Fans of Heartsong Chai can toast its return at the new Uber Herbal market and teahouse in Grants Pass.

Fans of Heartsong Chai can toast its return at the new Uber Herbal market and teahouse in Grants Pass.

Five years after Elizabeth Bretko closed Ashland's Chai Hut, she has settled her signature beverage in a new home and backed it with a big-city food trend. West Coast "toast bars" bill the ubiquitous breakfast item as an artisan food unto itself.

A self-professed foodie, Bretko poked some fun at the fad. Then she needed a simple snack to complement her teas, herbal infusions and fermented sippers.

Tea and toast are close companions, of course. And toast conveys local goat cheese, honey, organic produce and Bretko's own small-batch, seasonal preserves to customers, who can purchase more at Uber Herbal, 103 S.W. Fourth St., Grants Pass.

Uber Herbal recently slathered a "mustard-ish" spread on Daash Bakery cheddar-ale bread with microgreens for $4.25. For an extra $2, I added a hard-boiled duck egg — laid on Bretko's 16-acre Grants Pass farm.

Bretko's mustard certainly packed a sinus-searing kick, maybe overshadowing the bread's more delicate flavors. The microgreens cleansed the palate between bites, while the duck egg added some welcome richness to the dish. The day's other toast special consisted of pecan-cilantro pesto with avocado and microgreens on cheddar-ale or multigrain bread for $4.75.

Toasts offered on Uber Herbal's regular menu span the spectrum of sweet and savory and are priced from $2.75 for plain with butter or coconut oil to $4.25 for pesto, hummus and microgreens. Single toppings, from nut butter to goat cheese, cost 25 cents to $1. Bretko's Spice of Life seasoning blends can be sprinkled for sampling on any toast. Triple-decker toast costs an extra $1.

More extensive is the list of Uber Herbal brews, which Bretko touts for their healthful properties. A variety of herbs and aromatics go into her non-tea drinks, served hot or cold for $2 per shot. The Phoenix Rising is a "flight," or sampling, for $7. Pints, quarts and half-gallons of each cost $4, $8 and $16, respectively. Five caffeine-free, loose-leaf blends are available for $2.50 for 12 ounces, $3 for 16 ounces.

The drink that started it all, Heartsong Chai, is hand-blended from organic masala spices, ground by bicycle power, no less, and brewed in small batches. Steeped with either black tea or caffeine-free rooibos and then mixed with organic milk or fresh, house-made hemp-seed milk, 12 ounces costs $4; a 16-ounce glass costs $4.50.

There was no chance of passing up chai, particularly after bringing my own plastic Heartsong cup, a souvenir of Chai Hut's short run near Ashland's Shop'n Kart. I smiled to see the cups still in use at Uber Herbal, along with canning jars that Bretko lets customers carry out on an honor system for their return.

The cold, milky, spicy chai filled my late-afternoon craving for both a caffeine boost and not-too-sweet treat. It paired nicely with house-made, gluten-free coconut macaroons (two for $3.50).

Next time, I think I'll take my coconut in the chai. For $6, Bretko cracks open a coconut, blends the flesh with chai and dates, and serves it in the coconut shell.

Uber Herbal is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

— Sarah Lemon