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Davids Tea on Queen West

a
adale Feb 15, 2009 10:24 AM

I'm a tea fanatic and make an effort to taste local teas when I travel the world (loose leaf - not bagged). I never hesitate to pop into looseleaf tea shops wherever I see them.

Davids Tea on Queen West in Toronto is an awesome find in my books - one of the city's best. I was a bit skeptical at first because of the location - Queen West - which made me think they just want to be "trendy." I was wrong.

When you walk in, they have a tea of the day on hand and you can have a free taste to warm you up. The staff is very friendly, knowledgable, and efficient. They all have personal favourites and seem to know the teas inside out. The selection is extensive but not overwhelming because it is well labeled (sometimes I can't grasp the selection at Tea Emporium because I can't see the labels behind the counter). Their stuff ranges from your basic greens, blacks, and herbals to far more innovative stuff, which is my preference.

They have an incredible "Turkish Delight" tea - black tea laced with apple tea, coriander, and little chunks of Turkish Delight - that I have never seen elsewhere and is absolutely delicious. Because of my initial skepticism and frugality, I stuck with 50 grams of this and was so impressed (as was my mother who doesn't even like fine teas) that I went back yesterday and grabbed some basic jasmine in addition to some "Lime Bang" - green tea with chunks of lime peel, pineapple, apple, and natural fruit essence. It's delicious. For tea with a flare, David's is a great bet.

  1. b
    befuggled Feb 15, 2009 02:49 PM

    For the most part I would second this, with the caveat that I don't know tea well enough to comment on the quality of the product. The cupcakes we had were really good.

    1. l
      lily.violet Feb 15, 2009 03:30 PM

      I love David's Tea too! Every time I've been there the staff is super nice and the teas are so delcious. Didn't know about the Turkish Delight one, that sounds really interesting. I'll remember to check that out next time. & I agree with befuggled on the cupcakes. Huge, delious and so moist!

      1. w
        wontonfm Feb 15, 2009 05:47 PM

        I walked by this for the first time today and made a note to pop in next time i'm in the area. It looks like a great little spot. It seems out of place on that stretch of Queen (if it were anywhere west of spadina it would make more sense) but hopefully it has a good run in the area.

        WON
        http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

        1. t
          thora Feb 15, 2009 05:53 PM

          If you like David's Tea, you might also enjoy Tealish on Walnut Ave (just off Queen St. West right around Trinity-Bellwoods park)

          Here's a link to Tealish's website: http://www.tealish.com/

          Both really great spots as far as I can tell, though I admit I'm a bit partial to Tealish - I just find it so adorable!

          Does David's *always* serve their tea in paper cups for sit-in customers? I was totally distressed by this!

          1 Reply
          1. re: thora
            a
            adale Feb 21, 2009 07:45 AM

            No idea about the paper cups for sit in customers...I'll be sure to have a look next time at whether it's common. I'll admit I have not sat in yet.

            I'll also be sure to try Tealish - thanks! I always need tips on where to go in this city for the best tea.

          2. pinstripeprincess Feb 17, 2009 07:36 AM

            i didn't find the service at david's tea that knowledgeable and most of the mixes were a little gimmicky rather than quality in flavour or quality.

            i was looking for something that had a toasted almond quality and in the end they turned me towards turkish delight (not at all what i was looking for) which reminded me a lot of the patisserie blend at tealish, the aromas were nearly a perfect match. after bringing it home and having a cup.... well while i was a bit disappointed that the aromatics of the tealish patisserie didn't come out as strongly in the infusion... the david's tea one was a far cry from the aromatics and quite light in flavour. i thought the turkish delight was silly and it just swelled up at the bottom of my press.

            i'm very happy with tealish, the people that work there are kind, passionate and knowledgeable about tea without being in your face about anything. their matcha is excellent and though it is a bit of a travesty in the tea world, i can't walk past without ever getting a walnut green ave (walnut and matcha) latte. mmmmm..... they design of both shops is very very similar. welcome to the new trendy world of tea!

            5 Replies
            1. re: pinstripeprincess
              d
              deabot Feb 17, 2009 09:34 AM

              interesting observation....i was trollin' along queen west yesterday when i stumbled upon tealish (right in behind noce) looks very charming inside and their website is very informative! Unfortunately it was closed so a return trip is in order. I have tried several of the david's teas and I have to agree some of their flavours are rather tepid/weak...ginger oolong-not good.

              1. re: deabot
                y
                yellopineapples Feb 19, 2009 04:30 AM

                i agree that some of david's teas are tepid/weak. The ginger oolong that i bought was musty and sour. Definitely not what oolong is supposed to be.

              2. re: pinstripeprincess
                t
                thora Feb 19, 2009 10:00 AM

                I absolutely agree - the Walnut Ave tea blend is one of the best I've tried! So yummy.

                Any other (Tealish) faves you'd recommend?

                1. re: thora
                  pinstripeprincess Feb 19, 2009 10:49 AM

                  i'm also a fan of their raspberry beret which is a raspberry roiboos tea latte. i find other than the matcha and the roiboos (and even sometimes a little the roiboos) don't really stand up to the latte treatment well and the flavour is a bit weak with all the milk. i think the matcha tends to work so well just because it isn't just an infusion but the tea leaves also get combined into the drink. i think soy actually makes it that much better just because it reinforces the nuttiness.

                  otherwise i haven't had that many opportunities to try many tealish blends except for the toasted almond (which is amazing when you get a blend version that is light on the apple and heavy on the almond) and patisserie (very nice in aromatics though needs a longer infusion). i'm struggling to go through a drawer of tea i've purchased at other times and places and i'm not even much of a drinks person!

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
                    e
                    erf Feb 26, 2009 06:52 PM

                    I love David's Tea! The teas taste like how they smell. If you want bolder flavors try the Gunpowder Taffy (it's a green tea that's got a sweet taffy undertone), Coco Chai Rooibos, or Chocolate Mint Mate. mmmm....delish!! (and so are the cupcakes!)

              3. camposadan Feb 27, 2009 11:32 AM

                David's tea was a great find, I tried them when they first opened, I am a regular. I love their variety and the knowledgeable staff. Every time they are on point in their suggestions. At first I thought the prices were a little inflated, but you really dont need a lot to brew a perfect cup.

                It is a gem for unpretentious tea lovers.

                1 Reply
                1. re: camposadan
                  j
                  JamesStJ Mar 11, 2009 11:38 AM

                  I agree totally! Davids Tea is a breath of fresh air for Toronto tea lovers. Their staff totally makes you comfortable if you're new to the tea world. Alot of other places can make you feel like an idiot for not being a tea tea expert who knows all the right buzz words...
                  I found Tealish teas to be a bit tepid for my taste, they all smelled great but they lacked the complexity of some of the teas I have tried from Davids. If you are looking for a great cup of premium tea I would have to give my vote to david and his glorious collection of teas. Peace!

                2. r
                  radiopolitic Mar 11, 2009 12:22 PM

                  How would you guys rate Tea Emporium in comparison to Davids Tea and Tealish?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: radiopolitic
                    HarryLloyd Mar 11, 2009 12:59 PM

                    1- TL
                    2 - TE
                    3 - D

                    Chow!
                    HL.

                    1. re: radiopolitic
                      always_eating Mar 11, 2009 10:24 PM

                      I ditto HarryLloyd's rankings: 1) Tealish, 2) Tea Emporium and 3) David's Tea and I drink a lot of tea!

                      1. re: always_eating
                        b
                        blindbunny Mar 12, 2009 04:31 AM

                        yes, but has anyone noted super bitchy service at tealish, if the owner is not there? it's so bad that it would almost prevent me from going if i didn't enjoy the tea so much.

                        1. re: blindbunny
                          pinstripeprincess Mar 12, 2009 07:50 AM

                          not at all! they're usually quite helpful though a bit on the reserved side. i find they answer any of my questions with good knowledge and definitely aren't snide about it. they're usually quite nice and let me sniff as much as i please.

                          we were unhappy with one tea once because it brewed completely differently than in a prior sampling and they were perfectly fine in replacing it.

                          1. re: blindbunny
                            always_eating Mar 12, 2009 06:13 PM

                            I have never experienced that type of service at Tealish. They have always been helpful, nice and patient when I go there.

                            1. re: always_eating
                              t
                              thora Mar 12, 2009 06:15 PM

                              I agree - I've never had a bad experience at Tealish.

                              Worst I've had is that the staff are shy! Cute, actually - the girls I've spoken with there are definitely a bit reserved.

                            2. re: blindbunny
                              d
                              deabot Apr 11, 2009 09:06 PM

                              I stopped in today for my first visit and I have to agree the service I received was a little on the....reticient side if not sullen. I could have confused this for reservedness compared to the outgoing staff at David's Tea but if I'm spending money on your products I would expect a little more enthusiasm with regards to queries. Still the blends I got were were nice-am enjoying a cup of the Walnut Ave blend right now.

                        2. w
                          Wino In Training Mar 17, 2009 06:41 AM

                          Strolled into David's yesterday - have you tried their macarons? Awesome!

                          1. f
                            FrenchSoda Mar 17, 2009 07:04 AM

                            Other than Tealish and David's, does anyone have any other suggested sources for loose-leaf tea in Toronto? I love the tea from Say Tea on Bloor W., but the availability can be spotty. They have great stuff but are often out of particular blends.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FrenchSoda
                              always_eating Mar 17, 2009 11:20 AM

                              These are the tea suppliers I frequent:

                              House Of Tea
                              http://houseoftea.ca/main/

                              Capital Tea
                              http://capitaltea.com/

                              The Tea Emporium
                              http://theteaemporium.com/customer/home.php

                              Teaopia
                              http://www.teaopia.ca/

                              All Things Tea (their website only shows their Kitchener location so I've linked to their Facebook group; they are in the Annex near Bloor & Bathurst).
                              http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24486032461

                              The Tea Leaf
                              http://www.thetealeaf.com/

                              Pippins Tea
                              http://www.pippinstea.com/

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