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).
We’d like to introduce Derek: You might not guess from his responses, but he is a gregarious, outgoing guy. If you are in the shop, you’ll see him behind the glass, blending and packaging your tea. Welcome DJ.
Q: What was your happiest time drinking tea?
A: Sundays mornings. The perfect way to get ready for Football.
Q: Which famous figure figures in history would you most like to have tea with?
A: Macho man, Randy Savage.
Q: Which living person would you least like to have tea with?
Smith Teamaker is proud to partner with Two Degrees for the month of November. Every order placed on smithtea.com will come with a complimentary whole grain bar courtesy of Two Degrees. Not only are these bars delicious, they also help support a great cause.
For each bar distributed, a child in a developing country receives a life-saving meal or medically formulated nutrition pack. The nutrition packs are made to treat severe and acute malnutrition in children under the age of 5 years. They have shown up to 95% efficacy rates in completely rehabilitating severely malnourished children. Two Degrees purchases these meals from producers in the region where the meals are distributed. This helps to support local economies by employing local workers and purchasing local ingredients. With over 500,000 meals distributed, Two Degrees is at the forefront of helping to end hunger worldwide.
Did we mention they are delicious? Two Degrees sent us a sample box, which promptly disappeared into Steve’s office. When people started asking about them, Steve exclaimed “I thought they were all for me, I must have eaten them all.” We eventually all got to try the different flavors, and Steve got to support a great cause. Certainly a win-win for all.
Some anthropologists think that humans evolved in a savannah. Maybe that’s one reason the International Pinot Noir Conference felt so comforting. The location, inside a shady ancient oak grove in McMinnville, Oregon, was pastoral and serene. The other reason this was a perfect weekend: the food and wine.
For three consecutive days every July, some of the world’s best pinot noir wineries give seminars, vineyard tours and pour samples for people whose love of pinot draws them to this quaint Willamette Valley town. This year, we at Steven Smith Teamaker were thrilled to offer IPNC visitors chilled glasses of our four bottled teas, and thrilled to share such a wonderful day with friends old and new.
Steve, Nova and Claire poured Black Cap, White Petal, Big Bamboo and Big Hibiscus at the event on Friday. My coworker Amy and I poured on Sunday. Named The Walkabout, the Sunday afternoon affair is the largest outdoor pinot tasting in Oregon, with tables of wine alternating with tables from some of the Northwest’s finest restaurants and bakeries. Between pourings, Amy and I took a few moments to stroll through the grove, sampling food. (more…)
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.
At Smith, we like infographics. Something about an entire field of artisanal knowledge condensed down to a single poster is both satisfying and fun.
This one comes to us via finedininglovers.com, and is particularly well done. Tracing tea back to its inception when Sheng Nong left his water boiling under just the right shrub, the image takes us through the history and current production of tea. We can even forgive the missing addition of Smith Tea since Tazo, our past incarnation, makes the cut. Its always fascinating to see where tea is grown these days. For example, Kenya is now the largest exporter of black tea while Argentina is producing more tea than Japan. Equally interesting is to see who is buying the most tea with Russia, England, and Pakistan topping the charts.
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.