Our story begins with Steven Smith, a natural born teamaker from Portland, Oregon since 1949. First as co-founder of Stash, then as tea shaman of Tazo, Steve made a worldwide name for himself through his deep understanding of tea—culminating in this, his signature brand, concocted in 2009. Working closely with his wife, Kim, Steve succeeded in making Smith the most uncommon name in tea—known for a curated line of flavors like nothing else in the world.
Today, Steve’s spirit lives on in a tea department overseen by Head Teamaker Ravi Kroesen, alongside Sara Kaufman and the rest of a hand-picked team. To deliver uncommon good taste in your cup, we source the finest teas and botanicals from friends in India, China, Sri Lanka and Africa. In most cases, these are growers, exporters and tea brokers we’ve worked with for over 15 years.
Every blend begins with a moment of inspiration—maybe a nicely aged cask of merlot, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream—that can ultimately be perfected with the benefit of decades of experience and a fine feeling for flavors and fragrance. In the most fundamental sense, our goal is simply to make tea that we like to drink. Because Smith is about the teamaker you become, when you brew a cup yourself.
Now imagine for a moment that you’re magically part of our teamaking team. Here are the steps you'd follow to make Smith consistently great:
In your constant pursuit of perfection, you know that finding exceptional tea is more than a good way to get out of the office. It’s a true passion. So you make buying trips around the world, and have samples arriving daily to the Tea Lab from tea gardens, traders and brokers. Some are purchased directly, others from auctions held in the tea trading centers of Calcutta, Colombo, Mombasa and Jakarta.
To protect every delicate leaf and blossom (as well as your reputation for quality) you see that all teas are produced and blended in-house, in small batches, by human hands, using a gentle touch.
Before shipping to a customer, you taste each tea four times: at offer, on arrival, during the bench-top formula, and first batch from blending.
Speaking of tasting, you’re always testing new ingredients, trading notes with like-minded friends, and looking for inspiration. When a fresh idea hits, you put it through a trial-by-fire in up to 30 variations.
Keeping it Culinary
Finally, you take a wide open approach to cuisine, with a deep appreciation of thousands of teas, herbs and spices. That’s what makes teamaking so much fun. And that’s what we celebrate every day: the chance to cultivate the palate of a chef, the nose of a sommelier, the patience of a distiller, and the joy of a real artist.