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The Serenity Prayer in French + La Prière de la Sérénité en anglais

Adieu, Monsieur Thé. Homage to Steven Smith


From Portland to Bandol to Assam, India -- people all over the world are paying tribute to Steven Smith, who passed away on Monday. Hats off to you, Monsieur Thé

le thé (tay)

    : tea

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav

Aujourd'hui nous rendons homage à notre ami, Steve Smith. Et nous levons notre tasse de thé en sa memoireToday we pay tribute to our friend Steve Smith. And we raise our cup of tea in his memory.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

"Adieu Monsieur Thé"

News of Steven Smith's passing came as a complete shock. My husband and I were home, preparing for the last leg of our journée. At ten minutes till 4, I had to leave for an appointment in Aix-en-Provence.  Jean-Marc, seated on the edge of the bed, was putting on dry socks after getting soaked in the vineyard, where he spent the morning arguing with his tractor (its unweildy "fish-tail" had knocked out 5 precious vines).

Seated near my husband, at my desk, I was shutting down my computer after reading the last comments to yesterday's blog post when I saw Elizabeth's words:

Isn't Max coming to Portland this summer to work for Steven Smith Teamakers? Sad news reported in the Oregonian, Portland's paper, that SS died yesterday from liver cancer. I assume his thriving business will continue, but sad nevertheless- he reinvented tea in the U.S. with Stash, Tazo and now his namesake.

My first instinct was to strike out the words of the messenger, whose announcement had come as a blow. A lump formed in my throat as I reread les nouvelles to Jean-Marc. We logged on to Facebook and witnessed the flood of support. Our own tears, now pinching our eyes, fell, adding to the stream of sympathy.

Steve Smith and Kim DeMent

We met Steve and Kim in 2007 when they visited, along with 8-year-old Jack, our former vineyard in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes.  Max, twelve at the time, hit it off with Jack, whose French was as good as a native's. As the boys chatted about computer games or tossed the ball to Breizh, we strolled among our fruit-bare vines after harvest time.

It was Kim who had put her husband onto Jean-Marc's wine journal, which was especially interesting to Steve, Kim noted, "because he loves wine, but also is in the tea business; which has many similarities."

I was in awe hearing about the man who had sold his tea company to Starbucks. And I remember being struck meeting the smiling personnage whose curiosity and kindness outshined even his good looks. Following close on his heels as he chatted with Jean-Marc among the vine rows, I hoped some of those supernatural tea leaves might fly out of his pocket and land on us like stardust!  But any super magic secret stardust Steve Smith might have wasn't something you had to wish for....

On that post-harvest autumn afternoon, as Kim and I lagged behind the vigneron and the teamaker, one of us fanning the air in favor of flying tealeaves, the other spoke out thoughtfully:   

"I know wine and tea aren't exactly the same things," Kim offered, but if there is anyway we can help you, please let us know. We have a little experience in marketing and packaging. :-)"

Jean-Marc, Christian, me, Steve, Kim, and Neil.

Sometimes you receive the right offer at the wrong time.  Jean-Marc was busy kicking up his own dust in the vineyard. But years would pass, with their harvests and hailstones, and meantime our son would grow up... and begin to offer a new perspective to his father.

As Max helped more and more in the vines, while taking business and marketing classes, we received a reminder from Kim: remember we are here and happy to help!

And so, for his two-month marketing internship beginning in June, Max will be taken under Smith Teamaker's wing. The other brave and beautiful wing has flown now. But if you look to the horizon, above the ethereal mist, you will trace the spectacular golden-sepia shimmer to a trail of tealeaves falling from the sky.

We send our love and support to Steve Smith's family and to all of his friends and fans.  

Read the New York Times obituary for Steve, click here.

To leave a comment click here. Thanks for sharing today's edition with a tea lover.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Barbara Zarcone

My Sympathy to his lovely family and friends.. the world lost a gentle spirit.


What a sincere and beautiful tribute! Sending my condolences to Steven's family and to you, his friends.


With sadness I write letting you know that your informative even with my condolences , is received with much fervor. I am a tea fanatic of mr smiths's teas. He has left behind soooo many memories while sipping that nice cup of tea with friends and family!! Thank you. Teresa

Bren Allen

His soul will live on in all that is beautiful around you!

Dorothy Lawrence

I love Tazo tea, especially Passion! How sad to hear of the loss of Steve Smith. Thank you for sharing your experience with him and his family. Condolences to all.


I'm so sorry that I was the one to break such sad news, and had no idea of the back story you had with the Smiths...your tribute is lovely and really conveys both the character of the Smith family and the special bond you have with them. My condolences to all.

Vivian Langley

So sorry for the loss of your friend, and this morning I too learned a dear friend had died.

Julie Farrar

What a lovely tribute. I drink that tea and did not connect it with Max's internship in Oregon. What a shame he won't have a chance to learn directly from the master.

Judi, Lake Balboa, CA

Your warm and beautiful heart shines through at this very sad time. I'm so sorry for your family's loss and for the loss in Steve Smiths family. He seemed like just a lovely and loved man. Your tribute was beautiful.

My condolences to you, too, Vivian. The loss of a loved one is always so difficult.

May happy memories flood in to all, to ease the loss.


Beautiful tribute. Lord comfort Kim and be with the entire Smith family.

Tami, Austin, TX

It's awful to learn of a friend's passing and I'm so sorry to hear this. May God infuse all of those hurting with His great peace and may you all enjoy the memories of this wonderful man. Hugs.


A lovely, heartfelt tribute and an essay that enriches the phrase "tea and sympathy". May each sip of tea now be infused with even richer memories.


A very nice tribute and thank you for the story of your connection to Steve Smith! I'm sorry for your loss.

Karen Cafarella

I am so sorry for your loss and to Steve's family my thoughts and prayers are with them.

What a beautiful tribute!

Sending Hugs.


Another sad tea lover.


Our dear Kristi,
Kindness is never forgotten,and his will continue to live on in memory,especially through your words and deeds ,and that of others whose lives he touched.
Prayers for him,his family and friends.

Anne Irons

Pax vobiscum, Smith family and I am very sorry for your loss.

Brenda Prowse

Thank you for postig such a lovely tribute, Kirsti. Your friend wll be smiling to know how much you thought of him and his family and his life workk.

Kathleen from Connecticut

A wonderful tribute and our prayers go out to the Smith family.



Beautiful tribute, Kristi. Thanks for bringing Steve to life for all of us.

Cynthia P. Lewis

May I add my condolences to this beautiful tribute ...

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

So sad to hear. Lovely tribute. Prayers to all.

Pat Cargill

Kristen, I am so sorry to hear the sad news of Steve's passing. Thank you for your lovely tribute to him, for letting us know. Condolences to his dear family and friends...in our thoughts and prayers.

As "The Singer (who) Sings his Song" wrote and sang:

"And each one there
Has one thing shared
They have sweated beneath the same sun
Looked up in wonder at the same moon
And wept when it was all done
For bein' done too soon
For bein' done too soon
For bein' done...."

Sheryl Wells

So very sad! Such a lovely tribute from you, Kristi. My deepest condolences.

Bill Lauterbach

My condolences to all close to him. I'm sure he's now closer to Him. Peace Bill

John Patte

My wife and I are fortunate to call ourselves survivors. But we have all lost too many friends and loved ones to this terrible disease. It makes me so angry and frustrated, I can't accept it passively. So, I've been riding in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 200+km bike ride to raise funds for cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, one of the world's 5 top cancer research facilities. Pardon the advertising but, for those who want to conquer cancer in our lifetime, please sponsor me: Click on the live link below …

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I'm sorry to hear of the passing of Steve Smith. I will keep him and his family in my prayers.

C J Phillips

I was very moved by the eloquence of your homage to Steven Smith. Though I never knew him, I can imagine what pain the family is going through right now, and your words were so very uplifting and positive, that I know they have brought some amount of comfort to all those close to Mr. Smith. I, too, lost someone very dear to liver cancer just recently, and I know how cruel such a disease is. I imagined that your words were also meant for me, and I thank you very much. Please also accept my sincerest condolences for his family, and for you as his friend.

Leslie in Oregon

Please accept my strong condolences on the loss of your friend and master teamaker, Steve Smith. Thank you for sharing with us the photographs of your lovely day with the Smiths and Governor Goldschmidt...you all look so happy.

Lorrie Kazan

So sorry for the loss of this wonderful man. I'm sure he would have enjoyed what you wrote...or is enjoying it from another realm.

I was surprised recently to read that Tazo tea has pesticides. (The article said it was full of pesticides) I had thought this was one of the purer products and pesticide-free.

May he find peace in his new home.

Lorrie Kazan

P.S.: I just googled their organic tea and it meets the standards for "Clean Plates."

Georgia from Northern CA

Kristin, what a lovely tribute! As a tea lover, as well of wine, I have used Tazo Tea on many occasions! Such a sad loss for his family and all of us who enjoy tea!

Lisa Smith

My heart goes out to the Smith family, and to yours too dear Kristi. You penned such a beautiful tribute, and I hope those words, and those from us, your readers, offer you comfort. Hugs to Max as he ventures to Portland this summer to begin his internship and learn from the integrity-filled legacy left by Steve Smith. xx

Patricia Sands

Thank you for sharing your heartfelt legacy, Kristin. Such a loss is always so difficult to comprehend.


A lovely tribute to your dear friend.....my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends..

Diane Young

What a beautiful homage to a person who loved tea - my favorite beverage. I begin each day with
Twining's Irish Breakfast Tea,
Decaffeinated. There are so many teas mentioned in your blog that I want to start trying them tomorrow1 To those of us who can't drink coffee, it is o wonderful to read of Un Homme de The. May he rest in peace amid God's heavenly fields.

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