There’s been quite a hype around the internets about David’s Tea as of late. I had seen some mentions on Reddit’s /r/tea subforum, which I frequent, and vowed to give it a try if I was near a retail location. Unfortunately, Montreal-based David’s Tea does not currently have an abundance of locations in the US. Their main US retail stores are located in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City areas. Granted, I’m close to NYC, but it’s a pricy day trip. David’s has a host of locations in Canada, one of which I had the opportunity to check out last week in Vancouver.
Upon being greeted by a bright, modern storefront with many colorful cans of tea on the wall, I was quickly overwhelmed by the variety available. So many flavors, so little time. I’ve been on the lookout for dessert and flavored teas as of late, and heard David’s has a lovely selection of these. They sure did. Too many to choose from, in fact. I decided to play it safe and buy a sampler pack – the Sweet Indulgences sampler pack – to try a couple cups of each flavor. The pack includes 12 miniature tins of tea, each enough for 1-3 cups brewed.
I’ve spent 2 days trying all 12 teas. The majority of the cups were brewed in a ForLife mug with stainless infuser basket. The others couple were brewed in my mini French press or with the tea bird infuser basket (below). I have possibly gotten sick of washing soggy tea out of my infuser basket. I may have also broke down and purchased a variable-temp kettle from Adagio because green and white tea tastes dodgy when you steep it at too hot a temperature. So uh, yeah, I like this tea a bit.
Here are my thoughts and ratings:
Buttered Rum – “Toasted coconut and vanilla beans mingle with black tea for a caramelized caress of flavours – add some dark rum to indulge your inner pirate.” Upon brewing this one, you’re greeted with a soft scent of coconut. At first taste, it’s smooth, strong coconut with a hint of buttery vanilla. I was hoping for a hint of rum, similar to Island Rose’s Rum Vanilla tea, but this is nice and smooth, sans rum. I should probably make the 2nd cup with a bit of Gosling’s, eh? Rating 6/10
Coffee Pu’erh – “This blend combines pu’erh with two coffee bean extracts, chocolate, caramel, and almond flavor. Even your coffee addict friends will go crazy for it.” The appearance of this one is your standard pu’erh – dark, mysterious, and comes with a bonus few coffee beans thrown in. Not long after the hot water hit it, immediately a strong, sweet scent of coffee and a bit of chocolate hit my nose. I think the store smelled like this when we first walked in. Maybe. Upon first taste, I was expecting something bitter like coffee, but was greeted with a hints of sweet, dark chocolate, a bit of caramel, and a mild taste of the pu’erh. I think I expected the pu’erh to be a bit more smoky and bitter, and was pleasantly surprised. This makes a nice substitute for coffee on an afternoon tea break. I enjoyed this one, would buy again. 8/10.
Coco Chai Rooibos – “An incredible bestselling chai made of rooibos, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and red peppercorns.” Mmm, mmm spicy. I think every tea company and their mother has come out with some variety of chai tea in the last few years. The last few I’ve purchased at Wegmans were kind of watery and disappointing. This one was actually spicy. At first sip, it’s smooth and then the individual spices appear. The red peppercorns give a nice punch at the end of a sip and a little tickle of spicy flavor remains. Nice with our without cream, definitely add a bit of sweetener, though. This one is solid. Lovely, red brew, too. It’s also a caffeine-free rooibos blend that’s good for evening drinking. 7/10.
Cranberry Pear – “This is a sweet and rich fruit tea. With black tea, tart cranberries and crisp pear, it makes for a uniquely satisfying cup.” I opened the tin and was a little confused – it was nearly all fruit pieces. There were very few tea leaves present. Because of this, I used the entire sample tin for one cup. This turned out to be a good idea as this one wasn’t very strong. I like my black teas to have some strength. This had a unique pear flavor (due to it being nearly all pear pieces in the sample) but was sort of … meh. I wouldn’t buy this one again. 4/10
Forever Nuts – “It looks all normal when it’s loose. But steep it and you’ll see that it’s nuts – a hint of beetroot turns it a crazy shade of pink.” Dry, this tea smells like fruity granola with nuts. Upon brewing, the smell is more that of an un-spiced cider – bits of orange, apple, berry, with an undertone of almond scent. The pink hue described? It’s not all that crazy. The tea (for me) brewed to a medium orange-rose. The taste is best described as fruity oatmeal. I’m not sure if it’s the blend of apple and almonds that does this, but it’s pleasant. It’s light, warming, and would make a nice, relaxing cup before bed. I would like the fruitiness to be a bit more tart, though. It was a bit mild for my taste. Rating 5/10.
Goji Pop – “Legend has it that Li-Ching Yung lived for 256 years. His secret? Goji berries. Your secret? This sweet pink tea.” I’ll just get it out of the way that by the time I sampled this one I was getting a little tired of the super fruity blends in this sampler. This one brewed to a color similar to the Forever Nuts herbal blend – pinkish/orange. The smell was pleasant, the taste was sweet. The fruit flavor was strong and somewhat tart, which I appreciated. I like it, but probably wouldn’t buy it on its own. 5/10.
Green Seduction – “Give in to this tempting green tea blend bursting with pomegranates. It’s truly seductive.” i’m not sure about seductive, but this was a light, refreshing green tea with a hint of pomegranate. I made sure to use my variable temp kettle to get the water to the recommended lower green brewing temp (about 84C). I had this one unsweetened. It’s delicate, slightly earthy, with just a hint of tart fruit. I’m thinking this one would go nicely with a sushi dinner. This has a nice scent both dry and brewed, and brews to a perfect light green, assuming the water temp is just right. I’m curious to try David’s other green varieties now. 7/10
Jessie’s Tea – “This is one heartfelt combo of rooibos, coconut, and lavender – no wonder it’s country singer Jessie Farrell’s favorite.” I had to google who Jessie Farrell was, I admit. I’m not into country music. I’m also not very into this blend, unfortunately. As the rooibos blend was brewing in my French press pot, it had a pleasant scent of lavender with hints of a sweet coconut smell. The tea had a lovely red hue when brewed, but wasn’t overpowering red as some rooibos blends are. The taste was not as lovely as the scent or the color, though. The taste was like sweet, overpowering soap. Something about the coconut and lavender simply does not work together on this one. 2/10
Life Long Oolong – “In China, peach-scented oolongs have been popular for centuries. One taste of this blend and you’ll understand why.” I like a good oolong. This was a nice oolong blend. The peach was tart, but in no way obnoxious or overpowering. After having a cup hot, I’d really love to try this one iced – I have a feeling it would be refreshing on a summer day. 7/10
Mango Madness – “It’s fruity. It’s refreshing. It tastes just like a ripe piece of mango. In short, it’s total madness.” I had high hopes for this one. I heated up a kettle of water at the recommended temperature for white tea. I set a timer for 6 minutes for brewing time (recommended was 5-7 minutes). I strained the leaves from my tea bird infuser (pictured above), and tried a sip of the tea unsweetened. I was met with an acrid fruit taste. I tried again after adding a bit of sweetener. There was no difference. This reminded me a lot of Adagio’s Citron Green – high hopes, but left with a really bad taste in my mouth. I dumped the cup and brewed another from the box. 1/10.
Read My Lips – “Okay, this is probably the world’s best chocolate tea. Honestly. Better than dessert. It’s the definition of irresistible.” Claiming anything as the world’s best has my attention. Opening the tin, I was met with a rich, chocolate aroma. Like most everyone else, I love chocolate. To date, I haven’t had a chocolate tea that really did it for me. This blend combines black tea, peppermint, tiny chocolate chips, and little, red smooch-shaped sprinkles. There was also what appeared to be a rogue peppercorn in it, as well, maybe not intentionally. In contact with water, the strong chocolate aroma dissipates quickly, and an earthy, minty aroma rises. The taste first produces the mint notes, then notes of sweet cocoa and light black tea. This is a lovely and smooth after dinner tea which would go quite well paired with chocolate cookies. It’s not overpowering with chocolate, which is good. Upon first sniff I wasn’t sure. Is it the world’s best? I’m not sure about that, but after having 2 cups of it, it’s pretty damn good. 8/10.
Birthday Cake – “The best part about birthdays? The cake, of course. And this sweet and festive rooibos blend brings the taste of birthday cake to your cup any day of the year – sprinkles and all.” I have tried some bagged herbal blends which claim to taste like red velvet and birthday cake. They fail. This one wins. This is a great dessert tea with lovely notes of vanilla (and sprinkles), honeybush, and maple sugar. I’m not sure that the maple was intentional, but it adds a nice note. To be fair, I also love maple syrup. I’d buy this one again. Certainly beats eating Funfetti cake every night, or at least the effects of eating Funfetti cake every night. You get what I’m saying. 7/10.
After trying the teas, I’m getting a good idea of what to expect from various flavors David’s offers. Upon my next visit to the Great White North (or NYC), I’m hoping to pick up a few 25g packets of a variety of flavors. I’ve also found a tea rating website, Steepster, to check ratings and reviews before buying. I never would have believed a flavored tea would be good enough to have as dessert, but David’s has certainly proved me wrong. It’s also reignited my love of looseleaf teas. Hooray for tea!