Billy Corgan’s Madame ZuZu’s Tea Shop Opens in Ravinia

Billy Corgan’s Madame ZuZu’s Tea Shop Opens in Ravinia

I have a confession.  I really don’t like coffee.  Seriously.  As a self proclaimed “Anglophile,” I have no shame in declaring that I am a proud tea drinker.  The problem?  There are few independent tea shops on Chicago’s Northshore and none that I am aware of in Highland Park.  Sure, I can get a chai or pomegranate tea from our friendly neighborhood Starbucks.  But since my post-college days as a so-called “above the fringe” intellectual when I hung with my other barely employed Gen-X friends in the late 1990’s and blamed the “man” for my not being able to get a job, I have yet to find a comfortable spot to sip a cup of tea and read the latest edition of the New Yorker (on my iPad, of course.)

Fast forward (eek!) twenty years and I think that I have found the space and it’s right in my neighborhood!  Yes, a Gen-Xer himself and one of my musical heroes from the 1990’s (and beyond), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) has opened up a fantastic (but small) tea house, Madame ZuZu’s in Ravinia Illinois (528 Roger Williams Ave, Highland Park, IL 60035, USA). Where once was a cute US Post Office, now stands a funky tea shop.

If you are a tea snob (like me), you’ll be impressed with the variety of teas offered from all over the world.  Because the tiny shop was MOBBED, I didn’t get a chance to try them all but I am really intrigued with the list.  Here’s just a sample of the names that caught my attention.

  • Assam Manjushree: A black tea from India
  • Gyokuro: Green from Japan
  • ZuZu’s Gunpowder: Black and also from China
  • Malawi: Black from Africa (I cannot wait to try this one having just returned from the continent!)
  • Organic Honeybush Tea: Rooibos from South Africa
  • Pai Mu Tan: An Organic white tea from China

And for those of us with coffee drinking mates and spouses, yes, ZuZu’s also sells Intelligentsia coffee.  Pastries, while not made in the shop, are from one of the arguably best bakeries in the Chicagoland area: The Bent Fork Bakery.  According to the article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, the tea, priced from $3.25 to $6.25 for a 12-ounce pot — is just a way to get people in the door.  The article quotes Corgan as saying  “What Zuzu’s really aims for is to provide a level of human interaction that can’t be achieved through social media.”  Personally, putting down the smart phone and iPad to share a pot of tea with a friend does sound idyllic.

 

Finally the shop seemingly transports its patrons to the rumored tea houses of the 1930’s Orient where one could get a great cup of tea and a perhaps a hit of opium.  While I didn’t expect to see an opium den in the back of the shop, it does have a sexy, Asian feel. I fell in love with the red and black wallpaper and the art deco lamps.

 

 

Madame ZuZu’s opened on Thursday and I might suggest that you give it few days to let the tourist and press traffic die down.  (At least I am hoping that it will dissipate…soon.)  As it was, I took advantage of all of the press coverage and convinced Mr. Corgan to take a picture with me.

Note to self: I should have listened to my mother: Never go out of the house without doing your hair and putting on some make-up!  This photo was snapped right after walking the dog for 30 minutes.  Let’s just say, I should have taken a moment to assess how I looked.  Live and learn.  Live and learn.  

 

DAWN OXI Dish Soap: The Perfect Hostess Gift!

DAWN OXI Dish Soap: The Perfect Hostess Gift!

It's All About the Turkey

This is a Sponsored post written behalf of DAWN  dish soap. All opinions are 100% mine.

We are off to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Thanksgiving this year and I have to say that I am quite relieved.  Being one of 4 daughters, the responsibility for clearing the table and helping to clean the pots and pans naturally falls to the women (and sister-folk) of the house while the men enjoy college football.  Since my mother usually hosts the meal, well….let’s just day that I dread dessert and not for caloric reasons.

I feel obligated to provide the “perfect” hostess gift as a token of empathy and appreciation  for my aunt. Initially, I purchased a Talbott’s Holiday tea set for Kathy but quickly changed my mind because (a) I have no idea if she even likes tea and (b) I really like tea, especially Talbott’s.  Although I have known that we were going to my aunt’s for quite some time, I haven’t been able to find the perfect gift that blends humor with functionality.  If only they were smokers and then I could get them an ashtray or two!  (Just kidding. Really, I’m kidding!)

But then, like a boomerang hitting me in the head, I got an idea this morning; one that no one will have thought of: dish soap!  It’s weird and therefore laden with humor but also quite functional. What does any Thanksgiving hostess really need on Turkey day? Surely not hand mixed tea created by Oprah Winfrey’s former hair colorist!  Not when there are  greasy pots and pans as well as the china that needs to get cleaned!  But it has to be the best dish soap. I called my mother and she suggested that I try DAWN; her neighbor swears by it.  Strange?  I never thought of my mother as someone who sits around discussing soap with her friends. Even stranger and perhaps cosmically linked, P & G had just sent me some great samples of the product.  But I digress…

To test my hypothesis that dish soap is a great gift for the holidays, I decided to conduct a little experiment with the breakfast dishes.

8:15 a.m.   Today’s breakfast was none other than the stickiest of the sticky: oatmeal.  K insisted, of course, that she should have warm apple cider to complement her warm breakfast.  A minute in the microwave and the stuff was boiling and clinging to the side of her mug.  Yuck.

Presenting: After Breakfast Mess!

Dried Oatmeal! That will never come out!

8:30 a.m.   Fifteen minutes later we were out the door–the pot full of oatmeal still on the stove (with the burner off) and K’s food sitting relatively untouched on the table.  The cider has congealed into a disgusting mass at the bottom of her mug. So much for breakfast today.

8:45 a.m.  I came back from dropping K off at school and decided to face the mess in the kitchen.  Based on the evidence in front of me, I estimated that the plates and the pots would need to soak in hot water and soap for at least 2 or 3 hours.  Even then, there was no guarantee that I will be able to get all of the food particles off of the pot.  So I poured a bit of DAWN dishwashing liquid which guaranteed “overnight soaking power in 5 minutes” on the guilty offenders, um, dishes.

Dawn Power Cleaning with Oxi

 

See the timer?  I really was going to put the soap to the 5 minute test.  Suddenly I felt like one of those pretend commercial moms who is euphoric to be cleaning her kitchen!  Who knew that dish soap had such power over my mental health?  <Hello? Sarcasm?>  But I do enjoy a challenge once in a while.  I had a spin class at 9:30 a.m. and really didn’t have time to be scrubbing pots and dishes when there were water bottles to be filled and bikes to be ridden.

Eeeh! That's just too gross!

A Timer: Good for Product Testing and Giving Time Outs!

8:50  The timer went off.  The dishes were in the sink for only 5 minutes.  I grabbed the sponge because, to be quite honest there is no way that mere dish soap was going to get the grime off of K’s plates.  I am happy to report that I was WRONG!  With a mere swipe of a sponge, her plate is grime free and clean enough to scoop oatmeal.  The pot is clean as are the rest of the breakfast dishes and pots.

So clean, it's says "Hi"

I do have one complaint/comment/warning: My hands are really dry from rinsing off the soap.  I almost never use gloves when I wash dishes.  (I think that I may have dropped one or 2 or 10 when I was a child while wearing gloves and am now scarred by the experience.)   In any case, without gloves, my hands felt much dryer than they did prior to using the DAWN Oxi.  So, if I do, indeed, decide to gift DAWN as a gift, I will need to include a set of funky, cool gloves as an accompaniment.  No sense in saving the hostess cleaning time if my gift leads her to spending additional time moisturizing her hands.  I love these, don’t you?

Mustn't forget the "make-me-happy" gloves!

At 9:00  a.m. I was out the door and off to the gym. The dishes were clean (for a change) and spotless.  I was really relieved that I wouldn’t revisit the breakfast dishes later that day to scrub and ensure that none of the food etc. was “lingering”.

So, now I am off to the mall to find some cool gloves for Aunt Kathy.  I am totally sold on the dishwashing soap and my friends think that I am a bit more off of my rocker for getting excited about something that they take for granted.  Obviously, my mother’s neighbor knows a thing or two.  I really need to meet this awesome woman.

One question, how exactly does one get dish soap on an airplane if she’s not checking bags? Carefully?