Living Water tea house opens in Little Italy

A modern tearoom that mixes the flavors of East Asian countries with visual arts and handmade ceramics is opened in Little Italy. Living Water Tea House, a cafe featuring imported teas, Chinese puff pastry and art, aims to provide a serene retreat for city dwellers at 1453 W. Taylor Street. It was once home to the Tbaar bubble tea spot.

“Living water” or “活水” represents a Biblical reference and an unlimited flow of creativity, according to owner Cosette Liu. Originally from Shanghai, she visited a number of East Asian tea farms and selected her favorite offerings to share with Chicago customers. Choices include Japanese matcha, Taiwanese Dong Ding oolong, and pu’erh tea – a style of fermented tea from Yunnan province in China.

“7581 Pu-erh Latte”
Living water tea room [Official Photo]

Liu has concocted various drinks to better showcase the qualities of different pu’erh teas, such as a “Supreme Raw Milk Tea Pu-erh”, a pu-erh chrysanthemum soda and a “7581 Pu-erh Latte”. Customers will also find cheese mousse, a frothy layer of milk and cream cheese that garnishes cold tea drinks. It has gained popularity in America in recent years.

Living Water also offers su, which Liu describes as Chinese puff pastry from the Tang Dynasty. The café’s crisp, flaky pastries come in three varieties: salted egg yolk, pineapple and taro.

Engraver and ceramist, Liu pays special attention to tableware and presents his collection of enamelled and handmade pieces using a classic Chinese pottery firing technique. She integrated the ceramics of several artists into the overall aesthetic with a light wood wall display, which fits perfectly into the calm and organic sensibility of the store. Liu also works with paper and has designed seemingly light fixtures that hang from the ceiling. Living Water can currently accommodate five people indoors with social distancing, and a handful of customers can also sit at outdoor tables.

The interior of a cafe with two blue chairs next to a round table.  The ceramic tableware is presented in a light wood shelf.

Liu offers handmade tea items as art inside the tea house.
Living water tea room [Official Photo]

The pandemic has caused product shipping delays as many of Liu’s teas come direct from China and “third places,” or neighborhood gathering places outside of work or home, have faced restrictions. ongoing and a reduction in customer quotas. Liu decided to go ahead and open the store with the aim of providing some comfort and fun in the midst of an uncertain time. She hopes the tea house will add more Asian representation to the region through the menu and cultural events. Americans in East Asia have experienced an increase in harassment and racism associated with COVID-19 since March.

Living water tea room, 1453 W. Taylor Street, open 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Monday through Saturday; 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Living Water Menu.pdf

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