Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Steven Smith Teamaker
Delicate, tender green tea leaves from China’s Fujian Province are harvested each May and steam-fired to maintain their flavor – then placed amid just- picked jasmine buds, which open slowly to share their fragrance. Many call it the perfect marriage.
Learn more about this tea here.
I live in the Pacific Northwest, and there are many things to love about living here. I love the change of seasons (coming from Southern California, where it would seem that there is one season), I love all the trees and I even love the grey skies. And recently, while driving home with my husband after lunch in Portland, I realized something else that I love about living up here… the TEA.
Over the past few years (the last decade?) the consumption of tea has increased, but let’s face it, as a nation overall, the United States seems to be a coffee nation. Even I used to drink coffee until I came to the realization that it was the cause of my daily feelings of nausea around 11 am. Once I stopped drinking coffee, those ill effects also ceased. Since then, I’ve embraced tea and I love it. Even more than I ever liked coffee.
Anyway, the Pacific Northwest seems to be home of the coffee explosion (aka Starbucks), but we are also home to some pretty fantastic tea too. In fact, Portland is home to none other than Steven Smith, who is (at least, in my opinion) a ROCK STAR of tea!
And it definitely ROCKS that I can travel just 15 minutes or so and be in the presence of greatness at Steven Smith’s teashop. And even if you don’t live close by, most of Steven Smith’s delicious teas can be procured online.
As a jasmine fan, this was a tea I was most eager to try, and it certainly did not disappoint me. It lived up to the quality that I’ve come to expect from Steven Smith. The flavor is light and fresh – evoking thoughts of springtime (not that I’m eager for the change in season, but, the thoughts of the season are beautiful).
The green tea is sweet and light. There are vegetative tones to it which add a crispness to the flavor, but even with these slight vegetative tastes, I wouldn’t call this a grassy tasting tea. Just lightly vegetal, which is matched perfectly with the flavor of the jasmine, which is a soft, flowery taste without tasting overdone, perfume-ish or artificial. These two flavors are well balanced, and play off each other well.
Thank you, Steven Smith, for helping to bring the joy of tea to the Pacific Northwest.
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Steven Smith Teamaker; 1626 NW Thurman Street; Portland, Oregon (This ready to drink tea is not available from their website)
Black Tea steeped in water that has been infused with blackberries – a process we call “fruitsmithing.”
Ingredients: filtered water infused with hand-picked blackberries, black teas from Ceylon & India, Raw Cane Sugar, Blackberry Juice, Natural Flavors & Lemon Juice.
This is so good!
I was able to talk my husband into taking me to Steven Smith’s tea shop in Portland, OR (not an easy feat since he thinks I have way too much tea as it is and I needn’t go shopping for more). But he was in a good mood (the Steelers had just won a game) so I was able to get him to promise to take me to the shop!
I am glad that I visited. I had ordered from Steven Smith’s website before, but I hadn’t been to their shop. It is a beautiful shop; very elegant and understated. Amy assisted me, and she offered me tastings of each of the three Ready-to-Drink (RTD) teas that they prepare. Based upon that tasting, I chose to purchase this tea.
Amy described the process of making these teas: First, the filtered water is infused with the fruit, and then, they use that infused fruit water to steep the tea. The sweetening is very light here, the fruit provides most of the sweetening to it. No preservatives and nothing artificial. It’s really delicious, and the best – THE BEST – ready to drink tea I’ve ever tasted.
The black tea edges out the blackberry taste only slightly, both are pretty close to the same strength when it comes to taste.
It is a very light tasting RTD tea and I think that is what takes me by surprise the most. It has such a clean, pure flavor to it. It doesn’t taste overly sweet. It doesn’t taste like a soda without the fizz. It tastes like something I would brew myself. I like that!