Frequently Asked Questions


What are the sachets made from?

Our sachets are created from a plant-based material called Soilon. More specifically, they are made using a Polylactic Acid (PLA) derived from plant materials that is 100% commercially compostable and certified safe by the FDA. Additionally, our sachets are sealed with sound wave technology, meaning there is no glue or staples present anywhere in our process. We have tested our sachet material through a 3rd party to ensure its safety, and most importantly, we assure you that our sachet is not comprised of PET plastic or nylon.

Is sachet material biodegradable?

Yes, our sachet material is biodegradable. The sachets are made from the starch of plant-based material, primarily corn. The string, tag and sachets are all biodegradable in active compost with the proper amount of heat and moisture over a one-year period. Sachets will fully biodegrade in 90 days when in perfect compost conditions - 125 degrees F and 85% moisture. The speed with which it decomposes depends on the level of microbes in the active compost. Of course few of us have "perfect" compost conditions. In the natural condition it takes about three years for the sachets to fully decompose. In the case of very cold climates the sachets will not decompose.

Are GMOs in sachet material?

There are no GMOs present in the final product. Some genetically modified plant material (corn starch) may be used during the processing of the sachet material, but the act of processing of the material removes them.

Is glue used to attach the string to the tag or sachet?

No. The sachet, tag, and string are attached using an ultrasonic process.

What is the overwrap or envelope for the sachet?

The envelope material we use is similar to that used by Clif Bar and other energy bars and is a foil laminated film. Technically, it’s a “polymer,” a broad term that encompasses many kinds of natural and synthetic plastics.

This overwrap is important to keep the product from deterioration or cross contamination from moisture and aroma contaminated with other fresh for service items in restaurants, and to make the sachet portable so you can have the freshest tea possible at home or in the office.

We are searching for a material that has similar barrier properties and is biodegradable and will make the switch to that material as it becomes available.


Why is my Blackberry Jasmine Iced Tea not blue?

Our Blackberry Jasmine Iced Tea is made with an ingredient from Thailand called butterfly pea flower. Upon steeping, the delicate petals of this flower naturally impart a vibrant blue to your glass of iced tea. The pigment in butterfly pea flower acts as a pH indicator, which means it will change color as the pH level changes. Brewing this tea with the right water will make all the difference. Butterfly pea flower will brew up a brilliant blue when prepared with water that has a neutral pH. It will change to violet as it becomes more acidic. (Try squeezing lemon in your blue tea to observe the change!) Hard water or alkaline water will cause the butterfly pea flower to turn a greenish/teal color and will turn yellow the more alkaline it becomes. We are based in Portland where the ph balance is neutral and doesn’t impact the color. In situations where we have used hard water or well water, we too have noticed a green hue but that is mitigated by using spring water. We recommend using freshly drawn filtered water with a neutral pH or store-bought spring water to reach the desired blue hue. Distilled water can make a very flat tasting cup of tea and is not recommended for tea brewing.

Why is my Iced Tea cloudy?

We recommend keeping iced tea out at room temperature and covered until ready to serve and then pouring over ice to keep a consistent strength. We do not recommend storing your black iced tea in the refrigerator, as it can become a bit cloudy. This, however, is an aesthetic preference, so if you don't mind your black tea becoming a bit cloudy in the fridge then you can store it in there. If stored in the refrigerator, the tea can be good for 2-3 days.  Otherwise discard at the end of the day.

Some black teas, when left to cool at room temperature or when refrigerated, can undergo a change in which the compounds in the tea will cloud up a bit. This is perfectly normal, should not affect the taste, and can even be a sign of quality in the tea. It is something we see especially with Assam and has to do with the compounds found in the tea leaves, namely Theaflavins, Thearubigins, Catechins and Caffeine.

Useful Tip: Adding a little hot water to a cloudy glass can help to clear it up.


Shelf life

Most of our teas have a shelf life of 2 years.

Does tea go bad?

Dry tea leaves that are kept dry will not spoil or go bad but will simply lose flavor and aroma after the best by date.

How should I store my tea?

Most* tea leaves are best kept away from light, air, and moisture.


Exposure to light has been shown to decrease the intensity of aromatic compounds in stored tea. Using a storage vessel that will not allow light in, such as ceramic or stainless steel, is preferred.


To keep tea fresh, store it in an airtight container to prevent further oxidation. Tea can also absorb strong flavors from other things stored nearby, so be sure to store it away from coffee, spices, onions, etc. 


The relative humidity of the environment where the tea is stored is also a key factor in determining how long tea will stay fresh. If you live in a dry climate, your tea will likely hold up longer than it would in a humid environment.

*A note on pu-erh storage: unlike most tea, pu-erh improves with age and may be enjoyed for years. For best results, we recommend storing pu-erh in a cool, dry place that is temperature controlled. Read more about pu-erh here.


Where are your teas from?

At Smith we buy our tea from friends in north and south India, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, and Japan; Herbal ingredients are sourced from all over the world, depending on where they grow and taste best. Visit our Provenance page for more information.

We have been working with many of our partners since the inception of Steven Smith Teamaker. Steve’s relationships were developed over decades in the industry and have allowed us to carry on his legacy through the work of his friends and partners around the world. When we look for new partners, we base our assessment on quality of ingredients and relationships – both with their communities and with our team.


Is your tea organically grown?

Some of the teas that we source are organic, but are purchased without a certificate. We do not use organic as our primary filter for purchasing teas because it limits our ability to have access to the best possible range of teas. Being on the ground in the countries of origin where we purchase tea allows us to review the production process from the plucking of the leaves and flowers and the harvest of the barks and roots that are used in producing our blends, as well as seeing how the workers are treated.  All sources that we purchase from operate their farms and their collection of botanicals in a sustainable manner, recognizing that nurturing the soil and the plant is the only way to create a sustainable crop.

Are pesticides used in the growing process?

We ensure the farmers we work with use pesticides in a responsible manner that is in line with US laws and regulations. Our suppliers provide us with Certificates of Analysis for the teas and botanicals we buy and we periodically test for pesticides through 3rd party FDA certified labs.


How much caffeine is in a cup of Smith tea?

Caffeine is naturally occurring in all tea: white, green, oolong, black & fermented. Caffeine content in tea will vary from plant to plant and from season to season. Caffeine and its associated compounds are used as the tea plant's natural defense against insects. Here are some factors that will affect the amount of caffeine in your cup of tea:

  • age of plant
  • type of plant
  • part of plant
  • elevation or area where plant is grown
  • water temp
  • time in water
  • tea to water ratio 
  • most importantly, caffeine affects everyone’s metabolism differently 

In general, teas have around 1/3 the amount (around 20 to 30 mg) of caffeine than in coffee (with the exception of matcha, which is about the same or 1.5x the amount of caffeine in coffee) and all of our herbal infusions are caffeine free.

We currently do not source any decaffeinated teas, as the flavor of these teas is generally not up to our standards.


Do your teas contain sugar?

While some of our teas will have the perception of being “sweet” this may come from certain ingredients like licorice root, stevia, etc. Our teas are generally free of calories and sugar.* Pure tea brewed on its own is essentially a calorie free beverage. This is also true for herbal infusions.

 *At times we’ve been known to use fun ingredients like homemade rock sugar, cacao nibs, and shredded coconut in some of our custom blends. These are the exceptions, however, as the vast majority of our blends are calorie-free.

What is natural flavor? 

At Smith Teamaker, we are committed to using natural sourced ingredients for our flavorings and use only compounds that are derived through non-gmo natural fermentation.  Much like in the production of cheese and wine, these “natural flavors” are derived naturally and provide unique flavor attributes that help our teas maintain their taste profiles and aromas.


What is your policy for subscriptions?

Applies to select products. Discounts codes apply to first orders of subscriptions only. All future subscription orders will receive 5% savings. If multiple discounts apply to an order, discounts may be applied consecutively. Subscriptions ship only to US domestic addresses. Subscriptions cannot be modified, canceled, or refunded after payment has been processed.


What is your policy for Amazon purchases?

Steven Smith Teamaker works hard to ensure that its high quality products reach consumers in the condition we intend. As such, for sales on the Amazon platform, the Steven Smith Teamaker’s 45 day product quality guarantee will not apply without valid proof of purchase from Steven Smith Teamaker.