At long last, we bring you Alex; our kind- hearted, tech savvy, tea guru. Always ready to tackle the next problem with a genuine smile and can- do attitude. Aficionado of all things Japanese and a pleasure to work with.
Q: What was your happiest time drinking tea?
A: Drinking Maté as a child in the back of my dad’s auto body shop. Something about the frosty garage, the hot Maté, the smell of old cars, and the taste of the metal bombillá always stands out in my mind.
Q: Which famous figures in history would you most like to have tea with?
A: Sun Tsu. I bet he would have access to great tea and great advice. (more…)
Aside from a few choice Teamakers, not many people would fly half way across the world after a sip of tea. Bruce Schoenfeld did not get the memo, as he takes us from a tea shop in Arizona to the rocky cliffs of Wuyi mountain all in search of a delicious cup of da hong piao. The article is a great read, particularly while sipping Fez here at the Teaworks (which Bruce recommends as one of the best places to drink tea in America).
This past July, Alex from Steven Smith Teamaker, and Gena Renaud from Yume Confections hosted a summer tea event. Pairing traditional Japanese sweets with complementing Smith teas.
Gena, who’s background is in design, became a wagashi chef when she noticed there were no local Japanese dessert providers. Gena mentioned “I thought, Portland is ready for the taste of traditional tea house treats”, and she was right. From exotic Kanten to the richness of sweetened adzuki, Gena’s desserts have been well received all across Oregon.
Alex and Gena came up with a menu of five different teas and desserts. The first course was Sencha served with a roasted soybean mochi. Next came Fez, our green tea with spearmint and lemon myrtle, paired with Sea Glass candies. Our Big Hibiscus was served with a steamed manju, each one branded with decorative irons. Mao Feng Shui, a steamed Chinese green tea, came with the amazing Summer Stream dessert as the fourth pair. The Summer Stream resembles a slice of a river, complete with tiny edible river stones. For the last course, Lord Bergamot was served with beautifully ornate baked manju.
We were thrilled with the success of the event. While this was our first official pairing event, it is certain not to be our last. If you want to be in the know for our next event, sign up for our Teamail.
This year, The Willamette Weekly featured us in their annual Devour Guide. We were honored to be among other fine Portland eateries as “The ultimate tea experience”. While we prefer to be sipped rather than devoured, we are flattered nonetheless. Pick up your copy this week, and perhaps peruse it over at the Teaworks. If you miss it at the news stands, you can check it out at www.wweek.com.
Oregon School of Art and Craft hosted a not so ordinary Tea Party last Friday to celebrate the works of 3rd. year metal arts students. Five students completed the very complex project of designing and constructing a teapot in metal. Each one an absolute unique piece of functional art. Prior to the unveiling, our own tea master, Steven Smith, was invited to meet with the students to discuss their inspirations, process of their work and to pair each pot with a tea blend best suited for the maker’s vessel.
The students, dressed in their tea party finery, humbly answered questions and described their creative journey while preparing and serving tea to their guests. It was a beautifully crafted event coordinated by Development Director, Roma Peyser, well attended by families, faculty, board members and fellow students of the collage. The tea party celebration was also sponsored by Cupcake Jones, Geranium Lake Flowers, OCAC metals Department, West Coast Event Productions and Steven Smith Teamaker. The five teapots will be on display at Smith Teamaker sometime this summer. Until then, they can be viewed in the OCAC Art Gallery at 8245 SW Barnes Road in Portland.
Our new friend Caitlin Junkin and her companion stopped by the Teaworks last Thursday. Looking for an after-lunch treat, the pair ordered one of our tea sampling flights, with an appertif of our latest creation Bon Bon. It was an honor to hear praise from a sommelier on how much fun the tasting was, and we hope to see her again soon.
The light was beautiful that afternoon, and its reflected in Caitlin’s wonderful photos. To see all her great shots, as well as amazing images from her food-focused travels, stop by her blog at http://www.caitlinjunkin.com/.
The Atlanta based magazine “Points North” recently featured Smith Teamakers in their April issue. Crediting Portland as “a city with a passionate sense of place”, their Postcards from Portland article featured local treasures like Two Tarts bakery, Urban Farmer restaurant, and Smith Teamaker. Writer Heather Brown particularly liked #24 Big Hibiscus and #39 Fez. With summer around the corner, these two flavors will make excellent iced teas to ward off that hot Atlanta weather. Click on the image below to read the whole article.
Kathy YL Chan nearly had a crisis. Down to her last few packets of tea, she had nearly depleted her 5th Smith variety pack! Lucky for her, The Tea and Honey store in New York has got her covered until she has a chance to visit us here in Portland. Kathy enjoys the No.18 Bramin with sliced ginger and a touch of Chinese brown sugar. Certainly those chilly Manhattan mornings are made a bit easier with a nice heavy cup of black tea brewed with a bit of sweet and spice.
For all of us not living in The Big Apple, you can order the Smith Variety directly from us here, or by coming down to our brick-and-mortar location. Make sure to visit Kathy’s blog and take a look at all her fabulous pictures, and remind her to stay well stoked up on her tea!
Eden over at Recipes for the Good Life talked about our tea in one of her “What I Crave” posts. She mentions that the No.45 Peppermint was a particular favorite while she was pregnant since it does not have any caffeine (which also makes it a great bedtime tea). Our tea originally came to her as a gift from local wedding jeweler Gem Kitty, who wrapped a pair of our tip-top boxes in a beautiful black ribbon. She now sends her sister-in-law down to the teashop to pick up more for her whenever she runs low, though she could always call us and have it shipped right to her door (though I suspect the sister-in-law comes in for a few boxes for herself as well).
Our very own Steve Smith was featured on the cover of this month’s Entrepreneur magazine. The story of Steve’s history in the tea world is recounted in an article entitled “The Brewsmith”. The feature chronicles Steve’s accomplishments in the tea industry, a journey that began nearly 40 years ago in the peppermint fields of Oregon. Editor-in-Chief Amy Cosper compares Steve to Richard Branson or Bill Gates stating “these are the innovators who capture zeitgeist and turn it into an unforgettable experience”.
The article is not just about the man who founded the company; the tea also shares in the spotlight. Author Bruce Schoenfeld compares the Smith teabags to “gorgeous miniature pieces of art”. Our No. 39 Fez makes an appearance on page 33 in its red-carpet ready string-tie box.
The magazine is available at newsstand now, and online here. Alternatively, come on down to the tearoom and read our copy over a cup of one entrepreneur’s dreams.