Tea Sourcing; How and Why

Choosing quality, delicious and beneficial tea and bringing it to tea lovers is a rewarding and enjoyable task.  Tasting teas and visiting beautiful tea gardens all over the world, bringing joy to customers, what’s not to love?  But there is a serious side to selecting tea and making sure tea sources are reliable, ethical and provide quality product.  Tim Smith does just that through his relationships with vendors and continuing education.

Tim has been providing area tea lovers with great ingredients and craftsmanship of a wide and exotic variety of loose-leaf teas from around the world for over ten years.   From the beginning, he was set upon working with and sourcing from only the best.  “When I first started I called around to other businesses and distributors getting good information on sourcing tea.” Once Tim had enough knowledge he started to source closer from gardens and producers directly and that yielded not only quality tea but special opportunities. “Some vendors that I have a long working relationship with will offer unique teas in small quantities that other buyer may not be able to get as they appreciate our art of blending tea.”

Tim adds that sourcing tea is a continual journey and his work takes him to gardens all over the globe as well as regional and world tea expos. “I have gone to tea gardens in Japan, Taiwan  and China, I do not go as often as I would want.” Tim is also is in contact on a regular basis with people who want to build relationships and source tea.

As a Tea Smith (a name that Tim coined that blends that meanings of great ingredients and craftsmanship) his  success comes from  constant and continuing education. “Tea flavor for me is naturally fascinating. Teas have a vast palate, from white tea to oolongs to black teas; there are thousands of tea varieties and I am always learning, there are so many aspects to tea. There are always new teas to discover as well as blending techniques and preparation.”

The Tea Smith employees are also in on the continuing education process as they are all familiar with the teas and each has a Tasting Book in which they keep notes about each tea they drink so that they can share flavors with customers. Tea lovers too, are able to share in tea knowledge as tea classes are offered throughout the year.

What does all this sourcing and education mean to customers? Well, they are the beneficiaries of The Tea Smith’s continual devotion to providing the utmost in quality tea especially in the upcoming months.  “We are introducing new flavored tea for the fall and winter season.  Some  customer favorites that all seem to love is the almond  apple delight, which people start looking for in late summer.  Pumpkin spice will be available for a short time and for the adventerous we have developed and blended a South-of-the-border black tea with chocolate and chili peppers.”

Add comment September 17th, 2016

Keeping Your Tea Fresh, Flavorful and Beneficial

tea-canister-shortl-350One of the many enjoyable aspects of tea drinking is in the selection process.  Flavor, aroma, type of tea, intensity and purpose of loose leaf tea are all part of the decision making process.  After you decide upon your prefect blend of loose leaf tea, caring for your tea leaves is just as important.  Just how do you keep your tea fresh?

Tim Smith, owner and operator of The Tea Smith and award winning tea infusionist, says keeping your tea fresh at home starts before you buy it. “Make sure teas are fresh when purchase them, make sure you choose a vendor who properly keeps tea fresh.”  Tim added that if you can smell tea, like in the grocery store, it is not fresh.  “Tea needs to be stored with life proof containers or airtight tea storage canisters and cannot be exposed to air, light or other aromas. Tea can absorb aromas from your spice cabinet and can make for an interesting flavor tea!”

As for the length of tea freshness, that depends upon the tea.  “Properly stored tea can stay fresh for some time. We like to say that green tea should be used within six months while black tea up to one year. Tea won’t necessarily go bad but flavors and health benefits diminish. To get maximum flavor and benefits use as fresh as possible.”

In keeping your tea leaves fresh keep these tips in mind:

Keep your tea in a dark place and do not use clear jars as sunlight and UV rays can bleach out and break down your tea eliminating aroma and flavor and nutrients.

Keep your tea in an airtight container so that tea leaves will not absorb moisture and unpleasant odors from the air.  Keep tea in resealable zipper packages or containers that avoid excess air inside the bag or container.

Keep tea away from heat as exposure can ruin tea.  Keep out of sunlight and near stoves, ovens, or other warm places.  Heat can breakdown the quality of the tea and its flavor and aroma.

Keep tea away from items with strong odors as tea can easily absorb them.  Spices and other pantry items are things to keep your tea clear of.

Keep your tea dry. Moisture can ruin an entire batch of tea leaves within just a few minutes. Tea leaves can absorb moisture from the air very easily and quickly. Keep tea away from humid areas as well such as dishwasher, vents or inside a refrigerator.

Add comment September 10th, 2016

The Tea Smith partners with Alice’s Embrace to Make Lap Blanket/Prayer Shawls for Area Memory Care Centers!

The Tea Smith partners with Alice’s Embrace to Make Lap Blanket/Prayer Shawls for Area Memory Care Centers! 

Organizational Meeting to get everyone started! The Tea Smith (78th and Dodge store) on September 10th from 1:00-2:00 pm or September 14th from 7:00- 8:00 pm

The Tea Smith (78th and Dodge store) has partnered with Alice’s Embrace to bring love and caring to the elderly in our community. We will be making lap blankets and prayer shawls for folks in Memory Care Units in the Omaha area. This will be an ongoing project so you can join at any time.

What do you need to participate? A knowledge of casting on, knit, purl and binding off for knitters and crochet crafters need knowledge of chain, single, double and half double stitches. Each pattern has specific requirements for needles or hooks. We will only accept 100% Acrylic Yarn since the garments need to be washed and dried by machine. You do need to supply your own single color yarn to make the designs stand out and “pop” for the residents. Please check all sales at our craft stores in the area or on-line. You can easily get the required yarn on sale for approx. $12-15.

Won’t you please join our cause, meet new friends and relax with your favorite beverage all in one place –The Tea Smith, of course!!!

Add comment August 28th, 2016

National Iced Tea Month

Cold_drink_large_thermosAlthough it may not be listed on everyone’s calendar, June is National Iced Tea Month and here at The Tea Smith, we can hardly contain our excitement!  According to the Tea Association of the USA, approximately 85% of tea consumed in America is iced. Another fun statistic- On any given day, over 154 million Americans are drinking tea.

 

Though tea has been around for nearly 5,000 years, iced tea is much younger. Iced tea began making an appearance in the 1860’s in the U.S., but became more prevalent in the 1870’s when recipes began to appear in print. At the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, Richard Blechynden, a tea merchant and director of the East India pavilion became frustrated as he tried to offer samples of his hot Assam tea under the sweltering Missouri sun. In order to save the day and generate interest in his samples, he circulated the tea through a series of lead pipes immersed in ice. The result was that the tea, now chilled, turned into a hit with the fair visitors.

 

Most of us think of a crisp tasting black tea over ice as the most popular way to enjoy iced tea. But recipes from the 1800s resembled a strong drink of cold green tea generously spiked with liquor and sometimes sweet cream. The earliest record of the more familiar iced sweet tea comes from a community cookbook by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1879: Housekeeping in Old Virginia.“Ice Tea-

 

After scalding the teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time, strain, without stirring, through a tea strainer into a pitcher. Let it stand till tea time and pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will correct the astringent tendency.”

 

We suggest these 4 recipes for the PERFECT ICED TEA

 

The Impatient Method

Can’t wait? Infuse two teaspoons of tea per 8 oz. water. After infusing, pour over a glass full of ice and enjoy! Serves one.

 

The Patient Method

Infuse one teaspoon of tea per 8 oz. water. After infusing, chill and serve. Serves one.

 

Cold Infusion

Grab size four T-sacs and add approximately one oz. of tea leaves inside T-sac. Fill a one gallon pitcher with cold water. Place T-sac in pitcher and let set in refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

 

The Party Method

Having company? Grab a size four T-sac and use the Impatient Method on a larger scale. Fill up a size four T-sac with one ounce of tea leaves and place in a one-gallon pitcher. Infuse tea using only ½ gallon of hot water. After tea is done infusing, pour over a one-gallon pitcher of ice.

 

Life is so busy, and we seem to be running from one place to the next at a rapid pace most of the time. We invite you to take some time to slow down and create memories that will last a lifetime during this summertime season. Celebrate National Iced Tea Month with some delicious iced tea, while watching baseball, smelling the flowers, splashing in the water, basking in the sun.

 

To celebrate National Iced Tea Month, The Tea Smith extends an invitation to come in and enjoy free iced tea samples on National Iced Tea Day: June 10th.

Add comment May 31st, 2016

Come one- come all- on the Caffeine Crawl!  

What better way to celebrate the Old Market than with a fun, social caffeinated walk visiting some of Omaha’s best roasters, coffee shops and of course, The Tea Smith.

If you love tea, coffee and a variety of other artisan caffeinated beverages as well as visiting new shops while meeting new friends, then this Crawl is for you.  Not only will you be sampling new and exciting liquid creations, but getting one-on-one time with the people who have perfected techniques that turn tea leaves and coffee beans into liquid love.

The Caffeine Crawl takes place on two dates this year; May 6th and 7th.  All crawls are just under 12 miles each and every stop will offer a drink sample with an enlightening and educational presentation.  This is truly a one-of-a-kind event that connects caffeine lovers with those who have perfected their craft.  Samples at each stop range in size from 3 to 6 ounces so you will not be as revved up as you might think.  You will be on tour with other caffeine fiends from Omaha as well as neighboring states and you know we are a friendly, happy lot! 

The Tea Smith has been a participant each year the Caffeine Crawl has been in Omaha. (Three years).  It’s a great day with parties of 25 or so coming in and being surprised at all The Tea Smith has to offer.  And we love it!  

The Tea Smith will present a few different types of popular loose leaf teas in a 15 to 20 minute time frame. And then come the samples when we create specialty teas just for the tour. Maybe there will the ever popular Matcha, a trending tea from Japan or Mate’ tea that comes from Argentina.  Whatever we come up with we guarantee it will be a delicious and flavorful concoction!

The goal for The Tea Smith is to put together fun drinks that appeal to caffeine addicts.  And each year we see more and more tea drinkers on the tour, so it’s not just us that know that specialty tea is getting attraction.   It’s no wonder that those on the tour return to The Tea Smith when the Caffeine Crawl is over.  

To get your tickets before they sell out go to www.caffeinecrawl.com/omaha-2016.html.

Add comment April 28th, 2016

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