Foodie Snitch Feature: Tea Bar
Location list: https://iloveyousomatcha.com/pages/locations
Tea in a Coffee City
Portland loves coffee- with a shop on every block it’s everywhere. What about its humble cousin, tea? In the Pacific Northwest, tea doesn't tend to be the focal point of cafe culture, but after trying all of @teabars creations for this week’s feature, i’m convinced I’m going to need a lot more tea in my life.
Think of all the ways tea seems unapproachable- often tea shops have a thick book of tea options- often overwhelming, especially if you're not a tea drinker and have no background knowledge. The other thing I hear often is that tea tastes “watery” or not full of flavor. With the lack of info and misconceptions that surround this substance I can see how the stigma emerged.
However, Tea culture is also more of an enhancement rather than a necessity. Compare it to coffee where people feel a frantic “need to have it right when I wake up” and then you’re crashed by noon. With tea, especially matcha, it has caffeine in it but it’s a slight progression and more subtle on the body. It keeps you in your flow rather than the a vicious cycle of caffeine that you keep having to repeat so you don’t crash.
Tea Bar lands in Portland
Owner and CEO of Tea Bar, Erica Indira Swanson noticed there was a lack for tea in the Portland area. There weren’t a lot of tea centric places and also it seemed foreign to a lot of people. The knowledge for tea wasn't as mainstream and she wanted, so she created an approachable menu for those weren’t familiar with tea.
She keeps her menu to one page of items to keep it simple and approachable. She also added in house flavors such as lavender, vanilla, peppermint, rose and cardamom to add into matcha and other teas for first time users to make it more comfortable.
Every recipe is developed by in-house by Erica and then taste tested by peers for final tweaks. Her inspiration ranges from travel, to reading Bon Appétit magazine and then taking those ideas and executing them within the shops.
Tea bar has their teas for retail, and are launching in New Seasons Portland stores in April.
What to order
Made latte style with fresh tea (Not a tea bag) this was my favorite version I’ve had of this drink. STELLAR!
Lemon Ginger Toddy
Iced, crisp, refreshing, and the kick of cayenne gives it a nice edge of flavor
During this visit I tried the lavender boba tea, and in the past I’ve got the matcha boba tea and added lavender. Both are amazing and can't recommend this enough as the boba is made daily using grade A tapioca pearls
A classic Tea Bar staple- they source their matcha from a farm directly in Uji, Japan and the flavor difference is clear to me compared to other matcha I’ve had
The Story of Tea Bar
Raised by a single father in North Portland, Erica grew up traveling from a young age. Her dad took her on travels all around the world- backpacking, staying in hostels, biking through France, living abroad in Latin America. She had an appreciation and a world view from an early age which led to her living in China when she was 16 for a year. Two years later she went back for another year of immersion. These international experiences influenced her approach to her business and her offerings.
She was also surrounded by construction and design throughout adolescence as her dad bought two buildings to renovate after selling their farm. From an early age she was around construction, contractors, and design which made it feel natural when it came to designing her own spaces for Tea Bar (4 locations).
Why Tea Bar is worth Trying
Tea Bar make high quality approachable, and uses the real stuff. You won’t find powders, artificial flavors or dyes in any of their drinks. Plus the space design is minimal, current and makes for the perfect photo opp. Whether you’re visiting from out of town, or a local this spot is a must.