Local History: Our Town – Our Story: A Ritzy Tea Time

by Byron Delaney20 history_137

Sporting about town in a brand new 1920 Velie Six Touring Roadster purchased at the Loslis & Schlottmann Highway Garage in Beaverton, a dame and her fella might motor right over to the Cady Building and grab some fine tea at Bishop Brothers grocers. Tea was the “bee’s knees” then, and Bishop Brothers offered a superb selection. Japan green, English breakfast, and a domestic brand called “Tree Tea” were everyday offerings. They also stocked tea sets and Japanese tea cloths.

Various noteworthy events involving tea were held at Beaverton high school during 1921. With enrollment reaching one hundred that year, it may seem surprising that the high school had a tea room–certainly if one considers that the cafeteria was founded that same year. During January, the county nurse met with thirty Beaverton ladies for a two o’clock tea given at the high school tea room.

The high school also hosted “silver teas”. Silver teas are meaningful community gatherings that are held to raise funds for worthy causes. One silver tea was held during February of 1921 to benefit the Parent Teachers Association. The County Health Association organized another that was held during November at the high school.

During December of 1921, the high school put on a successful carnival where four students oversaw a Japanese tea garden. The students served tea and wafers. Japanese lanterns combined with decorations that represented cherry blossoms imbued the tea garden with Far East authenticity.

The possibility that tea did not reign with royal paramountcy over coffee in Beaverton must, however, be considered. Coffee was certainly not shunned at various tea-drinking events, such as silver teas. Nonetheless, Bishop Brothers did advertise only three types of coffee, while at the same time advertising five kinds of tea.

Those of us who enjoy tea are likely aware that tea is traditionally accompanied by delectable foods, such as scones and cream, dainty cakes, and handmade chocolates. Freshly baked bread with butter and jam can also be scrumptious. This is perhaps why Bishop Brothers also carried Australian jam and San Francisco chocolate. And the town bakery was always nearby!

It should be pointed out that Bishop Brothers closed its Beaverton store in 1921 to focus on its Portland and Gresham locations. This seemed to open up more business to the McGee store that was located at the Hedge Building in Beaverton. During 1922, McGee advertised that they had begun to carry Tree Tea, and described it as a “favorite brand”, as well as an exceptional value at 75 cents per pound. They advertised art glass alongside Tree Tea. When Bishop Brothers was still in business and busy selling fine tea–also by the pound–McGee advertised wool socks, stoves, and a variety of hunting ammunition.

Given that one pound of tea is a perfectly sufficient quantity for the preparation of two hundred cups of tea, and that the population of the City of Beaverton in 1921 was 580, there must have been more than a few residents who enjoyed a good cuppa.

Interested in more local history? Visit the Beaverton History Society or go to: www.historicbeaverton.org