Three DavidsTea Blends

It occurs to me that this blog needs more tea. So here’s some recommendations for all you fellow tea drinkers. I am drinking coffee as I write this, but I’m no heretic—I’m an equal-opportunity drinker.

If you’re lucky, you live near a DavidsTea. If you’re not, they do mail order. They’re a Canadian company, so I’m predisposed to like them. And their tea sure tastes good. I’m still not sure how I feel about their overexcited marketing, but I do get a kick out of reading their tea write-ups.

1. Glitter & Gold: I’ll be honest. I bought this because the lady behind the counter said it sparkles when it steeps. Yes, I can be won over that superficially, I’ll never outgrow my love of sparkles. And it does, in fact, sparkle. For most intense sparkling, use an opaque or dark cup: when I steeped it in glass the effect was washed out by the light. The sparkling is caused by sugar crystals melting into the water.

Most importantly, however, this tea actually does taste really good! It actually took a few cups to convince me—a slow seduction—but it was worth it.

Glitter & Gold is a Chinese black tea with cinnamon and citrus. It reminded me of Silk Road’s Golden Phoenix, which is a semi-green also blended with cinnamon and citrus, but with darker, fuller flavour. Drinking Glitter & Gold is like wrapping yourself in warm blankets on a cold winter’s night watching the snow catch and shine in the streetlights. It’s probably the best tea ever for New Year’s since, you know, it sparkles. I’ll be buying more when the weather turns cooler.

2. Organic Buttered Rum: This was my favourite tea to bring to poetry workshops. It’s black tea with coconut. I suspect that if you don’t like artificial butter flavours, you’ll probably dislike this tea; but if they don’t bother you, and if you do in fact enjoy them like me, you’ll love this. It’s hard to hate anything related to rum in my opinion. Plus, this one’s organic. Bonus!

This is the kind of tea I can drink anytime, anywhere. For many of my teas, I need to be in the right mood, or it has to be the right kind of tea. (I can’t drink green at night, dessert teas need to be after or between meals, etc). Buttered Rum is right up there with Earl Grey as my workhorse tea.

3. Organic Crème Brûlée: This is the tea I make Red Velvet lattes with. It’s tasty. I don’t find, personally, that it tastes or smells much like caramel, as they advertise. It smells like sugar (though no sugar is added), cream and rooibos. I don’t know much about rooibos varieties, but the ingredients list ‘green rooibos’ as the type in this blend. I guess the flavour of rooibos is much less assertive in this tea than in the regular rooibos I’ve had. My mother, who does not like rooibos at all, loved this tea and drank her whole mug down.

Since rooibos (green and red) has anti-histamines (bioflavonoids), I’ve read that a big mug a day of rooibos will reduce hay fever and other allergic reactions. If you have seasonal allergies and don’t like regular rooibos, this tasty tea might be a great alternative. A spoonful of tea helps the medicine go down? I can’t verify this in any empirical fashion, though, because I don’t have allergies, and it seems there hasn’t been much research. No reason not to try it, though. It certainly can’t hurt.


4th Annual Victoria Tea Festival

Last weekend I attended the 4th Annual Victoria Tea Festival. Delicious fun! It’s sponsored by Victoria’s Silk Road—as well as the Butchart Gardens, The Empress Hotel, etc—and is like a trade show, with all kinds of local shops and tea sellers—and fudgemakers, bakeries, and art studios besides—setting up tables, selling wares, explaining their products, and serving tea and samples of all kinds of delicious goodies. It was somewhat pricey for a poor starving student, at $25 at the door, but I’d gone last year and promised myself I’d go back. From all the tea and food I sampled, I’d say it was worth it.

There were all kinds of teas: matcha, yerba mate, an entire rainbow of varieties of blacks, greens, semi-greens, oolong, white, rooibus, and I love all of them. Except matcha (green tea powder). I like matcha in food—in cookies, in ice cream—but I hate the taste of it alone. But the other teas! It was a real tastebud-opener to try the same blends from different merchants. I tried at least two or three different pomegranate rooibus teas, for example, each with its own subtle difference. (Murchie’s was pretty good.)

And the food! Bubby Rose’s Bakery had a table spread out with sumptuous yummies: matcha cookies, carrot cake, brownies, lemon squares, multiple kinds of cookie, among other things, and at the end of the table, non-sugary things: Jamaican tortano and…something else? with a mouth-wateringly incredible mango chutney. It’s a bit out of the way, but I’ve vowed to go to Bubby Rose’s sometime this year. (Anyone reading this in the Vic area: check it out. Yum!)

There was also a vendor with goat cheese. Mm. Fancy cheeses.

There were several presentations going on during the two-day festival. I attended two. The first was a Chinese Tea Ceremony presentation put on by the owner of Silk Road, an elegant woman who is, apparently, a Tea Master, which means that, among other feats, she can tell at what boiling stage water is in just by listening to it. I don’t know much about tea ceremonies in general, but I can now tell you that the Chinese ceremony consists of steeping the leaves multiple times to bring out the true flavour of the tea. I intend to do further research.

The second presentation was cooking with tea—yes, cooking—with Chef Heidi Fink. She made a jasmine tea sorbet, chai butter, and a salad dressing with, if I remember right, lapsang souchong (a smoky tea). All mouth-wateringly amazing. Definitely as good as anything from Bubby Rose’s. I plan on making the chai butter at some point, and making granitas (a cheap man’s ice cream with a fancy name) with tea this summer. Stay tuned for my adventures in the world of tea cooking!

I planned, I vowed, to not buy anything apart from admission. Then I sampled Teafarm’s Mysteaque, a blend of licorice root, lemongrass, peppermint and calendula. The peppermint and lemongrass sparkled on my tongue at the initial sip; as I swallowed licorice coated the sides of my tongue and mouth, leaving a pleasant aftertaste that did not overstay its welcome. I don’t even like licorice. I highly recommend this tea.

I saw some lovely tea paraphernalia I just had to have—but resisted, due to the gaping emptiness of my bank account. So these things will wait until I have money. Although, personally, I’m hoping this summer my friends will band together and buy me the glass tea set (and votive candle warmer) from Serious Coffee for my birthday this summer. It’s only $21, with the teapot warmer only about $5 more. And my sister got me some blossoming teas this Christmas that deserve to be shown in a lovely teapot.

Yixing clay teapots are one of those things I’ll have to wait awhile to purchase, too. A good-quality, artistic, wonderful Yixing teapot… Well, they’re damn pricey. But the thing about the Yixing clay is that it absorbs the flavour of the tea, making it more valuable as it is used. You have to use only a certain kind of tea in it, of course, but legend says that if it’s been used enough all you have to do is pour in the boiling water and you’ll get tea, from the flavour remaining in the pot. They’re also beautiful, see:

All in all, the Tea Festival was a great experience, informative and with a such a soothing, polite vibe. I think next time I’d like to attend as a volunteer, however.

Creamy Nut Oolong

For all you tea fans lucky enough to have access to Teaopia, I must tell you that Teaopia’s Creamy Nut Oolong is one of the most fantastic blends I’ve ever had the privilege to drink.

It’s light and rich all at once, and sweet, and does not benefit from oversugaring (though a little to enhance the flavour turns this into a decadent dessert tea). To my amusement, included among the looseleaf are little chunks of caramel. Yum! Apple, nuts and caramel: perfection in a tea.