Easthill Tea Co-Founder and CMO Kate Wille moved to NYC with one suitcase in 2005 after graduating college to pursue a career in the fashion industry. After working with Conde Nast, Calvin Klein & Red Bull she began working for herself as a marketing consultant for start-ups and small businesses. A decade later, she decided to relocate to Rome to take a year off to travel.
The time away allowed her to realize her true passion and she returned to Chicago to work on her debut novel full-time. Once she finished the first two drafts from her childhood bedroom in the northwest suburbs, Kate decided to return to her career. She moved to Logan Square and met Keqi Meng who was looking for a business partner with a marketing background to launch a new tea brand, called Easthill Tea Co.
Peppered amongst our Q&A with Kate are some beautiful tea's she created inspired by some of our best selling Opal pieces. Not only are these authentic, delicious and visually beautiful drinks but each one transports you into that much needed moment of zen.
What makes Easthill different to other tea shops in the City?
We offer an urban escape in Bucktown for guests to sit down and enjoy tea. We also offer traditional (though abbreviated) Chinese tea ceremonies in the form of tasting flights. Our tasting flights present multiple steeps of three different teas, use traditional teaware, and creates a dialogue between guests and our teatenders on the history and evolution of tea.
Common misconceptions about tea?
Most people think you can only steep tea once, but you can actually steep high quality loose leaf tea like ours many times.
Tell us something abut tea that not many people know.
The flavor changes with every steep, and should be enjoyed like wine, first by observing the color and consistency, second by smelling the aroma, and third by taking a sip. Also similar to wine, you have permission to "slurp" your tea. Pulling in oxygen as you drink will bring out the best flavor!
Where is your tea from and why is it special?
Easthill Tea is premium, high end single estate loose leaf tea sourced directly by Keqi from farms in China, Taiwan and Japan. We don't blend or add spices to change the flavor. It is served in it's original, natural state so you can taste the delicate flavors. We call this presentation 'straight-up' though we also have sugar and milk if you'd like to add!
Currently obsessing over a specific tea?
Always matcha (I love the energy it gives me and the way it makes me feel!) and also our new floral infusion, herbal offerings. They are caffeine free, perfect for a soothing evening experience and beautiful to watch as the buds open up in water. My favorite is Rose.
How should we be making our Matcha?
It depends on how you prefer to drink it. Matcha "straight-up" should be sifted into a matcha bowl, and whisked with hot water using a traditional bamboo whisk. An iced matcha latte is my daily go to and easily made at home by layering ice, matcha and your milk of choice (I use macadamia nut milk) in a mason jar. Sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup, shake, and enjoy!
What's your style and where do you like to shop?
I'd call my style relaxed minimal with a touch of retro. I shop online at Everlane, Reformation and Levis. Favorite Chicago boutiques are Penelopes in Wicker Park, Oak & Fort in Bucktown and Birds Eye Rule in Logan Square.
You are also a writer and working on your first novel - how long have you been writing and where does your inspiration come from?
I began writing in 2016. My inspiration comes from my backyard growing up, and my parents' love story.
Brass by Xhenet Aliu. Only on chapter 7, but throughly enjoying her style and voice!
Favorite La Kaiser Piece?
This is definitely the hardest question! I find something new every time I look at the site. Currently loving the Black Diamond Alinea Ring.
Easthill Tea Co. is a Chicago-based company specializing in small batch, premium loose leaf tea. This is the ONLY authentic Tea bar and Boutique in Chicago.