One of the fanciest tea companies in the nation, Portland-based Steven Smith Teamaker just announced that it will open its new tasting room and teamaking facility at 110 SE Washington St. on December 2, 2015. Across the street from Olympia Provisions, the facility will more than double the teamaker's production. "It will really free up our teamakers to create new things, especially some really high-end experiences," President of Smith Teamaker Tom Clemente tells Eater by phone.
For those thirsty to experience Smith Teamaker's gourmet teas, which are known for being some of the most complex in the world and for having prices to match, a 20-seat tasting room will be open Monday through Saturday and offer tea flights arranged from darkest to lightest, ranging from Darjeeling to Keemun. A large window behind the tasting room bar will let you watch tea production in action, and education will be paramount.
Meet the "tea-rista"—the loose-leaf version of the barista. Sara Kaufman will head the Southeast tasting room, and Kaufman and the team will provide answers to all of your tea-related questions while serving tastes of tea varietals, on-tap keg teas, and recently developed tea experiments at the facility. Tastings are completely customizable. Clemente points out that the tea in the tasting room comes straight off of the production line, which means it is at optimal freshness. Of course, tea products will be available for purchase, too.
"It's a badge of honor to carry out Steven Smith's tradition," says director of marketing Amy Yukas. "Many of us here worked alongside him at Tazo and Stash for years. He always had an affinity for Southeast, and really, he loved the Southeast industrial neighborhood before there was anything going on. He was really excited to get back here, I know he was." Steven Smith also founded Tazo and Stash teas, and he passed away as one of the world's most respected teamakers in spring 2015.
Smith Teamaker's original tasting room is located at 1626 NW Thurman St., and the new Southeast tasting room will be open Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.