We've mentioned in a previous post about how tea is, you know, cool - and just in case you needed further proof, we have the receipts below. Welcome to Tea Bar, Portland's minimalist mecca for the original and ancient aromatic drink du jour. Now with two locations, Tea Bar has given us even more to crush on. Their clean, white interiors and (of course) Schoolhouse lights - including our much loved Isaac Pendant & Orbit 8 Chandelier make us swoon every time we walk in the door. It's always a beautiful experience from start to finish because every detail is so thoughtfully considered and executed. We chatted with the brain and brawn behind Tea Bar, owner Erica (middle below), and got the scoop on everything tea, her style inspirations, and how to find your perfect blend.
(Left to Right: Ayaka, Graphic Designer; Erica, Owner; and Emily, Manager)
Erica! Tell us a little about Tea Bar as a brand. What inspired the whole endeavor?
"Tea Bar serves high quality tea in a modern setting. Our teas are sourced from family farms around the world. We provide a beautiful space for customers to slow down and enjoy hand-crafted tea beverages.”
What did you do before you opened up shop?
"Before Tea Bar, I was living in China and traveling in SE Asia. After a few years of being abroad, I returned to Portland to help manage Little Beirut Properties, a real estate business my Dad started when I was 5 years old. For three years, I helped manage and renovate properties here in Portland. Our most recent renovation project is the building that Tea Bar's first location is currently in. Having years of first hand experience in business, design and construction greatly helped in the creation and success of Tea Bar.”
The Tea Bar space is very clean and minimal. Did you have a very specific vision for the design from the start or did it come together organically?
"I knew that I wanted the design to be modern and clean. I always want to be surrounded by fewer, better things. From our menu to the design of our space, everything is curated with the notion that quality is better than quantity.”
For people who aren’t normally tea-drinkers, how would you recommend finding a signature style or blend?
"Since there are so many different types of tea, I would recommend being open to trying as many as you can. Going category by category can be helpful, such as start with Black Teas, then Green Teas, and so on. I feel like starting with whatever is most approachable is best and then continuing to try from there. Everyone comes in with a different palate and we love being able to offer an array of options. I especially love the instances when people come in saying "I don't really like tea" or "I don't drink tea" and then having them say 'I love tea!' by the time they leave. Those are often times the people we see coming back day after day."
Where do you source your tea from and what can you get at Tea Bar that you can’t get anywhere else?
"Our teas are carefully sourced from all over the world- from China and Japan all the way to Egypt and Argentina. We curated our menu to bring our customers the best teas without overwhelming them with too many options.
Some of our most creative tea blends include our London Fog Tea Latte which is made using organic lavender petals that we slow brew over 24 hours and our Cardamom Matcha Latte that is hand-whisked premium organic matcha infused with cardamom pods. The list really goes on. We are always experimenting and concocting new flavors and blends.”
What atmosphere are you hoping to cultivate within the space?
"Tea Bar is known for its warm and welcoming environment. It is paramount to us that everyone feel at home within our space."
Which Schoolhouse fixtures did you choose for your space and what drew you to those in particular?
"We have the Isaac Pendant in both of our shops. I was initially drawn to the simplicity and clean lines of this fixture. It is elegant and blends in with the Scandinavian design elements of our space.”
You now have two locations – what’s different and what did you keep the same?
"Many elements within both stores are the same. Both stores have the same Hans Wegner wishbone chairs, the maple tops, and the clean white walls. The layout was designed based on the structure of the space and differs from location to location. Tea Bar is loved in part for its design and simplicity. I wanted that to carry through to our second shop.”