Author's note: This is a repost from my old blog, originally posted April 2, 2015. I migrated it here because it was one of my favorite experiences; plus, when I finally make it back to the tasting room, I can compare the visits!
I had the immense fortune of visiting Smith Teamakers' Tasting Room last weekend. I was on vacation in Seattle, visiting my friends, and we decided to visit Portland for the day specifically to visit Smith. (While there, we also visited Powell's City of Books and Voodoo Doughnuts, but it's safe to say Smith was the primary motivator.)
We made it to downtown Portland just after noon, and grabbed a bite to eat before heading for Smith Tea. This was my first trip to Portland since I was (I think) eight years old or so. Needless to say I was totally unfamiliar with the town. The tasting room was in a quiet area that seemed to be outside the core of what might be considered "downtown," but it was tree-lined and beautiful and full of little stores and restaurants and apartments.
Of course, I'd heard the sad news about Steven Smith's passing only days before my trip, but I was heartened to know the company would continue and that the tasting room was open.
I was greeted right away by Aaron and Lisby, the tea makers for the day, who had been expecting me (given that I tweeted to Smith Teamakers that we were coming). They were friendly and welcoming, knowledgeable, and all around cool people. Of course they were. They are tea people!
The store had all kinds of artifacts and decorations.
We started our tea adventure for the day with a flight of Darjeelings: First Flush Darjeeling; Second Flush Darjeeling; Bungalow, Smith's blend of First and Second Flushes [Fun fact: Bungalow was Steven Smith's tea of choice for his daily cup]; and, to top it all off, a Darjeeling Creme Caramel Latte. YUM.
The flight came with little almond cookies which we devoured before we could get a picture. They were delicious. And we all got our own spoons and little glasses of water so we could aspirate our tastings properly and then clean the spoon before going back for more.
The First Flush was lighter, more floral, while the Second Flush was nuttier and more robust. Both were delicious, but Bungalow was my favorite - it was truly the best of both worlds. And then, of course, the latte. Oh. My. Goodness. It was sweet and a bit savory from the caramel, perfectly in tune with the nutty notes of the Second Flush Darjeeling. I never thought Darjeeling would make a good latte. For that matter, I never thought I would enjoy Darjeeling with any kind of sweetener. But this was AMAZING.
Of course, after we finished the flight, we all wanted more tea. I had a Ceremonial Matcha.
It was whisked in the traditional manner and it was the best Matcha I'd ever had.
Of my two friends and sister, one got a Cermonial Matcha as well; one got a Chocolate Mint Latte, made with fresh peppermint leaves that were so creamy it was unbelievable; and one got Masala Chai. All were amazing. But what was best was having the time to sit in a beautiful, quiet place, enjoy tea with friends, and look out the window at beautiful Portland.
I think if I could pick any spot in the world to go and sit and write every day, that is where I would go. I wish I lived in Portland so I could do that.
Also, I would probably be so caffeinated that I would explode.
I can't wait to go visit Smith Teamakers again. I don't know when that will be (yet!) but I know for sure it will happen