Exploding Egg

Portland: A Trip To The Tao Of Tea

When the man who forced you to stop “defiling your coffee with sugar” at the tender age of 19 then tells you, at age 40, that you WILL go to a tea house with him and write about it, well, there’s just no way you can refuse.

So it was yesterday when my old friend, Charlie, dragged me out for a trip to the Tao of Tea, which claims to be “Portland’s oldest tea house,” established in 1997.

If this guy insisted that you drink tea with him, would you refuse?

We Bostonians knew about tea well before 1997 — in fact we had a habit of throwing it into the harbor back in the 1700s. But being a stranger in these green lush lands, I’ll take the tea house at its word, for now.

While it was built in 1997, the Tao of Tea actually has the feel of a much older, more Far East abode. The walls are made of “black bamboo, old reclaimed wood, copper and stone,” the store’s Web site says. And the place is decorated with old tea pots and equipment that appear to date well before the Portland tea revolution of 1997.

Inside the Tao of Tea

The place has a rock fountain in the corner and smells of old wood and incense. It almost feels like your walking aboard a ship used to carry tea across the Pacific or Atlantic in the 1800s.

The fountain is a nice addition to the woody feel of this place

Charlie and I got the 100 percent organic Red Bush Chai, which is “a caffeine free blend of South African Rooibos and uplifting spices,” the company’s Web site says.

I’m usually more one for a big jolt of caffeinated goodness, but it was the evening, and the vitamin C from the Rooibos struck me as a good idea.

They bring the tea in pots and, for the Chai, you can have it with whole milk, rice milk or soy milk. Lacking an option for 2 percent milk, I went for soy and Charlie went with rice.

The rice milk Chai was a bit sweeter than the soy, and the soy milk was a little thicker than the rice. Both were very tasty and went well with this weird pizza-looking thing that Charlie ordered.

Not quite a pizza, this wheat bread was topped with honey, dried cranberries and shaved coconut

The pizza thing — which was a sweet bread with fruit and honey on top — seemed like a good evening before-bed snack for the health food conscious types that are so prevalent in this town.

A glam, close-up shot of the pizza thing

The original Tao of Tea store, located at 3430 Southeast Belmont Street, also has a wholesale facility next door, with a wide variety of tea for sale in those big metal urns. It was closed last night, but I have a feeling I’ll be back soon to check it out when it’s open.

Charlie said he plans to drag me along to some other interesting Portland sites soon, and I have my camera and pen at the ready so I can share them with you.

Until then,


May 7, 2010 - Posted by | Portland | , , ,


  1. What would make a better night on the town than seeing Oregon’s only major league pro sports team, and then hitting up downtown Portland Not much. Dion Stone

    Comment by Dion Stone | May 9, 2010 | Reply

  2. Like all our water fountains, the Tao makes soothing water sounds. Alexandria Rice

    Comment by Alexandria Rice | May 11, 2010 | Reply

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