On the twelfth night of Christmas, my true love brewed for me,” 1 buddha’s blend, 2 matcha matsu, 3 long life oolong, 4 la la lemon, 5 chocolate orange...and so the song goes. New to Main Street in downtown Westport, just in time for the holidays, is DAVIDsTEA, a Canadian company started by two cousins who wanted to introduce the masses to the ancient world of loose leaf tea in a fun, modern environment. Initially successful in Canada with over 80 stores, the cousins decided to set up shop in the U.S. with Westport following the likes of NYC, Chicago and San Francisco.
Always a tea drinker myself, I was very keen to check it out. At first glance, the pristine shop immediately reminded me of a famous Damien Hirst art installation called Pharmacy. The store has a clean, sterile look, punctuated by pops of bright color from the labels on each of their tea tins. You can't help but be drawn to their wall of tea. Plus, each label is color coded to identify the type of tea. Whether you fancy white, green, oolong, black, pu’erh, mate, rooibos, or herbals, there are over 150 teas in total to sniff, sample and purchase. Each tin has a “sniffer lid” so you can sniff and try before you buy and in some cases, see the intricately hand rolled leaves up close. This is the case with their rare reserve tea, Butterfly Jasmine, where the rolled leaves actually resemble little butterflies. Who knew tea leaves could look just like origami?
DAVIDsTEA employees are happy to be working there. They are all serious tea enthusiasts themselves and will welcome you into the shop by placing hot tea samples in front of you while chatting about the teas. Can’t find a tea that you like? Not to worry, they will patiently work with you until you’ve sampled so much your bladder can’t hold anymore and you are satisfied that you have found your true soul mate. There are two samples every day and the flavors rotate daily. Teas are sold by the ounce or you can purchase a cup to go, hot or iced, in one of their environmentally conscious cups with a built in sleeve.
All of their teas are loose leaf, which by definition will make the tea taste more authentic and you CAN taste the difference. For all you coffee drinkers out there, you know the difference between Foldgers and the real cuppa Joe. The same thing applies to tea.
The teas’ playful names will put a smile on anyone’s face. Your kids arms won’t be hard to twist if offered a sample of “cookie dough,” a white tea studded with cocoa peel, almonds, walnuts, caramel and chocolate chips or “birthday cake,” a rooibus (pronounced roy-bus) that has real sprinkles in it! How about a cup of “read my lips”..a black tea with vanilla, mint, chocolate, peppercorns and oh, those adorable red candy lips, an unexpected ingredient in the blend, really seals the deal. I’m certain blends like these could even make the Queen of England blush.
There are organic teas, ayurvedic teas, and they even label some teas as Kosher. They carry their own exclusive blends as well as traditional estate teas. They have gone overboard with creative ideas to bring what no other tea purveyor has brought before..and it works!
DAVIDsTEA also carries an amazing, unique range of tea gadgets: cups, teapots and mugs. Try the steeper, a plastic pot (BPA free) which steeps the hot water and loose leaf tea, and then when placed over a mug, depresses and dispenses your brew right into the your cup. They have box tea sets such as “8 Days of Tea,” a nod to Hanukkah which comes in a pretty blue box..and yes the teas are all Kosher! I loved the “Play With Your Food” collection. In a box come 5 foil packets of tea and 5 recipes that all have one of those teas as an ingredient..have you ever cooked using tea? Now you have a good reason to try.
If friends and loved ones scoffed at the idea of drinking tea in the past, then bringing them to a place like this could be the ultimate game-changer. Gone are the days when pinkie fingers were required to drink this comforting beverage and Early Grey’s permanent side kick was a dash of milk. Perhaps a cup of “love tea #7,” a “foolproof aphrodisiac” as stated in their description, would even send the Queen into a Royal tizzy!
DAVIDsTEA is also available online at www.davidstea.com
DAVIDsTea is located at 135 Main Street, Westport CT 203.221.4435