336 Queen Street W, Toronto
Cost: $6.50 for 50g
Beside the well-known Rivoli on Queen St. there is a sliver of a store that looks like it could be an urban bubble tea cafe. It's urban alright, but not bubble tea. The place is called David's Tea and it boasts over 100 varieties of loose-leaf teas.
The first time I walked in, I wasn't greeted by any of the upbeat staff which surprised (and offended) me, although I must admit I sort of liked perusing the shelves of tea cups and pots and eyeing the wall of stainless steel tea canisters labelled 'pu'er', 'earl grey', 'rooibos' without being harrassed.
The next time I went in admittedly intrigued by the tea offerings and expensive fancy tea pots, I was offered a little ceramic shot glass filled with a peach-something-or-other tea. A tiny droplet hung off the side of the cup, which I scooped up and tasted fully expecting some pleasant orchard peach flavour. Instead, I received the bitter taste of dishwashing detergent! It wasn't a taste the peach tea could wash away after either, that's for sure. Once again I left with a bad taste in my mouth, this time, literally.
Then Spring came along and whilst on a break with some coworkers, we were greeted with a $2 special iced tea stand outside the store. We decided to try the almond spring tea (black tea, almond oil, toasted almonds, rooibos, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and coconut). This time, I luckily didn't come close to tasting any utensil cleaning substances, but found that it was a tad too vanilla-y and and also a bit bitter. It needed loads of cane sugar to sweeten it up for me.
Then one day, I finally bought some loose-leaf tea: Earl Grey, Zing Me Tea and Kiss my Lips. The Earl Grey is good - perhaps not as strong as I'd like, but it's reliable. The Zing Me (chinese black tea with ginger bits and lush pieces of peach and apricot) is just fantastic! It claims to induce "an instant feeling of well-being" and I have to say that it truly does! Must be the peaches or the ginger. I've yet to try Kiss my Lips (chinese black tea, vanilla, peppermint, chocolate bits and spicy red peppercorns) but I loved the minty chocolately smell. In fact it looks like potpourri so I'd probably be just as happy putting it in a bowl and air-freshening my work space. **update** The Kiss my Lips was a definite dud. Overly strong minty smell and aftertaste with a muddied hint of chocolate. Definitely not recommended. I'd much rather bite into an Aero mint chocolate bar.
I've also been fascinated by the tea pots at David's Tea, especially the Brewt which I've seen at work firsthand and find completely marvelous, but most of them range from $25 - $75 and $179 for the svelte Eva Solo Tea Maker (!).
I also feel $6.50 is a bit much for only 50g of tea, and if I had more tea experience I'd be better able to voice an opinion, but it does seem to be a popular choice in the area (even coffee houses such as Dark Horse Espresso has started serving it).