No. 23 Kandy Black Tea from Steven Smith Teamaker

KandyBoxTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Description:

Named after one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, Kandy brings together full and flavory Dimbulla with highly aromatic and intense Uva and lightly scented high-grown Nuwara Eliya. A tea made for sipping with pleasure all day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I got Kandy no.23 black tea from a friend recently, and with the recent news of Steven Smith himself passing I wanted to pay homage to him by drinking one of his creations. He had many successful companies, one you might have heard of too. If anyone has had any of Tazo’s teas while they were still at Starbucks, raise you hand. If you want to read more about his legacy, there is a great article here.

Kandy is a blend of three different Ceylon teas. I’m going to disappoint anyone who thinks that this tea is going to tastes like actual candy; this tea is named after a city in Sri Lanka, not after a sweet treat. However, I am convinced that there is something sweet about this tea. In the large square sachet, smells of malted milk balls and raisinets waft into my nose. Smells like classic movie theater candy. Yum. Let’s get this started!

Now, I am not one to follow directions on packages, but reading the one on the outside of the sachet I just had to pay attention. The directions are as follows:

“Bring filtered water to a roiling boil. Steep 5 minutes, while googling the ornate Palace of the Sacred Tooth.”

Now you have my attention.

So google I did. According to Wikipedia, The Temple of the Tooth is a Buddhist temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka. In that temple is contained the sacred tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because whoever holds the tooth holds the governing power of the country. Kandy was the last capital of Sri Lanka, so it gets the tooth. Huh. Quite a history lesson for my daily cuppa.

Whilst ruminating on this, I sipped this tea in silence. I got the classic malt notes, as well as bright citrus and raisin notes. It’s smooth without having any trace of astringency. While this is not the most interesting and unique blend on the market today, there is something just so nostalgic about black tea from India and Sri Lanka. It tastes like a hot summer day with a refreshing cup of sweetened sun tea with lemon. It’s a cool rainy morning with a dash of milk. This would make for a great daily drinker for anyone who loves the mellow yet rich profiles of Ceylon teas.

The thing I like the most about this tea is the history that this company wants you to know about this tea. I really enjoy getting to know everything I can about the leaves in my cup. What are it’s hobbies? What music is it into? Is it named after a city who is famous for owning a tooth? This tea demands to be understood. And Steven Smith Tea maker is sure to get it’s point across.

No. 2/14 – Lover’s Leap from Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Description:

A delicate, fragrant marriage of high grown Ceylon tea from Lover’s Leap Tea Estate, coupled with pink rose petals from China, hand-sorted chamomile blossoms and subtle citrus flavors. Complicated and delicious — just like love.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I am going to take a leap and confess my love for this tea.

I’m actually giddy about this tea!  Not unusual for a tea to make me giddy, but it is rather unusual for a tea that does not contain chocolate or jasmine or bergamot to make me giddy this way.  And it is even more unusual for a tea that does contain chamomile to make me this excited.

But, then, that is the magic of Steven Smith.

The aroma of this tea is amazing.  It smells like roses.  Of course, over the last week or so I’ve reviewed quite a few rose teas, and all of those had a rose fragrance to them, but what makes this one different is the touch of citrus and how it melds with the rose tones so beautifully.  It gives the overall bouquet a freshness that is reminiscent of the aroma one would experience if they were to walk into a flower shop.  It’s that kind of fresh, beautiful scent that has me head over heels.

The black tea base is a Ceylon.  It is brisk and delicious.  It is smooth and well-rounded with a moderate astringency.  It is not an aggressive tea, it is mellow and on the lighter side … I’d categorize it as a medium-bodied tea.

The citrus is the most prominent flavor after the flavor of the Ceylon, and it nicely accents the natural citrus-y tones of the Ceylon tea very nicely.  The citrus is strong but it isn’t overwhelming, and it tastes like real fruit, not an artificial flavoring.

The rose is more of an accent flavor.  It is very mild – like a whisper of rose essence that wisps along the palate.  The chamomile is almost unnoticeable, but, every once in a while, my palate recognizes a insinuation of apple-like flavor.

I fall more in love with this tea with every sip!

No. 6 Black Cap from Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:   Steven Smith Teamaker; 1626 NW Thurman Street; Portland, Oregon  (This ready to drink tea is not available from their website)

Product Description:

Black Tea steeped in water that has been infused with blackberries – a process we call “fruitsmithing.”

Ingredients: filtered water infused with hand-picked blackberries, black teas from Ceylon & India, Raw Cane Sugar, Blackberry Juice, Natural Flavors & Lemon Juice.

Taster’s Review:

This is so good!

I was able to talk my husband into taking me to Steven Smith’s tea shop in Portland, OR (not an easy feat since he thinks I have way too much tea as it is and I needn’t go shopping for more).  But he was in a good mood (the Steelers had just won a game) so I was able to get him to promise to take me to the shop!

I am glad that I visited.  I had ordered from Steven Smith’s website before, but I hadn’t been to their shop.  It is a beautiful shop; very elegant and understated.  Amy assisted me, and she offered me tastings of each of the three Ready-to-Drink (RTD) teas that they prepare.   Based upon that tasting, I chose to purchase this tea.

Amy described the process of making these teas: First, the filtered water is infused with the fruit, and then, they use that infused fruit water to steep the tea. The sweetening is very light here, the fruit provides most of the sweetening to it. No preservatives and nothing artificial.  It’s really delicious, and the best – THE BEST – ready to drink tea I’ve ever tasted.

The black tea edges out the blackberry taste only slightly, both are pretty close to the same strength when it comes to taste.

It is a very light tasting RTD tea and I think that is what takes me by surprise the most.  It has such a clean, pure flavor to it.  It doesn’t taste overly sweet.  It doesn’t taste like a soda without the fizz. It tastes like something I would brew myself.  I like that!