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.

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…

Carrot Cupcake: A DAVIDsTea Review

This sweet, creamy blend of carrot and spices tastes just like the real deal. Did we mention it’s got a hint of whipped cream? Yeah, we knew you couldn’t resist…

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$7.98/50g

It takes the cake…

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(Carrot, rooibos, cocoa shells, cinnamon, apple, ginger, licorice root, natural whipped cream and apple flavouring.)

The beginning of a new month marks the arrival of a new “Tea of the Month” at DAVIDsTea, and this month’s “honoree” is a rooibos blend called Carrot Cupcake. In the past, the idea of consuming a vegetable like carrots in my dessert was daunting, that is until carrot cake (especially with a thick layer of cream cheese icing on top!) became one of my very favourite treats. It’ll be interesting to see how well Carrot Cupcake actually delivers on the concept of a carrot cupcake, in liquid form. First off, it has a slightly minced, yet slightly uniform appearance to it. The red rooibos base is still apparent amongst the other elements of this tea. The bright carrot really helps the loose leaf pop. Every ingredient (apart from the added flavourings) is visible; you can see the cocoa shells, apple bits, cinnamon bark, and more. The aroma of the dry leaf smells as earthy and autumnal as it looks. Both the ginger and licorice root are detectable, but I’m finding it difficult to hone in on a definite carrot cake scent.

Because of the licorice in this blend, I opted for a lower steeping time of three minutes, as opposed to the four to seven minutes that is recommended. Carrot Cupcake at this point steeps up to a pumpkin-like orange colour. The initial aroma has toned down quite a bit. I suppose it smells like a carrot cupcake now, but that could also just be my mind willing it to do so. There’s a spice (the ginger for the most part) present throughout each sip, paired with the natural sweetness of the rooibos, licorice, and carrot. There’s enough sweetness from the aforementioned ingredients that no additional sugar is really needed. It may be new to some, but I’m quite familiar with Carrot Cupcake from last year’s fall collection. Sadly, even a year later, no matter how many times I prepare this tea, I just cannot get myself to enjoy it without eventually dumping more than half of my cup down the drain. Even though I’m neither a fan of rooibos (red, in particular) nor licorice root, I have an idea that the inclusion of cocoa shells is the main reason why this tea doesn’t do anything whatsoever for me.

Blueberry Muffin: A DAVIDsTea Review

With apple, raisins, carrot and blueberries, this tea is the breakfast of champions.

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$7.98/50g

Muffin really matters…

Blueberry Muffin

(Apple, raisins, carrot, hibiscus blossoms, beetroot, yogurt bits, blueberries, cornflower blossoms, natural and artificial flavouring.)

The blueberry. So much could be said about this teeny tiny, itty bitty fruit. They are chocked full of disease fighting antioxidants, fiber, and the list goes on. But the disadvantages sadly overwhelm the advantages once said blueberries are baked into a muffin batter… which is typically comprised of high in fat ingredients (here’s looking at you, butter!). Moist on the inside, bursting with berries, and sometimes topped with a sugary crumble… You really can’t go wrong with a blueberry muffin, first thing in the morning or otherwise. In this case, DAVIDsTea has resurrected Blueberry Muffin and dubbed it the official Tea of the Month for September. The appearance of this loose leaf tea consists of both dark and bright components. Hibiscus blossoms, raisins, blueberries, and beetroot with pops of colour delivered from the yogurt bits, apple chunks, cornflower blossoms, and vibrant carrot pieces. The aroma of the dry leaf definitely channels the scent of a freshly baked blueberry muffin, with sweet, fruity notes.

A steep of just over five minutes has resulted in a very pink-ish red looking cup of tea. Its scent can be best compared to a hug from a loved one. It’s warm, it’s comforting, but it also really does smell just like a buttery, baked good. Upon the initial sip, the sweet berry quality is detectable, anchored by an undeniable tartness. It could certainly use some added sweetener to round out the overall flavour profile. From looking at the ingredients, it is a bit daunting for one to wrap their head around a tea that is supposed to taste similar or exactly like a blueberry muffin, but has blueberries as one of the very last ingredients listed. I suppose that’s where the natural and artificial flavourings come into play… But I think that at the end of the day, it would have been nice to see more blueberries thrown in (yogurt bits even, to make up for the fact that you cannot add any milk to Blueberry Muffin without high risk of it curdling completely), and less of the hibiscus. Oddly enough, when this herbal tea is prepared iced or has had a chance to cool down, is when it truly succeeds in delivering a muffin-like essence. And it is in the lingering after taste that I am reminded of this the most.

Pura Vida: A DAVIDsTea Review

Kick back and enjoy life with this fruity blend of green tea, pineapple and coconut.

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$8.98/50g

Chill out…

Pura Vida

(Pineapple, green tea, apple, coconut, mango, chamomile, natural flavouring.)

In modern-day usage, the Costa Rican saying ‘pura vida’ goes beyond its simple translation: it’s a way of life. It is a perspective to life that evokes a spirit that is not just carefree, but laid back and optimistic overall. And what with it currently being a week or so into summer, this is ideally the kind of attitude you want to embody, especially while relaxing outside with a tall glass of Pura Vida, DAVIDsTea’s Tea of the Month for July. The loose leaf has an overall green look to it, obviously in part to its green tea base. Even the coconut shavings have a tinge of green to them. But there is also dried pieces of apple, pineapple, mango, and surprisingly enough, chamomile flowers. You can tell just how lively this tea is, from its scent alone, which is highly aromatic by the way. The aroma is creamy pina colada, anchored by the tropical fruit. In this case, the mango is detectable, but doesn’t fight the other ingredients.

After four full minutes of steeping, Pura Vida brews to a diluted yellow greenish colour that is still rather pleasing to the eye. It has managed to retain a lot of its original scent, that coconut with just a hint of mango. And that’s what translates right into the flavour profile. The coconut dominates, despite the fact that the pineapple is the first ingredient. Speaking of the pineapple, it’s bright and sweet, followed by ripe mango. The tropical fruit works well with the creamy coconut, and then there’s the chamomile… Personally, I’m not the biggest fan, and it definitely seems out of place in this blend. I suppose it contributes a bit of natural sweetness, but that doesn’t make it any more necessary. I’ve found myself enjoying this tea a lot more with a touch more sugar added and a nice splash of milk to bring the whole pina colada vibe to life. Because DAVIDsTea has released variations of this popular cocktail in recent years, Pura Vida doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I can appreciate the creativity in adding mango and chamomile, but it’s still nothing particularly special or unique.

 

 

Cotton Candy: A DAVIDsTea Review

This sweet treat is deliciously nostalgic and ridiculously fun.

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$7.98/50g

Fluff love…

Cotton Candy

(Green rooibos, sprinkles, mango, brittle, natural and artificial flavouring.)

Cotton candy is a popular treat that has been around for many years. It is basically a fairground/carnival staple and is known to bring about very nostalgic feelings. What child doesn’t beg their parent at one point for a bag of sweet fairy floss or for a stick the size of their head? Any way you put it, cotton candy is a true classic, and you almost wouldn’t believe just how many cotton candy flavoured items exist! There’s cake, gum, ice-cream, candy, etc. And to think, it’s simply “spun sugar”, with the addition of food colouring and flavouring. DAVIDsTea’s Cotton Candy has returned from the tea graveyard as June’s Tea of the Month, and if you have a sweet tooth, this tea is certainly right up your alley. Its green rooibos base already has some natural sweetness to it, but there’s also candied mango, sprinkles, and nut brittle to bump up the sugar factor.

The sprinkles are colourful, and look exactly like little bits of dehydrated blue, purple, and pink cotton candy. For one, it definitely has a sweet and sugary aroma, but there is also a bit of a creaminess too. Oddly enough. Once brewed for about five minutes, this tea steeps to a somewhat cloudy orange colour with a more toned down scent than from before. All of the cotton candy sprinkles have dissolved straight into the tea, and that’s exactly what hits your tongue. It is an authentic cotton candy taste; really delivering on the flavour it is mimicking. The green rooibos acts as a great base for this tea, balancing well with all the sweetness going on and providing a nice, smooth mouthfeel. You really don’t need to add any more sugar, there is already plenty! It is almost borderline too sweet. And as good as it is hot, Cotton Candy is even better iced, especially as an iced latte. This tea is perfect for kids and adults alike that are a fan of this sweet treat.

Raspberry Mojito: A DAVIDsTea Review

Is there any way to improve on a classic mojito? Sure… Just add raspberry!

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$8.98/50g

Gimme some mo’…

(Apple, raisins, hibiscus blossoms, carrot, beetroot, peppermint, lime, raspberries, rose petals, natural and artificial strawberry flavouring.)

We can all thank the city of Havana, Cuba for the creation of the mojito, one of the oldest mixed drinks still consumed today. The mojito is a classic cocktail that brings mint and lime together with a splash of white rum. And for a fun, summery twist, why not add in a handful of sweet raspberries? Resulting in a fruity, minty, and oh so refreshing mix! Just like Raspberry Mojito, a DAVIDsTea returning favourite that is officially the “new” featured tea of the month for May! There is something seemingly different about this fruit infusion compared to last year’s release, that is just so much more bright and lively… from the appearance to the aroma right to the flavour. You can see every single ingredient in the loose leaf. The whole raspberries, the rose petals, the bits of carrot, the raisins, the peppermint leaves, as well as huge pieces of lime.

This blend has a very strong, robust scent. It’s obviously very fruity, due to the raspberries, but also citrus-y and pleasantly minty. After five minutes, it steeps to a beautiful, deep pink colour, that is actually closer to red, to be honest. When Raspberry Mojito is prepared hot, the combination of raspberries and the hibiscus blossoms produce a not-so-surprising tart taste. Sugar is definitely needed to help smooth out the intense tang of this tisane. Both of the aforementioned ingredients are very much at the forefront, delivering a one-two punch to your taste buds. While the peppermint settles into the aftertaste adding a fresh, cooling effect. The lime is unfortunately not as prominent as I’d personally like it to be, it seems like it gets lost amongst the other flavour components. For me, Raspberry Mojito doesn’t completely live up to its namesake, mostly because there is not enough mint or lime for my liking, but this still remains one of my very favourite iced teas!

Caribbean Crush: A DAVIDsTea Review

This sweet, tangy blend of pineapple, papaya and cranberries is as fresh as it gets.

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$7.98/50g

Your new crush…

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(Pineapple, apple, papaya, cranberry, hibiscus, artificial flavouring.)

I’m not sure if anyone else has gone out of their way to buy an excessive amount of one tea before, but Caribbean Crush was definitely that tea for me last year (with up to 700g purchased), when I fell absolutely fell head over heels for this tangy fruit infusion. But conveniently enough, as my stash dwindles down to the last couple ounces, it comes back as the tea of the month for April. Compared to last summer when it first released, Caribbean Crush appears to have gotten a slight makeover. It’s basically the same ingredients, but at the same time, it looks more lively. The chunks of cranberry, the candied pineapple and papaya, as well as the bits of hibiscus come together to mimic escaping to the Caribbean, or even to the beach without having to leave your couch. It certainly smells like a taste of the tropics…

The liqueur after close to six minutes results in a nice rosy pink colour. It doesn’t smell as vibrant as before steeping, more so like pineapple and cranberry, if anything else. I love how much this blend resembles juice, let alone fruit punch (one of my very favourite beverages). It is a great balance between sweet and tangy, and even though the papaya is not as prominent as you would expect from a drink boasting tropical notes, the pineapple really helps make up for that. It’s one of the first things you taste upon sipping, with a “red fruit” flavour following closely behind. The overall flavour is on the mild side, almost diluted, and it’s not too sweet either. It is a tad surprising how decent Caribbean Crush is when prepared hot. The concept of drinking “hot juice” is still pretty odd, but it’s not the worst thing ever… Iced still reigns supreme though!

Lemon Pound Cake: A DAVIDsTea Review

This buttery, citrus oolong tastes just like a sweet slice of lemon pound cake.

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$11.21/50g

Bake it til you make it…

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(Oolong tea, lemongrass, lemon peel, sunflower blossom, white hibiscus blossom, natural and artificial pound cake and lemon flavour.)

If you are a fan of lemon flavoured things, and you also enjoy cake, how could you possibly go wrong with Lemon Pound Cake? A fan favourite from last year’s Mother’s Day collection, that has made its highly anticipated return as DAVIDsTea’s Tea of the Month for March. The traditional recipe (for pound cake) calls for an entire pound of sugar AND a pound of butter, which makes total sense why it tastes so darn good. The dry leaf consists of bits of decent sized oolong pieces, flower petals, lemon peel, and plenty of lemongrass, which contributes to the strong citrus smell that wafts straight out of the bag. Two things that instantly come to mind (that are just as amazing as this tea): Lemon Loaf from Starbucks and the Lemon Poppyseed muffin sold at Tim Hortons (usually around the summertime). Four minutes is literally all you need to get a deep, rich yellow cup of tea. I can pick up more of a cake batter scent now after steeping, while the lemon has toned down a touch.

The lemon is certainly more pronounced than the oolong in the brewed tea as well. The oolong base is not very strong in taste, but it offers a buttery, floral character to the tea, on top of the sunflower & white hibiscus blossoms and compliments the lemongrass/lemon flavour very well, rounding everything out. Without any sweetener, I am not sure how “lemon pound cake” like compared to just lemon it actually tastes. The sugar helps bring out some hidden flavours, while milk definitely adds a decadent creaminess. It is very lemony, with cake flavour in the aftertaste. Really and truly, Lemon Pound Cake is the lighter version of the real thing without sacrificing on flavour. Not only does this tea blend live up to its namesake, it is also an amazing dessert tea to indulge in every once in awhile or all day, every day, no matter how you decide to make it. Hot, iced, and especially in latte form!

Raspberry Cream Pie: A DAVIDsTea Review

Treat yourself with this creamy blend of rooibos, raspberries and white chocolate.

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$7.98/50g

Cream of the crop…

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(Green rooibos, cane sugar, white chocolate chips, pink sugar mix, blackberries, raspberries, gomphrena petals, hibiscus, strawberry leaves, natural and artificial raspberry, blackberry, and vanilla cream flavouring.)

Flaky crust… rich, creamy filling… with juicy raspberries delicately dotting the top. Does it really get any better than (a slice of) Raspberry Cream Pie? I don’t just mean the dessert, but the equally as decadent tea blend. Raspberry Cream Pie, a smash hit from last year’s spring collection made its mighty return today as tea of the month for February, to the delight of many, including yours truly.  The loose leaf is honestly a pink lover’s dream! You can spot the various white chocolate chips, the rooibos base, both the raspberries and blackberries, hibiscus, and then everything is covered in sugar crystals. It’s kind of hard to describe how RCP smells, but the word ‘heavenly’ is most definitely applicable.

I really appreciate that green rooibos was used here instead of red. I don’t see myself enjoying this tea nearly as much, if the roles had been reversed, because this is actually one of the few rooibos based teas I like, for this exact reason. Unfortunately, there’s a film at the top from the oils in the white chocolate, but the chocolate is what really makes Raspberry Cream Pie taste so rich and creamy. It balances well with the fruity notes, and it is also what contributes to the cloudy appearance of this dessert tea. Additional sugar is not at all necessary. This blend is already plenty sweet. But not even the sugar can hide the fact that there’s still a bit of a tartness going on here. It still throws me off that hibiscus is a component of Raspberry Cream Pie, because all it really does is prevent you from making a successful latte (aka the best way to enjoy this tea!), and it’s bad enough that the pie aspect of this tea is completely MIA…