Last year, we were proud to introduce you to Northwest Alder Leaf, a first-of-its-kind herbal offering from local tea grower, forager, and flavor enthusiast Balazs Henger. Since then, while many of us were stuck at home, Balazs has been carefully crafting a truly Northwest synthesis of traditional teamaking techniques and industry-shaking innovation. We present: No. 303, Northwest Blackberry Tips.
This captivating new herbal invention is harvested from the wild blackberry vines that grow in patches across Balazs’s beautiful farm in Chehalis, Washington. True to millennia of tea-picking tradition, only the fragile, spiny new leaves and bud are plucked, then carefully withered, dried, and hand-rolled over 4 days. The making of this tea involves a mix of Gong Fu black tea and Sheng Pu-erh processing techniques, however, the flavor is something all of its own.
As a huge fan of Northwest Alder Leaf, I was beyond excited to try Balazs’s new creation. When I heard the flavor notes we’d picked out for the tea, I was even more curious. From the moment that I lifted the lid and buried my nose in the aromatic steam, I found my mouth watering for exactly what I’d been told to expect: a heaping plate of pancakes.
The aroma is reminiscent of dewy sunrises and sleepy holiday breakfasts, with an earthy, rainwater tang that gives way immediately to the flavors of honeysuckle and wheaty French toast, drizzled with maple syrup. As sweet and delicious as it is complex, with layers of vanilla, green alfalfa, and brown butter, Northwest Blackberry Tips is an ongoing testament to Balazs’s dedication to flavor and innovation of the tea-making tradition.
Here at Smith Teamaker, we have always sought out the innovators, the mavericks, the magicians, and the extraordinaires. Even though teamaking is a tradition that dates back three thousand years, there are still endless opportunities to reinvent, to surprise, to dazzle, and to intrigue. To that end, we are delighted to continue our relationship with Balazs, and to present you with yet another first-of-its-kind beverage that is truly unique, truly delicious, and truly Northwest.
By Jeff Miller