Tea Tasting

DAVIDsTEA 24 Days of Tea – 2015 Advent Calendar – Part 1

December 1, 2015
day 1 of 24 days of tea

I’m really excited to write this post because for the first time ever I get to combine two exciting things together…

tea (duh) ….

and advent calendars!

I noticed last year there was a lot of buzz around the DAVIDsTEA advent calendars. I wasn’t able to purchase one last year, but this year I was fortunate enough to get my paws on one.

I was so excited about the advent tea calendar that I even made a quickie Youtube video … because it deserves a video all on its own!

I’m also excited to try the teas in this advent calendar because I would like to expand my DAVIDsTEA tea collection. Purchasing the calendar provides 24 different sample sized loose leaf tea. It’s a great way to discover new flavours without having to purchase individual sample sizes or bags of loose leaf tea.

Plus the excitement of an advent calendar format makes the process that more fun. If there are flavours I discover and I really like and want more of, I will be more than happy to purchase them in larger quantities.

For those of you who have not purchased the advent calendar but are curious as to what flavours are included and are looking for tea reviews, I will be adding to this post every single day. Each day I will open a new sample of the 24 Days of Tea and will talk about the flavours, aroma, ingredients, and general makeup of the tea. Keep checking this post as it will be updated daily.

You can also skip directly to the 24 Days of Tea list here.

Let’s get started shall we?!

24 Days of Tea:  Advent Calendar Design

I am such a sucker for pretty product designs and packaging. I have to give DAVIDsTEA credit here as they really are great with designing and marketing their products, and have really hit the ball out of the park with this year’s 24 Days of Tea advent calendar box.

24 days of tea

The advent calendar is a beautiful, large, ‘book style’ box that opens up like a book. Inside are small, 24 tea boxes, each containing a gold tin inside with a different flavour of loose leaf tea. The advent calendar box is entirely navy blue with gold star and green dot patterns scattered throughout. On the front of the calendar is a ’24 days of tea’ gold logo that is embossed on the front of the box. Holding the box itself has a nice feel to it and weighs 222g or 7.8 oz.

24 days of tea open

The back of the advent calendar lists all the tea flavours and the ingredients. Some teas are even classified as ‘certified organic by Ecocert Canada’. There is also a handy nutrition fact guide as well.

As soon as you open the advent calendar you are hit in the face with the wonderful smell of tea. On the inside flap of the left hand side there is a cute image of penguins outside enjoying their tea.

On the right hand side, each tea box is labeled with a number from 1 to 24 and has its own unique colour and design combination.

Day 1: Sleigh Ride

The first thing I noticed when I pulled out the little gold tin out of box number 1 and opened it up was the smell. Oh em gee, the smell was divine. It smelled like Christmas morning! I don’t remember the last time I smelled something so delicious, so I actually sat there for several minutes just soaking up the smell. I noticed the smell of cinnamon was fairly prevalent.

Looking at the loose leaf pieces individually, it was mainly made up of dried fruit (apple, pineapple, papaya), almonds, hibiscus blossoms, cinnamon, and raisins.

davids tea sleigh ride

The back of the box has useful brewing tips: boil water to 96 degrees Celsius (or 205 degrees Fahrenheit) and steep between 4 to 7 minutes. Sleigh Ride loose leaf tea is a fruit/herbal blend and is also caffeine free.

davidstea sleigh ride

And now for the best part – the flavour!

While I was waiting for the tea to steep, I noticed right away the red that began to appear. This led me to believe that it would have a fair amount of hibiscus in it – and I was right. As soon as I took the first sip I could taste the hibiscus right away. Since the tea was so red, it would have been fun to steep using a sharky tea infuser.

sleigh ride brewed

I was kind of taken aback by the taste.  Since the aroma had such a wonderful sweet smell to it, I presumed it would taste sweet as well. Quite the opposite actually – it had more of a tart/sour taste. I could definitely taste the hibiscus and cinnamon and thought these two were the most prominent flavours in the tea. It was hard to taste some of the other flavours but at times it felt like there was a bit of apple in there. The other flavours in this tea were more subtle compared to the hibiscus and cinnamon.

sleigh ride steeped

After steeping, things got pretty mushy in my infuser. I decided not to reuse the tea to brew another cup as everything looked very soft.

Overall, in my review of the Sleigh Ride tea I found it to be a festive and wintry drink due to its dark red liquor and strong flavours of cinnamon and hibiscus.  I did not expect the tart taste to it (I also did not add any sugar), although I should have expected some tart since after all hibiscus is tarty . I would be curious to try this again with a bit of sweetener added in. This would also make a nice evening tea as there is no caffeine. I’m not sure if this will be my go-to winter tea, but there are still 23 days left of other teas to try!

Sleigh Ride ingredients: Apple, hibiscus blossoms, pineapple (pineapple, sugar), papaya (papaya, sugar), beetroot, cinnamon, raisons, coconut, roasted almonds (almonds, sugar, glucose syrup, vegetable fat, caramelized sugar syrup), popped rice, natural and artificial flavouring. Contains almonds and coconut.

Day 2: Mango Madness

As soon as I pulled out box number 2 and saw the name on the back, I got giddy like a little school girl. Mango Madness! I thought to myself. Yes! I love mangos!

Of course the first thing I did was roll off the lid and take a good whiff. The smell was delicious and very tropical; I could definitely smell mangos and oranges. I recently came back from a trip to the Caribbean, so the smell made me smile and reminisce about the tropical paradise I’m sadly no longer in.

When I poured out the tea leaves, I could see white tea leaves and dried fruit pieces such as oranges, apples, and pineapples. The tea leaves were very fine, small looking pieces with larger chunks of dried fruit mixed in.

davids tea mango madness

Since the smell was so delicious I was curious as to what it would taste like. I was hoping it would be a sweet tea to complement the sweet smell – and it was! I found the Mango Madness tea a very delicious and enjoyable tea. It was refreshing, fruity, light, and sweet all at the same time. It had just the right amount of sweetness and flavour to it. I did notice more orange flavours than mango, but that’s okay.

Mango Madness being a white tea had a sort of delicate taste to it. I’m curious as to what Mango Madness would taste as a cold brew, and can only image it would taste good as an iced tea as well.

The back of the box provides handy brewing instructions: boil water to 90 degrees Celsius (or 194 degrees Fahrenheit) and brew for 4 to 5 minutes. Mango Madness is a type of white tea blend and contains a small amount of caffeine in it.

back mango madness

While I was waiting for the tea to steep I noticed the liquor had a light, golden yellow colour to it. This makes sense due to the fruit in the tea.

mango madness brewed

I was half expecting my infuser to be mad with mango goodness everywhere, but surprisingly things looked quite calm.

mango madness steeped

Overall in my review of the Mango Madness, I was pleasantly delighted with the flavour and aroma of the tea. Being a white tea blend, it has a more subtle and gentle flavour to it. It was sweet and had a refreshing fruit taste that I wanted more of. Since it has a small amount of caffeine, it would make a nice treat as an afternoon tea. I would also be curious to try this tea as a cold brew in the near future as well.

Mango Madness ingredients: Apple, white tea, candied pineapple (pineapple, cane sugar, citric acid, sulphur dioxide), orange pieces and peel, safflowers, strawberries, calendula petals, mango (mango, sugar, citric acid, sulphur dioxide), stevia extract and natural mango flavouring. Contains sulphites. Kosher.

Day 3: Orange Pekoe

Ah, the classic Orange Pekoe. One of my all time favorite go-to teas. I don’t think I could ever get sick of this tea. While it’s definitely not as ‘exciting’ as some of the other blends DAVIDsTEA has to offer, it is still a classic tea that deserves some recognition every now and then.

The Orange Pekoe tea does not have an overly flavourful aroma like some other teas do. In fact it doesn’t really have a smell at all, other than a ‘leafy’ standard ‘tea’ type of smell.

The individual leaves that make up Orange Pekoe are long, thin, wavy pieces of dried black tea leaves. The leaves come from Sri Lanka.

orange pekoe tea davids tea

The back of the box has helpful brewing tips: Boil water to 96 degrees Celsius (or 205 degrees Fahrenheit) and brew for 4 to 7 minutes. Since Orange Pekoe is a type of black tea, it does have a larger amount of caffeine in it. This is also makes for a nice substitute for coffee.

davids tea orange pekoe

My personal preference when drinking black tea is to add milk and honey (or sugar if I ran out). Because I wanted to taste as much of the full flavour as possible, I drank it black (no pun intended).

I accidentally steeped this cup for a little too long. Because of that, I expected it to taste a little tart and bitter, which it was. However since I already own this tea from a prior purchase, I know that it is not a very tart tea. It has a fairly mild taste to it and at times you get a hint of some sweetness.

When brewed, the Orange Pekoe tea has a dark golden orange liquor (although it does look a little red in the image below).

orange pekoe brewed

After steeping, the tea leaves expanded very nicely and were fully open. Larger tea infusers work wonders for large tea leaves that need to fully expand.

davids tea orange pekoe steeped

Overall, in my review of the Orange Pekoe tea, it is one of my favorite classic black teas. I drink it regularly in the mornings as my source of caffeine. There really isn’t anything too exciting to it, and pretty much what you see is what you get. It is one of my favorite teas to have as a substitute for coffee, and I love the taste when a little milk and honey is added.

Orange Pekoe ingredients: Fine black teas from Ceylon, Sri Lanka. Kosher.  

Day 4: Organic Sweet Almond Green

Onto day 4 already! I was happy to read that today’s tea was a green tea (I noticed a pattern that each day there was a different type of tea so I figured green tea was bound to show up sooner or later).

I was really curious to try this tea as I haven’t had many green tea blends before. This first thing I noticed when I opened the lid was the smell. It had a very strong, peculiar smell to it. It smelled more like almond extract than actual almonds. Since it had such a strong smell, I was really curious as to how the tea would taste.

Looking at the individual loose leaf pieces, I could see thin, long, pieces and wider, flaky pieces of green tea leaves. There were also thin, long pieces of blue dried cornflower as well as some marigold flowers. There were also small chunks of almonds as well.

organic sweet almond green davids tea

As usual the back of the box displays the brewing instructions: Boil water to 85 degrees Celsius (or 185 degrees Fahrenheit) and steep for 3 to 4 minutes. The Organic Sweet Almond Green has a small amount of caffeine in it.

davids tea sweet almond green

Once brewed it had a light yellow liquor to it – most definitely from the green tea leaves and marigold flowers. I found it interesting that once I finished steeping the tea and removed my tea infuser, the flowers had disappeared and I was left with only green tea leaves and almonds. I also noticed the green tea expanded very nicely (the pros of using an infuser with lots of room for expansion). Once the tea was brewed I could actually smell the almonds and green tea, and not so much of the strong almond extract from earlier.

sweet almond green

And now the part we’ve all been waiting for – the taste!

The taste was wonderful. It literally tasted like green tea with almonds. The almonds were not too strong and overpowering, and you could taste the grassiness every now and then from the green tea. It was sweet but not overly sweet. It reminded me of almond cookies.

brewed davids tea sweet almond green

In my review of the Organic Sweet Almond Green, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I’ve been meaning for a while to try a new flavoured green tea, and this will most likely be on my re-order list (unless I come across a better one from DAVIDsTEA). This tea tastes great if you’re craving green tea but want a small hint of something else in it as well.

Organic Sweet Almond Green ingredients: Green tea, almonds, marigold flowers, cornflower petals. With natural almond flavouring. Contains almonds. Kosher.

Day 5: Banana Nut Bread

I know I’m in the minority here, but the first time I smelled Banana Nut Bread it reminded me of eggnog. Don’t ask me why – but eggnog was the first smell that came to mind. Maybe it was from the artificial flavouring that was used. After a couple more sniffs it started to smell more like banana bread than eggnog (but maybe this was me starting to hallucinate at that point).

I’ve never had a banana flavoured tea before so I really didn’t know what to expect. Looking at the individual pieces, I could see small chopped pieces of almond, larger chunks of dates and currants, as well as small dried pieces of banana.

banana nut bread davids tea

The brewing instructions were fairly straightforward: Boil water to 96 degrees Celsius (or 205 degrees Fahrenheit) and steep for 4 to 7 minutes. Banana Nut Bread is a type of fruit infusion tea and is caffeine free.

back of banana nut bread

I noticed while brewing that the water did not really change colour within the first minute. This led me to think that it may need to be steeped for a little longer in order to release the full flavour. I decided to steep past the 7 minute mark just to be on the safe side. My actual steep time was just under 10 minutes.

Once the tea was brewed it smelled like warm banana bread straight out of the oven. It smelled delicious.

I noticed it left quite a mess in my infuser. My guess is that this tea is a one-time-steep only tea, but I would be curious to know if anyone has successfully re-steeped this tea more than once. I also wouldn’t recommend using smaller or harder to clean infusers for this tea. Definitely use one that has lots of room for expansion and is easy to clean.

banana nut bread brewed

Once brewed it had a very pale yellow liquor. In this photo I purposely did not mix the tea as I wanted to show that the bottom half was a darker yellow and the top half was a lighter yellow. I thought this natural composition looked interesting.

brewed davids tea banana nut bread

The taste of the Banana Nut Bread was very sweet, buttery, nutty, and banana-y. It definitely does not need any sugar as it is sweet enough on its own. It was a very smooth tea. I could definitely taste the almonds and banana as well (although it could use a little more banana in my opinion). The almond taste may have been what makes it taste a little buttery or it could be from the artificial flavouring, it’s a little hard to tell.

In my review of the Banana Nut Bread I was overall pleasantly surprised. It was a nice banana flavoured tea. While drinking, it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Since it is caffeine free it’s a nice tea to have in the evening. I’m on the fence whether I would order more of this but it’s a possibility.

Banana Nut Bread ingredients: Dates, currants, almonds, banana, artificial flavouring. Contains almonds.

Day 6: Glitter & Gold

Today I’m super excited that I get to try Glitter & Gold! I’ve been meaning to pick up a small bag for the longest time because I’ve heard so many great things about it. When I found out that the 24 Days of Tea advent calendar had Glitter & Gold in it, I felt like a little kid in a candy store!

When I opened the little gold tin lid, I could really smell the scent of cinnamon. I found this interesting since I couldn’t find cinnamon listed as an ingredient. The smell could also be a combination of cloves and cinnamon but all I could really think of was cinnamon.

What was even better than the smell was what was inside. There were little gold stars in my tea! Even the black tea leaves had little shimmers of gold on them! I’m pretty sure at this point my eyes began to shimmer over the excitement of this tea. There were also small sugar squares, cloves, and lemon peels as well.

glitter & gold davids tea

The back of the box provides helpful brewing tips: Boil water to 90 degrees Celsius (or 194 degrees Fahrenheit) and steep for 4 to 7 minutes. Glitter & Gold is a type of black tea and contains a medium amount of caffeine in it.

back glitter & gold

Once brewed it still had the same delicious cinnamon-y smell to it. Most of the gold stars in my infuser had disappeared after steeping but you could still see a few traces of it left (on second thought I’m pretty sure that’s intentional). You could also see a few gold flakes in my tea as well.

glitter & gold steeped

The brewed liquid had a very nice dark golden brown colour to it. It reminded me of the colour of maple syrup.

glitter & gold brewed

The taste of the tea was pleasantly sweet. It did not need any sugar but could use some if you wanted to make it sweeter as it was not overly sweet to begin with. It was a very smooth tea and you could really taste the cinnamon and cloves in it. There was no tart or bitterness to it and had a nice balance with all the other flavours. I couldn’t really taste any citrus even though there were lemon peels in it. The black tea makes for a great base since there are several flavours added in. I usually drink black teas with milk and sugar, but this tea was great all on its own. It also has a light cinnamon/clove aftertaste.

In my review of the Glitter & Gold tea, I was very impressed with the outcome. For a black tea, it is incredibly smooth and tastes delicious, with not very over-powering flavours. It goes down very easy. The gold stars and shimmer make this tea fun and unique (although it could use a little more bling!). It’s a nice change to have in my black tea lineup, and I will definitely be ordering more of this.

Glitter & Gold ingredients: Chinese black tea, lemon peel, sugar sprinkles (sugar, rice flour, partly hydrogenated canola oil, shellac, titanium oxide, iron oxide, potato starch), sugar, cloves, natural and artificial flavouring.

Skip Ahead: 24 Days of Tea PART 2, 24 Days of Tea PART 3, 24 Days of Tea PART 4

Which one of these teas are your favorite and why? Would love to hear your comments below!

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