Drinking tea outdoors, in the wilds of Portland, Oregon

The topic of this month’s Association of Tea Bloggers sponsored Blog Carnival was to describe a memorable outdoor tea drinking experience. I like tea. I also like flora, fauna and the outdoors parts of the world. But I don’t often appreciate or experience them concurrently. So in order to fulfill my agreement to contribute to the carnival I figured I’d just have to design and execute a “drink tea outdoors” plan. This sounded like a good idea anyway, particularly in this winding down period of summer.

As it so often does, time slipped past way too quickly and I still hadn’t actually had or documented my suitable “outdoor tea drinking experience,” before I began rapidly running out of time before the publication deadline. This was around the time that I was going to be spending some time visiting family in Portland. So, naturally my thoughts led to speculation about the mobility of the exquisite Gongfu Cha tea experience and the idea that I’d bring a nice setup of tea, tea tools and accoutrements with me. Once there I’d prepare and experience the tea outside.

In this vision of the perfect idyllic outdoor session of Gongfu Cha there would be no need for electricity and the tea would be carefully prepared, served and drunk, surrounded by the lushness of green plants with garden ornaments serving as visual accompaniment. The original plan was somewhat elaborate. It involved placing the following into a box to bring along on the road trip south: Chouzhou stove, several pieces of charcoal (in plastic bags so as not to smudge their blackness onto anything inappropriate), Butane fuel canister and hob (for lighting the charcoal), perforated and enameled steel sheet (to place the charcoal on so that it didn’t slip down into the flame of the Butane burner), Chouzhou kettle, canister of Dan Cong Oolong, Chouzhou teapot in its silk pouch and box, complete set of rosewood tea tools, metal strainer with stand, set of porcelain cups with matching fair cup.

When it came down to the actual packing, I decided that bringing the many pieces of stuff involved in heating the water with charcoal was too much trouble, and potentially even a bit silly, so I substituted those items with an electric Kamjove induction kettle with its corded base. This was a conceptual compromise since I would then need an electrical outlet in the garden, but I figured I could go this route with minimal shame.

When I was actually in Portland, with few outside concerns, no need for formality and confronted with the sunny pleasantry of a beautiful garden with abundant foliage and flowers, I jettisoned the whole plan of a carefully measured and exactly executed outdoor Gongfu Ceremony on a whim.

That afternoon I had brewed some Rou Gui Oolong in a large glass teapot that belongs to the owner of the house, and immediately after the impulse hit me, I carried the teapot, along with a plain white ceramic cup, outside to drink pleasantly and entirely contentedly in the garden.

So in the space of fewer than a couple of days, the mechanics of the staged experience were pared down drastically to the basic act of spontaneously walking outside with some tea. There was no plan, no premeditation, just a simple change from in to out. It was quite gloriously simple and perfect, and better suited to the vibrancy of the irrepressible green surroundings.

Links to the rest of this month’s Tea Blog Carnival entries are available on the host blog, Black Dragon Tea Bar.


  1. These are very nice pictures! They make me want to have some tea outdoors.
    I love Portland!

  2. I loved following along with this outdoor tea journey of yours as it evolved towards an organic, spontaneous, peaceful, and natural ending. Thank you, this post touched my heart.

  3. Lovely and in Oregon of all places.

  4. Very sensuous post Cinnabar.

    I believe the two most enjoyable environments for enjoying tea are :

    1) A tranquil tea shop in a quiet part of town

    2) The outdoors 🙂