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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. And escape. Ahhhhhh....
We are pretty serious about tea around here. And, that is why when I first tasted Steven Smith's exceptional teas almost 10 years ago, I heard their story and learned about their small-batch blending process with top quality, sustainability oriented ingredients from around the world, and 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
Steven Smith Teamaker — The Finest Name in Tea Since 1949.
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.
He was often described as "Merlin meets Marco Polo" because of his insatiable desire to find the best teas and blend them in new, magical ways. Sadly, Steven Smith passed away in 2015, but his legacy is deeply steeped in the culture and craft of Smith Teamakers. Such is ensured by Steven's wife and co-founder, Kim, as well as many loyal co-workers — handpicked by Steven and Kim - who are committed to a vision of excellence.
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 Teamakers 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 verve and imagination. The proof is in each cup.
ROSE CITY GENMAICHA
Smith Tea's Rose City Genmaicha is a delicious Oregon twist on Japanese Genmaicha. It combines the light, nutty flavor of roasted rice with a grassy green tea character and rose petal finish — all softened by a kiss of sweet manuka honey.
Toast, umami, bergamot
Japanese sencha, genmai (roasted rice), Mao Feng green tea from China, red and pink rose petals, natural flavors, bergamot oil. See more detailed information below.
The year Peninsula Park, one of Portland's most beautiful Rose gardens, was built.
For best flavor, bring spring or freshly drawn filtered water to 185 degrees. Steep 1 sachet or 1 rounded tsp (2.4 g) loose leaf for three minutes. Plan your next trip to the Japanese Garden.
The tea is packaged in an oversized sachet whose shape is not unusual, but the artistry inside is unique. The sachets, which are created from plant-based material, encourage greater full-leaf expansion for better flavor. And, because each one is 100% compostable, after steeping, you can sashay the sachet straight to the compost heap!
Additionally, Smith Teamaker sachets are sealed with sound wave technology, meaning there is no glue or staples present anywhere in the process. Smith Teamaker has tested its sachet material through a 3rd party to ensure its safety, and most importantly, they can assure you that their sachets are not comprised of PET plastic or nylon.
JAPANESE GREEN TEA
Slender needle-like leaves produce a deeply vegetal taste and aroma, ripe with notes of toasted rice and nori. The leaves are steamed to perfection to stop oxidation of the leaf, as well as to lock in their deep jade color and rich flavor.
Shizuoka Prefecture is located in the Chubu region, on the island of Honshu in Japan. While unable to claim full ownership of Mt. Fuji (its a joint-custody situation with Yamanashi Prefecture), Shizuoka can tout being the biggest tea-producing region in Japan, which says something. Harvest time for Sencha happens from April through June.
Japanese Toasted Rice
Genmai, or brown rice, used with tea goes through a rigorous process by which it's rinsed, soaked, steamed and dried before undergoing a three-step roasting process that gives the final product its characteristic toasted flavor.
Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures
Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures are located in the central part of Kyushu island, boasting subtropic climates ideal for growing rice. Smith Tea's genmai is harvested in the fall, generally in October/November.
Chinese Green Tea
Grown in the mountains of central Zhejiang Province, China, at altitudes above 3000 feet, Mao Feng is harvested in the spring and quickly hot-air fired. This neutralizes the oxidizing enzyme and seals in the fresh flavors and aromas. The long, slender jade leaves of Mao Feng brew to a color of pale green and impart a pleasing vegetative fragrance with buttery notes and lingering sweetness.
Wuyi County is located in central Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, and it should not be confused for the famous Wuyishan tea-growing region in Fujian Province. It is an area famous for agriculture and tourism, most notably Jinhua ham and hot springs, respectively. Smith Tea's Mao Feng is harvested from mid March to May.
PINK ROSE PETALS
Pink rose petals are a favorite ingredient in Smith Tea's (and our) pantry. They provide sweetness and spice along with distinct floral qualities and are used to create complexity in a variety of Smith Tea's Signature Blends. The pink rose petals come from several regions in India and are harvested in March.
RED ROSE PETALS
Less utilized in Smith Tea blends than their pink counterparts, dried red rose petals from Pakistan are more pungent and perfumed. The red rose petals are harvested in early Spring, usually in March.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit the color of a lime and the size of a large orange. Picked when ripe, the thick peel is removed and pressed like an olive to extract its essential oils. It has a distinctive flavor and aroma with notes of lavender, lemon and spice.
Harvested in early winter, Smith Tea's bergamot comes from the Ionian Coast of the Reggio Calabria Province in Italy. The terroir gives the bergamot fruit grown here more nuance and a variety of aromatics.
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."