I do a lot of talkin’ about unique teas I’ve notched off, but I haven’t properly paid lip-to-cup service to the more interesting tearooms I’ve encountered of late. If you’ll bear with me, fair reader, I shall highlight the last three I’ve ventured into, and what makes them unique.
Tea Chai Te – Sellwood Location
On one of my days off I was tasked with taxi-ing my sister to a job interview. There was a two-hour window for me to do…whatever…before picking her up. My first instinct was to go to a tearoom. (Isn’t it everybody’s?) However, I was in an odd part of town, and morning rush hour was still at its peak.
I took to Google Maps and promised myself I’d choose the one that was closest. Oddly enough, the first one that came up was Tea Chai Te. At first, I groaned. I’d already been there. While they had a good selection, I wasn’t a fan of the part of town they were in – the “Trendy-Third” side of Portland. Then two synapses fired off reminding me that Tea Chai Te had more than one location.
Tea Chai Te’s Sellwood location was simply awesome even before entering. Why? It was a caboose. S**t you not, an honest-to-Buddha caboose.
I’d never had tea in a caboose before.
Upon entering, I was also taken aback by how spacious it was on the interior. There were many places to choose from to nurse a cuppa. Since it was a nice day, I opted for the patio area. And that’s where the awesomeness continued.
Not only did they have a faux-waterfall for ambiance, but the denizens of said outcropping were the real treat of the property. Garden gnomes dotted the waterfall centerpiece.
I’d already written about gnomes and tea to some extent. So, I considered myself a bit of a connoisseur on the subject.
I could think of no better way to enjoy a jade oolong.
Chariteas – Sandy, Oregon
I first heard of Chariteas when I met the owner – the titular “Charity” of the name – at a PDX Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance event several months back. I’d meant to make a trip out to Sandy to visit her actual shop, but time and travails pushed such a jaunt to the backburner. On a random day off of work over the summer, I got the gumption to finally make the trek.
My main reason for going was for an Indonesian white tea they had listed on their website. My other reason? Well, I was hungry. Like, fat man hungry.
First thought I had when pulling into Sandy, OR, This place is like right out of Northern Exposure. The town was quaint…if slightly off. No wonder Steampunk Couture used this place as their base of operations. (And why do I even know that?!) It was a lovely (if weird) little berg – rustic and eccentric.
As far as teashops/tearooms go, Chariteas was topnotch.
It was adorable, but not in an entirely feminine way. The pinks of the interior décor were muted. Men needed not feel uncomfortable upon entering. It was spacious, welcoming, and comfortable. The staff were friendly and doting, which one expects in a tearoom.
The food was spectacular. I went with one of their salmon sammiches, a scone, and an espresso brownie as a chaser. I expected all of that to hurt my wallet – as would happen in most tearooms – but the very opposite happened. Very competitive prices
Oh yeah, the Indonesian white tea. Superb. Kinda reminded me of a Yunnan Silver Needle or a Kenyan variant there-in. Slightly fruity and fluttery.
Before leaving, Charity reminded me to send her an e-mail the next time I was in. There were more weird teas for the sipping. Totally my kinda shop.
One of the more lamentable occurrences of this last year was the unfortunate storefront closure of the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance HQ. While not intentional, it also caused a gap in time between tea visits with the op’s former (or rather current) head cheerleader, David Galli. In the early part of the summer, I decided to change that.
I took to Facebook and informed him that I possessed a Nepalese pu-erh that required sipping. He countered that with, “I have a Taiwanese pu-erh.” Within minutes, tea-bro time was scheduled.
The one good thing that came about from PDX Tea’s storefront closure were what it did to David’s new base of operations. His condo is literally a tearoom. All of his PDX Tea wares were set up in such a perfect way as to instill a sense of gongfu feng shui.
We nursed cup after cup of both “pu-erh” oddities. While he couldn’t confirm if the Taiwanese pu-erh was actually grown and processed in Taiwan, it was still good. At least as far as cooked pu-erhs go. It had more nuance than the young Chinese types, so I’m betting that it was Formosan in origin.
We blew through several ounces and a couple of hours, easily.
What these three places showed me was that the environment where you have your tea can be just as meaningful as the cup itself. It’s no wonder that teashop owners/operators take such time with the décor. Creating the perfect environment helps the overall sense peace while nursing a cup.
Which reminds me…I need to clean my “tearoom”.