She's just 23 years old, but Erica Indira Swanson knows about business, and she knows about tea. She's been drinking it since she was a kid, she's lived in China for many years, and she speaks Mandarin.
And now the seasoned tea drinker and manager of Little Beirut Properties is pouring her two passions into Tea Bar, a new tea house on N.E. Killingsworth, just a few blocks from Alberta Park and steps from Podnah's.
Located in one of Little Beirut's newly renovated buildings, the 1,000 square-foot space, decorated with a modern, airy aesthetic, gives visitors plenty of space to stretch out and relax while sipping 30 different varieties of properly steeped organic, loose-leaf teas. Snacks are curated from local baking luminaries: Two Tarts cookies, Bake Shop pastries, and Bowery Bagels.
Tea aficionados can also look forward to cups of matcha, directly sourced from a small family farm in Shizuoka, Japan, as well as bubble tea -- just not the bubble tea you're used to. Swanson doesn't use powders or syrups. Rather, her gourmet bubble tea is black-tea based and thickened with condensed milk for a smoother and less saccharine taste. Swanson will also sell loose-leaf tea, matcha and tea-making supplies retail, so you can brew her teas at home.
Herbal teas, Magic Kombucha out of Olympia, Wash., and Earl Grey-infused breakfast mimosas round out the drinks menu. Swanson's shooting to officially open the doors to her 40-seat cafe by the middle, and possibly the end, of November.
Tea Bar: 1615 N.E. Killingsworth St., Portland