Review: Smith Teamaker No. 71 White Petal RTD

Apple Tea, Bai Mu Dan Tea, Chamomile Tea, Iced Tea, Lemon Tea, Pear Tea, White Tea Add comments
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Thumbs up!"I even picked up a bottle before bolting the joint, skipping merrily in my head."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.7/10
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A whole year had passed since I last stepped into Smith Teamaker's tasting room. I hadn't meant for that much time to pass since my last tea trek, but months had a way of slipping past. However, it was the holiday season, and my online rumblings turned up a blend I thought would be perfect for my father. Alas, they ran out of it, but I had some time to kill and ordered a pot of tea regardless. I loved the place; might as well soak it in.

Halfway through my pot of whiskey-scented Nuwara Eliya Ceylon, the owner came through to say "Hi". He remembered me from my prior write-up about my last visit, and recalled the esoteric questions I asked. I think he also remembered that I had a very active "Oooo shiny!" gland, for he directed my attention to a new line of RTD (ready-to-drink) teas they'd just launched in the fall. He also lamented that autumn probably wasn't the best time to introduce iced Oregon. Regardless, I was intrigued. ("Ooo shiny!" gland, remember?)

The ready-to-drink teas were unique to Smith Teamaker because of the process used to make them - a technique they dubbed "fruitsmithing". I loved the term. Layman short version: Fruit pieces were cut up and steeped in cold water, creating a juice-like base. Hot tea was then infused with the mix and cold-brewed again. Afterwards, cane sugar, lemon juice, apple juice and natural flavors were added. At least, that's how I understood it.

One key fact I came away with - and the point Smith wanted to hit home - was that no citric acid was used in the brewing. I was no expert on the subject, but I had never heard of an iced tea NOT having citric acid for storage purposes.The first of the three I sampled was the subject of this review.

The iced white tea shared its name with another of Smith Teamaker's wares - the No. 72 White Petal, a blend of Bai Mu Dan, osthmanthus and chamomile. I remembered having it but couldn't recall the flavor profile. This cold-brewed version differed (obviously) because of the inclusion of fruit, but the white tea recipe was also changed slightly. Osmanthus was taken out of the mix for reasons unknown, probably for clashing with the fruit fresca.

The liquor was a foggy gold-yellow, almost like honey-ginger Korean jarred tea; or for a fancier comparison, honey-rich mead. The concoction also had a distinct aroma, something akin to cider - both hard and soft. The taste? Oh...where to begin...

Imagine you're at a party full of wine connoisseurs. You're the designated driver, and - as such - you don't want to get completely "fashliggered". You also don't want to be the only guy/girl drinking a beer at a wine party. Someone gives you some iced tea instead. This is what a good wine host would offer nondrinker. It reminded me of a non-alcoholic Gewürztraminer. On the flavor front, it was strong on the apple, mildly astringent due to the white tea, with a toasty, champagne-like finish that danced with the mild floral aspects.

Coincidentally, another Smith blender informed me that at a recent Pinot Noir festival, the White Petal was a clear favorite of their three iced teas. Some compared it to a Sauvignon Blanc. I personally think it's superior to Blanc, but I'm not really a wine guy. That said, it's probably the best (and biggest) iced tea I've sipped. I even picked up a bottle before bolting the joint, skipping merrily in my head.

NOTE: So far, the ready-to-drink teas are only available exclusively at the Smith Teamaker bricks-and-mortar store.

— To purchase Smith Teamaker No. 71 White Petal RTD, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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4 Responses to “Review: Smith Teamaker No. 71 White Petal RTD”

  1. Sophie Says:

    Without adding citric acid these must have a very short shelf life. I have trouble picturing how this “fruit steeping” would work without becoming a big yucky mess. Interesting!

    I do occasional bouts of canning, so I worry about being fatally poisoned by food borne pathogens…

  2. Geoff Says:

    Well, they did mention that lemon juice was their substitute for citric acid, but I reckon you’re right. After opening they do require refrigeration.

  3. Tweets that mention Review: Smith Teamaker No. 71 White Petal RTD | -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tea Reviews=Teaviews, Geoffrey F. Norman. Geoffrey F. Norman said: [Sorry the RTs, playing catch-up] And lastly, my @teaviews entry on @Smithteamakers No. 71 White Petal RTD (9.7/10): […]

  4. Mark Says:

    Well, its again ‘fruit juice’ and tea. I really don’t understand why manufacturers have to put in ‘juice’. Don’t we have enough juice varieties in the market ?. For a seasoned tea man, he should know better. Just make tea. One doesn’t have to be a tea scientist to figure it out. Not to mention, added sugar and ‘natural flavors’, which is a misleading universe for consumers anyway. I sipped it on a trip to their shop. Dissapointed !.

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