22 Tasting Notes
Day 19 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar — The Spice is Right (organic). Once again I had to pull out the tool box to get the tin open. This time I tried vice grips to no avail and resorted to using needle nose pliers to pull up the lid edge from around the plastic window so I could dump the tea out of the top. This poor tin is so mangled now…
And the whole time this enticing aroma of spice kept wafting up at me every time I made any headway on accessing the tea. In the end, the fight was worth it, though. I’m a huge spice fan, so this baby was right up my alley. It delivers in-your-face clove and cinnamon with an undercurrent of orange zest, peppery-ness, and a slight green tea astringency. I think the clove and cinnamon oils actually kind hover at the top of the liquid, as it tasted like I was getting an immediate note of those two with every sip followed by the orange and green tea-ness. If that makes sense.
If you like spices, you’ll probably like this tea. If you’re not into having your face punched with clove oil, you might want to skip it. And, pairs well with some Fireball whiskey if tea cocktails are your thing. ;)
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Orange Zest
Day 23 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar – White Cranberry Bark. I’ve been jotting down notes for times when I’m drinking the tea but not in front of my laptop to write up a note here. My note for this one just says, “Feh.”
Some of the most common criticisms I hear of DT brews are that they are too often overly sweet or ‘potpourri tea’ — and this one fits neatly into both of those categories. It wasn’t awful, it was just ‘feh’. I did not finish my mug of this. Tried it both with and without milk, neither version was very good, though the milky one maybe felt a little less syrupy.
Flavors: Fruity, Sugar, Sweet
Day 22 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar — Candy Cane Crush. What a fun tea! Looks cute in the steeping basket, though it brews up a bit muddy looking. With a dash of milk, it’s a fine, fun holiday/winter beverage. I’m not into actual candy canes, though I recall liking them a lot as a child. This tea calls to mind that nostalgic vibe from the candy while not being actual candy. The super strong mint keeps the sweetness in check and the chocolate gives it a grounded base, so it all just works. It’s got a bit of creaminess, but I found it did need milk to give it the more satisfying heft it seemed to want.
Just picked some of this up during the annual post-Christmas sale. Not sure if I’d buy it at full retail price, as I tend not to reach for heavily flavoured teas very often, but at 40% off, it’s a winner!
Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Peppermint, Smooth, Sweet
Day 24 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar – Santa’s Secret. This should be the last day of the advent calendar write-ups, but for me it’s not. I’m about 8 teas behind still — busy holiday season! I have not even brewed them up yet, so this train will keep on going for a few days. I did want to at least have the ‘last’ of the 24 teas on the right day, so here we are with Santa’s Secret.
I’m putting it down as recommended because it’s good. There’s nothing wrong with it, and a few things right, but it also didn’t wow me. It’s just good. This is one of those extremely rare times (as in this is probably the first time I have ever thought this) that I think DT could have taken it a little further. More often their teas go too far and get over-stuffed with ingredients. This one might have done nicely with a little more spice in the mix, but I’m a spice fan, plain and simple.
The mint is not as overpowering as the candy cane shape of the sprinkles implies and it’s got a nice base with the vanilla. I’m definitely picking up chocolate-y notes too. Best with a little milk to give it the creaminess it needs. Festive holiday brew that would be a nice warm-up all winter long. That said, it’s not one I’ll personally ever buy.
Flavors: Chocolate, Peppermint, Vanilla
Day 21 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea calendar – Hot Chocolate (pu’erh) I just wrote a more-verbose, in depth review, but it got eaten when I foolishly clicked on the “suggest a flavor?” link at bottom (will explain why in a sec). That button launched my gmail in this very same window, killing everything I had written. So, yeah, word of warning to all: do not click on that link until after you’ve saved your tasting note. Bad, Steepster, no biscuit. No need for that link to behave that way. Grrrr, fustrated now.
Didn’t help that I was already frustrated by this tea. It smelled very promising in the tin, but turned into a fakey, awful stevia bomb in the cup. In fact the flavour I was about to suggest was ‘stevia’ since it is a very specific flavour of sweetener that, when overused as DT sadly often does, ruins what could be otherwise perfectly good teas. (Note: I’m fine with stevia when it’s balanced, flavour-wise, in better blends than this one.)
Not sure why the decision was made to use stevia to sweeten this. I mean, there’s already chocolate in it, so why not just use sugar? It would still be far more diet-friendly than actual hot chocolate and it could have been a really tasty mug of tea. I powered through this, mostly b/c it was first thing in the morning when I drank it and I needed the caffeine to get my butt in gear. But, I will never drink it again. So it’s not totally unpalatable, just kind of inexcusable.
If you’re down with the stevia (and lots of it…) then you might love this. If you think stevia tends to taste artificial or just plain bad, this tea’s a solid pass.
Flavors: Artificial, Chocolate, Sweet
Day 16 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar – Sleigh Ride. First off, I’m just gonna say that I like hibiscus. A lot. I think it might have something to do with growing up in Florida. I also like tart. I prefer it to sweet, even. So this tea — despite smelling on first, pre-steep whiff exactly like the potpourri in my aunt’s guest bathroom circa 1987 — is totally up my alley. I was concerned it might be overly sweetened (like Forever Nuts, which I had an almighty fight with to make palatable). My fears were not realized, though. Yay!
This tea’s got a nostalgic quality for me too, in that it reminds me in the mug of some Celestial Seasons blend I used to drink in university many, many moons ago. I couldn’t begin to tell you which one, but it called back a really awesome time in my life. That, plus my unabashed, shameless love of hibiscus means I’m giving this mofo a high ranking.
The coconut, apple, and roasted almond lend a sweetness to balance out the tart & the cinnamon pulls it right into holiday/winter territory. It’s tropical, but not in an ’I’m on a beach’ way, more of an ’I’m drinking a tropical apres-ski warmup drink in mid-winter’ way.
Hibiscus haters, just do not even bother with this tea, as that is definitely the strongest note here, by far, and you are going to despise this. However, us lovers of what I think of as a subgenre of tiki teas: you’re gonna dig this one. Would also be very good as a mixer base with rum and a little agave and squeeze of fresh lime. I’m gonna have to buy this one to try out exactly that combo.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Coconut, Hibiscus, Tart
Day 4 DavidsTea 24 Days of Teas advent calendar – Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine. Yes, I put this one off for a loooong time before reviewing it. No particular reason, it just got caught up in my tea drinking backlog.
Honestly, there’s not a lot to say about it, which is a good thing in this case. It’s just a good, smooth jasmine green tea. Nothing massively special about it, leaning into workhorse territory, but it does have very little of that bitterness green tea sometimes gets, for those that are not a fan of that. (Personally I don’t mind that. YMMV.) Good quality leaves, nicely balanced jasmine — definitely present but not overpowering. Having had some overwrought jasmines in the past, I do appreciate it when the tea-ness of the tea is not drowned in jasmine oil. Given that DT offerings on balance tend to lean towards being over-flavoured, this was a nice little surprise.
Would be very good as an introductory green tea to people who’ve mostly had flavoured teas and want to start exploring the classics.
(Note: there are two listings for this tea on Steepster, this one and another with the word ‘organic’ in the title. This tea is organic and it’s in the name on all the DT packaging. But I posted these notes here on this listing b/c for some reason the other listing would not let me add a review to it.)
Flavors: Earth, Grass, Sweet, Vegetal
Day 11 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar – Alpine Punch. I’ve been on a fairly sad run of teas lately with the DT calendar. Not being the biggest rooibos fan I out this one off for a few days before trying it. At first pre-brew sniff I thought it had some potential. Very coconut-y, which is good in my books, though I know it’s not for everyone. My main concern reading the ingredients list during steep time was the “natural and artificial almond cream flavouring”. Not almond flavouring, which can be a bit of a warning sign already, but almond cream flavouring. Having established a few days back in the advent calendar experience that the use of ‘cream’ by DT generally means this is something I am going to hate, my expectations were adjusted towards Low.
Upon lifting out the brewing basket, the first thing I smelled was those lovely spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper) followed quickly by that creaminess I was worried about. But, to my delight and surprise, that creamy note stays pretty pleasantly in its proper place as a base note and slight aftertaste. I think the spices and the woody rooibos really help to balance it out. Without those the almond, coconut, and apple would be just too dang much with the sweet and creaminess. But, with the addition of some spice, it all comes together very, very nicely!
I dig this tea & I am relieved and happy to come upon a Winner after a string of advent disappointments. Pretty decent odds I’ll actually purchase this one, lovely winter warmup tea!
Flavors: Apple, Coconut, Spices, Sweet, Wood
Day 14 DavidsTea 24 Days of Tea advent calendar – Lemon Pound Cake. I made it all of 2 sips into this and gave up. Does it taste " just like a sweet slice of lemon pound cake" as it claims to? Yes, but not any homemade version I’ve ever tried. Maybe some Little Debbie mass produced nightmare of a lemon pound cake. I’ll give it that. But I wouldn’t eat a Little Debbie mass produced nightmare of a lemon pound cake, so I certainly don’t want to drink something mimicking one either. It also has an odd bitterness to it that doesn’t sit well.
If you like having your tastebuds walloped with artifice, sugar and lemon, then by all means go crazy. Me, I couldn’t hack it. Far too many layers of resounding Nope. I like a good dessert-y tea from time to time (emphasis on good), but this one ain’t it. DT keeps doing this to me: lots of fake and too much sweet, all too often.
(One last note: there’s an error on the advent calendar packaging and this is listed as a level 2 for caffeine, but it’s not that. On the DT site it’s listed as level 1, which I do believe to be more accurate.)
Flavors: Artificial, Bitter, Lemon, Sweet