where i’ve been reading: townshend’s division street tea house, portland, oregon
June 3, 2016
I was in the midst of a dark, clammy day of the I’m-not-trying-to-charm-you Portland winter norm. Three-thirty and the feeble sunshine would not hang on. My skin saturated—no longer willing to ignore the cold despite the feigned innocence of misty droplets pretending to be less wet than rain. It was my first time in the PDX. Wandering in the Southeast offered plenty of oddball thrift store finds, inventive doughnuts, bleached wood boutiques, and new music to try losing myself to on the eventual plane ride home. But gray can only be kept at bay for so long; and it began to invade the brightness of my enthusiasm. As if a mirage, appeared Townshend's as the perfect watering hole for a weary traveler in need of a civilized sip of real tea.
... appeared Townshend's as the perfect watering hole for a weary traveler in need of a civilized sip of real tea ...
Quiet and cozy, the room somehow felt like being curled up next to a fire without any fireplace. The soft glow of twinkly lights from outside infused the corners of the tearoom with their golden warmth.
... soft glow of twinkly lights from outside infused the corners of the
I just knew the couple in the corner was whispering about their latest reads. Here was my quiet moment of the day; a place to shut out the busyness, to lose myself to words on a page, to keep my cup full with the generous pot steaming at my little table.
... A 24-page tea list brings both love and torture ...
Of course there was so much to explore before I could just sit back. Oh, the tea. The seemingly endless variety. The wall of samples waiting to indulge my nose with their enchanting scents. A 24-page tea list brings both love and torture. This list has all the staples, some with added interest and twist. See perhaps No. 15 Blue Flower Earl Grey, with an Earl Grey core and inviting a new guest Blue Mallow blossoms. Or see Nos. 49 through 59 for housemade chai blends, from Kashmiri Chai to Ginger Green Chai, all steeped in the traditional Indian method with hot milk. I learned for the first time the versatility of Yerba mate, seeing it blended as in No. 62 Mate Riviera with herbs and fruit. Definitely intriguing were the many tonic teas, offering respite from colds, skin ailments and, my favorite, a lack of romance (yes, see L. Love, offering a mild aphrodisiac). The moment I smelled the fruity, buttery notes of No. 47 Coconut Oolong I knew I would have to take it away with me; which is very lucky since it is the perfect pair for Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes.
Order a small cup for tasting, a small pot for a short sit or a large pot for a delectably languid afternoon. If you want to sprawl out with your weighty stone pot, you have your pick of small tables, high-backed chairs, or a long friendly couch. A few locally baked goodies are also available at the Division Street location to round out an afternoon’s serious reads. Each tea is sold by the ounce as well for home brewing. For we silly non-Portland dwellers, their website offers various sizes for shipping.
I’m not one for souvenir shopping, but the luscious Townshend's leaves I took with me all seem to carry the glow of the tea house’s twinkly lights.
a pairing for you
food pairing: Spring lamb acorn squash soup with An Ember in the Ashes
food pairing: Cherry coconut toaster pastries with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland