Nada district of Kobe, Japan, famous for sake-brewing using pure spring water from Mt. Rokko (Miyamizu, water of shrine), Nada is the only Japanese-style tea house in Chicago. With an imaginative combination of materials, such as bamboo and aluminum, an internationally renowned architect, Douglas Garofalo, created an inviting and spiritual atmosphere. Matcha (real powdered green tea) drinks and Chai, are made from scratch to order.

1552 W. Fullerton Ave. 773.529.2239. http://www.nadateahouse.com/

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