The Steven Smith Teamaker shop is one of my favorite places to go on a rainy afternoon like this one. It is, for me, the best tea I’ve ever had. Now the Wall Street Journal has taken notice, in an article called “The All-Star Alchemist of Top-Shelf Tea”. Some interesting quotes –
Quality leaves are essential to good tea, but so too are the expertise and imagination of the person creating the blends, said tea-expert James Norwood Pratt, author of the definitive “Tea Dictionary.” “In no generation in the past 5,000 years have we had more than a few people like Steven Smith. He makes astonishingly good blends,” Mr. Pratt said.
…Sometimes Mr. Smith tastes the ingredients individually and then mixes them with spoonfuls of tea, paying attention to how the look and smell changes when the tea is steeped, or infused in water. He writes down the formulas in a black notebook as he goes. Other times, when he’s on a plane or waiting in his car at a gas station, he comes up with the formulas in his head and writes them down, specifying how many grams or drops, without tasting them until they’re blended. He tries to avoid ingredients that taste and smell perfumed—oily and overly floral—and draws a distinction between herbs that taste “vegetative” and those that taste “brothy.”
If you haven’t been to Steven Smith Tea, which is right next door to the NW Olympic Provisions, you should. Nice people and great tea – it is one of my “must go” places when visitors come from out-of-town. We sat down and did an extensive interview with Steven here.
You can read the entire article here [membership required]
Interviewed Steven Smith at length for an article I wrote for the daily a few months ago. He is a genius, not only with regard to sourcing and blending quality tea and herbal infusions (which was his entree to the biz while @ Stash), but also on the merchandising side of the biz. Never met anybody so attuned to effective packaging, trade dress and copy writing. I have this Tazo promotional “wheel” that’s ridiculously clever.
And he’s a nice guy…Hope he makes a fortune.
He is a nice guy. I’m not “somebody” in the food world, and found myself at the opening party of his tasting room. He was so friendly and welcoming to me and my girlfriend.
Steve Broderick says
I knew Steve for 45 years. The world has lost a great man. RIP Smitty