Empower Mint: A Celebration of Women by Women.
Across time and culture, women have been the keepers of herbal wisdom. Archaeologists and historians agree, women were the first pharmacists, the first herbalists and the first healers. Women harnessed the power of plants to soothe, strengthen and support. This is a legacy of empowerment, of profound connection between women and nature that continues to this day.
We want to take this opportunity to celebrate this legacy of empowerment by spotlighting the women who make tea possible every day of the year, starting at home with our very own veteran teamakers, Sara Kaufman and Claire Boyer, as well as Smith Teamaker Co-founder, Kim DeMent. These are the experienced craftswomen behind our Women’s Day blend, Empower Mint, released in partnership with Girls Inc.
Girls Inc. is a national organization on a mission to empower girls through educational and leadership programs, and a partner we’re proud to stand with. To honor the generational wisdom that women have cultivated and passed down throughout history, we’re giving a portion of the proceeds from this tea to Girls Inc., where it will go toward empowering a new generation.
We chatted with Sara, Claire and Kim about the inspiration behind Empower Mint and what it means to be a woman teamaker.
What was your experience developing Empower Mint? Where did the three of you find inspiration for the blend?
“When we first met to discuss creating a blend, it was Kim who had the idea for a women’s tonic,” Claire answered. “Something that could gently support women throughout the phases of their lives. We all loved the idea.”
Our fearless co-founder, Kim DeMent, in front of our original location in Portland, Oregon
“I had been wanting to develop a tea especially for women for a long time,” Kim explained. “A tea that could be sipped throughout the day and throughout the moon cycles. I was inspired by the raspberry leaf that I drank throughout my pregnancy which was very beneficial in relieving morning sickness and cramping. So we started there. Nettle, Damiana and Red Clover have been used for centuries by herbalists, wise women healers and indigenous medicine women from Europe and North America. Any natural medicine book will have some variation of these herbs. On their own, the flavors can be strong—even bitter, but when we added in the raw cacao nibs, a hint of ginger and Oregon Peppermint, our blend became creamy and delicious. It’s a beautiful balance to get the medicinal benefits while quenching a craving for chocolate.”
The blend underwent many iterations, according to Claire, and took inspiration from many places, including herbalists like Susun Weed, and even notes written by Steve years ago. “The intention was the keep the blend balanced, lively and delightful,” she highlighted.
Sara dove into what makes this blend so special. “Many women’s teas are focused on one aspect of our system, but this blend gently combines multiple herbs that should suit most bodies and any stage of life.”
"For this blend, we got to take a step back from looking at what would make the most delicious cup of tea and add the challenge of making it especially nourishing for our bodies. Taking both elements into account, we started the process by tasting through every Organic herb known to benefit women’s bodies. Some were tart, bitter, floral, sweet, tingly or downright undrinkable,” Sara adds. “We landed on the intersection of Raspberry Leaf for reproductive health, Red Clover for its high mineral quantities, Damiana for its aphrodisiac qualities and post-menopausal regulation alike and Nettle for its incredibly high nutrient density (including immune and memory function). To that baseline, we added some particularly sexy ingredients – cacao nibs, rose petals, ginger and stevia leaf. The cherry on top, and the defining namesake for the tea, was local Pacific Northwest Peppermint. It adds a cool factor to the tea that we just adore. Best of all, you can steep it as long as you want and it only gets better. You can't oversteep this empowering concoction—a novelty of timing that every woman knows well.”
The herbs and botanicals behind Empower Mint
What is your experience as a female teamaker?
“The tea industry is historically a very male dominated business, in all aspects of teamaking except for plucking,” answered Sara. “Women are relied upon for harvesting labor, due mostly to their nimble fingers and hard work ethic. But women’s involvement in processing, sales, and blend creation have been much more limited across the globe.”
Claire touched on similar themes, but believes that this paradigm is shifting. In describing her own experience, she said, “There were times men in positions of power were uninterested in what I had to say simply because I was a woman, that was obvious. With the team of tasters and makers I worked with in the lab (which consisted of two women and two men), I felt included and my opinion was valued. I enjoyed working on a team made up of folks who experienced things a bit differently.”
“There is a certain levity, reverence, and magic in being a woman teamaker,” Sara concluded. “…What we have brought into the fold is a different perspective on use, flavor, nuance and experience. The majority of tea drinkers in the US are women. So it’s only fitting that women should be involved in creating those tea experiences for our consumers.”
Sara Kaufman tasting through teas and botanicals in our lab
Finally, what does empowerment mean to you?
“The ability to move my vision forward,” answered Claire. “Fewer brick walls. Lately, on a personal level, I think about research, knowledge and tools. Do I need to study something and/or do some work around it to feel empowered? Also, you hear this a lot but it’s true: caring less about what others think is extremely liberating and it becomes easier with age.”
Claire Boyer plucking tea leaves on Minto Island in Oregon
Sara credited the community of supportive, driven, inspiring women in her life. “At the core of empowerment is this notion that we are all intrinsically unique and worthy, and that as a community, it is our responsibility to encourage and support one another in our evolution… Empowerment is a two-way street which is what makes it so powerful. This blend supports women’s function in the same way that we support one another as friends, family, and colleagues—by nurturing and developing the already wonderful qualities of the woman enjoying it.”
On National Women’s Day, and every day, we celebrate the strength, sensitivity, vision, passion and skill of the women who surround us and empower us. To the collectors, sharers, and teachers of traditional knowledge who went before us, who continue to empower us with their wisdom and womanhood, we offer our immense gratitude. We also extend a special thank you to Kim, Sara, and Claire, as well as all the women whose hard work and dedication make Smith Teamaker what it is, from faraway tea gardens, to the office, to the warehouse, to the lab.
Written by Jeffrey Miller