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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Fine Teas From Steven Smith Teamaker

Steven Smith Chamomile Tea
[1] A calming herbal blend (all photos courtesy Steven Smith Teamaker).

Steven Smith Teas
[2] The selections of black, green, herbal and white teas will please everyone.

Steven Smith Lord Bergamot Tea
[3] Lord Bergamot, the company’s version of Earl Grey, blended to provide substantial bergamot flavor for which Earl Grey is known.


For a Mother’s Day gift of fine tea, look no further than Steven Smith Teamaker of Portland, Oregon.

Smith was* tea royalty in the U.S., first as co-founder of Stash, then as founder of Tazo, then as co-founder, with wife Kim, of Steven Smith Teamaker.

Steve not only had the expertise; he had the commitment to seeking out the best, and the palate to know the best. When he started his eponymous label, his curated teas were noticeably superior to other “superior” tea brands. There’s no brand we like better.

The company’s staff travels the globe to to personally select the finest small-batch teas and botanicals. They buy from longtime colleagues in the world’s best tea-growing regions in Africa, India, China and Sri Lanka.

There are boxes of sachets (tea bags) and tins of loose tea in every style. A sampling of some of our personal favorites:

  • Assam is big and malty black tea, blended by Smith with a bit of smoky Keemun.
  • Lord Bergamot is an “upgrade” of Earl Grey tea that combines Ceylon and Assam teas with the bergamot oil from Reggio Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot.
  • Meadow blends chamomile flowers with hyssop, linden flowers, rooibos and rose petals—a memorable herbal infusion.
  • Rose City† Genmaicha, our favorite green tea, grassy with the light, nutty flavor of roasted rice. Here, the unique touch is a bit of rose petal and manuka honey.
    The teas are so flavorful and nuanced that we drink them straight, without milk or sweetener.

    But you don’t have to make a decision here: There are black, green, herbal, oolong, pu-erh and white teas galore on the Smith Tea website, including special blends for iced tea.
    There are wonderful gift sets. Custom-label tins are available for wedding parties, in blends that can be mixed to the couple’s preferences. Steven Smith is an artisan tea blender, to be sure!
    Steven Smith Teamaker teas are all natural, gluten free, GMO free. The bags are compostable.

    Each container has a batch number that you can enter to see the provenance of the ingredients, the date it was packed, and personal notes from the tea blender.

    There’s a specialty blend to take note of, called Nancy And Beth, created by singer-actresses Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt. The name is the title of their latest album.

    An herbal tea, this floral blend begins with rose petals, which are blended with chamomile, cyani (cornflowers), ginger, licorice and osmanthus flowers. Five dollars from every sale will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Find it here.

    If you’re in the Portland area, stop by the tasting room for a cup or two.

    Check out our Tea Glossary.

    *Mr. Smith passed away in 2015.

    †Portland is called the Rose City for its proliferation of rose bushes. The climate is ideal for growing roses outdoors: warm, dry summers, rainy and mild winters, plus heavy clay soils.


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