With two downtown hotels launching elaborate tea services on Black Friday itself, Portland tea is getting serious for the holidays. See what Portland tea is all about at the three options below. But you better make reservations fast.
Headwaters - Russian Samovar Service
Did you know The Heathman Hotel has a dedicated tea court? It does, and chef Vitaly Paley is putting it to use, launching his traditional Russian samovar service between its wood-paneled walls this Black Friday. Paley collaborated with Smith Teamakers to make the signature Georgian caravan and chocolate peppermint pu’erh teas, and jam is provided to sweeten the former, just like it’s done in Georgia.
The accompanying bites come on a three-tier tray, and Headwaters’ head chef Ken Norris and pastry chef Jeff McCarthy prepare tea-friendly plates like khachapouri (Georgian cheese bread), walnut-stuffed eggplant rolls, and blini with house-cured caviar, plus sweets like “Bird’s Milk Cake.”
Tea service costs $38 for adults and $16 for kids, with seatings at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., from November 25 through January 1, 2017. Cocktails, sparkling by the glass, and other add-ons also available. Call 503.790.7752 to make a reservation.
Hotel deLuxe - Afternoon Tea
On Black Friday, the proper English-style afternoon tea inside Hotel deLuxe goes into holiday overdrive, with 11 teas blended by Smith Teamaker — several made especially for the hotel. The entire experience lasts 90 minutes, with snacks like house-made pastries, savory tarts, and the “Tomato Twiddle,” a tea sandwich of chopped tomatoes, cheddar, and onion. Until January 1, 2017, tea is served in the grand dining room, too, replete with pianist.
Tea requires 24 hours notice, and seatings are at 3, 3:15, and 3:30 p.m. The full tea service costs $39 for adults and $18 for children under 12. Call 503.820.2063 or book online at www.afternoonteapdx.com.
Looking for something stronger? Additional options during Afternoon Tea include tea cocktails, made with Thomas & Sons Distillery tea-infused spirits, and $6 glasses of bubbly.
Steven Smith Teamaker - Tea Flights and Ceremonial Matcha
Or you could go to the source (potentially getting some Christmas shopping done in the process). Portland’s renowned Smith Teamaker has a fancy tasting room in Southeast, full of comfy stuffed chairs, a massive window into the tea-making facility — even a fireplace. It doesn’t serve food, but it is all about service: The people pouring could share technical tea facts for days, often while pouring tasting-room-only brews.
For a full experience, try either the tea flights or the ceremonial matcha. The former delivers four teas and herbal infusions, and a staff member guides you through the tasting. The ceremonial matcha is special because of how it’s prepared: Matcha tea powder is sifted into a tea cup and mixed with water to reach the right potency before your very eyes.