I went on a foodie field trip today—to Portland, with my good friend Lucinda, to eat my way through the food truck world that has grown to over 600 (kind of temporary) venues of every kind of exotic and exciting food you can imagine. How does tea fit into all of this? Our food tour hosts, Angie and Al, owners of Eat Adventures Food Tours (www.eat adventures.com) knew I’m a tea person so added a special tea treat for me! After starting with a lovely goat cheese, pistachio and caramel smothered waffle at one of the downtown Portland Food Trucks, we trotted our stuffed selves down to Chinatown to Red Robe Tea House & Café located at 350 NW Davis Street.
At first, as I walked in, I thought “this is just going to be a quick tea order and then we can go back to exotic eating”, but what I discovered was MARVELOUS TEA! This place is very Chinese–what I mean by that—they endeavor to provide the traditional Gong fu tea experience and have a really great selection of traditional Chinese origin teas. Knowing we didn’t have all day, I looked through the menu and selected the Phoenix Dan cong and then asked the owner about the pu’erhs…which one did she recommend? She suggested the 2006 Dayi Menghai Imperial Pu’erh (a cooked pu’erh)…so we went with that.
We had two teas to experience and I was with several people who knew nothing about tea and weren’t sure they liked tea. I asked the owner, Pearl, if she would leave the Gong fu table with me along with the teas so I could steep them and talk through these two teas. Of course, she was fine with this, and very gracious. We started with the Dan cong, which I put the generous amount of tea provided into the Yixing teapot and began steeping-tasting-steeping-tasting, etc. I can only say that I was startled by the first steep…which rarely happens for me with a first steep of any oolong…it was really lovely. We steeped four times more with this tea and received the recurring gifts of incredible dimension and taste each time.
Then we went on to the loose-leaf cooked pu’erh. I don’t usually get too excited with pu’erh, especially cooked pu’erh. My early first experience of pu’erh was of a thick, over-steeped, horsey brew and I have slowly learned to embrace it. I ordered pu’erh for us because I like to introduce it to people—it is so different (when I think that tea is generally undiscovered, pu’erh is really undiscovered). This tea was smooth and delicious—all of us loved it. We resteeped our pu’erh four times and it could have delivered more steepings, but we were out of time (the exotic food trucks were calling).
Well tea fans, I did not leave Red Robe without tea to bring back to Issaquah…I bought a limited quantity of both teas and have them available for purchase—both teas were just too good to leave behind. Red Robe Tea House teas are fresh and flavorful—full of authenticity!
If you find yourselves in Portland, please try the incredible experience in eating provided by Eat Adventures Food Tours and make sure you save some time to visit Red Robe Tea House & Café—you will think you have found tea and food heaven.