Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Tea Tasting at Smith Teamakers Part Two

I wasn't expecting there would be a second part to my Holiday Tea Tasting at Steven Smith Teamkers blog post but when they announced tastings for the new Maker's Series tea created by Chef Gregory Gourdet along with their seasonal Irish Moringa Latte I had to go. Not only that but the tastings were offered in their Northwest Portland location and the new Southeast building which is pictured above.

The space inside is really nice. Larger than the Northwest tasting room it still offers places to sit that are out of way along with seats by a fireplace. Definitely a pleasant way to unwind with a cup.

They have many of their teas for sale including limited ones.

Along with tea pots, cups and growlettes.

At the other end of the space is this room where you can see tea makers creating and tasting teas.

Lots of space in between with a long counter which faces the packaging room. I'm sure it's fun to watch when they are in full swing. Amusing too they note the traffic conditions in Darjeeling.

I love seeing what goes into each tea along with smelling them so had to snap a shot of this display on their counter. The counter is a really nice addition. It gives lots of room for tasting events and gives you the chance to experience the tea making process with the packing room and watching the tea makers brew up your tea or latte.

On to the teas that were sampled. First was a cup of Chef Gourdet's Phuket Fire. I like that they displayed all the ingredients in this one. Very colorful! The taste of the tea was also as complex. It started with citrus which makes sense since there is lime infused pineapple and kefir lime leaves in this. Under this was a bit of chili and ginger. I could feel the heat from this in the back of my mouth but it was not overwhelming. Finally there was the flavor of hibiscus which you can tell by the color of the brewed tea. It made me think of teas that are enjoyed in Southeast Asia. Since there are no tea leaves in this it's caffeine free. I think people who love spicy food would really enjoy this tea. It's definitely in the style of Chef Gourdet's food, surprising and complex. Nicely done.

The second tea for the tasting was their Irish Moringa Latte. Amazing to smell this since it's placed in a whiskey barrel when it's made and then rolled around to mix the tea leaves without crushing them. Lovely rich scent with the whiskey present in a good way.

And here's where the counter is great. Not just because large groups can try tea there (along with a long table also in the room) but because you can watch and learn how they put together what you will be drinking. Also good for asking questions like if other milks could be used for this latte. I learned that since they fire the sugar on top only whole milk works since others break down.

Next came the brown sugar sprinkled on top. It was great how the really nice employees explained each step.

Last step was firing up the tops of the lattes.

I hope you can see in the photo the bubbles forming as each latte is torched. I should have made a video of this. Next time.

And even though I'm lactose intolerant I still tried this lovely concoction. Really delicious latte with delicate flavors that accent the creaminess of this drink. Even though the tea looked very dark it is caffeine free. They use Moringa leaf which is considered herbal. Along with that is orange peel, sarsaparilla, vanilla bean and star anise. Not only do they sell the tea but they also are serving this latte for a limited time at both tasting rooms. If you like lattes this is worth stopping in for.

There are two other limited seasonal black box loose leaf teas. I did not get to try them but I was able to sniff the tea leaf mix. The Mulled Black is everything you would expect from a mulled tea with cranberries and hazelnuts. This was made in an aquavit barrel. The third tea is their White Chrysmas tea. The smell was enchanting and I am still thinking of it. Definitely delicate. This is a blend of white tea leaves from Yunnan placed in a rum barrel and then afterwards mixed with chrysanthemum petals. Along with the Moringa and Phuket Fire these are available on the Smith Teamaker website for a short time and at the tasting rooms.

So my impression of the new space is very good. It's a nicely designed space with lots of room for larger parties yet also has seating that feels more intimate. They have many teas for tastings, enjoying a cup or even getting some to go. They also serve lattes including the ones I mentioned in my last tasting post.  Here's Smith Teamaker's website where you can find information about the tasting rooms, check out their teas and learn more.

The new Steven Smith Teamaker Tasting Room is located at 110 SE Washington St., Portland, Oregon. You can park in the "Loading" spots in front of the building.

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