2020 Toronto Tea Festival: DAVIDsTEA | Event Recap & Tea Review

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DAVIDsTEA_Wild_Grown_Rooibos_spoon

At the Toronto Tea Festival, DAVIDsTEA had a booth showcasing their traditional teas, as well as a talk. Since DAVIDsTEA is a large reason I started my tea journey, I wanted to talk about them!

I’ve never been shy about admitting that I fell in love with tea in large part because of DAVIDsTEA. As a child, I would drink tea during dim sum, however, it was this bitter over a brewed liquor. So, when I stepped into my first DAVIDsTEA shop, as cheesy as it sounds, it changed my life because of all the adventures that came along with it.

Therefore, I was excited to see DAVIDsTEA offering samples, tea tastings, and even talk about how they come up with their concepts! Nadia, one of the staff that I met, kindly mentioned I was interested in DAVIDsTEA, so the company reach out and sent me some of the teas that they were sampling at the festival! As a result, the first part of the post will focus on the Toronto Tea Festival and then reviews of the teas DAVIDsTEA sent!

Let’s go!

 

Discovery Station

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I thought the best place to start is with DAVIDsTEA’s Discovery Station. It was a long table with a very eye-catching display. It showcased a row of 11 teas and herbs ranging from white, green, oolong, black, pu’erh, and even guayusa, rooibos, and chamomile.

From my understanding, the goal was to explore DAVIDsTEA’s traditional teas range. During the tastings, the staff, Nadia (Tea Content & Compliance Manager) and Celia (Tea Research & Development Specialist), introduced the different teas and herbs and spoke to the variation in flavours of the teas, such as comparing a Chinese green tea compared to a Japanese green tea.

On display for each tea or herb was the dry and wet leaves, alongside the liquor on display to experience a full tasting experience. I really liked DAVIDsTEA showcasing a flight of traditional tea. Nadia and Celia were kind, patient and knowledgeable!

 

Cup to Concept – Nadia De La Vega and Celia Aceae

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I was very excited for this talk by Nadia and Celia, however, I ended up missing it because I was late. Thankfully, Christymalanos filmed the talk live on Instagram, so I was able to rewatch it!

The talk discussed the process from the start of a concept for a tea blend to how blends are chosen through a tasting panel to be sold. Celia spoke about the struggles to create blends and how not all of them always pan out. From 30 new blend ideas a month, widdled down to 3 to 7 after the tasting panel.

TorontoTeaFestival_DAVIDsTEA_tasting

It was really interesting to hear the process and how much attention is put into not only the flavour, but also the visual, smell, and texture. I liked that DAVIDsTEA has its own tea flavour wheel (above) which outlines their main flavour profiles. I thought that was a very useful tool!

The latter part of the talk spoke to DAVIDsTEA’s focus on wellness teas. I liked that Celia was forthright about them not being doctors and how DAVIDsTEA looked at wellness from a historical viewpoint. Such as willow bark being an ingredient for aspirin.

Nadia also shared that 70% of DAVIDsTEA’s offering has natural, organic or no flavouring, and 30% is traditional. It was nice to hear their firm belief in the quality of their teas!

 

DAVIDsTEA Package

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After meeting Nadia at the event, she kindly mentioned to DAVIDsTEA that I would like to try their teas. So, they sent me a package containing some of teas that were sampled at the Discovery Station, a perfect mug, tea filters, and a classic perfect teaspoon! I thought it would be nice to share the teas!

 

Emerald Jade

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Description: “Plucked from a family-owned organic tea garden in the Suizhou prefecture, this classic Chinese green tea is a daily ritual you’re going to love. It’s fresh, energizing and super easy to drink – perfect for tea newbies and connoisseurs alike.”

Instructions: 1-2 Perfect spoonful | 475 ml (16 oz) of 85℃/185℉ water | 2-3 minutes

Review: The dry leaves were emerald green and wiry. It smelled of fresh-cut grass. After 3 minute infusion, the wet leaves were an olive green colour with a strong nutty smell. The liquor was a light pale yellow-green with a roasted nutty and grassy smell.

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I originally tried steeping the tea for 2 minutes and found the liquor very faint. At 3 minutes, the liquor started off light and delicate with some faint vegetal taste ending off umami and savoury. When cooled, the liquor was faint with a hint of savouriness (3/5 rating).

  • Type: Green tea
  • Origin: China, Suizhou prefecture
  • Caffeine: Medium
  • Ingredients: Green tea
  • Other: Kosher, organic
  • Company: DAVIDsTEA

 

Golden Lily

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Description: “Sweet meets creamy vanilla in this delicate & uplifting milky organic oolong tea from Northern Thailand. Grown and hand-picked in the lush forested region of Chiang Rai, this rare and lightly oxidized oolong boasts a light floral aroma of sweet peas & apricots, and is prized for its luxuriously creamy notes.”

Instructions: 1-2 Perfect spoonfuls | 475 ml (16 oz) of 90℃/195℉ water | 4-5 minutes 

Review: During the talk, Nadia mentioned that tea in Thailand was quite new. Tea was grown in Northern Thailand to convert what used to be opium fields. Due to the climate, tea thrived.

For the Golden Lily, the dry leaves smelled marine and vegetal. It reminded me of Taiwanese oolongs in smell and appearance. After 5 minutes, most of the leaves had unfurled and had a grassy earthy smell. The liquor was a tan yellow.

DAVIDsTEA_Golden_Lily_wet_leaf

Tastewise, it was sweet and vegetal ending with some floral notes. It had a slightly milky taste near the tail end and creamy texture. It even had light roasted notes. It was more vegetal when cooled. Overall, it was a much more delicate in flavour than Guangzhou Milk Oolong, however, that tea has natural and artificial milk flavouring. (3.5/5 rating).

  • Type: Oolong tea
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Caffeine: Low
  • Ingredients: Oolong tea
  • Other: Kosher, organic
  • Company: DAVIDsTEA

 

Wild Grown Rooibos

DAVIDsTEA_Wild_Grown_Rooibos_spoon

Description: “An exquisitely smooth wild grown tea – discover a rare and refined South African rooibos with sweet wild honey & earthy notes, punctuated with a rich & nutty aroma of hazelnuts & almonds.”

Instructions: 1-2 Perfect spoonful | 475 ml (16 oz) of 95℃/200℉ water | 4-5 minutes

Review: I generally shy away from rooibos. There is a medical taste that isn’t the most pleasant for me. However, I was interested in seeing how wild-grown rooibos would taste!

I first tried it at the Discovery Station. Nadia explained that a local farmer (Izak) found the rooibos and when the DAVIDsTEA team tried it, they knew they had to carry it exclusively. Since it is wild grown, she mentioned it had a low impact on the environment because there was no need for irrigation or pesticide.

At first sniff, I was already intreated by the wild-grown rooibos. While it had a similar rooibos smell, there was something almost dessert-like to the smell and reminded of caramel or honey. It was twiggy and looked like aracha (Japanese raw tea which isn’t refined).

DAVIDsTEA_Wild_Grown_Rooibos_wet_leaf

After steeping for 5 minutes, the wet leaf was earthy and woodsy. The liquor was a deep reddish-brown and smelled deep and roasted in addition to being earthy. The taste was very much like the smell. It was like a dessert tea – sweet, caramel, and nutty. I did find it a bit drying at the back of the mouth at the end of the sip. I personally liked this much more than the original rooibos DAVIDsTEA carried (3.5/5 rating).

  • Type: Rooibos
  • Origin: South Africa
  • Caffeine: Caffeine-free
  • Ingredients: Wild grown rooibos
  • Other: Kosher
  • Company: DAVIDsTEA

 

Final Thoughts

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Overall, I really enjoyed the Discovery Station at the Toronto Tea Festival! I liked that DAVIDsTEA tried to showcase their traditional teas because I feel they have a name for their blended teas.

It was also lovely to meet Nadia and Celia! To learn more about DAVIDsTEA, they have a  guide on how to have a tea tasting at home on their website!

The question of the post: Would you like to do a tea flight of traditional teas?

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