Drink of the Week: Smith Teamaker Yaupon Brandy

yaupon brandy
Smith Teamaker
is going back to the barrel for their new limited-edition holiday teas. While previous barrel-scented releases have included spices like cinnamon, anise and clove and ingredients like orange peel, roasted hazelnuts and sarsaparilla root, this year’s batches strip away all but the leaves and the barrel, aiming to highlight the complementary flavors and aromas released by the wood itself. For the Yaupon Brandy, yaupon leaves—cousin to yerba mate—are rested in a Stone Barn Brandyworks apple brandy barrel for four to five weeks. This process of “scenting” the tea is just long enough to allow it to absorb the flavors and aromas of the barrel, as opposed to aging for a year or more, which is often done with pu-erh. The grassy, lightly toasty yaupon takes on notes of floral apple blossom and a subtle caramel quality. While it might be a bit of a splurge, it makes the perfect gift for your favorite tea drinkers this holiday season.