Steven Smith

Origin of a Teamaker

Steven Smith wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But he used one every day to change the way Americans drink tea forever.

Quietly humorous and charismatic, with a slight smile and twinkle in his eye, Steve got his first taste of the world's second-most-consumed beverage as a kid at his grandmother's house in Portland, Oregon. After high school and Vietnam, he got into natural foods and co-founded Stash, the world's first specialty tea company.

From Stash, he became the wizard of Tazo — "the reincarnation of tea" — and made more waves with a mind-blowing mix of Merlin the Magician meets Marco Polo. After selling the company to Starbucks, Steve found himself in the mood for retirement. So he moved his young family to France.

The Original "What If" Moment

Enchanted by the friendships he enjoyed with his neighborhood chocolatier, baker and perfumier in Avignon, he emailed his old creative team: "I have an idea for another tea company. But this time, we’re going to do it small, buy only the best tea on the market and blend it with total transparency in our hometown of Portland, Oregon."

And so, after "a year of scarves and 2-hour lunches," he moved home and once again picked up his favorite tasting spoon — a big-bellied, sterling silver antique found in a stall in Tinsukia, Assam.

Steve's vision was haute tea couture. Extra-small-is-beautiful. And with characteristic humility, he rejected the title of tea master, and chose to be simply “teamaker”. Which is how, in 2009, the signature blends of Steven Smith Teamaker were born in a Northwest Portland blacksmith's shop.

It's only natural that a company begun by a true original would prize origin, mastery and imagination more than anything else. So, as you make your own personal batches — one perfect cup at time — we invite you to raise a cup to our founder. And merrily carry on.