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David’s Tea Honeydew Maté tea

I received Honeydew Maté as a sample, which I love because it’s a low-commitment way to try new teas – though at the same time with David’s Teas it’s a bit frustrating too – only because if I really loved this tea, I’d be out of luck, as it’s no longer in stock. I love that they bring in new flavours every season, though I don’t love how they retire teas… couldn’t they keep them on their website even if not in store?

Ah well…

This tea is a green rooibos, with green yerba  mate, white hibiscus blossoms, melon pieces (which include sugar, green melon and starch) along with ‘natural flavouring’. The tea is super fine, so of course it just flowed on through my Tuffy Strainer, but at least all of those little pieces sank to the bottom of my cup!

Honeydew Mate Tea from David's Tea

Honeydew Mate Tea from David’s Tea

Dry, the tea smells pretty gross. It smells a lot like that artificial watermelon flavoring used in bubblegum. Ew. When steeping up though, more of the smokey scents come up from the rooibos, and when it’s ready to drink, it’s kind of mix of the two -artificially sweet flavour and smokey rooibos. The sweet isn’t too bad though, it’s tolerable… but not fantastic.

Now.. the maté. Maté is known as a stimulant – an alternative to caffeine. I had mine on a Monday morning when I really could have used a pick-me-up… and this tea sort of fell flat. I didn’t get the “buzz” that I did with Chocolate Rocket, or really any ‘stimulation’ above any other cup of tea.

All in all, it’s a general “eh” for flavour and effect.  It’s not a terrible tea, but it’s not a great one either. I won’t miss it now that it’s retired… nor will I look for it or recommend it if they bring it back.

Since this one is no longer in stock (maybe it will come back at some point?) you can check out all of the maté teas that David’s Teas offers.  http://www.davidstea.com/mate-en

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in South-East Calgary, Tea & Beverages

 

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Tea: Jumpy Monkey and David’s Tea sample packs

In an occasion of tea-lovers good luck, I happened upon some single-serving packets of David’s Tea in my work kitchen (in the shared cupboard). My only conclusion is that someone won the teas in our recent holiday party, and found that loose leaf tea didn’t suit them so gave them up for the shared consumption of all. (Or perhaps they only like a particular type of tea and so the variety pack wasn’t necessary.) Their dislike is my gain!

First off – what a GREAT way to try new teas. I know that David’s Tea offers free samples to customers who shop online, but why don’t they offer this for in-store purchases too?  (Perhaps with free shipping over $50, they’re trying to encourage online shopping? I’d be all for that if I was just replacing favorites, and didn’t want to try new things.. but smelling the teas is a fun part of the tea-shopping experience for me, and often the staff in-person have urged me to try new things…)  They should really consider giving away samples with purchases in-store too. After all- it’s a great, low-commitment way of trying more flavours (especially if the flavours were chosen based on what you purchased..) and you know if you try more tea, you’re going to find a new favourite and buy more!

Moving on…

So Jumpy Monkey was the first one I grabbed from the shared cupboard (though there are many still there tempting me with their tea-y goodness). It is described as “sweet energy” on the David’s Tea website and includes Argentinean mate, roasted peaberry coffee beans, almonds, white chocolate and “other roasted barks and roots” which from the ingredient list would appear to include carob, clover, oat straw, and cocoa nibs. The package also indicates that there is vanilla in the tea, though it isn’t listed on the website. The package also lets the consumer know that the coffee beans are rainforest alliance (certified?).

Oat straw huh? Neigh.

Jumpy Monkey

Jumpy Monkey

The scent dry is slightly coffee scented, with a bit of smokiness that I sometimes associate with yerba mate. Steeped up, the scent is even a stronger coffee scent, and there is definitely a coffee taste to the steeped tea, but again with that smokiness and a bit of ‘dryness’ as well. There is also a slight sweetness (mind you I added sweetener). I found that the tea lacked the bitterness that I usually associate with the aftertaste of coffee though – which was great! I didn’t have milk in this tea, but I think it would be really good with just a drop to mellow out the dryness a little bit. It is also DARK when steeped up. I kind of regret having this at work where I couldn’t get a good ‘in the mug’ photo for you to show off just how dark this tea is – very similar to weak coffee.

I’ve talked a little about yerba mate in a past post so that’s where the “jumpy” comes from – sort of. Mate is supposed to provide the energy-boosting/stimulating effect of caffeine, but without the ‘jitters’ often associated with coffee.

Jumpy Monkey

Jumpy Monkey

My conclusion – this is a really great coffee alternative tea. If you have a coffee lover in your life –this might not turn them away from the coffee pot for good, but it might convince them to join you for a pot of tea more frequently.

I made up a second cup of this tea using the same leaves, and it was just as flavourful – but this time I added milk, which gave it a warm richness and smooth body which was wonderful! It however, was a lot less “coffee” and a lot more “tea” to me; still with that slight smokiness.

The only problem I had with this tea – and it is most likely due to the fact that it was a pre-packaged sample, rather than freshly chosen from a bin at the store – the fannings/dust.  There was a lot of crushed material in the tea, which obviously makes it’s way through my beloved Tuffy strainer, and made the tea slightly less appealing.  If I remember in the future, I’ll bring in some of those T-bags from home for these sample packs at work.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Tea & Beverages

 

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Tea: Banff Trail Mix

One of the new teas I picked up on my last visit to my favorite tea shops was Banff Trail Mix. This is a tea with mate added, and although the day that I had some it was a hot day, with an impending wonderfull thunderstorm, I felt like something warm and cozy.

To start off, the tea has a distinctive scent when it’s dry. It reminds me of carob or chicory or something that’s not quite chocolate, not quite coffee, not quite black tea, but somewhere in between.  The smell is interesting, but not something that I really jumped up for.  Perhaps it’s just the timing, because it smelt really yummy in the store.

Pretty tea

It’s a fairly pretty tea though, with two different sizes of chocolate chips. I thought perhaps one of them was a carob chip instead, but reading the ingredients, it looks as though the distinctive scent is likely coming from the mate instead.  The ingredients include: “Roasted mate, black tea, chocolate chips, almonds, sunflower and calendula petals, elderberries, dried black currants, hibiscus, natural flavour.”

The tea steeps up a rich, lovely dark amber colour, and still has that same scent that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Unfortunately, when I had it black, it was a bit underwhelming.  The flavor was similar to the scent, but it didn’t have as much flavor as I had hoped for.  I added some sugar and milk, which improved it quite a bit, but it still wasn’t particularly memorable.

With and without milk & sugar

Since I wasn’t overly thrilled with the tea hot, I steeped some up and put it in the fridge overnight.  Oddly enough, this improved it considerably for me!  With a good chill (and a pinch of sugar), the tea flavor remains, the odd flavor (not bad, just odd) mellows, and the chocolate improves.

I looked for other bloggers talking about Banff Trail Mix – but couldn’t find anything – so if you’ve tried Banff Trail Mix – let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Banff Tea Co. on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Out of town - Alberta

 

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Tea: Chocolate Rocket (a maté tea)

Chocolate Rocket is another of the teas I picked up while in Edmonton from David’s Tea.  Dry, it smells delicious – I can first smell the chicory smell, then almond, and then chocolate and just a tiny bit of the raspberry that you can see as it sits on top.  Visually it’s really bold as well, with big slivers of almond.  Yeah, because I’ve started to photograph the teas I drink for this blog, I’ve also started paying more attention to what they look like, and I’m a sucker for a pretty-looking teas. (Who am I kidding? Pretty looking anything!)  The maté in the tea also really stands out – and I found really JUMPS out when I drink it too!

Chocolate Rocket from David's Tea

So, what is maté?  Basically it’s a coffee alternative, known to provide mental energy/stimulation (without the jitters that come from caffeine in coffee).  It’s also very high in antioxidants, and is reported to help with lessening the tendency towards obesity and lower cholesterol.  *shrugs*  Most of the time I don’t really care about all of that, I just want to drink what tastes good!   It’s not officially “tea” since it comes from the Yerba Mate plant and not actually the Camellia Sinensis. Traditionally, the dried leaves are steeped right in the cup (traditionally a hollowed gourd) and you drink it through a (traditionally silver or cane) straw with small holes – acting as a sieve so you don’t sip up the leaves as well.  Of course, tradition can’t stand in the way of enterprise, and it’s also available in bagged form.  Traditionally the drink comes from South America – according to Wikipedia – Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil to be specific.

“Yerba Mate or Mate (MAH-tay) as it is often called is a wonderful stimulant, which can act as an all natural and cost effective substitute to energy drinks and coffee. The stimulant in Mate is called mateine, which is like caffeine but less disruptive to your metabolism and doesn’t leave you with the side effects and toxicity of coffee. With 52 more active compounds and a higher antioxidant count than Green Tea, Mate fights free radicals, detoxifies the body and helps protect against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.” http://www.teaopia.ca/category.cfm/tea/Loose-Leaf-Mate

Ok.. so on to THIS tea…

David’s Tea describes this tea as: “Need a boost? Try this tea. First you’ll experience a pure, sweet hit of chocolate. Then you’ll find yourself awash in the freshness of raspberries. Followed by the richness of almonds and chicory. And then, bang, you’ll realize you’ve been infused with roasted Brazilian maté. How will you know? It’s what’s giving you all that crazy energy. Just fly with it.”

Steeped, it tastes very similar to how it smells dry. I first notice the chicory, then the almond, and then a bit of sweetness.  I added milk and sugar substitute, which made it a bit more creamy.  The package from David’s Tea suggested steeping it for 4-5 minutes, but on the first infusion I probably only let it sit for a minute before I took the leaves out. No, I didn’t use a gourd and a special straw – just my regular strainer…

Insofar as the effects of the maté, I definitely thought that I could feel a little bit ‘buzzed’ really quickly after drinking the first cup.  In fact, a co-worker even commented that I was talking a lot.  Hmm perhaps this is also an alternative for another social lubricant? 😉

On a second infusion, I poured just a small amount of water over the leaves, and let it sit for 5 minutes – it was almost ‘thick’, and very strong, with a slight bitterness.  It reminded me of the difference between coffee and espresso!

On the third infusion, the potency remained – both in flavour, scent, and colour, but I found that I could pick up more of the raspberry flavour.  I steeped it much like the first infusion, and was curious how many infusions I could possibly get out of my little bit of tea..

So – would I buy this again… although it’s nice, it doesn’t really jump out of the cup at me.  There’s nothing wrong with it, and if I really wanted the stimulation of coffee without some of the negative effects, I might pick it up – it certainly is better than the other maté I tried (Mateccino from Teaopia) for my tastes, but there isn’t anything extremely special about it either.  I suppose part of the problem is that I really can’t taste the chocolate, which I had been really expecting in a tea called Chocolate Rocket.

So, I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about Chocolate Rocket.. but apparently I’m alone in that, because I did a quick blog search, and ALL of the bloggers who I could find, LOVED it.  Want proof?  Check out the Baked Foodies blog, where the author enjoyed it despite the fact that the tea infused not just the water but also the cup it came in… or Tea Time Toronto who could definitely taste more of the chocolate and raspberry than I could!

Have you tried any other really good maté teas?  Any recommendations?  Let us know in the comments below!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Out of town - Alberta, Tea & Beverages

 

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