Chai has become the drink of choice for Portland commuters looking for a caffeinated option outside of coffee. But just like the city’s coffee scene, the world of chai in Portland is multifaceted and widespread in its approach, reflective of the countless varieties found throughout the world and especially within the Indian subcontinent. The way families make chai varies from home to home, city to city, combining everything from cinnamon sticks to ginger to peppercorns to cardamom with a blend of tea.
Until recently, most coffeeshops in Portland offered chai lattes made from mass-produced concentrates or powders. Farah Jesani, founder of Portland’s One Stripe Chai, describes this style as either “too sweet or incredibly bland.” Her company and others, such as Tanglewood Beverage Company and Dragonfly Chai, have radically expanded the market for concentrates and teas available to Portland coffee shops, honing in on different spice sources and blends, flavor profiles, and tea bases. Many cafes have also begun producing their own blends and concentrates in-house. Plenty of coffeeshops in Portland now offer two or three different chais, including caffeine free herbal options like rooibos. Local tea companies such as Tea Chai Te have also broadened the chai market, offering different varieties and specialties to cater to all tastes for home consumption. Here are some options from across the city, some serving food to complement the beverage, while others are focused exclusively on drinks. For coffee, try our cafe map.
Note: A number of Portland restaurants have resumed patio service. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID update page. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. The points on this map guide are not ranked; rather, they’re organized geographically.Read More