Review: Lord Bergamot // Steven Smith Teamaker
Oh hi there! How funny to find you here! I’m glad you’ve somehow found your way to this new corner of the internet. You’ve made it to Beginning with Bergamot, a blog about tea and all the wonderful things you can do with it. I hope you’ll hang out and stay awhile.
Before we get into the heart of this post, let me explain why this space exists in the first place. I love food — making it, eating it, reading about it (no seriously, I have way too many food memoirs). I love writing — sometimes I’ll just write an essay like you did in high school for no reason other than it’s a subject I want to explore. And I love indulging. Not like, eat an entire chocolate cake indulging, I’m actually pretty good about that. I mean like... lighting a candle at the end of a long day or adding that second pat of butter because it’s delicious and — damn it, I deserve it!
Right now you’re probably thinking… I thought this blog has to do with tea? Well, it does. But, not because I’m some kind of tea connoisseur. I don’t actually know all that much about tea. But I know I like tea. I know it makes me feel happy and comforted and luxurious. And I know that it somehow does that in a very simple and well, cheap way.
So, I wanted to create a space where I could explore new and different types of tea, how to use tea in food and also… the bigger ideas of comfort, happiness and small indulgences.
But to start off this journey into the wide world of tea I have to start somewhere, so I decided to begin with bergamot. You see, the tea that got me interested in this subject is my current favorite tea, Lord Bergamot by Steven Smith Teamaker. It’s basically the only tea I drink, which is a little sad. But it’s somewhere to start, so let’s begin…
I first tried this tea with some awesome friends at a little coffee shop in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco called Andytown. I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time and this tea called out to me. We all got our drinks but when I got mine, it came with this beautiful teapot and teacup on a lovely wooden board that just killed it in terms of presentation. The weather also wanted to hop on the tea train as it was decidedly San Franciscan that day — foggy and cozy.
I opened my packet of tea and found a lovely silk tea bag — wait, you mean not all tea bags use that crappy paper?! I let the tea bag steep in my teacup… not my teapot, doh! — rookie mistake. But regardless, I then sat down to an absolutely delicious cup of tea. As someone who used to just drink whatever black tea Trader Joes had, this felt distinctly different. Maybe the atmosphere of good friends and an awesome presentation played a part, but who says that isn’t all a part of a cup of tea to begin with.
I walked away from that coffeeshop thinking, “I have to get my hands on more of this tea.” Which is just what I did. Happily Smith sells their tea online so I purchased the largest loose leaf pack they had — which happened to be 4oz. Let’s note now that I had never used loose leaf tea before which meant when this tea arrived I was haunted with questions of, how exactly do I make this? What do I put it in? How much should I use? Not soul searching questions but certainly important ones for making a good cup of tea.
I figured out the basics fairly quickly after texts with my sister and consultations from coworkers. It’s only tea, right??
I also walked away from that coffeeshop thinking, “That tea atmosphere was pretty awesome.” So, while I couldn’t recreate Andytown’s outdoor seating area in my kitchen, I could stalk their social media accounts to find the potter who created their teapots and teacups and ask him to make me some just like them. Which is just what I did. I have no shame.
Luckily he was on board and a couple weeks later I had my very own teapot, teacup and saucer with the exact same tea I had first tried weeks earlier. Thanks Doug.
So now all that was left was to drink this lovely tea, over and over and over and over… because I do find it to be completely lovely. On their website, Smith describes it as:
“A flavor somewhat superior to traditional Earl Grey. Fragrant Ceylon Dimbulla and Uva are artfully combined with select teas from India's Assam valley, then scented with the flavor of bergamot from the realm of Reggio Calabria, Italy.”
I don’t really know what all those flavors are — but doesn’t it sound nice! I’m a sucker for marketing, I admit it. Even though I'm not yet well versed in the language of tea, I do know that there’s a distinct flavor in this tea that I don’t notice in other Earl Greys. This tea is more complex and tastes richer and more interesting than your average Earl Grey. It feels more luxurious to drink. I can't say for sure what sets it apart, but I have a good hunch it’s the bergamot.
For me, this has become my go-to morning tea. Get to work, put my bag down, make some Lord Bergamot tea. That’s the drill. I am primarily a black tea drinker and to me, this tea stands far above the rest.
If you happen to be in the Portland area, you can go to the Steven Smith Teamaker tasting rooms. I haven’t been but it’s definitely on my list for the next time I go to Portland.
Lovely little things
- I got a sample of this Grapefruit Cardamom Lotion by Etta and Billie and it is downright magical! Warm and citrusy at the same time. It’s a little expensive which is why I haven’t bought it yet but it’s fabulous.
- I purchased this Blood Orange Cardamom Shrub by Shrub & Co at Alchemy Bottle Shop in Oakland. I love to add it to a basic Manhattan cocktail for a twist.
- Currently making my way through the podcast Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert and making my way through her book at the same time. Good for anyone who wants to live a more creative life.
- Or if you don’t feel like listening to an entire podcast, Liz’s TED talk on the subject still totally holds up 7 years later.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert