2018 Taiwan Tea Journey

May 11-24, 2018

We will once again be traveling for tea, this time to Taiwan to connect with the farmers and producers of our most favorite oolong teas!


Embarking on another tea journey, the owners of Dobrá Tea, a teahouse located at 89 Exchange St., Portland, will head to Taiwan for oolong plucking, production and sourcing of these cherished teas.

Walking from India to Nepal, 2017

For most of May owners Ellen Kanner and Ray Marcotte will travel with 10-12 other “Devoteas” from the US and Eastern Europe to connect with producers while tasting and selecting teas to sell in their tearooms. Along winding roads and various forms of transportation, the group travels to tea farms, experiencing up to 6 tastings per day, and where the agenda is to compare the quality, flavor, and characteristics of these special teas. Previous trips have been taken to India and Nepal (2017), Korea and Japan (2015), The Azores (2016), and China (2012). Organized by business partner and founder Ales Jurina of Dobrá čajovna, Prague, CZ, the tea trip is both an educational endeavour and chance to connect with the farmers and producers while gaining insight into the culture of Taiwan and its tea heritage.

You can follow their journey off their website, www.dobrateame.com.

The tearoom will remain open normal hours, opening at 10 everyday, and cared for by the dedicated staff of Devoteas. It serves over 100 teas and tea drinks, desserts and light fare — all vegetarian, some gluten free, and many vegan options. www.dobrateame.com.

Contact: Ellen Kanner 207-956-0355 or teamaster@dobrateame.com

View all our travel journals and photos on our tumblr site.

Always Environmentally Conscious

We aim to be as environmentally conscious in our day-to-day business dealings as possible.
Several ways we do this:

  • We shop two times per week for groceries from local purveyors. This affords little to no waste and we can adjust as necessary depending on the season and needs of the tearoom.
  • We compost everything we can. Ellen has been a lifetime recycler, so she knows the value of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle -and compost!  Garbage to Garden is our partner in this effort. And we now use compostable napkins and stainless steel bubble tea straws!
  • We keep it local. Our suppliers are local and we aim to keep the trips to the grocery stores and that of our bakers to a minimum. Granted, tea (Camellia sinensis) comes from the other side of the planet, but we aim to buy our herbals, seaweed and mushroom teas as locally as much as possible.
  • We support Bicycle Benefits and other non-profit organizations that support the environment through donations and promotion.
  • We keep our paper use to a minimum. You’ll notice we don’t offer “To Go” menus as we do not want the extra waste. Nor do we offer food to go in containers. But you can bring your own container any time and we’ll gladly put a hummus plate in it.
  • We evaluate tea drinks and products and aim to serve only those that tread lightly on our bodies and the planet.
  • We offer organic food ingredients as much as possible. We strive to buy organic whether it be carrots or soy milk.

All in the name of treading lightly on the planet!

On the Artwall: Faces and Finds in the Tea Lands

The Chai Wallah, Darjeeling, India

On the Artwall through mid March

We visited him early each morning and the occasional afternoon for street chai and Kitchari, the Indian dish of mung dal, potatoes and many spices.

Through our tea journeys, we’ve found great beauty in the tea lands, cultures, and people of these countries: The Chai Wallah you share breakfast with, the tea pluckers who have just negotiated their work day with the estate manager, the family of 3 on the back of a motorbike aiming to get to work and going faster than our car going 60 MPH. Life is lived with fewer safety precautions and people take greater risks to sustain themselves. Their striving to do so often catches us by surprise. These photos are a collage of experiences, the faces and places that make traveling for tea such a unique and rewarding experience.

– Ellen Kanner and Ray Marcotte, Dobra Tea owners

Darjeeling First Flush Tea Estates


2015 Darjeeling First Flush

2017 Darjeeling First Flush (spring pluck) from these two estates:

Mission Hill Tea Estate – SFTGFOP1 SPL (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, grade 1, SPL = Special)

Situated in the lap of lofty Himalaya, Mission Hill Tea Estate is spread over a sprawling 951 acres of land. Mission Hill is surrounded by forest, agile mountain streams and snow-capped mountain peaks. The estate has been producing very high quality teas, rich with the flavors of traditional Darjeeling. The history of the estate dates back to the days of the British Raj in early 1900s. The Survey & Settlement Reports of C. A. Bell, ICS 1901-1903 & H.C.V. Philpot 1919-1921, indicate that the estate was formally granted between 1903 and 1919. “Mission Hill” probably got its name from the early Scottish Missionaries who had a mission in the area.

Mission Hill Tea Estate

Tindharia Tea Estate – FTGFOP1 (Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, grade 1)

The name “Tindharia” means the “place of three mountain ridges” and the estate is located at the confluence of the three mountain streams in the South Kurseong dstrict of Darjeeling. It is a small, boutique bio-organic tea estate which pays detailed attention to all of its tea production. The estate starts at an elevation of 400 meters, and extends up to 1,000 meters.  Thirty-five percent of the plantation is under China bushes, 10% is AV-2 clonal bushes, 25% hybrids, and 30% Assam bushes. Tindharia is certified organic by Control Union for USDA, EU, and JAS. It is also certified FLO Fairtrade.  The estate considers its workers to be its prime asset and maintains harmony and excellent relations with the workers and the community while developing the infrastructure.

 Tindharia Tea Estate

Green Tea – Benefits and Brewing it Hot or Chilled

Green Tea - Chilled

Curious how to properly brew green tea? Wondering why your home-brewed green tea always tastes bitter?

Unfortunately, we’ve been reduced to thinking green tea tastes awful and is always bitter. There’s a better way to brew it — no bags, only whole leaves for the best tasting brew!

Here’s the rundown to get you to better-tasting green tea, and the health benefits associated with it.

When it comes to brewing any tea, it’s all about tea, time and temperature!

Get yourself some good, whole leaf green tea. We sell green teas from Japan, Korea, China and Vietnam. We’ve found that several of these are excellent chilled.

Chilled brew

Try our Che Xanh or Sencha chilled for a refreshing, light alternative. Per 1 quart container, add 4 heaping tablespoons of whole leaf green tea. Use filtered, cold water. Steep for 2 hours in the refrigerator. I’ve steeped longer (overnight!) by accident and it still comes out fine, just stronger in flavor. Strain brew into another container. Add fresh garden mint leaves or a lemon slices if you like.

Hot water brewing

Remember it’s all about the type of tea, temperature, and not over steeping – tea, time and temperature.

Tools: Pot to boil water, 2 mugs and/or a Pyrex pitcher, tablespoon, small strainer

  • Boil water in pot on stove (no microwave!) And it needs to boil before it’s usable.
  • Let it cool in Pyrex pitcher or mug for 5 mins. Green teas vary and are usually between 60 – 85ºC/140ºF-185ºF. We put specific brew temperature and time for each tea on the bags when you buy them.
  • Take 1 tablespoon of tea and put in 6-8 oz. brewing vessel/mug
  • Pour cooled water from Pyrex/mug over tea and steep for 1-2 minutes (shorter for Japanese)
  • Using a strainer, pour tea out of mug into other mug, straining out the leaves. Don’t let the leaves sit in water after brewing/straining, otherwise you’ll have bitter tea.
  • Drink tea
  • Brew a second and third cup by steeping the same leaves, for up to 2 minutes.

Keep the sweeteners away – when you get accustomed to the taste of green tea in its natural, healthy, un-adulterated state, you’ll wonder why you did add sweetener previously! Save the cooled, damp green tea leaves to use on your eyelids to reduce wrinkles.

The following is research and compiled reports on the benefits of green tea. Drink up!

Benefit of drinking green tea: The proof is in — drinking tea is healthy, says Harvard Women’s Health Watch



10 Benefits of Green Tea



How to Boost Green Tea Benefits



11 Benefits of Green Tea That You Didn’t Know About


Masala Chai – At-home Brewing Instructions

>> Purchase our Masala Spice and/or Assam CTC Black Tea

masala(1 ounce of masala spices and 1 ounce of Assam CTC makes approximately 12, 8 ounce cups of chai & a Box of Masala (which contains 1.75 ounces of Assam CTC and 1.75 ounces of Masala spices in separate packets) makes approximately 20 cups).

(This recipe makes about 3, 8 ounce cups – cut recipe in half for one large mug)

  • Put 3 teaspoons of Masala spices in a medium saucepan
  • Add 3 cups of water
  • Bring to a boil
  • Turn down to medium simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then . . .
  • Add 6 teaspoons of sugar (use more or less, adjust to taste)
  • Add 4 teaspoons of Assam CTC, use Rooibos or Tulsi (if you do’t want caffeine)
  • Bring back to a boil for about 30 seconds stirring to dissolve sugar
  • Take saucepan off the heat, and let steep for 5 minutes
  • Add 1 and-a-half cups of milk (cow’s milk or a milk alternative)
  • Bring back to boil and whisk mixture to blend
  • Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into 3 mugs or a medium size pitcher
  • Adjust the amount of masala spices and sugar to your taste on your next attempt. The level of spices and sugar in this recipe are moderate.

Note: If you make chaga chai (as a substitute for Assam CTC, Rooibos, or Tulsi), you should boil the chaga for 30 minutes. In this case, combine the chaga along with the masala spices at a medium simmer for 30 minutes. And since chaga is so strong, use 3 teaspoons with 3 cups of water instead of 4 teaspoons. You might also need to add a bit more water at the end of the 30 minutes as some of the water will have evaporated during the extended boiling time.

Tulsi Holy Basil for Stress Relief



Instead of getting a prescription for your stress, consider trying a natural and sacred plant: holy basil. Also called tulsi, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is a sacred plant in India with strong, clove-like aroma and taste. It demonstrates a lack of toxicity and a variety of benefits, including reducing inflammation, protecting the body and brain from harmful effects of stress, and exerting a positive influence on mood. It is safe to use with pharmaceutical antidepressants. Dr. Weil’s colleague Jim Nicolai, M.D., medical director of the Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, has had great success with holy basil. For his patients with stress-related conditions, holy basil is at the top of his list of plant-based therapies. Use extracts standardized to two percent ursolic acid in 400 mg capsules. Dosage is two capsules, once or twice daily with food.

From Dr. Weil