Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

A Tearoom Trilogy

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.

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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.

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I could think of no better way to enjoy a jade oolong.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

David’s Place

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.

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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.

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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”.

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lazyliteratus

Tea blogger, professional cleaner of toilets, amateur people watcher.

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19 Comments

  1. “Creating the perfect environmet helps the overall sense peace while nursing a cup. ” You said it 😀

    And I like discovering new places thanks to you.

  2. What variation in tea shops!! I used to work at the Lavender Tea House in Sherwood, which I think is now closed, and the teas were good but nothing too fancy. And they had us make all of them with the same temp water so the Darjeeling was always so bitter and burnt. It’s cool to see your reviews of all kinds of different places!

    • The Lavender closed?! I used to love that place. Although, last time I went was back in ’09. Guess I should’ve gone again before the closure.

      A lot of teashops don’t adhere to temperature recommendations unless you ask for ’em. Darjeelings should NEVER use boiling water. Or if they do, the steep times need to be reduced by a minute.

  3. Environment, schmenvironment. I can sip a decent Darjeeling whilst wrestling a crocodile in a cactus garden with the other.

  4. For those of us who are not as familiar with the tea scene, you should write a list of your top 10 tea places in Portland so we can educate ourselves! I guess you can also have a list for all of OR… or a wishlist of where you wish you could go if you suddenly married into money/inherited/won the lottery!?

    • I don’t have a Top 10 for Portland because…um…there are only ten (or so) decent places total. I would have to include outlying areas. As for a wishlist? That’s a subject for an upcoming blog.

  5. Margo Hutchinson

    I want to go to the place in Sandy. I do believe the Lavender tea place in Sherwood is closed, to bad. And the Santa place near Sherwood is not there any longer. Another is needed! great write up

  6. I love it when you take us on your tea journeys with you. Wonderful pics and interesting info. Say hello to David from us when you see him next time. Haven’t spoken to him for ages. I didn’t even know PDX Alliance had permanently closed. Do you know why it did?

    • I do know why it closed…but it’s not my place to say.

    • Jackie — Hi!

      First off, the Alliance isn’t closed, just the storefront.

      Second, it was a confluence of financial drains that made doing an expensive startup project unwise at the current mo’.

      In December, my partner (of 12+ years) and I split up. We’d been sharing the mortgage on our place, and that’s no longer the case, so that was a big cost of living increase. Then, in January — and let me first say that I seem to be totally fine & doing great now — I got cancer, and had to have surgery and a variety of other expensive medical stuff happen in order to a) cure me, and b) make sure I *stay* cured.

      Like I say, all followups have made it look like I’m doing great. However, it’s not cheap, even with insurance. So, I decided to bring PDX TEA home, and refocus on events, tastings, classes, and the like.

      It’ll take me a while to rev back up again, but I’m really looking forward to it!

  7. Great write up, Geoff! Thanks for including our adventures. 🙂

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