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Tea Bar

Brews from Abroad

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It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s always an adventure. We just roll with it and learn.

__Erica Indira Swanson

It would be difficult to overestimate the potential impact travel can wield in altering the course of a life. Whether it’s backpacking through Europe post-college, or vacationing on a remote island on the other side of the world, willfully disorienting your sense of time, place, and routine will undoubtedly yield a transformation of sorts. Exploration itself assumes a posture in which ties to a former life diminish, making way for whatever happens next – a swinging from one rope to the next in the wild unknown. Even the more tame, well-planned excursions cannot account for the tide of foreign surroundings. Their very normalcy baffles the voyager, a normalcy entirely not his own: a mildly askew custom here, an odd delicacy there, mystifying their surroundings. It is in stepping beyond this dreamlike confusion that the traveler is emboldened to embrace the adventures these peculiarities elicit.

Now let’s pretend that the traveler in question is only six years old. Because that’s when globetrotter Erica Indira started packing, and arguably never fully returned. Her teen summers spent abroad, Erica returned to her hometown of Portland, OR each year with memory-shaping souvenirs, the multitude of which she’s now formed into her very own business. Despite its global influence, Tea Bar offers its clientele an atmosphere of home, where connection and quality are paramount, both in the beverages it serves and the relationships it encourages.

To understand the impetus behind this particular tea shop, you must first understand Erica herself, as well as duly credit her travel companion: her father. “It’s just been me and my dad since I was three. Every summer I would get out of school and we would pack our bags and go, typically to a third world country, up until the day school started.” Whether it was living in Ecuador, biking from Paris to Toulouse, France with nothing but paneer packs, hiking Torres del Paine, or a near-death cruise through the Galapagos, the two were never far from the next unexpected twist of fate. To prepare Erica for the endless possibilities they might encounter, her father insisted she always be ready with the ultimate travel guide: communication. “My dad has been very avid about me learning languages, so when I was five he started me learning Spanish. I was in Spanish immersion. After that he had me learn French, and then after that he was like, ‘You gotta learn Mandarin. You’re movin’ to China.’”

Read the entire article in our Print Magazine

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