16088 Tasting Notes

Sipping a hot mug of this tea currently while I work on writing tasting notes. It’s bright and very fruity with raspberry and orange notes that sit somewhere between freshly macerated fruits and a more candy-like interpretation of those flavours. I like the backbone of brisk, malty black tea that anchors the mug as well. It’s not a super strong flavour, but it’s there and certainly contributing a lot of body.

I am, however, noticing that the more the tea cools the more the orange notes are starting to feel a little more chalky and like a Flintstone’s vitamin. So, trying to drink this up pretty quickly while it’s still quite warm.

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A little bit lighter in both body and taste than I remembered, but that might have been a steeping thing? I was pretty nervous about over brewing the green tea so I kept my steep time much shorter than I usually would make a Western mug of tea, but in the moment I did think it was pretty in line with what would be normal for a Japanese green tea based blend. Who knows. Otherwise, the flavours were very nice and true to name. Zesty yuzu, and a whole lot of pepper to sort of balance it out. Savory leaning, but not unpleasantly so.

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drank Tea & Lemon by Zamalek
16088 tasting notes

More RTD taste tests!

Zamalek is a Montreal brand that makes canned hibiscus drinks. I haven’t reviewed them here in the past because they don’t really position themselves as a tea beverage despite the fact hibiscus is so commonly associated with tea/tisanes. I mean, “hibiscus tea” is a whole thing.

However, the place where I buy them from recently just started stocking this flavour which, within the Zamalek product line, is specifically called out as being tea. That’s surely because the base is black tea and not hibiscus, even though there’s still hibiscus in the drink. I don’t actually think this is a new product in their assortment though – I think it’s just new to the grocery store I get them at.

Anyway, I’ve been really enjoying this! It’s brisk and refreshing with a light citrusy edge, a hint of cooling mint, and just a bit of that hibiscus tartness and berry-like undertones. It sort of feels like an elevated take on a Southern Sweet tea style beverage but not excessively sugary or too lemon forward. You really taste the black tea. Also, very restrained amount of hibiscus compared to their usual drinks so I fin that kind of interesting from a brand stance.

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Cold Brew!

I made this one last night and it just really wasn’t working for me. Though fruity with notes of both blueberry and oranges/citrus, I thought the taste was very reminiscent of dried/dehydrated fruit. That is to say, fairly flat/stale tasting. On top of that, there was a weird burnt sugar note. It was sort of nice because of that caramelized sugar element – especially with the orange notes, which gave off this almost citrusy brulee kind of vibe. However, it was also very bitter. Like, burnt sugar taken past the point of caramelizing into a more rough, unpleasant place. The whole thing just felt pretty unbalance to me, and unsure whether it wanted to commit to being a more decadent blend or a more bright and fruity one. It didn’t nail either.

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Flow Inverse Tea was kind enough to gift me with some tea samples to try out, including this one. As most of y’all know, I don’t tend to drink a lot of straight green teas outside of anything that has been roasted, but this one intrigued me since it’s not all too typical to see a Chinese green that has been steamed instead of the more traditional pan-firing process. I enjoyed this session quite a lot but that was probably because it captured pretty much all of my favourite tasting notes in all my “exception to the rule” green teas: soybean, chestnut, nori, sweetgrass. The only thing it was missing was that cool, crisp cucumber pulp or sugar snap note I love. But even still, if these tasting notes were playing cards then I would have sworn I was playing with a loaded deck. Overall, smooth, buttery and medium bodied. A very solid first impression from this new-to-me tea company, and now I’m even more stoked to try the black tea they sent me!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C9fP7l1uci2/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylUcnX3-he0

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This is probably one of the most bold, full-bodied Earl Grey teas I’ve ever tried and that’s definitely from the fine Kenyan black tea that makes up the base. It’s rich and malty but also has very brisk citrusy undertones that compliment the fresh, aromatic bergamot. It would stand up exceptionally well to milk and sugar, I’m sure, but I think not trying it straight first would be a missed opportunity. IMO this tea is a masterclass in how what are usually perceived as “small changes,” like using a different origin of tea, can have big impacts on the final taste!

Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/C9iQQdUOEN4/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOiRShrANBo

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Gongfu Sipdown (2629)!

Started the morning yesterday by reaching for a comfort tea. Immediately, the deep, dark, and mineral rich notes of charcoal and roast in the first few steeps fill me with a sense of ease and make me feel just a little more anchored than I was before. It’s quite bold, but when it comes to yancha I often feel like the bolder the roast the more cozy and calm I feel. The rest of the session was filled with warming notes of cinnamon (to be expected in a Rougui), nutmeg, grilled corn, coffee, and soft undertones of dried apricots and heady, floral orchids. The aftertaste is particularly lingering as well – at first plain, unsalted popcorn but the longer I sit with the flavour the more it slowly warps from those toastier grains to more of a sweeter stonefruit note, like ripe peach. So wonderfully complex!!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C9k8Dkyh_dW/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t-DW8unM7w

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This smooth, dark tea is so aptly named because one of the first tasting notes to really spring to the forefront is a rich, heavy buckwheat honey flavour that envelops the whole palate. Overall this tea is medium to full bodied, with an overarching minerality and a bit of both a floral and burnt sugar-like edge to each sip. The leaf hoppers really blessed this tea with that perfect natural sweetness!

Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/C9m6TqauPv1/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6XckbPoz4c

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Made a mug of this today but I was pretty let down by it.

Though I don’t personally care too much about cup colour, this is advertised as steeping purple and not only was my mug not purple but it wasn’t even like a blue or pinkish colour from the two ingredients (butterfly pea flower and red dragonfruit) that I believe are primarily contributing to the liquour colour. Instead, it was a very sickly looking swampy green colour…

Taste wise it was pretty whelming. Very, very grassy tasting from the green tea base in a fairly course sort of way with super light notes of fruit. I get that it’s primarily supposed to be dragonfruit and dragonfruit is a very light tasting flavour but this was sort of just flat and watery to me. Not distinct enough to pinpoint any specific fruits, either. Just maybe vaguely tropical??

I’ll try it again and see if I can produce a better cup colour and stronger flavour, but I have a hunch this one just wont really be my cuppa tea.


Both concerning and fascinating that it somehow turned green!

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Tossed a small handful of this leaves straight into a mug and just let them steep indefinitely with the hot water. After a solid chunk of time I got around to sipping away at it and the resulting brew was smooth, refreshing and just naturally sweet enough. Really crisp wintergreen notes. I even went for a resteep (rare, for me) and that was very solid too!


I have been trolling local natural grocers hoping to find straight-up wintergreen just like this, it was so good. No luck. I guess I’m going to have to go straight to the source!

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Hello! My name is Kelly, though many people in the tea community call me Ros or Roswell.

I am a mid-twenties tea addict, blogger, and all around nerd. I grew up in the Prairies, but a few years ago I relocated to Quebec to pursue a career with DAVIDsTEA in the tea industry! I’m still working on getting my French language skills down…

My first introduction to tea, in any form outside of instant and bottled iced tea, was about seven years ago when I happened to stumble upon DAVIDsTEA while looking for a birthday present for a friend! I tried their Birthday Cake rooibos blend, and I’ve been hooked on tea ever since! In those seven years; I was introduced to the online tea community, expanded my interest in flavoured teas to include a deep love and appreciation for straight teas and traditional brewing methods, got a tea themed tattoo, started reviewing teas, amassed a sizable tea and teaware collection, became a TAC certified Tea Sommelier, & even came full circle by beginning a career in the tea industry with DAVIDsTEA!

I consider myself a Jack of all Teas, and strive to have a knowledge and appreciation of all tea types, formats, and styles of drinking. I don’t like to feel boxed in to just being a “flavoured tea” or “straight tea” drinker – my expectations may vary depending on the type of tea or how it’s been processed/prepared but if it’s good tea, it’s good tea no matter how it’s been made!

You name it, I probably drink it- and I’ll absolutely try anything at least once.

My default method of preparation is hot, Western style, and straight – but I’m not opposed to additions if I’m in the right mood. If I ever add something to a tea or use a different method of preparation I will ALWAYS call it out in the tasting note though.

I like to listen to music when drinking tea, especially when I’m brewing a large pot at a time or steeping Gongfu. Often I curate very intentional tea and music pairings, and sometimes I share them here in my tasting reviews. Music is something that I find can deeply affect the experience of having tea.

I’m also one half of the “tea and fandom” podcast GeekSteep where, weekly, we discuss newly explored fandoms over tea as well as try to figure out the perfect tea to pair with each fandom. You can find us on Spotify and Apple & Google podcasts.

Favourite flavour notes/ingredients: Pear, lychee, cranberry, cream, melon, pineapple, malt, roasty, petrichor, sweet potato, heady florals like rose, hazelnut or walnut, sesame, honey (in moderation), and very woody shou.

Least favourite flavour notes/ingredients:
Lemongrass, ginger, strongly spiced profiles (and most Chai in general), mushrooms, seaweed, chamomile, stevia, saltiness or anything that reminds me too much of meat that isn’t supposed to taste like meat…

Currently exploring/obsessed with: Sheng from Yiwu, Yancha (Qilan in particular), anything with a strong sweet potato note. Also, I need to try ALL the root beer teas! Searching for a really good caramel flavoured blend, ideally with a black tea base.

Please contact me at the instagram account listed below if you would like me to review your teas.

Currently I’m employed in the tea department of the DAVIDsTEA head office. While I’m still sharing my own personal thoughts on new & existing DAVIDsTEA blends, I am no longer numerically rating them due to the obvious conflict of interest. Any comments expressed are a reflection of my own thoughts and opinions, and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company. Any DAVIDsTEA blends you currently see with a numeric score were reviewed prior to my being hired there and have not been adjusted since becoming a DAVIDsTEA employee.


Montreal, QC, CA



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