Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun November 01 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | November 1, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Teatime in Chi-Town

    Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Teatime in Chi-Town

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock, all other photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Although Chicago qualifies as a coffee-drinkers’ town — with java shops and artisan roasters on every other corner, there are still places for tea sippers like me to enjoy a more genteel alternative. In fact, the Windy City hosts grand tea traditions that predate the rise of Starbucks by a long stretch. Most of the high-end hotels offer afternoon tea, but there are also specialty teashops that focus exclusively on the perfect cuppa. With an eye for charm and high quality product, here are my suggestions for the best places to enjoy afternoon tea service in Chicago:

    The Drake Hotel

    In terms of Chicago traditions, elegant tea service in the gilded ambiance of The Drake's Palm Court is almost as iconic as deep-dish pizza. A live harpist strums as finger sandwiches on tiered trays and china cups filled with your choice of tea  (including the signature Palm Court blend) are served. At $40 per person, it's as much about the setting as the actual tea but the Drake remains the ultimate for afternoon tea in Chicago. The afternoon tea service is available daily, 1-5 p.m.

    The Langham Chicago

    Although a relative newcomer to Chicago, you can't ignore the authentic British heritage of The Langham or the striking views of the Chicago River in the Pavilion lounge, where tea is served. Paying close attention to the afternoon tea details that the Langham originally debuted in 1865, this is a relaxing and understated experience that features gourmet ingredients, Wedgewood china and a $50 price tag. The tea service is available daily at 3, 4 and 5:30 p.m.

    Soho House

    Another British import, the Soho House provides a decidedly modern afternoon tea in the Allis lobby restaurant.  Located in the trendy West Loop area, you won't see many grannys and frilly grand children enjoying tea here. Instead, you'll spot bearded hipsters hanging out as beautifully crafted settings are laid out for you. The offerings are tasty and more restrained than other tea services, but so is the $24 cost. Tea is served daily 3-5 p.m.

    Serenitea Tea Cafe

    This homey tearoom ensconced in the Oak Park historic district, is a personal favorite. With a tea menu that rivals The Cheesecake Factory in terms of options, I always end up spending a whole afternoon instead of a few hours at Serenitea. The afternoon tea is by reservation only because all the goodies are baked to order. Served on vintage china and food in generous portions, this is a one-of-a-kind tea experience. It's $25 for the regular tea menu and $30 for vegan and gluten free options.

    Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods

    This quirky Lakeview cafe is another place that lures you to stay the whole day. Part British food shop and part restaurant, this is the place for “proper” afternoon tea, complete with accent. All the menu items are freshly prepared and at $22, it's the best tea service bargain in town — and daily to boot.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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