Saigon Chai: A DAVIDsTea Review

Black tea with Saigon cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and peppercorns.

japsench

$8.98/50g

It’s back!

Organic Saigon Chai

(Black tea from India, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pink peppercorns, cardamom, organic vanilla cream, natural ginger and cinnamon flavouring.)

In the 50’s, the Vietnam War disrupted the production of one of the finest spices on the market, Saigon cinnamon, but since the beginning of the early 21st century, Vietnam has since resumed export of the spice, including to the United States, where it was unavailable for nearly two decades! This type of cinnamon is used primarily for its aromatic bark, which has a taste quite similar to that of Chinese cinnamon, but with a more pronounced and complex aroma. In Saigon Chai, it is showcased in this “spicy” blend alongside a lot of the usual chai culprits (cardamom, ginger, cloves, etc.). Without the pops of colour delivered in the form of the cardamom pods and pink peppercorns, everything in this tea just blends into each other, but otherwise, every single ingredient is visible here. Before steeping, the dry nose is a lot stronger – a tiny bit sweet, full of spice, with the pepper nearly making me sneeze.

It brews to a nice, malty, reddish-brown colour, typical of a black tea (like Orange Pekoe or English Breakfast), once steeped for just under four minutes. The scent has since mellowed out, but you can certainly still smell the spices, especially the ginger and the cinnamon. It’s a real warm and comforting cuppa, you can taste the cloves amongst the strong cinnamon presence. The amount of cinnamon here actually reminds me somewhat of Cinnamon Rooibos Chai, while the Assam black tea base is not at all bitter; I would even consider letting this sit for a bit longer, closer to five minutes and up. Unfortunately, Saigon Chai comes off slightly bland straight up. Adding a vanilla sweetener and/or a splash of cream/milk to enhance the supposed vanilla cream flavouring is something I would definitely recommend doing. Overall, there are a lot of strong flavours featured in Saigon Chai, but at the end of the day, they all manage to blend well into this decent chai offering. Nothing particularly unique, but worth a shot just the same.

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Lady Marmalade: A DAVIDsTea Review

With a burst of apricot and a hint of ginger and cream, this black tea is sweet and tart – just like our favourite ladies. Serve with scones and prepare to get sassy.

low

$8.98/50g

Voulez-vous infuser avec moi?

(Black tea, apple, candied papaya, ginger, cinnamon, apricot, rose blossoms, nutmeg, stevia extract, natural and artificial peach and apricot flavouring.)

I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to mind when I see the words “Lady Marmalade” is the hit song that Mýa, Lil’ Kim, P!nk & Christina Aguilera covered more than a decade ago for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. Marmalade, although quite similar to jam, is generally distinguished from jam by its use of fruit peel in the preparation process. The two may also be distinguished from each other by the choice of fruit… in this case, it is the apricot. Lady Marmalade (one of two teas apart of the newly released Mother’s Day collection) is a low caffeine black tea blend with a look similar to Nutty and Spice (albeit without the huge chunks of fruit, nuts, or heavily spiced scent). And despite the ginger and other spices listed here, it is basically just the fruits you smell, and no doubt the rose blossoms too.

The lightly golden colour that produced after four minutes was a little surprising for being a black tea. The smell is still pretty fruity, and the apricot/peach flavour is undeniable. (Just Peachy, any one???) I honestly didn’t know what to expect from a tea called Lady Marmalade, but the more that I sip this, I am thoroughly enjoying this quite a bit, especially because the base of black tea isn’t very strong or bitter. It complements the fruitiness well. You definitely cannot taste the ginger or the spices even. And this tea is already plenty sweet, so it doesn’t really require much more sweetener, if at all. The stevia extract is doing what it does, but it’s not as cloying and overpowering as it tends to be in some cases (cough, Vanilla Swirl). The sour/tart finish helps round everything out, and really drives the idea – of peach/apricot marmalade recreated in tea form – home. Perfect addition to your next tea party!

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Happy Valley Darjeeling: A DAVIDsTea Review

With aromas of ripe plum, apricot and fresh herbs, this black tea is pure happiness.

japsench

$14.98/50g

C’mon get happy…

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(Black tea from Darjeeling, India.)

Happy Valley is the only tea garden in the town of Darjeeling, India, and this unique second-flush darjeeling is grown there at 6,800 feet. Typically, Darjeeling teas are classified as a type of black tea (but are also available in oolong, green, and white), while a “flush” refers to a period of growth (or harvest), as tea bushes and trees grow constantly, pushing out new buds and top leaves at regular intervals, which are then plucked. Happy Valley Darjeeling is an organic tea, with a distinct aroma that apparently boasts notes of ripe fruit and damp wood. I wish I could have picked up on those particular characteristics, but to me, it just smells like an ordinary Orange Pekoe or English Breakfast. And because of how strong black tea tends to be, three and a half minutes is as long as I steeped HVD for, which resulted in that well-known brown/red orange colour that you would expect of a Orange Pekoe or a classic Darjeeling.

For someone who religiously craves a splash of milk and sugar in their black tea, it was more than a little bit impressive that I was able to enjoy this tea just fine without either. Especially, because I was so wholeheartedly expecting it to be unpleasant and bitter, but to my great surprise, it was not. For a darjeeling, it’s thankfully not very astringent, but still astringent nonetheless. Overall, it has a great, well-rounded, but complex flavour. While hot, it is woodsy and earthy, but as it begins to cool, it becomes fruity and has a really smooth mouthfeel. It’s nice, because Happy Valley Darjeeling tastes basically how it is described: all of the aforementioned with a dainty, floral finish. Best of all, it possesses that rare trademark muscatel (grape/raisin-like, wine-y) character throughout, even into the aftertaste. My love for this tea will have to remind at a level of long distance infatuation though, because the price of maintaining such a smooth drinking Darjeeling in my collection is way too steep.

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White Chocolate Rose: A DAVIDsTea Review

A beautiful black tea, packed with pretty rosebuds and creamy white chocolate.

japsench

$8.98/50g

Rose to the occasion…

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(Black tea, white chocolate, rose buds, natural and artificial flavouring.)

Valentine’s Day is one of the most commercial holidays in the year (aside from Halloween and Christmas), a time when people spend the most money possible on cards, toys, chocolate(s) and flowers (roses, in particular) to shower their loved ones with the utmost affection. Now with V-Day just over two weeks away, it is never too early to get yourself into the romantic mindset. White Chocolate Rose (formerly known as English Rose) is everything you love about February 14th fused into a fragrant black tea. I personally love how simple (and pretty!) this blend is. It is literally just curls of white chocolate and whole rose buds sprinkled into a classic black tea. The dry leaves smells incredibly floral, like rose perfume or rose water, which leaves me apprehensive, because who personally wants to drink perfume?

It basically has the same aroma after four minutes of steeping, but toned down a bit. The white chocolate contributes that trademark oil film that you may sometimes see at the top of your cup. It is a nice, caramel-like brown colour, with slight creaminess from the chocolate, but honestly, not very much. The rose does a great job of dominating over everything, from the aroma to the taste. Although, I must note that the maltiness from the black tea base does help mellow out the intensity of the rose, avoiding too perfume-y of an overall flavour profile. If you are not a fan of strong floral notes, this definitely won’t be your cup of tea. Personally, I don’t mind it too much. It actually sent me through a loop hole, because the smell and taste reminds me so much of cream soda, oddly enough. And I’m probably alone in thinking that. But all in all, this is a very fitting tea to be part of this year’s Valentine’s Day collection. It doesn’t get more romantic than this.

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