One of the things I really loved about Chicago is Argo Tea. It’s a small chain, with several locations in Chicago, and I guess they’ve expanded outside of Chicago too. It’s like a coffeehouse for tea, and I love it because I don’t drink coffee but I do drink tea. Instead of walking in and staring in consternation at the menu, I can finally enjoy the whole café experience.
My first experience with Argo Tea was when they were handing out free samples on the street. It was a hot summer day, and I had been shopping with a friend. We were tired, hot and very thirsty. When we tried that Argo Tea sample, it tasted like ambrosia, honestly the best drink I’ve ever had (after fresh coconut juice). I never could remember which particular tea it was, and I never figured it out subsequently either. I’ve ordered a number of different teas in an attempt to identify it, but it was probably a seasonal special.
I worked in downtown, and I used to take the Brown Line to the Merchandise Mart, which has an Argo Tea downstairs. I used to grab one every day on my way to work. I would rotate between my favourites on the regular menu – Earl Grey Vanilla Crème, Maté Latte, etc – and the seasonal specials. Eventually, I came to my senses and stopped going on a daily basis, but it was fun while it lasted. And of course, it’s always nice to have the option to go to Argo Tea instead of a coffeehouse.
I didn’t think I would have time to hit up an Argo Tea this visit, but we ended up with a bit of dead time. So my friend and I chillaxed in an Argo Tea and recharged. We went to a location I hadn’t been to before in the Loop, at Dearborn and Madison. It was nice, another two-level deal with additional seating upstairs. It seemed particularly suited to students, with outlets everywhere and large tables accommodating up to six people and all their laptops and books.
It was a mellow, calming experience. I’m too much of a homebody to go out and buy expensive drinks at a café regularly, but it felt like the right thing to do in the middle of gallivanting about the city.