Townshend's Tea Owner Expands Offerings With Unique Tea Liqueur

by Alexander Frane on Mar 18, 2016 in Liquor

Tea flavored spirits aren’t new, but what’s coming out of Thomas & Sons is. This new Portland distillery is making spirits directly from tea, and they are fantastic.

Townshend’s Tea began in 2002 at the University of Oregon, before spreading up to Portland to open a number of teahouses. The purpose was to bring some of the best teas in the world to Portland drinkers. Later, in 2009, Brew Dr. was launched, a line of delicious kombucha drinks. Brew Dr. kombucha is found on tap throughout Portland and beyond, at restaurants, tea shops, and even bars and grocers. Now, the small company is growing even larger with a new line of tea based spirits, Thomas & Sons.

Rather than started as a base of neutral grain spirits and then flavored, these spirits start as a sweetened tea, often with other spices and herbs. They are then fermented using wild yeast and distilled. Proprietary methods involving a vacuum still allow the tea to be distilled at a lower temperature than other spirits, which retains their complex flavors. Finally, more tea and spices are added to bring the alcohol back down to a potable level and to balance the flavors. The result is a unique, delicious family of spirits that is a welcome addition to Portland’s craft liquor scene.

Seth O’Malley is the head distiller at Thomas and Sons, selected by owner Matt Thomas when O’Malley was working the counter at the Division Street branch of Townshend’s Tea. In the year since Thomas & Sons opened, the team has developed a number of flavors. The main spirit line consists of four flavors, conceptualized by Thomas and executed by O’Malley.

The Sweet Tea is the most popular. Made from spiced and sweetened Ceylon tea, it tastes like its namesake without being cloying, and it’s fun for mixing or having neat. The Spice Tea is a favorite in winter and is made from Yunnan black tea and plenty of spices and citrus. It’s great for sipping over ice and pairs excellently with ginger beer and cider, as well as other spirits. The Smoke Tea is made from Lapsang Souchong. Rather than the peat smoke found in Scotch style whisky, it’s smoked with pine, giving it the essence of a camp-fire in the Northwest. It’s also touched with vanilla bean, rooibos, and local blackberry honey. Finally, The Bitter Tea is the most complex--made from Assam. It’s flavored with cardamom, mint, black pepper, and nutmeg. Though it has a unique flavor, it works well in place of an amaro or fernet in any drink or for a great after dinner libation.

O’Malley has created a few other flavors, including the delicate and floral White Rose and the botanical Bluebird Alpine Liqueur. He’s currently developing a Northwest Fernet, soon to be released.

Though the distillery has been open only a year, it’s making strong strides, showing up in restaurants and bars around the city and beyond as bartenders discover the many uses of these fun new spirits. If you’re eager to taste all that Thomas and Sons has to offer, stop in the tasting room, open Wednesday–Friday, 4–7 PM and Saturday & Sunday, 2–7 PM. Or find their product at most liquor stores in Oregon.

Photos by Alexander Frane


Tags: Cocktails, Spirits
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Jacqueline is Hosting a 'Shipwreck' Pop-Up, March 26-28

Jacqueline is Hosting a 'Shipwreck' Pop-Up, March 26-28

Bartender Eric Steven Nelson is moving from his current bar position at the seafood focused bistro Jacqueline back to his home at the Laurelhurst Mark...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 26, 2017
This Bartender Made Real-Life Versions of Cocktails from 'The Simpsons'

This Bartender Made Real-Life Versions of Cocktails from 'The Simpsons'

Have you ever dreamt of trying a cocktail only seen before in a cartoon, like the 'Flaming Homer' from The Sim...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Mar 23, 2017
Behind the Bar: Camille Ralph Vidal, Global Brand Ambassador for St. Germain

Behind the Bar: Camille Ralph Vidal, Global Brand Ambassador for St. Germain

In this installment of Behind the Bar, we were lucky enough to interview Madame St. Germain herself, Camille V...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Mar 23, 2017
SPONSORED
Things No One Asked For: Prosecco-Flavored Nail Polish

Things No One Asked For: Prosecco-Flavored Nail Polish

If you're the kind of alcoholic who needs to have booze on your person at all times, Groupon has just the product for you: prosecco-flavored nail poli...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Mar 22, 2017
The Sobro Refrigerator Coffee Table Means You Never Need to Get Up Again

The Sobro Refrigerator Coffee Table Means You Never Need to Get Up Again

A recent IndieGoGo campaign has resulted in a coffee table with everything you could want: the Sobro Refrigera...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 22, 2017
Celebrate Wine & The Women of Marvel at Pairings Portland Wine Shop, March 23-26

Celebrate Wine & The Women of Marvel at Pairings Portland Wine Shop, March 23-26

This weekend, Thursday March 23 through Sunday March 26, join the fun with wines made by female winemakers pai...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 21, 2017
Cold Brew Hard Coffee is Coming to Stores in May

Cold Brew Hard Coffee is Coming to Stores in May

Soon, you'll be able to enjoy cold brew coffee with the alcohol percentage of a strong beer with Bad Larry's Cold Hard Coffee. ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 17, 2017
Budweiser Wants to Be the First Beer Consumed on Mars

Budweiser Wants to Be the First Beer Consumed on Mars

In what is undoubtedly the company's latest publicity stunt, Budweiser announced Saturday, March 11 at SXSW in Austin, Texas that they are looking int...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Mar 16, 2017
Portland's Best Non-Alcoholic Bar Programs

Portland's Best Non-Alcoholic Bar Programs

Whether you're a designated driver, trying to saving money, cutting out alcohol entirely, or just feel like going out without getting buzzed, here are...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 14, 2017
Where to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2017 in Portland

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2017 in Portland

St. Patrick's Day is a time for celebration in Portland, not just because we always love an excuse to drink stout, but also because it marks the end o...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 14, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close