I’m always on the lookout for new tea blends – encountering a new tea blend piques my curiosity. A few months ago, when I was in San Francisco attending the Fancy Food Show, I visited a mall and noticed a small demo stand providing samples of David’s Tea. From its bright turquoise logo to its young, chipper demo girls, I knew that this was going to be interesting. Based on the long line of eager consumers waiting for a taste, it was clear others were just as interested. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they also had a retail store in the mall.
I’m not the biggest fan of flavored tea, but when I looked through David’s Tea’s extensive list of tea blends, I realized that was their specialty. They have the typical classics, like Earl Grey and English Breakfast, but they also carry some concoctions that makes one wonder, “Where is the actual tea?” One “blend” even included popcorn. Then it became clear to me. Looking around their clean, somewhat minimalist store design, their bright colors and cheerful and calming ambiance, and especially their way of presenting teas, it was obvious that this brand was trying to be the next Starbucks. Oh, and did I mention that their teas are all loose leaf? With beautiful, almost artistic images of their teas that have names like “Fantasy Island,” “Bamboozled,” and “Countess of Seville,” David’s Tea is marketing to a new niche market of tea drinkers. Just as Starbucks changed how people view and are willing to pay for coffee, David’s Tea seems to be attempting the same model. And it looks to be working.
David’s Tea is barely five years old and it’s taking the U.S. by storm. The company was founded in 2008 by a young, 30-something Canadian, David Segal, and his cousin, Herschel Segal. They realized a new shift toward and “awakening” to tea. According to David, “Tea had a stodgy reputation. It was either very British or Asian. We made it North American and Modern.” The result is very similar to Starbucks. In New York City alone, there are four retail stores and I expect to see more by the end of the year. It’s even becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction for bloggers like this Massachusetts student, who states, “If you are an extreme tea-lover who wants high-quality tea for a reasonable price, David’s is the place to be.”
While I am not a fan of their teas (maybe it’s my English side that prefers regular ol’ Earl Grey), I can appreciate what they are doing for the tea industry. They are bringing a new energy to tea and most specifically to loose-leaf tea. However, could they disrupt the industry to where the younger/next generation of tea drinkers prefers a “Copabanana” to a nice cuppa Darjeeling? I’m very curious to see how the brand will expand and what its impact will be on next generation of tea drinkers. Seeing as how T Ching is a community of tea lovers and experts, what are your thoughts on David’s Tea?
I too have mixed feelings. I love that they’re reaching a new generation of tea lover. I love that they’re using whole leaf tea. I have issues with blends being their predominant selections but at least they offer orthodox selections. Until tea drinkers can develop a palette for orthodox teas, they will miss out on the beauty of this plant, its sweet simple taste that’s delicious without any fuss of additives/ flavors. On the other hand however, this appears to be what the masses want. It helps to disguise the damage done by poor brewing practices, making a tasty cup of tea each time. Perhaps it’s step one on a tea drinkers journey. Ultimately, what ever grows the tea industry is a step in the right direction. I like that they offer organic selections and hope those options increase as consumers become aware of the dangers of pesticides in their food and beverages. Thanks for the heads up about this up and coming brand. We don’t have Dave’s in Portland Oregon as of yet but it sounds like that will change shortly. We have one Teavanna shop in the downtown mall which I avoid given how many wonderful independent tea shops are available in and around the city.
Hey Shadi, thanks so much for the article!
While our specialty is blends, we’d love to introduce you to our collection of straight teas. At present, we carry a number of high quality selections, ranging from a buttery Sencha Ashikubo to a mouth watering Tung Ting Oolong.
We’re also trying to expand our straight tea offerings and expose our fan base to the wonder of these teas, through our new “Garden To Cup” program. Once a season, we ship an entire lot of tea directly from an estate, immediately after plucking. The result is some of the freshest tea that we’ve ever tasted. While we’ve only run the program once, the reception was great and the program looks promising.
We’d love to talk tea with you if you’re interested. Feel free to shoot us an e-mail any time!
All the best,
Thank you, Michelle, for your comment and thoughts. I’ve had extensive conversations with another tea lover friend of mine about David’s Tea and we’re in agreement that they are changing the approach to tea. I highly encourage you to walk into a David’s Tea when you get a chance. It’s as if they’ve taken the best practices of every coffee and tea company to develop a very successful marketing strategy. The encourage you to smell the teas before you buy. They have highly knowledgable staff – very cheerful, too. They make the customer “feel ok” about not knowing how to properly brew tea. They walk out and hand free tea to people walking, just as a nice gesture.
And the tea is definitely geared to a certain market that clearly exists. They have sprinkles and glitter in their tea..that says it all.
I love the interior design of the store in the pic. The ‘starbucks of tea’ sounds great. Go DAVIDsTEA!
I’m not a fan of all of their teas but I must admit that some of the blends are really tasty. Rather than comparing them to Starbucks, I think of them as the new Teavana that’s doing it right. They aren’t making the mistakes that Teavana has in alienating customers. Their staff are incredibly friendly and enthusiastic without being pushy. It makes them the perfect gateway to introduce people to loose leaf tea in a fun environment.
Hi Nicole, I never tried tea from them, but the whole branding is great and it kind of matches how you describe DAVIDsTEA.
Interesting blog post. I was excited when I discovered a David’s Tea location in Ottawa, but I wasn’t overly impressed by their tea, especially their “creamy” tea blends.
It’s not bad tea, and there are certainly a lot of fun flavourings, but I’ve been spoiled by tea shops like Silk Road in Victoria BC and Cha Yi here in Gatineau QC.
Excited to read about you guys. I live in Miami but hail from the old British island of Ceylon (named Sri Lanka since the 1970s). Ceylon makes the best black teas and has one of the largest tea auctions in the world. Ceylon tea fetches top prices in the the world tea auctions as well. My family is very strongly involved in the production and management of many tea estates including Bogawanthalawala estate which my uncle managed before (if you know this estate where I spent childhood family vacations, then you know tea! Lol). We employ over 150 people in the golden valley of tea in the heart of the beautiful tea country in Ceylon. I look forward to meeting tea lovers like those who have commented here and David too. Kind Regards. Heshan Demel.
Davids tea is my favorite store in the world! A lot of women will go crazy and spend hundreds of dollars on shoes, Davids tea is my weakness. I love that the staff actually know about the different teas and that they will make you samples if you are unsure about a flavor. I drink on average 12-20 cups of tea in a day and I enjoy all variety of teas and I love that I don’t have to search to find unflavored teas. I also like that in like teavanna, when they are sampling a tea it is 1 kind and not a mix of 2 or 3 that they have put together. Also, if I buy 100g I get my tin free. I prefer that to the paper bag they give you at teavanna. If you buy less than 100g you still get a resealable plastic pouch that will keep your tea fresh.