Steeped gongfu in my Houjicha dedicated yixing pot.

Thank you Starfevre for sharing this – it feels like ages ago you did, so I’m sorry I’m just now getting around to trying it…

This is from last Sunday; I had a whole giant tea picnic planned that I was going to take to the park, but it was ridiculously windy outside so rather than cancel everything or try to have a peaceful session outside during a dust storm I just had an indoor picnic instead. So in addition to steeping up this tea, I also had freshly sliced mangoes (a suggestion from Togo, I believe, to pair with my houjicha) as well as cannolis!


The tea was nice; it immediately brewed up super strong. This is a fairly dark roast on a houjicha and the leaf itself is so stemmy – so that roastiness is immediately prevalent in the cup. It’s definitely a soba cha/roasted barley sort of profile primarily but it has the caramel/roasted nut notes that are often present in houjicha as well. Oddly, I found this almost boozy too, and I’m not totally sure what that flavour note was coming from but it was quite interesting, tasty, and complex. I felt like I was getting a big hug with each slurp of tea!

The cannoli was just perfect as a pairing; sweet pastry and creamy filling with dark roasted barley notes? Obviously that’s going to be a win. The mango was interesting; I actually enjoyed the two together quite a bit but it’s certainly not the sort of pairing I would have ever thought to put together on my own and I’m not totally sure why it worked either. I guess maybe the “pineapple and ham” effect where they’re just so different from one another that they come together perfectly!? It reminded me, though, of drinking one of Lupicia’s roasted barley teas that have the added fruit flavours: those are so dense and heavily roasted that they’re almost like black coffee and the fruit flavours are usually sweet and syrupy, so it’s like adding a flavour shot to black coffee. Incredibly strange – but still good in an unusual type of way. That was my experience with the tea and mango together…

Lovely indoor picnic though! It would have been nicer outdoors, but I’m just happy that I still made it happen in general.

Song Pairing:

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My name is Kelly. I’m a twenty something tea drinker and reviewer originally from the prairies, but recently relocated to Quebec. I was introduced to DAVIDsTEA and started drinking tea fairly casually about six years ago. At some point, that casual hobby became an ingrained part of my daily life; I became a part of a greater community, incorporated tea into my daily routine, and it became my career.

You know you’ve got it bad when you get your hobby tattooed to your arm.

I’m a TAC certified Tea Sommelier!

I drink a balance of flavoured tea and straight/traditional teas – in all formats. I prefer to have a wide, and general knowledge over many types of teas and catagories rather than focus on any one specific tea: a jack of all teas, master of none. Loose, bagged, matcha, Western style, iced, latted, Gong Fu…

You name it, I probably drink it.

In that vein, I’ll drink just about any type of tea – the only ones I have a particularly strong distaste for are green teas and Chai, with some exceptions of course. I have a weird relationship with Sheng pu’erh, but have been gradually increasing the amount of it I consume – currently I have a particular fascination with Yiwu Sheng. Other types of tea that I greatly enjoy are Yancha and other dark, heavily oxidized or roasted oolongs, most shou, black tea, and compressed/aged white teas. I’ll absolutely try anything once though; and I like to have an open mind and explore lots of tea types, even if I have reservations. I’ll probably never leave that “Exploratory” phase…

Usually I drink my tea straight, but I’m not opposed to additions if I’m in the right mood. If I ever add something to a tea, I will ALWAYS call it out in the tasting note though. If I’ve not mentioned an addition, you’re safe to assume it’s been prepared straight up.

I like to listen to music when drinking tea, especially when I’m brewing a large pot at a time or steeping Gong Fu. 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.

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

Least favourite flavour notes/ingredients:
Lemongrass, ginger, strong Chai spice profiles, mushrooms, seaweed, chamomile, artificial tasting mango or peach, 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.

Tea Pet Reference Guide:

Clay Pixiu Dragons: Zak & Wheezie
Clay Goldfish: Dot
Clay Monkey: Enzo
Jade Pixiu Dragon: Whitaker
Ruyao Carp: Splashy
Ruyao Dragon: Pablo
Ruyao Frog: Bebe
Sculpted Pig: Nelly
Sculpted Tuxedo Cat: Pekoe
Sculpted Tabby Cat: Marmalade
Ceramic Rabbit: Rupert
Ceramic Stringray: Irwin
Ceramic Horse: Bergamot
Ceramic Snail: Snicket
Ceramic Cat: Saffron
Wood Fired Man: Leopold

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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