The nice thing about having my own blog is that I don't really have to have any rhyme or reason to what I write or when. Which is why, 4 months later, I've finally sat down to write the continuation of my experience at Tea Chai Te in Portland. See Part 1 here, in which Geoffrey Norman and I talk tea, Twitter and the writing of novels.
When I walked into this lovely little gem in "the Pearl" District of Portland, I looked around and realized I had visited this place before. I remember taking covert photos on my (then) new flip phone with photo capabilities. I just wanted to remember the coziness of the place. But it was two or three years before I started blogging, and who knows where those photos ended up. What I was happy to discover, however, is that the coziness remained.
I was hungry on this visit, and although Tea Chai Te does not serve your stereotypical afternoon tea fare, they were offering a Southwest Chicken Soup that sounded delicious. I paired it with Zhen Qu Golden Buds, because, well, why not?
While waiting for Geoffrey, I observed the owner, Dominic, discussing plans with another gentlemen. They were seated comfortable in the middle of store at one of the eclectic tables. I love it when I see owners so comfortable and at home in their place of business. It puts everyone else in the mindset of comfortable hominess as well.
I had the chance to chat a bit with the manager, Laura, who had worked there for a few years. She had been a bank teller and originally worked in the tea room 1 day per week, but in 2010 she was asked to be the manager, and she happily accepted. While she loves what she does and she has a knack for helping you narrow down what tea you are truly wanting, she is also given a lot of flexibility to enable her to pursue additional interests and travel as well. Those are the employer-employee relationships that I've seen be most fruitful, and it's obvious there is a real appreciation, respect and loyalty within this home grown business.
Laura helped me navigate my own tea desires, and I left with Sencha Fukamushi, a green tea that is rarely found outside of Japan.
The next time you're in Portland, first, see if @lazy_literatus is available for a tea meet-up. Then, go and hang out at Tea Chai Te. Take a book, take a friend. Whatever you take, take it easy once you arrive. Soak the tea into your bones and just be.
To Visit Tea Chai Te:
734 NW 23rd Ave
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.