Chicago Tea Party

The Palm Court at the Drake Hotel hosts Tea Extravaganza 2009

Think you know your teas? You might be able to tell an Earl Grey from an English Breakfast, but there's always more to learn. Find out at Tea Extravaganza 2009, a tasting of the finest and rarest brews the world has to offer, at the Palm Court in the Drake Hotel Monday, Aug. 10 and Tuesday, Aug. 11.

The elegant tea room will host this event, which is the first independent tasting experience of its kind. The Tea Extravaganza is co-sponsored by the American Tea Masters Association (ATMA), an organization that trains and certifies tea masters and sommeliers (yes, that really is a job). ATMA executive director and certified tea master Chas Kroll developed the menu for the grand tasting by personally sampling hundreds of teas from estates and vendors from across the globe. Each tea selected for the Tea Extravaganza received at least an 8 on the ATMA 10-point rating system.

Which means you'll be tasting some of the world's best loose-leaf teas, presented in an independent, experiential tasting format. They are also some of the world's most expensive, ranging from $120 to $700 per pound. Adding to their quality and rarity, several featured teas are only harvested by hand one day of the year, emphasizing the terroir and growing conditions, similar to fine wines.

The Palm Court's Tea Extravaganza will take place Monday and Tuesday from 9AM-1PM. The cost to attend is $120 for one day or $200 for both days. Lunch will be served in the Drake's Private Club following the event on Monday, and the Palm Court's traditional afternoon tea service will take place on Tuesday after the tasting (at additional charges). Call 312-932-4619 for reservations.

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