There are few things in the world more unsatisfying than under seasoned (or just plain unseasoned) meat.
Your tri-tip is no different, so mix up the spices listed above in a bowl and generously coat the outside of the beef with them, making sure to rub into every crack and crevice.
You should be doing this about two to three days before you plan to cook the beef, as this provides ample time for the spices to penetrate into the flesh and more deeply season the resulting barbecue.
Once seasoned, place a metal baking rack into a sheet pan, then put your meat on top of it.
Place all of this into the refrigerator and allow it to sit undisturbed until the cook date.
This dries out the outside of the beef, making for a crispier crust and deeper flavor once it's been smoked.
Think dry aging like in the restaurants.
Half an hour prior to cooking, take your meat out of the fridge.
Blot the outside of the beef with paper towels to remove excess moisture and re-season with about a teaspoon or two of the spice mix if needed.
Let it sit like this so it comes to room temperature prior to cooking, as this makes for a more evenly done piece of meat.
Additionally, soak your wood chips in hot water if you're using those instead of wood chunks.
Choose the wood based on what smoke flavor you want to get.
As this is happening, fill your smoker halfway with charcoal and light it, closing the lid and letting the coals burn down with the air vents opened fully.
Once they've burned sufficiently to a smolder, add more coals, place your wood onto the fire, and fill the water tank before placing the smoker grate on top.
Allow the smoker to burn for a few more minutes to let smoke build up.
When your smoker has sufficiently warmed up (the cooking temperature should be around 250 degrees Fahrenheit if you're keeping track with a thermometer), place tri-tip into the center of the grate and close the lid.
Monitor the tri-tip as it cooks and add more charcoal, wood, or water as needed.
Adjust the air vents to try and keepthe temperature within a 10 degree range, as well.
For a cut of meat this size, you should expect to smoke tri-tip around 3 hours or so at this temperature, though the most accurate way to test for doneness is by internal temperature.
For larger or smaller tri-tips, add or subtract around half an hour for each pound of meat different from the one listed in this recipe.
Check the temp with a digital thermometer.
Once the temperature of the meat reaches the needed level, transfer it from the smoker into a large aluminum baking pan or other container.
Wrap tri-tip in aluminum foil, then wrap it in a clean towel and place it inside a large cooler.
Let the meat rest like for half an hour before serving, during which time the residual heat will move throughout the meat evenly and finish cooking.
The temperature will also raise around 5 degrees as it rests, making for a perfect medium rare.
After properly resting the tri-tip, it's finally time to dig in.