Growing up in Shanghai, Cosette Liu worked as a barista and embraced the way the coffee shop felt like a collective space for story sharing. When she moved to Chicago in 2017, she sought to bring that concept to the city—and particularly to the artist community—with her new shop, Living Water Tea House.
“I wanted to create an open and calming space for people to share their stories and learn about a new culture,” she says. Having traveled extensively to tea farms and factories throughout East Asia, Liu learned from local planters and the process of growing and making tea; she serves some of her favorites, such as Dong Ding Oolong from Taiwan and Uji Matcha from Japan, in her Little Italy shop.
Beyond tasting tea and enjoying East Asian-style pastries, visiting Living Water is a chance to experience the handiwork of Chinese artisans: Think handmade teacups—including Shino ware, Jian Zhan and Dehua porcelain pieces—as well as bowls and plates available for purchase.
“We often ignore the importance of objects that surround us,” says Liu, a ceramicist herself. “I want to shift the attention by making these everyday objects a little different.”