Steven Smith Teamaker

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Recent Tasting Notes

94

June Wedding! Something new! This is one of the few Seven Smith Teamaker teas my local grocery has, so I picked up a box tonight. This is their Moroccan Mint blend, and most Moroccan mint teas I’ve had have gunpowder green bases; this one is a Mao Feng base, and adds lemon myrtle (my favorite of the citrus herbs) along with the spearmint. So I’m actually pretty curious about this! I’ve also just been pretty pleased with the other teas I’ve tried from them in the past; their chamomile tea is one of the few chamomiles I can drink (thanks to the blend of rooibos and other florals helping mellow the flavor a bit) and their earl grey is probably my favorite plain earl grey I’ve had yet.

This was certainly a tea to my tastes! The spearmint and lemon myrtle blend into a really lovely flavor combination that isn’t too minty, and isn’t too lemony, while still providing nice flavor notes of both. And the green tea base has a very nice grassy flavor that can still be tasted beneath the mint and citrus, which I appreciate. The whole blend works together very harmoniously, and I’m imagining that this tea would work really well iced, as well. I imagine that will be the next thing I do with this!

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Lemon, Spearmint

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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90

Since it has been nearly a month now, I figured I should finally get around to copying over the reviews I hastily scribbled in a portable notepad I carried in my purse when I was on vacation Memorial Day Weekend.

On the last day of the trip, Todd and I needed to grab breakfast before his flight; normally I will bring my own tea to restaurants (and on this particular trip, I did bring my own genmaicha in fillable corn fiber bags to a sushi restaurant to avoid crappy bagged green tea!), but since it was the last day all my tea was already packed up and everything was moved out of the room for check out. I figured I’d just not have any tea with breakfast and I’d opt for coffee or juice, but the restaurant we found actually stated on the menu that they had Steven Smith Teamaker tea! I was shocked! I knew this brand actually uses whole leaf tea in sachets so I was like, huzzah! Tea for me! And I haven’t been able to try hardly any of their flavors since my local grocery only has two varieties, Fez and Meadow. So I went pretty classic and just got the earl grey.

And… oooooooh… this was one of the best earl greys I’ve tried yet! It was very sweet and smooth, I was so surprised! I’m used to earl greys being so harsh; usually the black base ends up being really bitter/astringent and the bergamot so strong it comes off really biting, which is why I have never liked it and avoided them for years (and only recently have I made efforts to adapt my palate to them). The base of this tea had no bitterness or astringency, and the bergamot was not overbearing at all. There was a very balanced citrus bergamot flavor on the tongue that actually finished in a sweeter black currant flavor, and I’ve never experienced that before. I would totally buy this tea!

Flavors: Bergamot, Black Currant, Citrus, Fruity, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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63

Surprisingly a LOT like vanilla ice cream. Not a huge fan of vanilla ice cream unless It’s like vanilla bean! Very strong vanilla and cream flavor with a bit of vegetable flavor.

Flavors: Cream, Smooth, Vanilla, Vegetables, Vegetal

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68

Very gentle, but with a bit more personality than your typical honeybush tea. I love peach/apricot scented teas, so this was up my alley.
I enjoyed it hot and iced.

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55

May Flowers! I was gifted this tea by a volunteer at the library; it’s one of only two Steven Smith Teamaker teas I’ve seen locally in town, which is a shame, because as far as “bagged tea” goes, whole leaf in sachets is certainly my preference (sachets don’t leave an unpleasant taste in the water that I notice from paper bags, and I just have a general preference for whole leaf over crushed). I wish we had more options of this brand in my local grocery… especially since this particular blend has a heavy chamomile base (I immediately could tell from the scent when I opened the bag!), and I’m just not really a chamomile fan, despite my love of floral teas.

There are a lot of other things in this tea too: rooibos, hyssop, linden flowers, lemon myrtle, rose petals, safflower, cyani flowers, and natural flavoring, so it very much is a very floral blend, but the steeped cup still had a very strong chamomile scent. The taste was… eh. Definitely not my favorite because of the strong chamomile presense, but there did seem to be a slight honeyed note from the rooibos (which I honestly wish had been stronger), and an overall sweet floral touch. I think if the rooibos and lemon myrtle had been stronger flavor notes in this blend it would’ve been a bit more to my personal tastes, but I didn’t find it undrinkable, and I certainly have had chamomile teas that I found entirely unpalatable, so there was something here that was done right. A teaspoon of my lemon-infused honey even makes it quite pleasant.

A soothing tea with a nice floral touch, and fans of chamomile will definitely like this. There’s enough nuances it doesn’t come off as a plain chamomile tea, but it is similar enough to scratch that itch if you enjoy that sort of tea.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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78

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78

Thanks for sending me this to try Mastress Alita!
This is actually a local company yet I’ve only tried several of their teas before.

This is a very soothing tea. The chamomile dominates this cup whereas the last cup was more lemon heavy.(She sent me two samples of this) The lemon comes through every so often but doesn’t overpower the chamomile. It’s slightly sweet and reminds me a bit of honeysuckle. Although Good quality chamomile always reminds me of honeysuckle. Anytime I have any sort of chamomile tea in my cupboard it get’s inhaled. I’ve been drinking it since I was very young.

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Lemon

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 10 OZ / 295 ML
Mastress Alita

This is one of the few chamomile teas I like, but I think it is because the rooibos tones it down a bit and gives it a very natural honey-like taste (I always get a more honey-like sweet flavor out of rooibos than woody notes like other folks). I like to put lemon-infused honey in this one. One of the only Steven Smithmaker teas I’ve found in a local grocery, I wish they’d carry more out here because I really like this company.

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60

A robust Ceylon blend. Pleasant enough.
SST packed a lot into the mesh teabag, I would probably have measured a smaller dose if it were loose.
Happily, the flavor didn’t come out undrinkably strong. You can tell the tea is easy to oversteep, but the bite was muted and not too astringent.

Preparation
4 min, 30 sec

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I am at a library conference this week and brought packages of this tea along for the breaks. I’m so glad I did—the teas offered were nothing I was interested in. This has made it much more enjoyable being away from home and my usual tea collection.

Mastress Alita

The tea at library conferences is the same bagged drivel found in restaurants, and I bring my own tea when I go out to eat, too. Steven Smith Teamaker is great though, nice full loose leaf in sachet, I wish it were more accessible in my area… I’ve only found two varieties in my local grocery (the green tea Fez and herbal tea Meadow). I often will stuff my own fillable teabags with tea in my collection and stash them in my purse before going to a conference or restaurant where I know the only option available will be LQ bagged teas. On vacation, I actually pack along my kettle to make tea properly in the room!

teepland

I agree! That was one reason I took the Steven Smith sachets with me this year—I remember the bad bagged teas which were offered last year. If I’m going to be sitting in sessions all day related to database management, I’d better have good tea to make it worthwhile! And I do the same thing with my electric kettle when traveling for pleasure—my wife makes fun of me that my “tea luggage” is bigger than my clothing luggage! :)

eastkyteaguy

I do the same thing when I go out of town. I pack a gaiwan, cups, paper towels, an electric kettle, a thermos, and enough tea for each day.

teepland

@eastkyteaguy: I’m not yet accustomed to using a gaiwan regularly (I brew western style most of the time) but I hope to be someday. When that happens, I’m sure I’ll bring one as well! But yes, I do also always pack my travel mug in my suitcase—even when traveling for work. :)

Mastress Alita

Ah, I feel so much better now about all the space I use up in my luggage on tea paraphernalia now!

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70

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70

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70

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70

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70

Unfortunately I didn’t really pay much attention while drinking this tea flavor note wise. One of my family members was admitted to the hospital today and I was getting filled in. Since I volunteered to dog sit. This tea came from my grandfather(the one in the hospital currently) it was very fitting to drink this now. He got bought one serving size of this unprepared for me while at a coffee shop. Even though he doesn’t pay attention to flavors I like(there are a lot of them) and picked this at random. It was a great choice and very thoughtful.

Inspecting the tea: I thought this would be loose leaf since the sachet looks just like the David’s Tea samples you get. So much to my surprise I opened it up to find a silken loose leaf tea filled sachet. I was struggling to find a clean tea strainer so this was quite convenient. I brewed it as directed for 3 minutes at 190 F. The dry tea sachet smells very floral and fresh.

Tasting: This is the best Jasmine tea I’ve ever had. It’s very sweet and floral but fresh as well. In my opinion It’s not exactly perfume-y like so many Jasmine teas are. There are sweet vegetal notes and sweet fresh floral notes. I really unfortunately didn’t pay much attention but it was an amazing cup. I need to add this to my buy more of list.

Flavors: Flowers, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML
Mastress Alita

I’ve had one Steven Smith tea, their herbal blend Meadow, and remember it being quite good. I recall seeing a few of their teas (like two others besides the Meadow blend?) in a grocery store out here since they are a Portland OR based brand and I live in the Pacific NW, so I’ll have to pick up the other flavors I haven’t tried yet. I’ve been meaning to try more of their teas as well!

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87

A wonderful play on oolong. The subtle hints of olive oil and bergamot really pair beautifully with the tea leaves. The aroma projects warm notes of olive oil and bergamot, setting the stage for your palette. The high grown Taiwanese oolong comes through immediately, with a mild vegetal sweetness, followed again by the soft scents of olive oil and bergamot post-sip. This feels like a comfort tea and creates a comforting experience. The minimalist layers of aroma and flavor truly allow this tea to pull you into the experience of the cup.

Flavors: Bergamot, Olive Oil, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Absolutely love this tea. One of my personal favorites.
I’m a fan of genmaicha in general and this Steven Smith blend has done a wonderful job in pulling together the toasted rice and grassy notes of a traditional genmaicha with a sweet floral rose. The rose permeates both the flavor and aroma in a most pleasant way. Subtle notes of toasted rice and sweet grass reveal themselves on the backend of each sip.

Flavors: Bergamot, Rose, Sweet, warm grass, Toasted Rice

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

Alright, it’s time for another back-of-the-tea cabinet discovery. I’ve been my working my way through this Darjeeling blend for the better part of the week. At the time of this writing, I only have one sachet left and will probably go ahead and finish it before I go to bed. Even with a little age, this blend holds up well.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped one sachet in approximately 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. I attempted no subsequent infusions.

Prior to infusion, a whiff of the sachet revealed aromas of toast, wood, raisin, herbs, and spices. After infusion, I picked up refined aromas of herbs, toast, malt, wood, Muscatel, and butter. In the mouth, I found notes of wood, herbs, butter, toast, grass, straw, malt, lemon zest, roasted almond, and Muscatel underscored by subtle raisin and very mild nutmeg notes. The finish was smooth, yet fleeting. There were lingering touches of herbs, toast, roasted almond, and wood chased by a very faint fruitiness.

This was a fairly solid blend. I think it would be good for someone who just wants a predictable, consistent cup and is not all that interested in the world of single origin, single flush Darjeelings, though I could also see it being a good introduction to Darjeelings in general. While I’m glad I tried this, I doubt I would go out of my way to purchase it again. It played it a little too safe for my liking and didn’t surprise me in any way.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Grass, Herbs, Lemon Zest, Malt, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Raisins, Straw, Toast, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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91

Talk about a blast from the past. I could recall buying a two ounce pouch of this tea back in the summer of 2016, but until last week, I was entirely unaware that not only I still had it, but that I had never even gotten around to opening it. Upon discovering this, I made the decision to prioritize drinking this one. Fortunately, the tea was still viable. I’m aware that the shelf life of loose Earl Grey is longer than many people realize, but one great thing about Steven Smith Teamaker is that their loose packs are very thick and both heat and light resistant. Since this was still sealed and stored at the very back of one of my tea cabinets away from heat and light, I noted no deterioration in the tea. I have to say that this was a very nice Earl Grey, and fortunately, I did not find it to be too heavy on the bergamot oil.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped one teaspoon of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted a powerful bergamot aroma underscored by subtle hints of malt and toast. After infusion, the bergamot was still front and center, but I could detect more pronounced malt and toast aromas coupled with traces of roasted nuts, orange peel, and caramel. In the mouth, the bergamot was particularly heavy on the entry, but the liquor soon acquired a semblance of balance due to the presence of roasted nut, caramel, malt, cream, leather, orange peel, and brown toast notes. The finish was rather powerful, as the bergamot once again reasserted itself and left a lingering citrusy tartness in the mouth and throat after the swallow.

Like most Earl Greys, this was not the most complex or nuanced blend in the world, but it did what it was designed to do. Blends like this are specifically designed for lovers of bergamot, and as this artfully showcased the aroma and flavor of bergamot, I cannot fault it much. For me, this would not be an everyday Earl Grey, but for those times when I want something a bit tarter and punchier, it would the sort of blend for which I would reach.

Flavors: Bergamot, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cream, Leather, Malt, Orange, Roasted nuts

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Steven Smith also just released a bergamot scented oolong-AND so did What-Cha. WTF, I want to try them…

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83

Free sample in a sexy, sexy little black folder.

I am going to ramble about my tea journey with this one. I love Mao Fengs and fruity greens, but I rarely purchase them. I started off on steepster being a Sencha lover and someone thinking he’d love dark ripe Pu-Erh’s and oolongs. Now, I stay mostly in the comfort zone of greener oolongs, whites, and blacks….constantly complaining that some green oolongs aren’t sweet or fruity enough, never mind there are green teas that do just that.

I generally stay away from greens because they are often too vegetal for me, never mind they price slightly cheaper than oolongs. As for this tea, it makes me think of rain in bamboo filled mountains. The profile is light, creamy, vegetal like sweet peas, bamboo, a little floral, and fruity like honeydew and eating whole strawberries…including the stem. I know, I am odd. The tea is straightforward, but it very clean, elegant, and sweet tasting for a green tea sachet. I got four brews out of it total, starting with 2 1/2 minutes, 3, 4, then grandpa styling the last two. I still prefer oolongs to greens even though I think this is a better tea than the Alishan. WTF is wrong with me?

Rasseru

Nothing wrong with strawberry stems!

I also love the tail and legs of prawns. Apparently that is weird. I disagree

Daylon R Thomas

If they are soaked in like teriyaki or whatever the coconut glaze is, hell yeah!

Terri HarpLady

hey, we’re all a little different around here, right?

Indigobloom

the oddness in us all is what I find endearing :)

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90

Thank you Steven Smith for the sample!

If I was smart, I would have tin refilled this instead of the oolong, BUT I am always in the mood for oolong and would not drink this 2nd flush every day. I would drink it every other day.

“Complex flavors of butter, nuts, flowers and fruits with balanced astringency and a sweet toasty finish” is fairly spot on, but it is a fairly muscatel second flush-just the way I like it. I admit that I oversteeped the first brew because I held the tea pot while talking to my mom, but it still produced a rich, vibrant orange cup of sweet muscatel goodness. The grassy bitterness and astringency were a bit much bordering on hay,straw, or even basil, but it the tea was still super tasty. I got more almond in the early mid sip, and more honey in the mid to aftertaste as it went down with the hay-dry bitterness.

The second 5 minute rebrew was much more balanced and definitely comparable to a Bai Hao with it’s honey aftertones. The almond-lemon taste was much more pronounced, and the florals were fairly buttery. Overall, this was a very smooth and sweet cup. The third seven minute rebrew was the lightest, but again, had the lemon zest honey thing going on with some dry characters still there.

I am tempted to pick up more of this one. It ranks as my No. 1 sachet black tea as of now, Aug. 6, 2017. As for those looking for a quality bagged Darjeeling or a slightly floral black tea, I highly recommend it. This tea is also fairly easy to recommend to experienced drinkers and newbies alike. The price is my only detractor personally, though the loose leaf pricing is not bad. $11-14 for 15 sachets is not ideal, but you are paying for quality.

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75

Why do oolongs always open up a month after you open the bag? Seriously, every gaoshan oolong becomes 10% better after I first try it.

Anyway, I grandpa styled this at my placement school last week and the fruit and floral notes were heavy amidst crisp lettuce ones. Basically, the rating would go from a 75-80 based on how it lushly improved. It also gave me a little bit of a caffiene rush, especially considering the earlier Fog Cutter cuppa joe pumpin’ through my veins…I’m a student teacher, don’t judge me.

Evol Ving Ness

I’m a student teacher, don’t judge me.

:) :)

eastkyteaguy

I used to be a student teacher. Feel free to judge me. :)

Daylon R Thomas

Lol Mr. English. Mr. Proust was also a teacher. There are so many of us on this site. We put the “tea” in “teacher”.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, the funny thing is I actually mostly taught social studies. I went into education via the alternative certification route (M.A.T. instead of M. Ed.) and I was eligible to teach social studies because I had 30+ hours of general social science coursework as an undergraduate. I was bored with English at the time and wanted a change, so I decided to do my primary certification in middle and secondary grades social studies instead.

eastkyteaguy

I also graduated from MSU, just not your MSU. For clarity’s sake, it was Morehead State University. Go Eagles, I guess…

Daylon R Thomas

That is not surprising, actually lol. A lot of us are social studies on here. So do you have the full MAT as your master’s, and how many years did you teach? My MSU only gives me 9 credits for a graduate degree…I have many critiques though there are aspects that I like about the program.

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75

I pretty much knew what this tea would taste like and trusted eastteaguy’s suggestion, but I was curious to have a few sachets of this on hand. It’s what you can expect from a Jin Xuan, and while it is pretty good, I have had better oolong sachets from the local markets in East Lansing.

The sachets were fairly light, and even though steeps longer than 3 minutes is not recommended, I found that the sachets did fine Grandpa style. Grandpa yielded a little more nuttiness and fuller creamy textures, but the other notes pretty much remained the same in a slight flux. Western style, and just generally, the tea tasted like lettuce water and rice milk with some floral tones smoothing in the background. The cantaloupe fruit notes were there, but very subtle making the tea mildly sweet. I’d guess that the fermentation is a little higher, maybe there is bare light roast.

This tea could be stronger, but it is much better than other sachets or tea bags. Again, it is what you’d expect from a Jin Xuan: floral, creamy, and vegetal. Though I might hesitate getting it again, I do not regret having some easy going sachets on hand and I still recommend Steven Smith as a company. Their Meadow blend is one of my favorite chamomile personally.

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