Friday, September 23, 2016

January 1908 Tea Menu from the Congress Hotel, Chicago

 Although I've long enjoyed researching old department store tearooms, I haven't really made hotel tearooms a focus, but after looking at this 1908 menu from the Congress Hotel in Chicago, perhaps I should!

This is another of those wonderful old public-domain images I found on the New York Public Library's website. I love seeing what they ate and drank way back when. This time, I was intrigued by two items on the "tea" part of the menu, Howdah and Uncolored Japan. I assumed Howdah was a blend of tea, but I learned it's actually a reference to the Howdah Tea and Coffee Company in the UK. I don't believe I've ever heard the name before, but here they are, still in business today.

And as to the Uncolored Japan tea, well, I did a little searching online and found a 1905 book ("The Original Buckeye Cook Book and Practical Housekeeping") that seems to explain the term: "In Japan, tea is not grown for export only, but is the chief article of home consumption; and the domestic teas as procured in that country are probably the only samples of unadulterated green tea to be had, and are known as the green Japan and uncolored Japan. In common usage Japan tea means the green variety, which is used largely in tea mixtures, while the uncolored is used more often by itself as is also the Gunpowder and Hyson." I knew that back in the 1700s tea was sometimes adulterated, but I had no idea that was still a concern as late as the early 1900s! The things I learn from old menus …


  1. That is an interesting menu, for sure. I'd not heard of Howdah nor "uncolored" Japan, so I'm glad you figured those two out. And I don't find sardines an appetizing part of a tea menu! But the rest looks nice and the price was surely right!

  2. Sure so learn a lot coming here to visit. That is absolutley fascinating!

    Hugs. Have a great weekend. ♥♥

  3. The menu cover with the water-lilies and ribbon is really beautiful!
    --from Vernona in DC

  4. Very interesting about uncolored tea.


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