Tazo Tea co-founder Steven Smith has died of cancer, according to his company, Steven Smith Teamaker. He was 65.

Steven Smith of Steven Smith Teamakers in 2010

Steven Smith of Steven Smith Teamakers in 2010

Steven Smith Teamakers/Facebook

Smith is known for his work in specialty tea, founding Stash and Steven Smith Teamaker, which is based in Portland. He is also credited with creating Tazo Tea, which is now owned by Starbucks.

Several years ago, Smith gave OPB a tour of his company site in northwest Portland. After decades with Stash and Tazo Tea, he said there was more he wanted to do.

“Because I felt there was another opportunity in tea, to try to be uncomplicated and introduce people to super-fresh tea,” he said during the interview. “That’s why I’m doing it.”

Tony Tellin, who worked for Smith for the past 18 years as a master tea blender, said on OPB’s Morning Edition the company had been preparing for his death for the last couple weeks.

“He’s an amazing man,” said Tellin. “He was demanding, but very fair. He was very fun to work with. The attitude and the mood at the company was always productive, but fun.”

Tellin said that Smith’s passion for tea dated to his childhood when he shared tea with his grandmother.

“Tea has a special place in Steve’s heart,” he said.

Smith was known for his international travels to collect tea ingredients. His company website suggests that people remember Smith by making “a soothing cup of tea.”

“We’re going to continue his passion,” said Tellin. “We’re ready to continue to execute and make him proud.”