Traditional British Hospitality

Who, Why, Where We Are ...

Best of British is owned and run by Sally McSweeney and Elizabeth Thompson, both born and raised in England and who moved to the US in 1985 and 1977 respectively. Have a gander at their individual stories below. They met after joining the Golden Jubilee chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire about 15 years ago and bandied about the idea of opening a British tea shop, which never got more beyond the "Wouldn't it be a hoot?" stage.

In April 2015, Sally's mum Thomasina passed on at the grand age of 97. On her many visits to the US, she and Sally loved to visit tea rooms on the numerous roadtrips that they took,  in memory of times spent enjoying cream teas on childhood holidays in England, especially in Cornwall.

In January of 2017, Sally (who had a booth at the TGSW Antiques & Collectibles Mall), attended a vendor meeting in the space that is now home to Best of British. It was available for rent. The following telephone conversation quickly ensued: "Hello Elizabeth, this is Sally. I'm thinking of opening a British store and teashop. Are you interested?" Elizabeth: "Why not?!" Three months later we opened the doors, made possible by the generosity of Thomasina's inheritance.

To come through those doors, find us on Western Avenue (cross street is Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy) in the Bi Mart parking lot. We are in between the  TGSW Antiques and Collectibles Mall and the Oregon Sports Offices at the far end. Just look for the British flag on the left hand side of the building.

We strive to offer the very Best of British hospitality. We hope that - just for a while - you put aside the stresses of life and come and relax at your lesiure in our quiet, cosy parlour. While our menu is most assuredly based on British recipes, we change it up with the seasons and we love to offer theme based Empire Tea events for special days such as Mother's Day, Easter and so on. We have three fabulous bakers that we work with, who often create delicious bespoke items - such as London Fog Tartlets and Buckingham Biscuits - that will both tempt your tastebuds and your desire to return. We look forward to serving you! Contact us at 503-367-4838.

Sally & Mum

Me and Tea: Sally McSweeney

I have been in the tea business all of my life: the business of drinking tea, that is. Born in England where tea is the answer to everything from the common cold to a world war, it is in my DNA.  When I came to the US in 1985 I sadly missed the “good” strong tea with which I had been raised and found myself having to send back for supplies. As a certified master herbalist I spent 10 years owning and running a herb store and watched with interest as my customers responded favorably to the loose tea samples I also had available. Most had never tasted anything like it having been used to the ubiquitous tea bag. As their interest grew so did my stock and I began to do tea tastings in the store. Over the next decade, I saw the selection of teas in supermarkets spread from a couple of brands next to the coffee to an entire aisle. As the consumption of and interest in tea grew, I took my tea tastings “on the road” to homes, businesses, and shows and became more encouraged by the increasing number of people turning towards tea. I also ran a successful online tea business: after all, tea is second in the world only to water as a beverage.  Last year (2017) tea was a $39 billion industry; that figure is projected to rise to $43 billion by 2020. In the works is a book about tea and I have sent proposals to DK (Penguin Random House) and John Wiley. 

Tea has many uses, such as to bring on sleep, restore good health, calm in times of stress, and simply add to the enjoyment of a solitary afternoon by the fire or a good old chinwag with friends. It can be taken hot or iced, plain or with lemon, milk or sugar, and drunk from a hefty mug or a dainty cup inherited from your mum. The words “afternoon tea” conjure up pictures of elegant ladies sipping Earl Grey on the lawn at a garden party, and eating wafer thin cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, or of old fashioned tea shoppes offering sweet scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.  My own favorite memories include visits to my Gran, where she’d “set a brew going” in her old Brown Betty teapot, and then we’d munch on crumpets toasted on long forks over the coal fire. Of course, the best part of the whole event was the draining of the dregs onto the saucer and the exciting reading of the leaves.

When planning Best of British I knew that we had to have a tea emporium with a good selection of teas. We now carry over 100 different types in our “Tea-compression room,” a quiet, softly lit room with a comfy chair and an Asian theme. After all, tea began in China. There are “sniffing jars” so that you can see and smell any tea you may be interested in and tea tasting workshops will be offered so you can have a hands on experience of trying several types of tea. More importantly we are always on hand to answer any questions you may have and look forward to sharing the fascinating world of tea with you.

Sally is a member of The International Tea Masters Association and the International Association of Profesional Tea Room Owners.

Me and Tea: Elizabeth Thompson

Have you heard the saying, “Good British blood”? Well it is a little known fact that it is our insatiable love of tea gives us that title as it runs in the veins.

I was born in London to a British Army family, so my destiny for travelling was already set. We moved all over the map approximately every three years: within Britain; Lincoln, Barnard Castle, Richmond Yorkshire, and farther afield, Germany, Singapore, & what was known as Malaya. I always loved the nomadic lifestyle and thoroughly enjoyed the fact that my parents fully encouraged if not insisted that we learn the cultures and hospitality of all the places we visited.

I decided along the way I wanted to make classical ballet my career and attended a theatrical boarding school, (my choice so don’t get upset with Mum & Dad) just outside London. That school closed the year I graduated: no it was nothing I did I promise, but I went on to another highly esteemed college in Chester where I broadened my horizon and graduated with teaching certificates not only in ballet, but Jazz, National, Pedagogy and other forms of dance. My first job took me on the road (or plane) again, when I signed a contract with The Bluebell Girls who were based in Paris, and I went to Hong Kong, Spain and eventually The Lido de Paris in Vegas in 1977 and Reno in 1978.

I adopted the culture of wherever my dancing shoes took me, being fascinated with the dining and tea experiences and how they played such a wonderful part in the traditions of their respective countries: it seemed to be the glue that often held a nation together in hard times and a delightful celebration in the best of times. For an event such as the daily ritual of afternoon tea to bring so many friends and families together, well you know it just has to be wonderful.

For the last twelve years or so I have had a secret wish to open a British shop, because I do really still miss a lot of England and her funny old ways and customs, not to mention things like Marmite! Yes I am the one in Best of British who loves, loves, loves it. Then last year I received a call from Sally who told me she thought the timing was right and so we started to plan, our devious plan to spread the joy and delights of the pleasure of a good afternoon tea and the customs and tales from the UK.

Please join us, have a cuppa and a good natter.