We first met Lauren as a customer in our tasting room. Traveling around the globe and back, she now brings her eye for beauty, lilting South African voice and appreciation for tea to our customer service and sales team here at Smith.
Q: What was your happiest time drinking tea?
A: As a little tot, everyone gathering for early morning tea in my parents’ room. I’m sure I had way more sugar and milk in my cup than actual tea… perfect family ritual all the same.
Q: Which famous figure in history would you most like to have tea with?
A: Last week I might have said Miyamoto Musashi… famous Japanese Samurai and Zen master… This week I’ll add Madiba Mandela (call me patriotic) and Cesaria Evora… something about the combination of her bare feet and unreal exotic voice makes her the perfect tea companion to this eclectic tea party.
Q: What would you most like to read in the tea leaves? (more…)
“Thank you very much for the opportunity to taste teas with you. I really appreciate the knowledge and care that goes into your work. Having the chance to come into your shop and experience this firsthand was eye opening! I am especially struck by the parallels between what you do to make exceptional teas and what I do to make wine. The obsession with sourcing the right raw materials and the thought behind each blend is very similar to making a fine Pinot noir. The results are similar also – each tea has its own personality, yet they all show a balance of tannins, textures, and flavors. And when I am to busy to notice all of those things, they are still delicious and satisfying. Please come by the winery some time and allow me to return the favor.”
Bergamot baths, chrysanthemum scrubs, lavender steams, it all sounds so luxurious. This month’s Organic Spa Magazine takes us on a tour of the Anatart Spa at the PuLi Hotel Shanghai. This mini-resort located in the heart of Jing’An Park offers a carefully curated selection of tea and herbal infusion based spa treatments meant to lift the spirit and brighten the complexion.
For those of us unable to pop over to Shanghai for a weekend of pampering, the article mentions the wonderful Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder and the Wild Berry Tea Spa in Jacksonville as great places for tea and tranquility. Author Sandra Ramani also invites readers to come visit our “shop/studio”, though we like to call it the Teaworks. We may not have on-site masseuses, but a steaming cup of Lord Bergamot is enough to brighten anyone’s day (as well as their complexion).
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.