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What is it about really, really good tea? You hold the cup in your hands, take a sip, and the whole world seems to collapse down to the very moment at hand. You relax, the noise and distractions of Every Day Life fade and the present becomes clear. Some call it mindfulness. Ahhhhhh....
And that is why when I first tasted Steven Smith's exceptional teas, heard their story and learned about their small-batch blending process with top quality, sustainability oriented ingredients from around the world, I knew we had to bring them to you!
"In no generation in the past 5,000 years have we had more than a few people like Steven Smith. He makes astonishingly good blends".
— James Norwood Pratt, author of the definitive Tea Dictionary
The Most Uncommon Name in Tea.
The lexicon of tea is full of exotic terms. Oolong. Pu-erb. Matcha. Mao Feng. To these, we humbly add Smith.
In a former blacksmith shop on tree-lined Northwest Thurman Street in Portland, Oregon, you could find Steven Smith — one of the world's most respected tea makers —and his fellow Tea Makers blending and crafting wonderfully small batches of teas that offer a drinking experience like nothing else in the world.
Offered described as "Merlin meets Marco Polo" because of his insatiable desire to find the best teas and blend them in new, magical ways, Steven Smith passed away in 2015, and his legacy is deeply steeped in the culture and craft of Smith Teamakers.
Steven Smith Teamaker imports teas and herbs directly from sources around the world, as well as through traders they have worked with for more than 30 years.
Smith Tea Makers work to deliver the freshest tasting tea, and they blend in small batches to ensure that the leaves and flowers packed are not crushed.
Each is created from ingredients picked at their peak and artfully combined with rave verve and imagination. The proof is in each cup.
The tea is packaged in an oversized, sachet whose shape is not unusual, but the artistry inside is unique. This biodegradable sachet encourages greater full leaf expansion for better flavor. And after steeping, you can sashay the sachet straight to the compost heap.
Steven Smith Teamaker's Lord Bergamot Full Leaf Black Tea - Blend No. 55
A flavor superior to the typical Earl Grey. Fragrant Ceylon Dimbulla and Uva are artfully combined with select teas from India’s Assam valley, then scented with the flavor of bergamot fruit from the realm of Reggio Calabria, Italy.
Ingredients: Ceylon Dimbulla, Uva and Indian Assam full leaf teas and natural bergamot flavor
Quantity: Each carton contains 15 oversized sachets
Preparation Instructions: For best flavor, bring freshly drawn filtered water to a roiling boil. Steep five minutes. If possible, play a little opera softly in the background.
Container: Tip Top, gift-quality box, 15 oversize, biodegradable sachets
Smith Teamaker Numerology: Why Lord Bergamot Blend No. 55?: In 1855, Lord Bergamot decreed this to be the number of bergamot fruits used to make a thimble full of bergamot essence.
Community Investment: Steven Smith Teamaker has partnered with Portland non-profit Mercy Corps to contribute funds to an educational program called SERP (School Education Retention Program).
Based on tea gardens in Assam, India, SERP provides free academic coaching via community-sourced teachers to over 400 disadvantaged secondary school students. This additional attention provides the students with the tools they need to pass exams and continue to college, for which scholarships are available.
Smith Tea on Sustainability:
"Being on the ground in the countries of origin where we purchase tea allows us to review the production process from the plucking of the leaves and flowers and the harvest of the barks and roots that are used in producing our blends, as well as seeing how the workers are treated. Some of the teas we source are organic, but are purchased without a certificate
All sources that we purchase from operate their farms and their collection of botanicals in a sustainable manner, recognizing that nurturing the soil and the plant is the only way to create a sustainable crop.
Many of our long time suppliers also sell products into the European Union, which has much more standards for organic certification than does the United States. Our black and green teas are all EU compliant.
Our sachet material is biodegradable and made from plant-based material."