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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business before turning to journalism more than a decade ago. By day, she is an online content producer for mainetoday.com and the Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: January 11, 2014

For National Hot Tea Month, where to find a properly brewed cup in Maine

Written by: Susan Axelrod - staff writer - saxelrod@mainetoday.com

Shutterstock photo

January is National Hot Tea Month; appropriately so, since there may be no better time to wrap your cold hands around a hot cuppa’ than in the dead of winter.

Avid tea drinkers are acutely aware, however, that coffee gets most of the hot-drink attention these days. Recently, a reader emailed Portland Press Herald food writer Meredith Goad, lamenting the difficulty of getting “a decent cup of tea” in Maine restaurants. “Weak tea brewed in lukewarm water is not a fitting end to a fine dinner,” wrote June Mclean. “Some restaurants in Portland don’t even have tea. Herbal teas do not cut the mustard.”  Read the story: “Readers weigh in on what they want from Maine restaurants.”

June is right: for a true tea aficionado, there’s nothing worse than being served a bargain-brand tea bag immersed in a cup of barely hot water — the tea equivalent of gas station coffee. It doesn’t cost much, or take much effort, to serve loose tea — or at least a high-quality bagged tea — preferably in an individual pot.

Thankfully, there are places — in Portland and elsewhere in Maine — where you can find properly brewed tea. Herewith, a tea guide:

Dobra Tea in Portland Press Herald file photo

Dobra Tea

151 Middle St., Portland
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10 am-9 pm; last call is 1/2 hour before closing.
Poetry readings and acoustic music often accompany the tea service at this “bohemian-style tearoom,” a concept that originated in the Czech Republic. The menu includes middle eastern and Asian-influenced vegetarian savory dishes, sweets and snacks. Free parking in the back lot on weekends and weekdays after 5 pm.

Read about it: At ease at Portland house of teas

Soakology

30 City Center, Portland
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 11 am-7 pm; Thurs.-Sat. 11 am-9 pm; Sunday 11 am-5 pm
This “foot sanctuary and teahouse” serves tea at a few tables on the main floor; spa treatments for the feet are offered in a tranquil space downstairs. Them men includes a variety of loose teas and specialty drinks made with tea and chocolate, small plates and desserts.

Homegrown Herb & Tea

195 Congress St., Portland
Hours: Tues.-Fri. noon-6 pm; Sat. noon-5 pm
Owner Sarah Richards is a practitioner of Ayurveda, which uses herbs and nutrition to balance the body. Her apothecary-like shop is a healing-focused sanctuary, where you can sit at the bar and sip a custom blend. Salads, sweets and sandwiches are offered, too.

Nellie’s Tea and Gifts

45 Industry Rd., Suite 1A, South Portland
Hours: Wed.-Fri. 10 am-5 pm; Sat. 10 am-3 pm
Owner Marianne Russo is a certified tea specialist. Nellie’s is first and foremost a shop, but also serves pots of tea. Seating is limited.

Jacqueline’s Tea Room

201 Main St., Freeport
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11 am-3 pm
Jacqueline’s is a true tea room, with just two options on the menu. Cream Tea: pot of tea, scones, clotted cream, lemon curd and jam is served on a walk-in basis 10:30 am-2:30 pm
Afternoon Tea: a four-course meal that includes scones, finger sandwiches, desserts, soup/ sorbet, and unlimited tea is served by reservation only 10:30 am-1 pm

Garden Gate Luncheon and Tea Room

274 Goding Rd., Acton
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 11:30 am-3 pm
Offers a traditional tea with scones, tea sandwiches and desserts served by reservation only. The small lunch menu includes chicken pie, salad and a daily sandwich.

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