Townshend's Tea Owner Expands Offerings With Unique Tea Liqueur
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.
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