White Chocolate Chai: A DAVIDsTea Review

Our hunt for the perfect white chocolate chai is finally over. And with its balance of creamy sweetness and warming spices, this black tea blend is even better than we imagined.

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$8.98/50g

Spice up your life…

White Chocolate Chai

(Black tea, ginger, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, white chocolate curls, cardamom, cloves, cocoa powder, stevia extract, natural and artificial white chocolate flavouring.)

The concept of a “white chocolate chai” really piqued an interest in me, especially because I haven’t really seen any other company release anything quite like it. But upon seeing the ingredients for DAVIDsTea’s White Chocolate Chai, my original excitement lowered, here’s why: I am personally not a huge fan of regular chocolate, but because the in-store sample didn’t have a strong chocolate taste, I figured I should give this tea a fair shot. The loose leaf appearance looks exactly like a standard chai tea… There’s cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom pods, all on top of a base of black tea. But in this case, there’s also curls of white chocolate, as well as cocoa nibs to “spice” things up. The dry leaf has a strong spiced scent to it, with the ginger, cinnamon and cardamom standing out the most to me. It’s even somewhat comparable to Cardamom French Toast, another spiced black tea blend.

Once steeped for four full minutes, White Chocolate Chai results in a warm, rich brown colour, with a slight oil film across the top of the brew. Upon the initial sip, you can without a doubt feel the presence of the ginger. It’s quite strong, and you can feel the intensity and burn as it goes down. The other spices help to round out the chai aspect, while the white chocolate and stevia extract contributes a sweetness that is not over the top. If the stevia wasn’t listed, I would have had no idea that there was stevia in this tea. It’s really not as in your face as it can be at times. The cocoa (nibs and powder) is not as dominant as I was expecting it to be, the spices definitely reign supreme. Unfortunately the white chocolate is not detectable in the tea’s overall flavour, despite the various chocolate curls scattered throughout, as well as additional flavourings. Adding milk (or preparing WCC as a latte) definitely enhances what White Chocolate Chai should have tasted like from the get-go, but otherwise, it is presented more like a pre-sweetened chai blend than anything else. Yeah, the cozy/comfort factor is there, but it’s still lacking some oomph.

Pumpkin Chai: A DAVIDsTea Review

A sweet black tea spiced with caramel, pumpkin candies, cinnamon and cloves.

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$7.98/50g

Celebrate the harvest…

Pumpkin Chai

(Black tea, cinnamon, cloves, caramel, carrot, lemon peel, pumpkin candies, pumpkin flakes, natural and artificial pumpkin spice flavouring.)

One of the quintessential flavours of fall, is without a doubt, pumpkin. Around this time of year, you slowly but surely start seeing it everywhere you look. From pies, cookies and scented candles to ice cream, alcohol and coffee creamer. The list could definitely go on for quite a while. Even though it has gone through some recent changes since it came out more than five years ago, there’s a reason why DAVIDsTea brings Pumpkin Chai back every year. I think a riot would ensue for this classic otherwise… The bright orange pumpkin candies are a definite ingredient standout in this tea. Amongst the loose leaf, you can almost spot cubes of caramel, cloves, pieces of cinnamon bark and even dried carrot on top of a base of black tea. What comes through the most to me via the scent is the clove and cinnamon, as well as the overall pumpkin spice that is added to this seasonal blend.

After steeping between 3 and 4 minutes, Pumpkin Chai smells like it did initially, but more toned down. The maltiness of the black tea and the spices really make for a warm and comforting cup of tea. Personally, it would have been nice to see the pumpkin (flakes) ranked a bit higher in the ingredients list, because not only am I unable to spot them in the dry leaf, but it’s also not translating as well as it should in the end product after brewing. Pumpkin spice flavouring is included here, and is probably a way better representation/description of what Pumpkin Chai (as a tea) actually is. Although delicious (especially with a splash of cream and a bit of brown sugar stirred in), it is still not quite a true chai, and the pumpkin flavour could be a lot stronger at the end of the day. Thank goodness DAVIDsTea brought back their pumpkin agave (which retails for $14/bottle) again this year, because not only is it another product to rope in pumpkin lovers, it also does wonder for enhancing this tea.

Chai & Mighty: A DAVIDsTea Review

A rich blend of warm spices, with a sweet hint of licorice root and vanilla.

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$4.79/50g

Chai it, you’ll like it…

chai

(Black tea, cinnamon, ginger, licorice root, cardamom pods, cloves, vanilla, black pepper, natural vanilla flavouring.)

It’s no wonder chai tea is a classic and a staple beverage for many all over the world. It’s warm and comforting with an extensive history (dating back to the early 1900s), but what exactly constitutes the perfect blend? Before it was declared Chai & Mighty, it was tentatively named David’s Chai, because DAVIDsTea considered it to be their perfect version of the classic. But with a new collection of chai options being released within the next week, Chai & Mighty’s reign is sadly coming to an end. The dry leaf of this organic blend is highly aromatic (as is to be expected of a chai tea); nicely spiced with an underlying sweetness from the vanilla. The loose appearance is minced for the most part; the black tea base, black pepper, cinnamon bark, licorice root, and vanilla appear to blend together. The remaining ingredients (ginger, cloves, and cardamom pods) stand out the most, because they are bigger in size than everything else.

Admittedly, licorice root is not something I’m particularly a fan of (in my tea or otherwise). It is used to supply a natural sweetness to teas, but at times, it can come off as cloying and overbearing, especially if steeped for long enough. Which is why I only steeped Chai & Mighty for just over three minutes, one minute under the suggested preparation time of 4-7 minutes. The scent at this point is quite similar to how it was originally, but certainly not as potent. In your cup, you can expect a reddish brown type of colour, typical of a black tea. Chai & Mighty certainly delivers on flavour. It’s spiced, but not at all spicy. Surprisingly, the licorice is tolerable this time around. If anything, it simply lingers after each sip. It seems to overtake the vanilla as well, because I’m struggling to detect it here. There’s a slight bit of astringency, but ultimately, it’s full of body/character. And just as great with a touch more sugar and a splash of milk. Stock up while you still can (currently out of stock online)!

Saigon Chai: A DAVIDsTea Review

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

japsench

$8.98/50g

It’s back!

schai

(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!

Peachy Lychee: A DAVIDsTea Review

What happens when sweet summer peaches meet juicy lychee? Pure, delicious refreshment.

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$9.98/50g

It’s a real peach…

Peachy Lychee

(Black tea, apple, candied pineapple, orange peel, sweet blackberry leaves, white hibiscus blossoms, peach, lychee, natural peach flavouring.)

Sweet and exotic, lychee fruit is a tropical delight that often goes underappreciated, mainly because a lot of people are unfamiliar with these white berries. Which is really a shame, because they are packed with nutrients, are super flavourful, and satisfyingly juicy… whether they are consumed fresh or otherwise. Otherwise could apply to being added to teas like Peachy Lychee, from DAVIDsTea’s Oasis Collection. (A first for the company!) Off the bat, the dry leaf scent of this tea is truly intoxicating. You can smell both fruits distinctly, it’s even a little comparable to Buddha’s Blend, if anything. The appearance of the loose leaf on the other hand is on the chunkier side, with a variety of dried fruit pieces of varied sizes, amongst the black tea and larger pieces of orange peel. The base comes through more so in the scent after being steeped for close to four minutes, and therefore results in a reddish brown coloured cuppa. There’s an impressive flavour progression, where you get mainly peachy, followed by a light lychee, and then a smooth black tea.

Any additional sugar isn’t particularly necessary in Peachy Lychee, because it already possesses a pleasant, natural sweetness to it (see: candied pineapple, sweet blackberry leaves, as well as the other fruits featured). Although the slightly bitter fruitiness from the white hibiscus lingers into the aftertaste, so perhaps a shorter steep time might be better. All in all, the peach and the lychee marry so well in this tea blend. It’s a great balance of flavours. The first fruit is one of my very favourites, while the latter really brought me back to my childhood (and eating lychee jelly). Here, neither the peach nor the lychee dominate over the other. You can pick out both easily, as well as the black tea base, which rounds everything out and contributes a decent boost of caffeine. The aroma has translated right into the flavour. What you see, or what you smell rather, is exactly what you get. It’s sweet, slightly floral, and bold all at the same time. This is the tea that appealed to me the most from this new collection, and it is without a doubt the epitome of a perfect peach tea, if you ask me.

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.

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$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!

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.