DavidsTea’s Tea the North

Tea the North by DavidsTea
White Tea / Flavoured
$10.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I was at my local DavidsTea and I asked my friendly neighbourhood tea pusher what the new tea was and he told me that it was Tea the North. Now, I know DavidsTea already has a maple syrup tea called Oh Canada! so I wasn’t really expecting something similar, but still was expected something with some maple influences, or something else that screamed ‘Canada’ to me. What I smelled instead was a lot of coconut and pineapple. Instant recoil from the container holding the sample that I was just smelling because it just did not make sense.

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Tea the North consists of: melon, pineapple, coconut, white tea, hibiscus, sweet blackberry leaves, apple, rose petals, rhubarb, safflower blossoms, and natural flavouring. He had rattled off the list of ingredients to me and I must have looked confused because then he told me that most of the ingredients were white or red. Oh. I suppose that makes sense? But coconut and pineapple does not scream Canada to me – it makes me think of pina coladas (and getting caught in the rain). Nevertheless, I wanted to try a bit of this white tea blend because I’m a bleeding heart (and Canada Day is one of my upmost favourite holidays).

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Tea the North in hot water for 4 to 7 minutes. For those interested, “hot water” is defined on the product page as being 167-176°F or 75-80°C. I did an initial steep of 5 minutes in 175°F water.

First Taste

Tea the North steeps to a bright red – which did not surprise me given the fact that the blend includes hibiscus, rhubarb, and safflower blossoms. The taste of this tea is… interesting? There’s sweetness to it that comes from the fruit (melon, pineapple, apple), and a touch of tartness (from the hibiscus and possibly the rhubarb). I think I would describe this as being primarily coconut and artificial flavouring. The coconut flavour is heavy in this white tea blend, and there’s just something about it that lingers on my tongue that I just do not like. I’m not sure if it is the flavouring in this tea, or maybe just the combination of flavours, but coconut takes center stage and all the other ingredients (aside from adding a touch of sweetness or tartness) stay in the background – the far, far background.

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A Second Cup?

I didn’t really want to, but I did resteep Tea the North. The second time around was not an improvement on the first, I’m afraid. Is it possible for coconut to strengthen in flavour? Because that’s what it seemed to do here. The mix of sweet and tart was incredibly muted this time around, and I felt like it was just coconut again, with an odd aftertaste that seemed sour to me.

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My Overall Impression

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I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Tea the North. I wanted to at least love this tea blend, because I’m a sucker for all things Canada and with the impending 150th birthday (tomorrow/July 1st), I really wanted to love this tea. I think it’s cute that they did a blend of primarily red and white ingredients instead of doing maple (again), but I feel like it really missed its mark. The aroma of coconut and pineapple don’t make me think of Canada at all, and the tea itself was a bit of fail in the flavor department.

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DavidsTea’s Quince Charming

Quince Charming by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Flavoured
$8.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

I picked this up at my local DavidsTea because it was marked down – I’m a sucker for new-to-me teas that are on sale. Quince Charming is said to be both hot and iced, as per the company that sells this black tea blend, so I’ll give both temperature extremes a try. When I opened the bag, the first thing I smell is the sweet smells of apples and pears. There’s some mild floral notes, and a brightness to the fruity aromas that reminds me a lot of lychees.

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Quince Charming is made up of apple, black tea, sweet blackberry leaves, hibiscus, apple pomace, quince, and natural quince flavouring. You can see quite a bit of the ingredients in the dry leaf. Quince often smells, to me at least, like pears, so I think that’s where the pear aroma was coming from.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Quince Charming in near-boiling water for 4 to 7 minutes, near-boiling is 194-203°F (90-95°C). I steeped my pot of Quince Charming was close to 5 minutes for the initial steep.

First Taste

Quince Charming smells quite strongly of apples in the steeped tea. It’s a bright orange-red colour that is lovely to look at. When I smell the tea, the floral aroma is still very much present, and the apple fragrance is strong. I don’t really smell the pear/quince flavours that I noted in the dry leaf. On first sip of this black tea blend, I note that it’s quite tart. I think that’s to do with the hibiscus. There’s a certain amount of mouthpucker that I feel that this fruity-floral black tea blend lends itself to because of the ingredients. There’s a certain mix of tart and sour that reminds me a lot of sour candy. The floral notes in this tea are a bit overwhelming when the tea is hot, it almost seems a but perfume-y to me – just too much floral.

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I did pour a second cup over some ice cubes and found that the lower temperature helped to tone down the floral flavour. The tartness/sourness was a bit more palatable when the tea is cooler. I definitely liked Quince Charming better iced than hot.

A Second Cup?

Quince Charming did a remarkably poor job with being resteeped. The flavours were watered down and tasted nothing like the initial steep that I did of this fruity black tea blend. I would say that Quince Charming is not good for one more steep.

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My Overall Impression

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I thought that DavidsTea’s Quince Charming was just okay. I did not like this tea hot at all – the floral notes were overwhelming and it was far too tart and sour for me, I can’t imagine how it would have tasted if I had left it to steep for a full 7 minutes! That said, Quince Charming does quite well as an iced tea. A bit of sweetener would help to balance out the tartness, but having it iced helps as well. Unfortunately, this tea does badly at being resteeped, so there’s no added value there. I find that it reminded me quite a bit of Honeycrisp Apple (an apple green tea blend from DavidsTea), but with some minor changes in ingredients. Between the two apple tea blends, I would opt for Honeycrisp Apple over Quince Charming.

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DavidsTea’s Moonlight White

Moonlight White by DavidsTea
White and Pu-erh Tea / Straight
$24.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

This tea has me a bit confused. I initially purchased it because it was one of the new straight teas at DavidsTea and the salesperson at my local DavidsTea waxed poetic about it. When I bought it back in April, it was categorized as a white tea. At the time of writing this, it’s categorized as a pu-erh tea on the DavidsTea website. To be fair, the description of the tea has it as a “white pu’erh tea”. The combination of the two has me intrigued, and I nearly forgot that I had even bought this tea because it fell between a couple bags. (No jokes about how I have too much tea, please!) But for the tea enthusiasts out there, Yue Guang Bai is another name for Moonlight White (and another literal tea name translation) in case you wanted to source out other Moonlight White teas.

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Moonlight White is actually a really beautiful dry leaf. There’s the white, feathery down on the leaves, and then there’s the darker part of the leaf that provides such a stark contrast. It is a fairly airy tea, so you wind up with a fairly bulky bag because the tea leaves take up so much room. The dry leaf has what I would describe as a honeyed smell, it smells light and sweet to me.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Moonlight White in near-boiling water for 4-7 minutes. The temperature range for this tea (as per their website) is 194-203°F (90-95°C). As my Breville IQ Kettle has a white tea setting (185°F/85°C), I opted to use that as I didn’t want to burn the leaves. My initial steep was for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Moonlight White steeps to a pale yellow initially. It has a lovely honeyed smell to it, it smells sweet to me with a touch of vegetation. There’s an overall smoothness to this tea, no bitterness or astringency to note. I found it had a pleasant mouthfeel and it goes down easy. My water that I use is fairly tasteless, I live in an area with soft water. I found that this tea had a bit of a mineral water flavour to it, which was surprising (given that I live in an area with soft water…). It isn’t off-putting, it was just surprising. I greatly enjoyed the honeyed taste to this white/pu-erh tea, and I don’t think it needs additional sweetener as it’s sweet enough.

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A Second Cup?

As Moonlight White is a straight tea, I was eager to steep the leaves a few times. I ended up steeping the same leaves for seven times. I found that the tea leaves held up well. The colour of the liquor became a deeper and deeper golden yellow as I went through the steeps (becoming the darkest for resteep 3). The flavour of this tea didn’t really change, although the honey and mineral notes did become stronger, but remained at the same flavour balance as the initial steep. I found that the leaves did really well, and it took to the seventh overall steep to really find the flavour lacking.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved DavidsTea’s Moonlight White. This tea is a curious combination for me – white and pu-erh. I found that the tea tasted great and the leaves held up incredibly well to resteeping. I think that tea is delicious and would probably pair well with some sweets or desserts. The one thing that I’m not completely in love with is the price tag. $25 for 50g is fairly steep and it makes me hesitant to really want to fall head-over-heels in love with this tea (because I just know that I’ll want a tin… or two). Overall, I think the tea is great and if you can afford this tasty tea, I would definitely recommend it. The nice thing is that the tea is of a good quality so it can be resteeped (better value!), and you don’t need a lot of the tea to steep a teapot (and then steep it again and again), so a little bit of this tea goes a long way. It’s definitely something that I really love, but don’t want to get into the habit of keeping in my tea stash because of the price. Hopefully there are cheaper Moonlight White alternatives out there, or else I’ll be getting into some trouble soon!

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DavidsTea’s Butter Sencha

Butter Sencha by DavidsTea
Green Tea / Flavoured
$12.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

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Butter Sencha was a tea that when I first smelled it in the store, I was intrigued. I’ve really grown to love Japanese green teas, and sencha is no exception. I was curious about the butter flavouring, because green teas can be delicate at times that they don’t need extra flavouring to make an excellent cup of tea. The dry leaf of Butter Sencha is short, flat dark green pieces. The smell of this tea reminds me a lot of a mix of butter and brown sugar, there’s some of light molasses notes to this tea. I think that could be attributed to the roasting of the butter.

Butter Sencha is made up of green tea and natural roasted butter flavouring. Usually DavidsTea will mention if there are allergens involved with their teas (warnings about dairy/milk, soy, etc.) but there’s nothing mentioned for this tea. I’m not sure if the ‘flavouring’ that’s been added contains dairy products or not, but that would be something to ask in store or online if you have concerns about it.

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Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Butter Sencha for 2-3 minutes in hot water, ‘hot water’ is defined as 75-80°C (167-176°F). I steeped Butter Sencha in my tea pot in 175°F water for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Butter Sencha steeps to a very pale yellow for the initial steep. There’s very light buttery smells to this tea as it steeps and I found it to be quite enticing once the two minutes mark is reached. On first sip, the first thing that I really notice is a buttery creamy quality to the tea. The tea itself is smooth, there’s no bitterness that I can taste and zero astringency. The butter flavours in this tea are rich and there’s a slight sweetness to the steeped tea as well. I wouldn’t say it’s overly sweet, but it’s just enough to be a hint of brown sugar on my tongue.

There was some fine particles of the tea that escaped from the stainless steel infuser that I use. If tiny bits of tea leaves bother you, I’d recommend using a filter bag to contain everything just a bit better.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Butter Sencha an extra four times, adding 30 seconds to each subsequent resteep. I found that the tea got darker as each steep went on (to a bright, golden yellow) and the buttery flavours got more pronounced for the first two resteeps, and began to get a bit weaker for the third and fourth resteeps. The brown sugar sweetness that I discovered in the initial steeped stayed relatively strong until the third resteep. The sweetness makes the tea quite enjoyable.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked DavidsTea’s Butter Sencha. There’s something really delicious about the flavour of buttery creaminess in my tea, and the brown sugar flavours are just the right touch to this green tea. I do wish that DavidsTea had a bit more information regarding the butter flavouring, since I know there are people out there that can’t have dairy products. That said, Butter Sencha resteeps well and it does get better after the initial steep and the flavours hold up. It makes for a tasty cup of tea and the buttery flavours are delicious (I almost feel like this is how Movie Night should have tasted).

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DavidsTea’s Happy Valley Darjeeling

Happy Valley Darjeeling by DavidsTea
Black Tea / Straight
$14.98 for 50g

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First Impressions

When I found out that DavidsTea was getting a new collection of straight teas in, I was curious. I’m a sucker for a good straight tea so when I walked into my local DavidsTea shop I asked to smell all of them (there are three) and then I went ahead and bought a small bag of each. The nice thing about living locally to a DavidsTea location is that I don’t have to purchase a full 50g of each tea (like I would if I was ordering online).

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Happy Valley Darjeeling is an organic black tea from Darjeeling, India. As per the product page, DavidsTea describes the tea as a second flush tea from Happy Valley, a tea estate in Darjeeling with a long, rich history of producing tea. First flush is tea harvested in mid-March while second flush is harvested in June. The tea leaves of Happy Valley Darjeeling have a very bright fruity smell to it, I mostly smell fruity tones that remind me of stone fruits (like plums).

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Preparation

DavidsTea’s packaging suggests steeping this in “near-boiling water” for 4 to 7 minutes. Their website suggests that near-boiling is 90-95°C (194-203°F). I did my initial steep at the recommended water temperature for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Happy Valley Darjeeling steeps to a beautiful golden orange, there’s a great aroma that wafts up from the tea that reminds me a lot of plums still. There’s a bit of sweetness to this steeped tea that can be smelled. On first sip, I note that the tea is a bit astringent. It’s not overpowering the overall flavour of the tea, so it’s still quite palatable. The plum notes are soft, with the natural fruity sweetness of this tea. The plum notes are delicious, and play well with the astringency in this steeped tea.

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A Second Cup?

As Happy Valley Darjeeling is a straight tea, I couldn’t help myself when it came to resteeping this tea. I steeped the leaves again at the same temperature of water, just adding an additional 30 seconds per each subsequent steep. I did a total of three resteeps (four steeps overall) before the flavour started to really be a ghost of what the initial steep resembled. The astringency doesn’t mellow with additional resteeps, and the sweet plum notes held up well until the last steep that I did. I would suggest doing a maximum of two resteeps for this straight black tea.

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My Overall Impression

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I liked DavidsTea’s Happy Valley Darjeeling. I think as a straight tea, the flavours are nice. The sweet plum flavours mix very well with the astringency in this black tea, and the tea leaves hold up well for a few resteeps to get more flavour and value out of the leaves. I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to get more steeps out of these leaves, but I found that the steeped leaves were quite broken up once they had opened up and I could see that they weren’t whole leaves. For the price, I would have expected a few more steeps, but the tea itself is quite good for the steeps that I did do with it. I think the plum sweetness is a delight for the taste buds, and this tea doesn’t need additional sweetener (although that may help to temper the astringency if that isn’t your cup of tea).

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