David’s Tea

Dara Bankole

Tea has never been my area of expertise. I’m a coffee girl, all the way. Cold brew is my drug of choice, I will literally drink it like water. But when I got sick 57 days ago with what unquestionably seems to be COVID-19 (I tested negative) the primary piece of counsel for a mild case like mine was simple: drink as much hot liquid as humanly possible. One guideline even suggested I take sips of hot water every thirty minutes (!) which… wasn’t humanly possible, at least for me, but the suggested frequency was duly noted. 

So I went from drinking a half a liter of cold brew each day to 8-10 cups of hot tea instead — caffeine isn’t great when you’re sick, so even that much hot coffee was definitely out — and to get myself to consume this much tea it definitely had to be good. Or at least interesting. And preferably also beneficial to my health. I texted my resident tea guru, Kim Kelly, for advice on where to acquire an ungodly amount of tea and her answer was instant — David’s Tea.

Yes, this column is half a ploy to get Kim to write her own monthly tea recommendation for Cinnamon, but it’s also to straight-up gush about the quality, selection, and accessories available at David’s Tea. Founded in 2008 by David Segal and his cousin Herschel Segal, the company’s primary goal was the democratization of tea while adhering to strict ethical guidelines when it comes to sourcing herbs, and making knowledge about the benefits of consuming tea widely available. Their vision was to offer boutique loose leaf tea blends that rotated seasonally and, more importantly, bring specialty tea-making processes into the home. Hey, if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me.

There are a number of brick and mortar stores in both Canada and the US for the Toronto-born brand, but for now, their online shop is obviously the best way to familiarize yourself with their wares. Online, there are different sections within the primary Tea category that include specific collections, loose leaf tea versus packaged tea, and wellness-focused blends geared toward goals like detox and digestion. Then, there’s also an Iced Teas section, Teaware, Gifts and the Explore tab that’s full of more information about tea than I even knew existed. 

From Intro to Matcha, to How to choose your tea, I’ve been having so much fun hanging out online in their store and learning about the second-best hot beverage in the world. Even if what they sold wasn’t also excellent, the Explore tab alone would be a credible reason to engage with this brand. It’s clear this isn’t just corporate fluff or filler, there’s real voice and tone to the information shared, beautiful visuals, and particular details about the teas the company sells, and why it sells them. For instance, did you know that tea is primarily divided into these categories: black, green, herbal, rooibos, white, pu’erh, chai, oolong, matcha, and maté. Maybe you did know that, but I definitely didn’t! 

After reading the guide of how to choose a tea for my situation, I decided that something in the rooibos category would be best for me, and invested in some Organic Super Ginger because of its anti-inflammatory properties, and the fact that their blend also includes peppercorns, and it seemed like that additional kick would be extra soothing on my throat. This organic loose leaf tea runs about $5 an ounce, and thanks to the generous donation of some concerned friends (Hi, Noah!) I went for the 10 oz portion — at ten cups a day, I knew I’d run through it pretty fast. (Actually, to everyone who sent me tea and other care packages, thank you so much. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through the last two months without online/socially-distanced support from my family and friends, I appreciate you all so much.)

David’s sells a special steeper that lets you spoon loose leaf tea directly into it, and then just add hot water for the appointed steeping time, but I’ve been using a little wire mesh infuser packed with leaves and sunk into my cup of hot water. Either way works, as do plenty of others, but when using loose leaf tea remember not to steep too long! That seems to be the biggest difference between tea bags, which are frequently left in the mug for the duration of drinking a beverage, and the more delicate loose leaf.

When I’m less focused on tea to address specific health concerns, I can’t wait to come back and get some of the more playfully named herbal teas, like Unicorn Dream (it literally has marshmallows in it) or Mother’s Little Helper (chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass and valerian root aka “nature’s valium”), or even their Golden Turmeric Matcha (currently on major sale) to try making Golden Milk lattes at home. I am also very into this aesthetically-pleasing silver measuring tea spoon ($7) and their adorably twee tea tins, which come free with any order of four ounces of tea or more — or are $3 on their own.

Because I was on a mission for this specific order, I also ordered the Cold Survival Variety Pack ($15), a collection of five different teas that are aimed at restoring the body to good health. Throat Rescue was just that, and I never thought I’d love eucalyptus in a tea but it was surprisingly soothing — plus there was more ginger tea in here, too. The satchels are a little thicker than ordinary tea bags, not made of paper but an oxo-biodegradable plastic that feels sturdier and a little more elegant. 

Examining the specifications of the sachet was just another reminder that every single detail of these products has been crafted with exquisite care and precision, a quality I’ve come to associate with high-end coffee, but not really encountered in tea. It’s unsurprising, then, that after founding the company in 2008, they celebrated opening one hundred locations in 2013, and currently have over two hundred stores across North America. While I look forward to visiting one of these many outposts in person one day in the future, for now, I’ll continue brewing at home, getting better, and trolling the Explore page, perusing the Intro to Chai. I’m down to just two cups a day now, but I can confidently say they’re the best cups I’ve ever made.

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