I don’t know how, but somehow last December I realized the dream of fourteen-year old private schoolgirls everywhere: landing a job at DAVIDsTEA, much to the chagrin of my tea-snob sister and father. Well, not really but they were still irked by the different teas I would bring home and force them to taste (and the ones I brought home were the boring teas). Let’s face it, a lot of the teas at DAVIDsTEA are fairly disgusting. In my opinion dried fruit, chocolate, and freeze-dried ice cream do not belong in tea. Everytime someone ordered a cup of Birthday Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Oh Canada, Jungle Ju Ju, Goji Pop, or any other fruity, chocolatey tea, my soul ached a little bit. Each reach to the shelf for the can of Read My Lips sent little pangs to my heart. The latest line of “Carnival” flavored teas (including Cotton Candy and Caramel Popcorn) made me cringe.
But here’s the thing: DAVIDsTEA was on to something. Although tea was always part of our social spheres (it’s called Tea Time for a reason), it wasn’t until the 70s when the Celestial Seasonings brand figured out a hot new way to package and sell tea. By preparing it beforehand in handy little tea bags stuffed in cardboard boxes with a snappy name and blurb, tea slowly became the drink of choice for caffeine addicts. With a lower caffeine content than coffee and none of the twitching and jumping that typically accompanies the consumption of percolated coffee, steeped herbs and plants have a lot of appeal over brewed coffee beans. Not to mention the boxes had pretty artwork and plugged their “100% Natural” ingredients. More recently, David of DAVIDsTEA (yes, he is a real person. He comes to Montreal every so often though his office is in Toronto) figured out the perfect combination of service and retail and DAVIDsTEA was born. Sure, it was a rocky start and his first few teas were pretty gnarly, but since then they have expanded to include a wide array of high quality green, oolong, and jasmine teas. Their Jasmine Butterflies is one of the best I have ever tried, and this coming from a brand that, honestly, I used to hate.
So now that they’ve expanded their franchise and opened several stores in Montreal, I had the opportunity to work there and hone whatever salesperson skills I had. Which is to say not many. It’s hard selling overpriced tea pots and memorizing all the teas in their pre-packaged gift boxes because at the end of the day they’re kind of all the same things. A month of working there and all I know is that their three most popular teas are Creamy Organic Earl Grey, Coco Chai Rooibos (which is both redundant AND an oxymoron. Well done), and Forever Nuts, which is basically chewy, stale, granola.
Working at DAVIDsTEA, one does not only sell tea, but we prepare hot tea as well. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of times I have burned by hands on the hot water spouts where the water is set at a constant 86 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Customers can come in and order a hot tea, cold tea, or even a hot tea latte. Up until this point, my only experiences with tea lattes were the Chai Lattes at Starbucks, a chain I will henceforth only mention in derision. See my blog at a later date for my Starbucks Rant (TM). The lattes we prepared were fairly simple; choice of agave or honey, tea, hot milk and foam, done. No funky syrups or tea powders. They’re so simple you can make them at home. Although DAVIDsTEA probably set the standard for hot tea lattes, unfortunately most of us are not proud owners of electric milk frothers that consistently churn out the perfect ratio of hot milk to foam. Let’s face it, there is nothing quite so comforting on a winter’s night as curling up with a hot tea latte and your cat and enjoying the delicious combination of tea, milk, and honey. What makes tea lattes great is their versatility; sure, the best ones have a black tea base (earl grey, chai, flavored black tea), but herbal teas and tisanes make wonderful lattes as well. With a wide range of Mighty Leaf herbal teas at my disposal at work (I’m a barista in a cafe), I began experimenting with hot tea lattes and discovered that Vanilla Bean, Marrakesh Mint, and Mountain Spring Jasmine (Mighty Leaf Tea brand) make the most delicious tea lattes (though the Bombay Chai is, of course, divine).
So if you’re fortunate enough to own an espresso machine, electic milk frother, or steam-free milk frother, make your own tea lattes in the comfort of your own home. Just not in this current weather. It’s too hot for anything that isn’t as cold as a Blackberry Mojito (http://barb1.com/en/)