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Inspired by the master distiller the world never knew, this summer we introduce our Tennessee Oolong, a limited edition milk oolong tea with a Southern twist. Our collaboration with Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey has resulted in a bright oolong with an uncommon depth of flavor that continues to develop after each sip.

The Story


The Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey team approached us in spring about a potential collaboration. Being whiskey fans, we were of course intrigued. As the story unfolded of Nathan "Nearest" Green, a slave at a Tennessee distillery in the 1850s who became the property's best whiskey maker and eventually taught Jack Daniel how to distill at a young age, we were even more interested in the whiskey's unique legacy. The team tasted the product and we were in.

Uncle Nearest Whiskey and Tennessee Oolong

Where Taiwan Meets Tennessee


We decided to scent oolong tea using an age-old technique. Similar to how Jasmine tea is made, tea leaves are layered in and around aromatic ingredients, and over time the tea leaves absorb the flavors and aroma. For this specific execution we started with a Jin Xuan oolong varietal tea and an oak barrel in which the whiskey was rested. Our Jin Xuan is a milk oolong grown in the Nantou region of Taiwan and harvested in late April. With its buttery characteristic and soft sweetness, the flavor profile pairs wonderfully with the whiskey, adding a round and soft center that supports the spice notes and builds on the vanilla, wood and cream elements of the whiskey.

Limited Edition Tennessee Oolong

After receiving the whiskey barrel, we placed the oolong tea inside to begin the scenting process, extracting aromatics from the oak that included caramel, butterscotch, and bourbon vanilla. During the scenting, the barrel was hand-rotated every day to ensure that the leaves could absorb as much of the whiskey essence as possible.

Tennessee Oolong Loose Leaf

Tasting Notes


The final result of our Tennessee Oolong mixes the creamy and sweet characteristics of the tea with the wood and caramel spice of the barrel. Brewed to a light golden green color, you’ll also pick up on hints of stone fruit and vanilla from Uncle Nearest’s centuries-old distilling technique. This light and deceptively flavorful tea is a perfect digestif for anyone looking to find the upside in being the designated driver of the night.

Find our limited edition Tennessee Oolong available in string tie cartons here before they run out.

Smith Teamaker Tennessee Oolong