Tea of Dreams

Andrea Damewood

In a sea of Evanston coffee shops, a new tea house has arrived to brew a little competition.

Dream About Tea, 1011 Davis St., opened Jan. 22, the first day of the Chinese New Year, and offers more than 50 varieties of tea ranging from the exotic to the traditional. Teas with names such as Iron Goddess of Mercy and Monkey-Picked line the shelves in glass jars, and manager Hong Wu offers tea counseling to help customers select from the array.

“Tea is confusing,” Wu said. “They are from so many different areas of the world, with foreign names and different properties. We will ask specific questions and find out what you are looking for.”

Wu then brings the tea for customers to smell — a good test of compatibility, she said.

Medill sophomore Torrey Kleinman, a self-confessed coffee junkie who describes tea as “dirty water,” called Wu’s tea advice helpful.

“As a non-tea drinker going into a tea store, (Wu) helped me find a tea that I like,” Kleinman said. “I was pleasantly surprised that I drank as much tea as I did.”

There’s a lot more to tea than just flavor, as Wu works Chinese philosophy into the equation. Different teas have different effects on the body, Wu said. Black tea represents yang and benefits those with low blood pressure, while green tea corresponds with yin and is good for people who eat a lot of meat, she said.

“Tea is definitely a healthy thing,” Wu said. “It cleanses your system.”

Tea contains phytochemicals that have been shown to protect against cancer, said Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Unlike the positive relationships found in health relating to tea, coffee has not had similar research,” Van Horn said. “However, no clear negative associations either. While coffee may not be good for you, it’s not bad either.”

But students looking to pull an all-nighter better stick with java, Van Horn said. Van Horn, “a firm coffee drinker,” said caffeine content can be up to five times greater in coffee than in tea, depending on how it’s brewed.

Black teas give the biggest energy jolt, Wu said, but the flavor is more mild than black coffee. Wu said the shop’s most popular tea, the Jing Shan Green tea, was so sought after that she sold out her supply. Other varieties to sip include white, chai, oolong and herbal teas.

Dream About Tea uses Pi Water, a brand of water magnetized to evoke the flavor, Wu said. The average price for a cup of tea is $2.25, and it can be refilled an average of five times — a price that has some students considering a switch from beans to leaves.

“It was well worth it,” Kleinman said. “You can spend that much money for one cup of tea at Starbucks, and they rush you out.”

The descriptive names also piqued the interest of Weinberg senior Christine Schorfheide, who drank White Peony tea at the counter.

“I’m really interested in like 25 different teas here, so I have to come back and try them all,” she said. “It’s also nice to try tea one cup at a time.”