Hello November. Now that you've slipped in through the back door, I think it's officially time to wrap my hands around a warming cup of chai. But not just any chai, how about one that's equal parts creamy, spicy, and sweet. One where the brisk black tea character shines through, this is a must. And last but not least, one that is made with care using quality ingredients, maybe with an interesting twist.
These three Portland places (plus a bonus) don't disappoint when it comes to great chai.
You'll find Either/Or in the Sellwood neighborhood of southeast Portland. It's a cozy coffee shop with just a few seats and a vintage vibe. Their housemade chai is reliably delicious, hitting all the right sweet, spicy, and creamy notes. I love the bright hit of ginger and the anise finish of each sip. Either/Or also sells their chai syrup by the bottle so you can make it at home or send it off as a gift. Their shop is a great spot to bring a coffee-loving friend, since Either/Or also brews up a range of Portland's best beans into all the classic, plus some really original, coffee drinks.
8235 SE 13th Ave, Portland
Pip's Original Donuts
At Pip's Original Donuts, you'll find not just one unique and delicious house-made chai, but a handful of them. If you'd like to try a little smokiness in your chai, they have one for that. If you're interested in a Thai tea-inspired chai, they have one of those too. If you'd like to try an herbal chai with floral notes and an almost effervescent quality, you're in luck as well. If you just can't decide, get a flight of all of them (in the cutest vintage mugs) and choose your favorite. This might go without saying, but be sure to get the tiny, perfect, made-to-order donuts while you're there. The sea salt and honey is my go-to, but there's not a loser in the bunch.
4759 NE Fremont St, Portland
At Smith Teamaker, they make a lovely chai latte, hot or iced. But what sets them apart when it comes to chai is their Masala chai on nitro. It's flavorful and delicious with a creamy mouthfeel that comes from the nitrogen-- no milk of any sort is involved. Plus, it's pretty fun to see your tea get pulled from the tap like it's a beer. While you're at either location of this Portland tea institution, you can stock up on their wide range of teas, including (when available) limited edition collaboration teas with Portland chefs and others. Their stylish tea boxes and curated selection of teaware make great gifts, too.
110 SE Washington St, Portland and 1626 NW Thurman St, Portland
BONUS: 40 LBS
If you're in downtown Portland, the nice folks at 40 LBS coffee offer Smith chai on nitro. They can also make you a chai latte, a cup (or pot) of several other varieties of Smith tea, or a coffee drink made with Stumptown beans. The ample seating, friendly atmosphere, and treats from Roman Candle Baking Co. make for a nice refuge downtown.
824 SW 2nd Ave, Portland