Guil-tea pleasure: David’s Tea

Adele Bloch, Author

David’s Tea, an organic tea chain, recently opened its newest location in downtown Palo Alto. 

David’s Tea, an organic tea chain company, recently opened in their new location in downtown Palo Alto. Photo by Adele Bloch.
David’s Tea, an organic tea chain company, recently opened in their new location in downtown Palo Alto. Photo by Adele Bloch.

Pom springs, chocolate orange, big apple, brazillionaire  these are just a few of the 150 blends offered at David’s Tea, an organic tea chain, that recently opened its newest location on 318 University Ave in downtown Palo Alto.

According to the Palo Alto branch’s general manager Emily Hamel, David’s Tea had a soft opening on Aug. 23 during the Palo Alto Festival of the Arts, where employees handed out over 7,000 sample cups, followed by a grand opening on Aug. 30.

Upon entry of the bright teal colored shop, customers are typically handed a daily sample and are greeted with friendly faces that take great care to ensure the quality of the customer’s tea. The friendly ambiance is accentuated by the warm coloring of the whole store and the employees’ kindness.

The store front view of David’s Tea reveals a brightly colored store filled with many kinds of tea products, including both merchandise and tea. All employees are spirited, allowing customers to smell and touch any available teas. David’s Tea had its grand opening on Aug. 30. “It’s been the warmest welcome we could have asked for,” Hamel said. Photo by Adele Bloch.

“[Our goal is] to make tea fun and accessible to everyone,” Hamel said.

The store layout includes merchandise on the left, such as travel mugs, infusers and teapots. On the right is a sleek white table, which the employees work behind, as well as a fully stocked wall of tea jars arranged by type: white, green, oolong, black, pu’erh, mate, rooibos and herbal, each with a designated color on the wall.

David’s Tea has the greatest number of organic teas in North America, with over 50 organic teas in stock, according to Hamel. Ninety-eight percent of its blends are unique to the store, including teas with added ingredients such as fruits, nuts, flowers and grasses. David’s Tea sells over one hundred types of loose-leaf teas as well as kosher teas and fair trade teas.

David’s Tea also sells products such as filters, tea bags, and chocolate with infused tea.

Photo by Adele Bloch.
David’s Tea has an ever-expanding tea wall, because new tea blends come out every month. David’s Tea currently has 150 teas that fall into eight different categories, each category labeled a separate color on the wall. Photo by Adele Bloch.

Employees take jars off the wall to educate customers on the content and flavor of the tea. A sample of the designated tea, which customers can smell and touch, sits on top of each jar. Each tea is composed of different ingredients that give it a distinct aroma and touch, bringing varying smells with each sniff.

David’s Tea began as an online company, and proceeded to open its first physical location in 2008 in Canada’s largest city, Toronto. By Christmas 2014, David’s Tea will have 125 stores; 100 in Canada and 25 in the United States, according to Hamel.

“Palo Alto, being the center of Silicon Valley, really appealed to us, and it really seemed like the perfect location,” Hamel said.

Every year, David’s Tea comes out with six different collections of tea: fall, winter, holiday, spring, and two phases in the summer, according to Hamel. Every first day of the month there is a new tea launch that becomes a part of the permanent collection, Hamel said.

“Our tea wall is ever-expanding,” Hamel said.

Not only does David’s Tea have a large selection of teas, it also offers various ways to make each kind of tea. Each tea flavor can be made hot, iced, in a pot, latte or tea pop.

Unique to David’s Tea, a tea pop is made by taking the desired tea flavor and adding Soda Stream, carbonated filtered water, for sparkling effect. I chose to try the Big Apple tea pop ($4), which was a great substitute for soda, as it was fizzy but had much less sugar. When I took my first sip, I could sense an apple flavor that felt cool to my throat, with a subtle sweet aftertaste. But a fair warning: if the tea is not finished before the ice melts, the drink severely waters down the already light flavoring.

Buddha’s blend ($3.50), which Hamel said is one of the most popular teas, is composed of jasmine pearls, white hibiscus blossoms and natural and artificial flavoring, according to David’s Tea website. The tea had a slightly brown coloring and a smell that made me feel as though I was walking through a garden full of chrysanthemum flowers. The tea was flavorful, and held a light bitter aftertaste. The outside of the cup was nice and warm, making it a perfect drink for a winter day.

The iced Pumpkin Chai Latte ($4.50), which its website said is composed of black tea, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel, carrots, caramel bits and pumpkin candies, was mixed with milk and Agave, a natural sweetener. The light brown drink was slightly bitter and very rich. Although the flavor was great, the smell brought me back to the holiday season, and to be honest, the aroma was probably better than the drink itself.

David’s Tea has relatively similar prices to Teavana, a competitor tea chain in the area, but because David’s Tea sells its items in a different fashion, it’s hard to make a final judgment call on which store offers better prices.

At David’s Tea, each tea takes about one to five minutes to make, depending on the kind of tea. However, the time flies quickly because customers can watch the tea being made, sample tea aromas or browse through the merchandise. In the back of the store, there is a small room with four white tables, which provides a calming setting for a sip of tea. The background music, which varies in genres, is great to keep conversations lively.

The back of the store holds an elongated white room that feels separate from the hectic front of the store, as it plays calm background music and is relatively quiet. Customers can slide right into the chairs as they take a sip of their tea. Photo by Adele Bloch.

After each purchase, employees offer a rewards program to customers in which each dollar spent redeems one point. For every 100 points, customers can get two ounces of any tea on the house.

“It’s a great way to get rewarded for buying the tea,” Hamel said.

David’s Tea also provides an educational component to its company — tea school. Tea school covers the basics of tea production, how it’s processed and what makes tea different. There are around two to four tea schools per month, based off of demand, according to Hamel.

“We’re really excited about the educational component as well for this location,” Hamel said. “We also do private sessions so if offices or schools want us to come to them, we do that as well.”

David’s Tea is very excited to be in Palo Alto just weeks after opening, according to Hamel.

“It’s been the most wonderful welcome,” Hamel said. “People are very excited, and very open. They are educated on tea already, which is so neat for us.”

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