While Portland is renowned for pioneering craft brews, it should also be known for hoisting mugs of another sort; specifically, ones filled with locally steeped tea.
The local tea revolution reaches back to 1972, when Stash Tea Company steeped its first bag at its headquarters in an old Portland Victorian home. The company has since moved to Tigard, a suburb southwest of Portland.
The late Steven Smith, one of Stash’s founders, went on to create Tazo Tea in Portland in 1994 (the brand is now owned by Starbucks). He followed up Tazo’s success with his eponymous brand Steven Smith Teamaker, founded in 2009. There, tea curators blend and pack teas and botanicals in tiny batches grown in the world’s best producing regions. Their unique, artisanal and highly curated range of products can be credited with starting the tea renaissance in Portland, giving locals a taste of the best ingredients steeped without any shortcuts. Their blends are available all over the city, including the company’s Central Eastside location. Visitors to their shops can sample a tasting flight of different teas, choosing their favorite from the wide variety of blends. (Try their “Portland Breakfast” blend: a black tea with notes of malt, leather, spice and peat). At their Northwest Portland cafe, Smith Teamaker infuses tea into vegetarian dishes, like the White Petal rainbow carrot barley bowl and jams made with local fruit and Lord Bergamot.
Loose-leaf cafes also pour it on in Portland, serving tea from bubble to bagged. Tea Chai Té has four locations; the shop on Northwest 23rd Avenue features comfy couches, games, books and a covered balcony. You enterTea Chai Té -Sellwood through a retired train caboose; an airy outdoor garden and 15 different chai blends make it a must-sip. With locations in all parts of Portland, woman-owned Tea Barserves up matcha lattes, boba tea and milk tea in modern, sleek cafes. The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company has over 100 loose-leaf teas, from pure tea to flowery or fruity blends in oolong, black, white and green tea varietals. Learn a lot about tea while you sip in their warehouse tasting room. Lastly, but certainly not the least, The Tao of Tea sells and serves organic teas at its original location on SE Belmont Street — going strong since 1997 — and at the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, the authentic and masterfully constructed teahouse within Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. With this many options, Portland surely has your cup of tea.
The local passion for fine ingredients and careful craft extends into coffee cups.
Portland, home to over 70 breweries, has pioneered the craft beer movement since the early 1980s.
Treat yourself to boozy milkshakes, build-your-own bubble tea and other quintessentially Portland bevvies with our insider’s guide to the city’s best summer drinks.
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