Portland’s Steven Smith Teamaker is known for sourcing some of the highest quality teas of any purveyor in the country.
The company has built a reputation creating exciting blends and unique collections. Their latest is the next iteration of their sought-after Barrel-Aged Collection.
Smith’s head teamaker, Tony Tellin, worked with two local distilleries to age a black and yaupon tea in whiskey and brandy barrels respectively.
“I was offered a whiskey barrel from one of our neighbors and a brandy barrel from another,” he says. “Then, after a lot of tasting, negotiation and logistics we landed on a smoked tea from Zheijang, China and the yaupon leaves from Catspring, Texas.”
These whiskey-barrel gifting neighbors happen to be two of Portland’s top distilleries – House Spirits and Stone Barn Brandyworks. The “Wuyi Whiskey” varietal is a smoked tea aged in Westward Whiskey barrels, while the “Yaupon Brandy” is aged in an apple brandy barrel.
“I like to think of the Wuyi as a tea for Ron Burgundy. It pairs well with mahogany furniture, leather bound books, etc.,” he says.
He adds that the Yaupon really took on the character of the brandy, while not being too watery or weak. Both are as much reflective of the original barrel liquid as they are as their own finished products.
The Wuyi drinks like a scotch with an almost cigar-like front, smoky nose and rich finish. The Yaupon is delicate and really carries the apple, peach and pear notes from Stone Barn, while retaining plenty of traditional tea flavor.
As for future projects, Tellin plans to continue to the collaboration series into next year and beyond. Although he won’t disclose what those teas are as of yet, you can be sure that they’ll be partnerships that continue to push the boundaries of flavor and fusion.
The Wuyi varietal is now sold out, but limited boxes of the Yaupon are available here.