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Teahouse helps visitors travel world for free

If you're dreaming of a vacation in a far-off locale but can't afford a plane ticket, look no further. The Tao of Tea, an international teahouse at 3430 S.E. Belmont St., offers a taste of the exotic in the heart of Portland. Amid heady aromas of spicy chai and sweet jasmine tea, customers order from 100 varieties of pure leaf teas on the menu. 'It's the lifestyle associated with tea that I wanted to embrace,' founder Veerinder Chawla says. 'The intent of the teahouse is to invoke all of your senses.' While customers are slowing down and enjoying the moment, they also are supporting the environment. The Tao of Tea Ñ one of three such outlets Ñ ensures that all teas on the menu are organic, fair-trade certified and come from estates using sustainable practices. The company's goal, Chawla says, is 'to expose people to the best-quality pure leaf teas in the world.'

Ñ Jodi Helmer