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Santa’s Secret: A DAVIDsTea Review

A festive blend of black tea, peppermint and little candy cane sprinkles.

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$8.98/50g

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(Black tea, peppermint, sprinkles, natural and artificial vanilla flavouring.)

Ever wonder just how Santa Claus manages to deliver all those presents in a single night, year after year? Well, the answer to that question appears to be hidden in a tea blend appropriately called Santa’s Secret by DAVIDsTea; December’s Tea of the Month. Just like DT’s famed Pumpkin Chai, this black tea also has a fierce cult following. It has been around for more than seven years, and if it were ever discontinued, I would not be surprised if tea lovers alike began to riot in protest. In the loose leaf, the little candy cane sprinkles are easily the stand out component. They are undeniably cute, and without them decorating this tea, Santa’s Secret would be pretty boring to look at. It would just be the black tea base with some peppermint leaves strewn throughout. Another aspect of Santa’s Secret is the vanilla, which is not visually present, but can be found instantly in the scent via the added flavourings. The way the sweet vanilla and mint mingle together somehow screams Christmas to me.

Sadly, just over three minutes is not long enough of a steep for the mini candy canes to fully dissolve, but it does seem like some of the red colouring may have leeched in. The resulting cup has a colour comparable to that of diluted maple syrup, if that makes any sense. If not, it is a reddish brown colour, which is pretty typical of black teas. Notably, the initial aroma has adapted to accommodate the black tea base, bringing it more so to the forefront, but still supporting both the vanilla and peppermint. The very same can be said about the taste. But in addition, it is super  smooth and really comforting. It doesn’t require much sugar, but I would definitely recommend a squirt of vanilla agave, if you do decide to add sweetener. I love how versatile Santa’s Secret is as a whole, whether you decide to enjoy it straight up or as a latte. Despite being an excellent holiday staple, it can just as easily be enjoyed any time of the year, and I find that to be a definite redeeming point about this tea. Even though I personally prefer Candy Cane Crush at the end of the day, I still like to have this festive blend in my collection for when I want something a bit milder in flavour, but still delicious regardless.

Glitter & Gold: A DAVIDsTea Review

A sweet, spiced black tea with pretty little gold star-shaped sprinkles.

japsench

$7.98/50g

Twinkle, twinkle…

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(Black tea, lemon peel, sugar sprinkles, sugar, cloves, natural and artificial flavouring.)

ICYMI: Exactly a week ago, DAVIDsTea released their celebratory New Year’s Eve collection. An assortment of items that focused mainly on glamourous tea accessories and gift sets, with a metallic colour scheme split between gold and silver. No new teas were launched with this limited edition release, so why not showcase a tea blend like Glitter & Gold? This loose leaf consists of dark Chinese black tea studded with cloves, lemon peel, pieces of sugar granules, and more. Every ingredient that is not an added flavouring is easily detectable, especially the gold stars. Glitter & Gold’s namesake would lose all of its meaning without these fun, shimmery sprinkles. It’s almost like looking at a starry sky… in tea form, of course. The aroma blends the spice of the clove with the black tea base and an underlying hint of citrus, making for a really comforting scent overall.

Just over three minutes later, and Glitter & Gold has resulted in a cup that looks like a typical black tea. (There was an earlier version of this blend that contained tiny gold balls instead of stars, and after being steeped, your cup would be almost too pretty to drink because of how glittery it was. It’s a shame that G&G doesn’t still have that feature.) It has a strong malty scent contributed by the black tea followed closely by the clove. Not enough time has passed for the star sprinkles to fully dissolve into the tea, but the sugar certainly has. Obviously this takes out some of the “guesswork” in whether or not to add sugar to this tea. It is pre-sweetened, but I personally added a touch more. The presence of the clove isn’t as overwhelming as you may expect. In fact, it comes off feeling super warming, which couldn’t be more fitting for this time of year, while the lemon is a nice underlying flavour component. I know that there’s more to a chai than clove, but the clove in this definitely draws some comparison to a chai-like tea. Try this as a latte, you won’t regret it!

Mint Matcha: A DAVIDsTea Review

Power up with stone-ground matcha, refreshing mint and sweet coconut nectar.

japsench

$9.98/50g

So fresh and so green…

mint

(Coconut nectar, matcha green tea, natural mint flavouring.)

It goes without saying that (pepper)mint is a definitive flavour of the holiday season. As soon as pumpkin spice season fades out, all the candy canes and mint flavoured products start appearing on shelves and on drink menus. The Mint Matcha from DAVIDsTea is a tea that I wanted to showcase, because it introduced me to something called coconut nectar. Coconut nectar is a pure and natural sweetener that is low in fructose, has a low glycemic index, and a bunch of other health benefits. From the first time you lay your eyes on Mint Matcha, the influence of the coconut nectar is clear as day. It definitely does not look like all the other flavoured matchas, even the plain ones for that matter. The texture is a lot more grainy and full of lumps, not as smooth and creamy looking as the typical matcha powder. The colour is also a bit… off. The nectar has seemed to alter it, it is not so much a bright green as opposed to a muddy one. But at least the aroma of mint is alive and kicking!

After being fully prepared (in this case, three matcha spoonfuls whisked up in my matcha bowl), the scent of the grassy green tea base is a bit stronger than the mint. While the resulting matcha colour is even more off-putting than when it was still in its powdered form. The grassy scent hasn’t made its way into the taste though. Nor is it really astringent/bitter. Thankfully, milk does a good job of helping to smooth out what is otherwise a rather harsh taste. That being said, I wouldn’t bother adding any sweetener, because this matcha is definitely on the sweet side. But it would be interesting to see what a squirt of peppermint agave could do for this tea, especially because the mint flavour could be somewhat stronger. The unfortunate thing about Mint Matcha is that sometimes it reminds me of yummy candy canes, while other times it reminds me of straight up toothpaste. So it’s safe to say that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not horrible by any means, but it’s definitely not my favourite of the flavoured matcha options at DAVIDsTea.

 

Banana Nut Bread: A DAVIDsTea Review

This tea miraculously captures the flavour of freshly-baked banana bread.

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$7.98/50g

Freshly baked…

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(Dates, currants, almonds, banana, and artificial flavouring.)

It honestly does not get much better than coming home to the smell of homemade banana bread baking away in the oven. Not only is it warm and comforting, but it is utterly delicious too! DAVIDsTea does a pretty good job of mimicking this nostalgic treat in liquid/tea form with Banana Nut Bread, a blend that has been on and off their tea wall in past years. Returning most recently two years ago due to popular demand, as the November Tea of the Month. It is currently the one and only banana flavoured offering at DAVIDsTea (and rumour has it, not for very much longer…). The loose leaf appearance looks like it could easily pass for trail mix. Because Banana Nut Bread is categorized as a fruit infusion, it doesn’t contain any actual tea leaves. Literally just fruit and nuts. There are chopped pieces of almond, larger chunks of dried currants and dates, as well as a few banana chips/pieces here and there. Its aroma is just as enticing as you would expect it to be, before AND after being brewed up.

Despite its recommended steep time of 4-7 minutes, Banana Nut Bread really demands more than that. If anything, 10 minutes and up. Otherwise, it has a tendency to come off tasting light and rather weak. (Friendly warning: it would be in your best interest to steep this caffeine-free blend in a tea sachet/bag, unless you don’t mind cleaning up the mess that’ll ultimately be left in your infuser/steeper.) As time passes, the shade of yellow that results brightens considerably. In this case, after about 8 minutes, BNB has brewed up to a golden-ish yellow colour with an oil film right on top. I’m really enjoying how smooth this flavour is as a whole, especially with a couple dashes of cinnamon added. For a dessert tea, it honestly has all the sugar it needs. In fact, any more, and it becomes way too sweet. My biggest complaint would probably be that there isn’t nearly enough banana chips dispersed throughout. The overall banana flavour could be a lot stronger. The last thing you want is a cup of tea that tastes nothing like what it’s supposed to… If you’re looking for a new tea to indulge in, Banana Nut Bread is definitely worth trying, especially if you’re a fan of bananas. It has all of the goodness, with none of the calories!

Double Walled Glass Latte Mug: A DAVIDsTea Review

A beautiful double-walled glass mug, in an extra big size for your favourite tea lattes.

$15.00

More to love…

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A tea latte is hands down a great way to relax and take a moment to indulge. Especially when the temperature outside starts to plummet. But I think that it goes without saying that the perfect latte deserves the perfect mug to accompany it… Here is where the Double Walled Glass Latte Mug from DAVIDsTea comes into play. About two years ago, I was lucky enough to snag one of these bad boys online, right before they were sadly discontinued. And I’ve treasured mine ever since. This is certainly not DAVIDsTea’s first rodeo in terms of latte mugs. In years past, they have sold them in various fun and festive designs. Below are a couple examples:

Image result for davidstea latte mugsImage result for davidstea latte mugs

Even though the glass latte mug holds 6 oz less than the original design, which holds a whopping 24 oz/710 mL, 18 oz/532 mL is still an ample amount to contain whatever latte you desire. It has room for your tea, your steamed milk, with just enough added space for your rich, frothy foam to be added right on top. Don’t let its overall appearance deceive you. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a handful to hold. But despite its size, the double walled glass latte mug is actually incredibly lightweight and has a comfortable handle to grip onto. Not only does this mug look simple and sleek, but it also does an awesome job of keeping your beverage warm and toasty on the inside, while keeping the outside cool enough to touch. And feel free to branch out of using this mug exclusively for tea/hot drinks. It can just as easily be used to enjoy soup, ice-cream, or even cereal.

When this product was first re-launched this past September (in correlation with the Chai Collection), it initially retailed at $20, before it eventually dropped down to $15 (the price I purchased it at a couple years back). DT’s Nordic mugs are typically priced at $23, so I would go as far as to say that $15 is a pretty suitable price point, all things considered. But at the end of the day, my very favourite aspect of this mug is the fact that it is 100% clear! As much as I would have loved to own one of the aforementioned mugs above, in terms of truly savouring a latte, I personally feel that drinking out of a see through mug is better… visually. Especially filled with a tea like Forever Nuts in all its bright pink glory, Cream of Earl Grey, or any kind of matcha to be honest. The possibilities are endless!lm2

Overall: It is easy to see why these kind of mugs have such a mass fan following and why they have been requested to make a comeback so feverishly. They’re decently priced, a great size, lightweight, and quite versatile. What more could you want? The Double Walled Glass Latte Mug is a definite must have for tea lovers alike!

Cinnamon Rooibos Chai: A DAVIDsTea Review

This breath-freshening tea combines rooibos, cinnamon and apple.

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$7.98/50g

Stay focused…

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(Rooibos, apple, cinnamon, natural cinnamon flavouring.)

Once upon a time, cinnamon was more valuable than gold, believe it or not. And even though nowadays, most people rather get their hands on 24 karats as opposed to… a brown stick, this spice has just as much as bite as it does bark. Pun intended. According to aromatherapy principles, it supposedly enhances your ability to focus/concentrate. Not only that, but it also possesses a clean and refreshing taste your breath will thank you for. If you ask me, cinnamon makes everything most things taste better. Here’s looking at you: apple pie, snickerdoodles, churros, and who could possibly forget about cinnamon rolls? Luckily, Cinnamon Rooibos Chai from DAVIDsTea is packed full of cinnamon! It’s a very simple and straightforward tea. One you can feel good about, because you know what to expect from it off the bat. It’s essentially a ton of cinnamon bark, mixed into a base of red rooibos, with some apple pieces to bulk it up a bit. The smell of the dry leaf is comparable to the tiny cinnamon heart candies available around Valentine’s Day.

Once steeped for 5 full minutes, Cinnamon Rooibos Chai brews to a reddish brown type of colour. It has retained its initial scent mostly, but it seems as though the earthiness of the rooibos has jumped to the forefront. In terms of overall flavour, here the rooibos base is definitely contributing a slightly woodsy, full-bodied flavour profile that is just a touch nutty. Then there’s the natural sweetness of the apple and spiciness of the cinnamon. But as a whole, it’s not overly sweet or spicy. It’s a good balance. From a “chai” standpoint, this is alright, but it would have been nice to see some of the other important components like cloves, peppercorns, ginger, or cardamom. There’s obviously too much cinnamon in here to be considered/recognized as a true chai tea, but if you are a fan of cinnamon (or drinking liquid cinnamon hearts), then you will enjoy this tea either way. Not only is this all-natural blend embody warmth and comfort, it is also free of caffeine and handles milk/cream perfectly. It really doesn’t get more cinnamon than DAVIDsTea’s Cinnamon Rooibos Chai.

Gingerbread Matcha: A DAVIDsTea Review

What’s sweet, spicy and heartwarming? This festive gingerbread matcha.

japsench

$15.00

Sugar and spice…

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(Cane sugar, green tea, natural gingerbread flavouring.)

Try to think of a cookie more closely connected to the holiday season than gingerbread (men). Sugar cookies, maybe, but gingerbread is definitely up there on the list. This year alone, DAVIDsTea has released a record number of new limited edition matcha flavours. Seven, including Gingerbread Matcha, which was recently released a couple weeks back in correlation with the Winter Collection. The hallmark of a “true gingerbread” is the presence of various warming spices: cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and of course, ginger. I do believe that this matcha possesses the scent expected of baked gingerbread, especially the heavy handedness of the ginger. But at the same time, there is an underlying sweetness, which I can only hope is the molasses; the other hallmark of a “true gingerbread”. The appearance on the other hand, consists of a standard looking stone-ground matcha powder, emerald green in colour, with plenty of cane sugar crystals peeking through.

This vibrant shade of green is just as appealing even after the matcha has been whisked up. Admittedly, the gingerbread scent is no longer as potent as it initially was, which is a bit of a shame. And even though the overall flavour is nice and smooth, the gingerbread – although present – comes off subtlety, and unfortunately winds up getting lost in the grassiness of the green tea base. It is also quite sweet, but as is to be expected, when cane sugar is the very first ingredient. Moving forward, I will definitely make the effort to cut the sweetness of this matcha with some Ceremonial Matcha. I think I enjoyed Gingerbread Matcha most once milk was added and transformed into a latte. It goes without saying that it tasted that much more creamy and dessert-like. The arrival of this sweet and spicy flavoured matcha was definitely unexpected (at least to me), but 150% fitting considering the time of year. It does a decent job of capturing the coziness and nostalgic feeling brought on when enjoying gingerbread cookies. Here’s hoping there are more fun and creative seasonal flavours in the works!

Available in prepack format only.

Let It Snow: A DAVIDsTea Review

Frightful weather? Try this festive green tea laced with cinnamon, clove and custard.

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$8.98/50g

Noggy by nature…

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(Candied pineapple, green tea, black currants, apple, cinnamon, white chocolate, cloves, stevia extract, natural flavouring.)

Whether you enjoy it served heated or chilled, thick or thin, boozed up or non-alcoholic, it is safe to say that eggnog has long since become as synonymous with Christmas time as gift giving. Although the name greatly implies an “eggy” flavour, in reality, the flavour profile is far more sweet and creamy, as opposed to savoury. DAVIDsTEA’s Tea of the Month for November is a blend directly inspired by this one of a kind holiday beverage called Let It Snow. In the loose leaf, you can see the white chocolate curls, cloves, black currants, pieces of apple, candied pineapple, and just barely see the green tea base (despite the fact that it’s listed as the second ingredient). The fragrance wafting off of this tea, in my opinion, really screams festive; not just from the clear notes of spice, that are comparable to a chai tea, but also from the custard-like notes as well. It’s really helping to bring this concept of eggnog around.

After three minutes of steeping, Let It Snow looks a lot like what you’d expect from a regular green tea, but with a slight oil film on top from the chocolate curls. And as for the scent, it still smells more or less like it did from the beginning, but with warm spice undertones. From the very first sip, a rich creaminess is present. The white chocolate has definitely done its job in that respect. But we can’t forget about the spices. The clove pairs perfectly with the cinnamon. But it should be noted that these same spices really dominant over the green tea base, so much so that I have to actually remind myself that I’m drinking a green tea. One thing you can 100% taste is the stevia extract. Suffice to say, it is the greatest fault of Let It Snow. It unfortunately ruins what is a truly excellent flavour profile otherwise. It’s sweet, it’s rich, it’s not heavily spiced. Pure eggnog vibes. Considering the nasty headache I developed after finishing this tea, I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t enjoy it the way that I want. Especially because I know it would be an out of this world latte, but I don’t know if it’s worth the risk…

White Cranberry Bark: A DAVIDsTea Review

Get your holiday fix with this infusion of white chocolate and tart cranberries.

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$8.98/50g

The bark side…

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(Apple, papaya, raisins, cranberries, elderberries, hibiscus blossoms, white chocolate, stevia extract, natural cranberry and chocolate flavouring.)

Cranberries and the holidays – they just seem to go hand-in-hand, don’t they? This tiny super fruit is oh so versatile; it can be used in every single aspect of your table spread this holiday season. From appetizers to beverages to desserts, you name it! That includes a rich and decadent white chocolate bark served up with tart cranberries right on top. DAVIDsTEA’s newly released Winter Collection features a caffeine-free blend called White Cranberry Bark, which has a rather pleasant aroma that wafts off of the cup. It is sweet, juicy, and super fruity. Kind of like candy. On the other hand, its loose leaf appearance is a mixed bag of various dried fruits; candied papaya, bits of apple, dark raisins, elderberries, and cranberries. There are also hibiscus blossoms and pieces of white chocolate shaped like stars, which almost makes this tea feel that much more festive. Even though we’re still about a week away from the start of November, it’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit…

Somehow after five full minutes of steeping, White Cranberry Bark has maintained its original fruity scent, but it’s no longer as pronounced. I can now pick up on the sourness of the star ingredient: cranberry. And considering that there’s hibiscus in this tea as well, it’s kind of surprising that it didn’t brew up as red as one may expect. From the first sip, you can just barely taste the creaminess of the white chocolate, but it’s not very strong at all, despite the addition of chocolate flavouring. Because of the hibiscus and the fact that cranberries have a reputation for being quite tart, it’s nice that the stevia extract is present to sweeten this fruit infusion up a bit. Here it’s not as overpowering or cloying as it can be at times. Although, I personally find that it could still use a touch more sugar to round out its overall tang. (Vanilla agave is optional.) Honestly, I can really see myself enjoying White Cranberry Bark a lot more as a cold drink. At the moment, it’s giving me strong hot (cranberry) juice vibes; slightly sweet but sharp in taste just the same. Impressive.

Walnut Orange Scone: A DAVIDsTea Review

This dainty white tea balances the warmth of walnut with the brightness of orange rind.

low

$10.98/50g

Go your scone way…

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(Papaya, white tea, apple, rosehip peel, walnuts, orange peel, orange blossoms, natural and artificial walnut and orange flavouring.)

Commonly found in traditional afternoon tea spreads, the scone (with clotted cream, jam, or otherwise) is truly the perfect accompaniment to your afternoon cup of tea. They’re honestly a match made in heaven… But because the holidays are upon us, it only makes sense that the standard scone get a festive makeover complete with nuts and citrus. Walnut Orange Scone from DAVIDsTea is yet another offering from their newly released Winter Collection. The loose leaf appearance is quite pleasing to the eye. Every single ingredient (apart from the flavourings) is visible – the white tea leaves, rosehip shells, candied papaya, bits of orange peel, bright orange blossoms, and especially the sizable chunks of walnut. In the scent of the dry leaf, the nuttiness of the walnut reminds me a bit of Toasted Walnut, but it also balances well with the aroma of the sweet citrus. As I suspected, there isn’t much of a scone element present here.

To avoid possible bitterness in this white tea, I chose to sidestep DT’s steeping recommendation of 4-7 minutes and opted for closer to three. At this point, Walnut Orange Scone has brewed to a pale yellow colour. The aroma after brewing is still nutty, but more of the orange has pushed itself to the forefront. The white tea flavour is really delicate and light; it actually compliments this tea blend quite nicely. No one ingredient is dominating/fighting to be tasted over another, although unquestionably the walnut could be a touch stronger to match up to the orange. As for the scone aspect, there is just the faintest note of butter in the finish, but to be honest, I don’t particularly mind the lack of “scone”, because the flavour overall is still so delicious. (I can imagine this being pretty amazing as an iced tea also.) This is probably my top choice from the new collection, and not just because it’s one of the only options without stevia in the ingredients… But that fact definitely warrants it “brownie points”.