DAVIDsTEA x Tea HorseEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
(DavidsTea 2022: already recorded)
Had another cup of this, still not totally sure what I think of it. Definitely falls into the spectrum of enjoyment, but probably won’t be a favourite. I do like the mapley goodness, but I’m still trying to get a better sense of the contribution of the toasted rice here. Probably requires some more mindful drinking, which is something I’m very short on lately.
(DavidsTea 2022: 108)
Really interested to try this tea – roasted rice and maple? Yes! So I had to brew it up as soon as I could when I received it today.
Interestingly, the packet smells rather strongly alcoholic – almost like… kahlua?? That’s the best I can come up with, maybe it’s the vanilla? I’m not sure. It’s not offputting, just strong and noticeable, though doesn’t translate to the brewed tea.
Unfortunately, children got in the way and I didn’t get around to trying the tea until it was cool. I wasn’t wowed, but I’m also not really sure what I think of it, or whether I like it. It’s somewhat mapley, and pleasant enough, but I think the contribution of the rice was lost on me in that cup. Definitely need to try it again, maybe tomorrow?
Confession… I have been putting this tasting note off.
I’ve been hesitant to do the tasting note for it not because I dislike the tea or don’t want to talk about it, but because I like the tea a lot and there’s simply just so much to say about it. Like, to the point where it’s intimidating. Where do I start!?
I guess the best place to start is maybe the beginning? That takes us back over a year ago to what was, for all intents and purposes, just a normal work day except for this small “what if” moment that was sparked while just eating lunch. What if we could make a tea blend that used an indigenous ingredient, in partnership with an indigenous tea company, to benefit indigenous people. It was a big what if and it would rely on A LOT of different things to all line up perfectly. We would need the support of multiple departments and we would to find an indigenous owned tea company to partner with. However, if we were going to do this thing right then it couldn’t just be our tea. It would need to be their tea too – that part was crucial. Since DT has never before worked with another tea company to create something cobranded, it was also a big ask…
But it pays to dream big sometimes, and in this case everything lined up perfectly. Once we had decided as a team that we were all hands in to make the dream of a full circle Indigenous Tea blend happen, everything just started coming together so quickly! We were so, so very fortunate to connect with Denise and Marc of Tea Horse and, after doing so, really spend the time to learn about the wild rice (Manoomin) that they work with. I cannot express enough how absolutely and completely generous they were with their time and their knowledge. They were involved in the development of this tea from the very, very beginning. We actually brainstormed several different flavour directions that we could incorporate the Manoomin into and there were quite a few different rounds of tasting before we really narrowed in on this specific flavour profile, and then even more rounds of tasting after that while we perfected the blend.
I’ll share a small little R&D secret here… This tea actually started off as a Wild Rice Pudding concept, which then morphed into the maple and vanilla leaning creamy blend we landed on! Our final blend ended up being on a black tea base, and incorporates Manoomin but also Canadian maple sugar and different berries from across North America along with some coconut and an aromatic vanilla flavouring. We tried herbal versions, but it was important to Tea Horse to incorporate Camellia Sinensis. I’m gonna paraphrase here, but essentially they explained that part of their own brand is a celebration of different cultures coming together. Even their own company name, Tea Horse, is an homage to – yes – the Tea Horse Road but also First Nations heritage and culture. I just think that’s so beautiful!
So maybe this is the part where I talk about what this tea actually tastes like. For starters, most people probably don’t know what Manoomin tastes like. First things first, this hand harvested wild rice is actually a grain. Yeah, someone definitely messed up when naming it in English back in the day. The flavour of the roasted manoomin that Tea Horse works with is honestly just super cozy with a lot of toasty, nutty flavours. I would describe it as very, very close to a light to medium roast Hojicha or something like Soba Cha/Mugicha. It works really well with the body and malt of the black tea, and of course that roasty coziness is a perfect compliment to a subtle addition of maple sugar (which has a hint of red fruit undertones to it) and the creamy vanilla. It’s not a super sweet/cloying tea at all and I think if I had to make a comparison to any other tea blend that DT has carried it might be something like a cross between a Genmaicha and Vanilla Orchid. The berries don’t really add much to the flavour at all, and truthfully are a little bit more for visual – though they do contribute some natural sweetness.
I love this tea hot and it’s something I can drink a ton of in one go without feeling bogged down – and on a super personal note, my favourite teas tend to be the ones that are low maintenance with their steeping that fit a ton of different moods/situations and I feel like that describes this tea really perfectly. I also know that with the DT store teams this has been a really popular tea for use in iced lattes. Now, I’ve had this with milk and I do think that’s a lovely addition. I have not yet personally tried it iced though, so for now I just have to trust the store recommendation…
This tasting note kind of feels like a novel at this point, but I just love this tea so much and it was just a long but insanely rewarding and fulfilling journey to get here! I’m so, so proud of this tea that we were able to create with Marc and Denise and I feel like it captures their hard work and spirit as much (if not more so, honestly) as it does the work that we put into it. I couldn’t have possibly asked for better people to work on this blend alongside!
If you want to check out Tea Horse, you can find their store here: https://www.teahorse.ca/about-us/
If you want to learn more about Manoomin – including the most INCREDIBLE description of the harvesting process – you can listen to the podcast that DT did with them. It is seriously well worth an hour of your time!
And because I haven’t mentioned it yet, if you do decide that you want to buy this tea then 10% of the proceeds will go directly to the David Suzuki institute for use in their Reconciling Ways of Knowing program, supporting Indigenous communities.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CcoRisTOuEX/
Friendly reminder that I do not numerically rate DAVIDsTEA blends as I’m currently employed there and it would be an obvious conflict of interest. Any blends you see with numerical ratings were rated prior to my employment there. These reviews are a reflection of my personal thoughts and feelings regarding the teas, and not the company’s.