Smith Teamaker eschews the word cafe and instead calls their shops “tasting rooms.” Inside are stacks of neatly designed boxes and tins filled with the good stuff: Wheels of aged and pressed tea, separated sachets to build your tasting flights, and bowls of the individual herbs, flowers and teas are on display to smell and examine. Visiting is a sensory delight way before you’ve ordered a pot of tea and sat down to pour a cup.
Just outside the tasting room is a generous patio where you can sit and enjoy your tea in the sunshine or more often, avoid the rain. While the Smith Teamaker patio is plenty cozy, I do think they would mind if you rolled a fragrant joint of Gnome Grown cultivated GMO x Rootbeer and sparked it up alongside a steeping pot of afternoon tea. Ergo, we highly recommend trying this one on your own patio to not affect the chai-lover over at a nearby table.
Smith has several varieties that complemented the GMO x Rootbeer, but nothing was as striking as their Black Lavender – a blend of Ceylon and Zheng Shan black teas with French lavender, red rose, vanilla and black currant. Upon opening the box, the soft berry notes immediately catch our attention. A hint of vanilla and the lasting perfume of panna cotta permeate the air. An excellent match for the flower’s funk-forward profile.
A deep hit off the joint coats the palate with a rich funk. Black pepper and cola syrup are upfront on the inhale, plus a sour lime with an herbal sharpness on the exhale. But nothing beats the scent of breaking this herb up, as a nose-tickling effervescence puts baking anise cookies in competition with unleaded gas.
The highly sought-after Rootbeer profile combined with the aroma powerhouse of GMO produces the best of both expressions. This is all the flavor of your best GMO with bonus notes of licorice, fizzy cola and floral aromas.
It’s these florals that make the Black Lavender tea an excellent partner. After a five-minute brew, the cup of tea smells like sun-warmed leather and an afternoon in the herb garden. Soft enough to cleanse the palate between draws of a joint, but not subtle enough to get lost in the cloud of funk.
Together these two are a match I’d love to see offered at the swanky social-use tea shop of the not-so-distant future … where herbs, flowers and teas are all selected for their unique flavor and provenance, and of course, served with ornate little snacks. Until then, I highly suggest waiting for a sunny day to brew a pot, twist one up, and enjoy some of the finest herbs imaginable.
This article was originally published in the March 2022 issue of Oregon Leaf.
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