episode 6

How do you
choose the
perfect teaware?

with Freedom Taylor

Freedom Taylor

steeping together
podcast - episode #06

How do you choose the perfect teaware?

with Freedom Taylor

december 2021
Length: 47:49 see all
Listen on:

episode transcript

Marika de Vienne 0:19

Welcome, everyone to another episode of Steeping Together podcast where we explore the vast world of tea over a cup of tea with tea enthusiasts. I'm your tea-obsessed host Marika. And you know what, I'm going to jump right into it today. So here are DAVIDsTEA we spend a lot of time talking about - well, I mean tea, yes, but flavours, ingredients, tasting notes, favourite teas! But we don't always take the time to talk about a really truly essential part of the whole tea drinking experience: the vessel! Look, it may seem obvious, but choosing your vessel can completely transform your tea drinking experience. Large versus small cups, thick ceramic versus bone china, printed mug, tumbler, carry all, look – the options are endless. And to help me figure out which vessels are right for you, today I have enlisted the help of my colleague Freedom Taylor to help us navigate the endless opportunities before us. Welcome, Freedom!

Freedom Taylor 1:19

Hey tea friends, my name is Freedom and I work over here at DAVIDsTEA in our marketing team. I started my journey with DAVIDsTEA, oh a good 10 years ago, back in May 2011, when our tea of the month was actually Movie Night. It was one of my favourite teas before I started and honestly, it's just like the perfect tea to commemorate when I first started with the company. But yeah, I've worn many many hats over the years here at DAVIDsTEA. I first started off in visual merchandising, I've moved over onto the web team and I've even taken over some new things in marketing. So yeah, I've developed definitely a love for tea over my years and more than anything, a love for teaware. And so I'm excited to share my love with you guys today.

Marika de Vienne 2:01

Freedom I love how with every other guest that I've had, I've had to ask, “Can you please introduce yourself the way you'd like to be introduced,” and you jumped right in. You’re like, “I am Freedom, I am here. I love tea. I've been at DAVIDsTEA a very, very long time.” You're definitely one of the people I go to in the office for DAVIDsTEA history. Like what makes a David’s tea, a DAVIDsTEA? What makes the tea drinking experience so special? Because I spend a lot of the time in another department than you with people in the lab or analyzing the leaf, Free, we are analyzing the flavour – it is the minutiae of the tea. And you look at tea from a whole experience.

Freedom Taylor 2:52

Oh yeah, I think of tea very differently. I'm a bit of a tea rule-breaker. So I love to just like be playful with our teas and sort of do things that maybe most people wouldn't necessarily think of immediately. Example, mixing two teas together or making a latte using chocolate milk, or I don't know, adding some sparkling water or just trying to like make tea a little bit more fun and intriguing, inviting. I just like to break the rules and just like, show off that tea can be more than what we just think it is.

Marika de Vienne 3:25

I mean, you really live up to your name, and I'm sure you hear this all the time. But you do bring a lot of freedom to the tea drinking experience. I think a lot of you know, tea nerds, we like the rules. We like the right cup at the right water temperature with the right steeping time. You know, that's part of what informs our experience. And you have just always impressed me so much with your ability to look at a tea and think, how can I bring this to the next level? Outside of the tea world, like you said – chocolate milk, mixing two teas together. You're going to look at the visual you're going to look at it from a whole experience, and that's really why I asked you here today, because I'm sure that I can find so many people to talk to me about why bone china's better than ceramic and why glass is better, and why a smaller cup is – We have that information, you know, we know why certain materials are more conductive or less conductive. But you're bringing it from an experience of bringing people together, having fun, and knowing that yes, you know the rules. I know you know the rules. But I mean rules are meant to be broken.

Freedom Taylor 4:37

In my world they are. I just like to be playful and I just like to sort of do things that remind me of my childhood, or like things that are nostalgic. And, I don't know, just like be more “lifestyle” and sort of in-the-moment with teas, too, and like speak to things that match with the season or with my mood, or what I'm craving that day. Honestly, I think that happens a lot too. If I'm craving something sweet or something chocolatey, we know that we're going to be whipping up something delicious that day. So I think more than anything, I probably just have a sweet tooth. Let's be honest.

Marika de Vienne 5:11

I love that, this is all geared towards you getting your sugar fix!

Freedom Taylor 5:14

Oh, yeah, 100%. If I can layer in more sweetness and chocolate into things, I will try to find a way.

Marika de Vienne 5:20

That's a whole other episode… Okay, we'll get there eventually. The sweet one, yeah the sweet episode. Beautiful. Okay, so let's talk about how you choose your vessel because I'm going to be honest with you Free, I am a very heavy tea drinker. I drink about eight cups of tea a day. But I'm also a working mom. So sometimes the best vessel is the one that's clean.

Freedom Taylor 5:49

Oh yeah, the one that's the closest to you, that has a matching lid.

Marika de Vienne 5:53

Exactly – matching lid? What kind of world do you think I inhabit!

Freedom Taylor 5:56

Nevermind, fair enough.

Marika de Vienne 5:57

Look, it's clean. It holds a lot of tea. Generally, I like a cup that will keep my tea hot or cold longer, because I'm so busy, I don't have time. I mean, I know I should take more time to be more mindful. I spoke to my therapist about it, we both agreed it would be very helpful. But in reality, it's not going to happen every day.

Freedom: No, and that’s okay! That is okay.

Marika: Thank you. Thank you for that. So I just basically pick a cup. I kind of pick a cup, unless I'm doing some kind of ritual. But when I was speaking to you earlier about what factors are the most important to you, when choosing a vessel? Can we can we dive into that, someone who has the time and the emotional investment to it.

Freedom Taylor 6:45

I'm here for that. Yeah, there's a few like, qualities that I'm really looking for when I'm choosing a cup for a tea that I'm having that day. I think the first thing I want to try to figure out is cup size. Let’s start off by saying we love all cup sizes, all cup size matters. But at the end of the day, I'm a thirsty boy. And I love a bigger cup so that I don't have to make as many trips over to the kitchen to brew tea. So for me, I'm definitely looking for something that is like of a bigger size, maybe even bigger than 16 ounces. I love a healthy 24 ounce or even a 32 ounce mug, just so that I'm making like less trips and I can really like soak up and enjoy the tea that I'm having.

Marika de Vienne 7:25

And just for context, the traditional teacup, and I'm thinking about the Royal Albert's, you know, thinking about like that British tea service. They are about eight ounces.

Freedom Taylor 7:35

Oh, yeah, it's a much smaller “pinkies up” type of vibe, for sure.

Marika de Vienne 7:40

Absolutely! Which makes sense because historically, you would want to keep your tea hot in a teapot, and then have a cup and systematically drink a little bit more from that teapot. We have thicker materials now that keep your tea hot or cold longer. So when you're talking over 16 ounces, is this a – I know you said this is a sweet tooth thing, is this also a form of caffeine addiction Freedom, do we need to unpack this?

Freedom Taylor 8:07

Yeah, I think this is a little layered. And maybe my therapist might have some notes on this one too. But yeah, it's definitely got to do with caffeine, for sure, I love to just make sure that I'm like powering through whatever part of the day I'm in. But I'm also a big fanatic of iced tea and iced tea just justifies needing more ice and just like making a thicker and stronger infusion and just needing to dilute it. So for me being like an avid iced tea drinker, even in like the middle of February up here in Canada, for me that's where I sort of lean to, but I've definitely been known to drink out of like smaller cups when we're you know, drinking out of a teapot Gongfu style, or something like that where we want to resteep our tea a few times and have it hot. Even something like a 12 ounce cup is perfect. It's great for like when you just need to hit that spot, and just like crave that, that need that you have either be it caffeine or flavour or maybe sweet tooth like me. But honestly, all cup sizes are great, but I definitely personally lean for something a little bit bigger, just because I'm always too thirsty.

Marika de Vienne 9:07

That makes sense. And I love how your explanation of – Okay, so if you're making an iced tea, you essentially need to make a form of concentrate because you're going to be pouring it over ice and the water in the ice is going to dilute it.

Freedom: Dilute it, yeah.

Marika: So as opposed to me, I start tea first, I go to my tea closet – because that's the situation I'm in now –

Freedom: Full closet!

Marika: Full closet! I go to my tea closet and I look for my mood. Am I in a hojicha green roasted mood? Am I in a mango matcha mood? Like where am I going with that? And I will spend the time on the preparation and then the mug is almost an afterthought right before I pour. It looks like you're saying the exact opposite. Are you starting with the vessel?

Freedom Taylor 9:58

Yeah, a lot of the times I think I am.

Marika: No! Really?

Freedom: Yeah, I think I almost already know like, visually what I'm into that day. Like I'm also a person that like is kind of maybe aesthetic-driven in the sense of tea? Like tea is beautiful in the sense of all the different colours it infuses, and I think that's what almost captivates me sometimes first versus flavour. Where like, I'll see somebody in the office drinking something like pinkish purple and I'm like, “This is beautiful, I need to have it, what is it?” And with that, I'm going to drink it out of like a glass item or something that is made out of, you know, Tritan plastic. But like, I just loved the visual appeals of our tea so much. So sometimes when I'm picking teas, yeah, I'm like, oh my God, I need Maui Madness because it's pink and it's beautiful. But I'm not necessarily thinking like, oh, today's a Maui day.

Marika de Vienne 10:46

Right whereas I'm going to start with, “Today's a Maui day, today's a fruit, a light fruity herbal, crazy day. And the fact that it infuses a gorgeous pink purple is like secondary to me. But what's interesting is, I think a lot in the I – hate to say tea world, but I think in the in the tea nerd world, in the tea closet world… You know, us – the emphasis is put so much on flavour, that sometimes we neglect that the vessel is also going to communicate something in that moment for you.

Freedom: Oh, 100%.

Marika: And we have a tendency, yes, to look at the liquor and to look at the infusion and judge on that colour. But I've almost never met what I'd call a serious tea drinker, which is a terrible thing to say, because I'm not even entirely certain what that means.

Freedom: Fair.

Marika: I've never met a serious tea drinker who's like, oh, I love this mug because of the print. It's almost like you can't say it in a – I’m gonna use the word straight – but you know what I mean?

Freedom: Hmmm. Yeah I knew exactly what you meant.

Marika: In that straight tea world you can't say, oh I'm picking it because of the print. Because it makes you seem superficial. It makes you seem a little childlike. And it's something over the years I have stopped commenting on because any time I'd say oh, I love the dragon prints on this teacup or I love the skull on this mug. Or I love you know, the colour-changing aspect of this mug. I'm kind of looked at in a “Isn't she adorable? Look at the little one going with her cute little mug.” You know? So I've almost kind of cut myself off from that joy. And I just love that even after all these years in the tea world you're like, “I'm gonna do me!”

Freedom Taylor 12:38

Oh yeah, because we're out of the closet, so you know –

Marika: We're both out of the closet now!

Freedom: You know that I'm using all of the prints, all of the colours, all of the things. Like for me, I think that's probably what I fell in love with – like I fell in love with at DAVIDsTEA the most at the beginning was just like how playful it is, and how fun, and like, I don't know, there's something that is just really whimsical and not serious and not stuffy that I like. It almost feels more approachable and less intimidating, in my mind, but I could definitely see where certain people are just gonna be like, oh my god, you know, a fox mug is way too childish or something like that. But for me, it's like, oh my god, a fox mug is like perfect for fall, it's perfect for cozy, it's perfect for drinking chai. It's just like fall, you know, it's too perfect.

Marika de Vienne 13:23

I love it. I love how you're able to really embrace that and I agree with you. You know, I spent many years not working at DAVIDsTEA, and I always bought the mugs at DAVIDsTEA. I would never tell the other people I worked with that I had them at home, but they just made me happy. They were just colourful and playful. And I'm going to tell you an analogy that I came up with the other day, somebody asked me what the difference was, in my pre-DAVIDsTEA life to my post- DAVIDsTEA life.

Freedom: Oh, good question.

Marika: And I said that my pre- DAVIDsTEA life was the feeling of swimming in the ocean. Everything was available to me and there was beautiful freedom to discover all the flavours of the planet, all the cultures of the planet through their tea, all of the different tea ceremonies and it was just always, you know, just so so nourishing and beautiful. But DAVIDsTEA is the first time that I've done that whilst skinny dipping.

Freedom Taylor 14:26

Oooh, that's a good analogy. Yeah yeah yeah, absolutely!

Marika de Vienne 14:30

You know what I mean? It’s just serious and it’s just as important and we really believe in, you know, in tea! And in the high quality of tea. But isn't it better if you're skinny dipping? Like isn’t it better if you're having a little bit more fun with it?!

Freedom Taylor 14:44

Umm yeah! I think so – mobility is key. We're all just here to have fun. We’re only going to be this young for so long, might as well do what we can and have the energy to, so –

Marika: I love it.

Freedom: Yeah, well said.

Marika de Vienne 14:55

Thank you!

Freedom Taylor 14:57

I'm with you on that.

Marika de Vienne 14:58

Okay, so now you have to school me. Because as long as I've been in the tea industry, which is now, god – 20 years.

Freedom Taylor 15:04

Long time.

Marika de Vienne 15:07

Guide me through choosing prints, because I'll choose a mug, or a teacup for the prints and the thinking that goes into that is, “I like squirrels, so I'm gonna buy a squirrel mug.” You know, there's not a lot – I'm not looking at, I’m not like a highly aesthetic person, my visual sense is apocryphal. But I know what I like, I know what I like. But if I wanted to, instead of “start with the tea” and “start with the vessel,” what am I looking for in a print? Why do I care about the print?

Freedom Taylor 15:43

Yeah I think like prints matter when it is something that really speaks to you and your personality. Like I know for me there are certain prints that like I fall in love with, just like on instant impact that I know that I need to have. Like, anything that is like super botanical or nautical, or just reminds me of things from my past or things that I have, like seen in adventures. I just love things that feel nostalgic, and things that connect with me. So I'm not obviously like a huge collector of every single print we offer. But I'm always gravitating really for the ones that like resonate with something that has happened to me or a memory that I'm attached to, so that when I pick it up, I almost like remember where I was at that time when I picked that mug up and like where I was when I you know had that distant memory that connects me to this vessel. To me, there's a lot of like synergy between those two things. But I will also say that a big part of the collection that I have at home actually doesn't have any prints.

Marika: Really?

Freedom: Yeah, I love things that are just like neutral, easy colours that match with any season. And that is actually more for travel mugs, travel mugs I collect like white, black, and silver in basically any vessel we've ever sold. So like back in the day, we had like timolinos, and curve travel mugs, carries, lock-tops, loads of things like that, like I think I probably have like, I don't know, 40, 50…

Marika de Vienne 17:10

You have your own version of a tea closet.

Freedom Taylor 17:12

Oh yeah, it's like, it's more than a closet it's literally like an Ikea unit, a shelving unit, like a rattan unit. It’s like half of my kitchen is like, divided up by commodity. So it's like tea is in one area mugs are in another, travels in another. Because we're running out of space, we got issues, you know, this is things we discuss in therapy.

Marika de Vienne 17:34

I love how much our therapists are coming into this episode!

Freedom Taylor 17:38

Yeah, it's one of those things where, it's just, you know, it's part of who we are!

Marika de Vienne 17:41

But mental health is important. And if you don't want to talk about your collecting habits… like!

Freedom Taylor 17:48

Truly, truly. Yeah this is like a big part of who I am. It's like, I have so many, like being a tea fanatic has the effect where you end up like becoming a bit of a hoarder. And you end up sort of stockpiling certain things. And DAVIDsTEA has a way too of making really cool limited edition stuff that I know that I need to stock up on. Like, if you're obsessed with our Halloween collection just as much as I am, this collection is always amazing year after year. And like, for sure I'm buying a Nordic mug from that season, just to keep as keepsake in the back of my tea closet of Narnia. Because I know that at some point, I'm going to want to bust this out and like show off that I have it. Because I know that it's limited edition. So there's certain things where like, okay I’m super into those prints, but on a limited edition basis.

Marika de Vienne 18:34

That's interesting. Do you only have DAVIDsTEA mugs? Because I don't. I mean, I really don’t -

Freedom Taylor 18:40

So I do cheat on David sometimes, I don't want to talk about it openly. It's definitely come up in the past where I have, you know, ventured outside of these four walls. I definitely have a love for other types of warm liquids that are similar to tea (without saying what they are).

Marika: Fair enough.

Freedom: But you know, we all know what I'm talking about. But I definitely visit places that sell a lot of these mugs, and I love nothing more than like a mug from a specific shop that is like branded with something cheesy from them. So like I love puns or cheesy cheeky things. So like whenever I'm travelling and I'm in a in a shop that that has something like that, best be known that I'm going to be picking up something to bring home.

Marika de Vienne 19:24

Nice. Okay, so you're an equal opportunity vessel hoarder.

Freedom Taylor 19:28

Oh yeah, yeah for sure. Like if it speaks to me and me in the moment and like, I know that I need that memory, then I'm for sure gonna buy that mug and bring it home with me and cherish it for forever and ever.

Marika de Vienne 19:42

I love that because it makes me think that if I went to your home, you would – when people come to my home, I don't try to size them up, but let's be honest, you size them up, and I'm like, “This is the tea I'm gonna serve you” right? Like you have a nice little conversation, 5-10 minutes “Hi, how are you? Blah blah, blah” and then you’re like “aah okay I’m going with this.”

Freedom Taylor 20:02

For sure. You like read them out and know.

Marika de Vienne 20:05

I know that I'm gonna go either more traditional or maybe more flavoured. Maybe I'm gonna spring a latte. It's rare, but it does happen. Do you do the same thing with your mugs?

Freedom Taylor 20:13

Yeah, for sure. I think I almost want to choose the mug for them before they even choose because like, I feel like I know – maybe this is my true Virgo energy coming out – but like, I feel like I know for them, or I want them to drink out of something so that they have a certain experience that I want them to have.

Marika de Vienne 20:29

Or help them to discover something they didn't know about themselves. Because I really feel like I would go to your home – and I'm inviting myself in this moment –

Freedom: Please.

Marika: I would go to your home. And even though we do know each other quite well, I feel that you would probably pick a vessel that, you would try to surprise me.

Freedom: Oh, for sure.

Marika: You would try to be like, “Drink out of this and see how it fits, see how it feels.”

Freedom Taylor 20:52

Yeah! Yeah, especially like you having been with the company for a while too, I would definitely try to give you something that you hadn't seen before, like a vessel or a shape or a print that like maybe we've never even sold! Because truly, like here at the office we have access to a lot of samples of things that don't always necessarily like make it out to the public. But sometimes like the team here will quality control them, will fall in love with them, and bring them home. So I'd probably like yeah, surprise you with something that you hadn't seen before, Or like something that yeah, is just like new and a bit of a shocker.

Marika de Vienne 21:23

I love that. Because I think it is again, like I said, something that I don't necessarily consider when I'm serving the tea. But it really sounds like you are trying to do with vessels, the same thing that we're doing with tea, which is to take people on an adventure, bring them to a moment. You talked a lot about nostalgia, and one of the things I love about tea is you can drink a tea and it can take you back to a place that you've never been before.

Freedom: Yes, yes, also true!

Marika: Sometimes you're like, what is that flavour? What is it reminding me of, where am I going? What is what is this tea trying to inform me of? And you do the same with a vessel.

Freedom Taylor 21:58

Oh my god, totally. Yeah, like there's certain travel mugs that when I pick up I remember like, where I went when I brought this travel mug. Like, I have a white carry travel mug and anytime I drink out of it, I think of Costa Rica. Like I brought it on a trip there and it is like literally just tied together. So for me, it's like there's such a synergy between the two, and vessels that hold the tea are just as important as the tea inside.

Marika de Vienne 22:24

You know, if we paired up, the kind of tea party we'd throw?

Freedom: Oh, yeah.

Marika: Do you have any idea?

Freedom: It'd be fun. Yeah!

Marika: It would be rockin!

Freedom: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Marika: Because I know people like to have – I don't drink a lot of wine, I don’t really drink a lot of beer. I'm kind of only tea. And I always tell people if you come to my house, my tea parties are lit girl, like they are lit.

Freedom: Oh, I’m sure!

Marika: But now I feel that if we teamed up – I mean this is Lollapalooza!

Freedom: Oh, it would be a party. Yeah!

Marika: This is tea Lollapalooza!

Freedom Taylor 22:52

There's a lot of things to be drank. It would be definitely super fun.

Marika de Vienne 22:56

Yeah. Well, I mean, I guess we have our new mission.

Freedom Taylor 22:58

Yeah I think it's gonna happen soon.

Marika de Vienne 22:59

So do you have dedicated vessels to different tea types? Or beverages? Or is it really you start with the vessel and then that indicates the mood of the tea?

Freedom Taylor 23:12

I think yeah, I think the vessel definitely will choose the mood of the tea. But I think that there's like certain ones that kind of go without saying. So like, for example, in the off chance that I am, like, really into like a hot tea that day. Or let's I'm going out like on a hike or a little adventure with some friends. Then for sure I'm grabbing something like made out of stainless steel because I want to keep that heat. And I know that like, you know, I might be out for like a few hours, I might be out for quite some time. I just want to make sure that like I have something to turn to that can support the type of tea that I'm drinking. So like, that's sort of how I see – yeah!

Marika de Vienne 23:50

That's pretty pragmatic. I mean, it's a pretty, I don't want to say obvious, but it's a pretty like, “Okay, I'm going to be out, I need it to stay hot. I need it to be durable, because I'm probably going to drop it.”

Freedom: Exactly, knowing me.

Marika: Knowing me too!

Freedom Taylor 24:02

So a lot of that happens for sure. I definitely am like a big fan of glassware. Just like double-wall glassware. It's so beautiful to me, really because of that like double wall effect and that like the tea doesn't have any condensation on the cup. There's just something really nice about like seeing it contained within a vessel.

Marika de Vienne 24:24

What I like about double-walled glass mugs – because I didn't drink from them for years. I just didn't see their value because the thermal conductivity of glass is less than with ceramic so it's gonna get colder faster.

Freedom: Totally. Yeah.

Marika: And I kind of ignored it until there was one day here in the kitchen at DT – that was the only cup that was left.

Freedom: It was the clean one. – Yup!

Marika: It was the clean one! You see – my thinking translates from home to work.

Freedom: Yup, I saw that!

Marika: And I loved how, because it's double-walled, the inner cup kinda floats above the outer.

Freedom: Literally!

Marika: You can hold it because it's not too hot. Traditionally, with a glass cup, if you put hot water in it your hands are gonna get too hot. It's gonna burn because glass is, you know –

Freedom Taylor 25:12

It's just like so thin in that sense that it's – you're gonna feel it on your fingers right away.

Marika de Vienne 25:15

Exactly. And it was kind of the first time that I enjoyed kind of seeing the tea float, for lack of a better term.

Freedom Taylor 25:21

– Literally.

Marika de Vienne 25:24

The tea was floating! And I put a straight oolong in just without an infuser –

Freedom: Ooh beautiful, love that.

Marika: Because they call it grandpa style, but it's that Chinese traditional method of just putting the loose leaf in the mug, pouring water –

Freedom: Easy.

Marika: And because it doesn't get overly bitter, especially with an oolong, you can just keep drinking from it, and the leaves fall to the bottom so you don't need a strainer. And to see those leaves dance!

Freedom Taylor 25:49

That's wonderful.
– It's so beautiful. I don't know, there's just something so beautiful about oolongs just like opening and unfurling, and I don't know, dancing and moving in the water? Like I'm totally with you.
– I love it

Marika de Vienne 25:58

Because they start at the top and then they slowly unfurl and curl and sway all the way down to the bottom. I got legitimately no work done for about 15 minutes –

Freedom: I don’t blame you.

Marika: Because my mug, which I know is a form of work, thankfully I work in the tea industry so it's a form of work. But yeah, that's when I fell in love with the glass teaware.

Freedom Taylor 26:21

Totally, yeah I think there's been a few captivating moments for me too where I've been like, has 20 minutes gone by, like, what am I doing right now? Like layered lattes. Like I just need to take a moment to say like, glassware is great if you're making a layered latte. Layered latte is really like when you're starting with your milk at the bottom of your cup first, then you're just infusing or adding your tea on top. And because the viscosity of the liquids are different, milk being a bit thicker and tea being like a little lighter, they like separate and they make like these beautiful, beautiful drinks, especially in glassware, where like literally 20 minutes go by and I'm like, Am I still staring at this beautiful drink? I haven't even taken a sip yet. Like what am I waiting for?

Marika de Vienne 27:02

Okay, I mean, we could keep going but I need your help. I have a lot of gifts to make. And I usually gift tea because it's something that I can do personally, I know what flavours I want to convey, I know what I want people to try. What are your three tips for gifting a vessel though? Because to me, the vessel, as I mentioned, has always been an afterthought. So without taking into account what tea I'm offering, like, how do I how do I start by gifting a vessel? Because usually if I gift a vessel it says like “World's greatest dad,” you know? You know, I'm not overthinking it.

Freedom Taylor 27:42

Oh my, yes. I gotta say, I love those like really cheesy gifts too, though. And like those are kind of what makes the gift so great? But I think like when you're choosing like a print or a vessel for somebody that's a gift, I think you really need to like, almost see what mug or vessel embodies that person, like their personality, their flair, their style, like what – when you're looking at like a shelf of things like what is something that like reminds you of the person that you're gifting for? I think that's the first thing that I would start with is like, if my friend has like a bubbly bright personality then I'm for sure gonna buy something that has like a bright print on it. But if they're like a little you know, more timid or maybe a little bit more like introverted, or keep a little bit more to themselves, maybe a bit more like me, then I'm gonna go for something that's like a little bit more like neutral.

Marika de Vienne 28:30

I’m sorry wait, did you just refer to yourself as timid and introverted?

Freedom Taylor 28:33

Yeah, you should see me in my personal life, it’s uhhh –

Marika de Vienne 28:35

Oh, I get to see work Freedom!

Freedom Taylor 28:37

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hermit Freedom. That lives only after the hours of 5 pm. He loves Netflix and sweatpants.

Marika: And tan mugs!

Freedom: And tan mugs. He loves “no-brain-think” moments, you know?

Marika de Vienne 28:54

So the vessel if you can – okay so, because if I had chosen a vessel for you I absolutely would have gone with like, I'm thinking Moroccan tile.

Freedom: Oooh… Yeah!

Marika: Blues, yellows? Very busy, very loud. In a probably large, medium to larges, you know, anywhere between 12 and 16 ounces. But if I knew the real Freedom, I would have gone with a different aesthetic.

Freedom Taylor 29:18

Ooh yeah –
Yeah see I think like, yeah, one of those things where people are like, “Okay, from the outside I see him as this way, but on the inside, what is he really inside?”

Marika de Vienne 29:25

So you can really go deep within vessel choice?

Freedom Taylor 29:28

Oh, yeah, for sure. For sure. And like, yeah, you can go really deep. Like, I think one thing too, that I like to think of is like, where is my friend going to be drinking this tea too? Are they a person that works from home? Are they in the office? Are they on the go? Like really what is their mood too, like I'm not going to buy a ceramic mug for somebody that I know is just always on the go, who is just like always in their car or catching flights not feelings. Like I want something that really like resonates with that person and I want to make sure that they're getting the most out of it, too. So I think like, where they're going, what type of person they are really matters too. And you can even take that to another level where like, you can say like, oh my gosh, my super clumsy friend who always drops and spills things would really benefit from having a Lock Top Travel Mug. You know? Like I can think of a few friends that honestly, I think that's what I'm gonna get them this year for Christmas. Because seriously, we got a few klutzes out there and I think they would all benefit from that.

Marika de Vienne 30:29

Yeah, that sounds perfect. I mean, I want to thank you. I really want to thank you, because it's such an obvious topic. It seems obvious on its surface, you know, and it seems like there is no – I don't want to say no thought, but it seems like the consideration is less.

Freedom: Yeah, yeah, it could be an afterthought, for sure.

Marika: It could be an afterthought, I think it's an afterthought for a lot of people. It's an afterthought for me, it's been an afterthough my entire life. But honestly, in this conversation you've given me – I want to challenge myself now. I want to challenge myself to start with the mug.

Freedom Taylor 31:03

Yes! I'm gonna start with the tea.

Marika: Really?

Freedom: Hmm, I'm gonna try! – Uhh I say that now, but we’re gonna see.

Marika de Vienne 31:12

I love that! No but I think, I mean, that's one of the reasons I love the world of tea is because every single day you will learn something.

Freedom: Totally!

Marika: You will never know it all. There’s no way! I mean, we can say that about a great many subjects. But the world of tea is my chosen, you know, drug, my caffeine drug. It's my chosen, you know, career path. But you'll always learn something new. And I really feel like you genuinely kind of opened my eyes to taking that moment to choose a vessel that will help me help the tea and help that moment, get to the next level.

Freedom Taylor 31:47

Oh, I'm happy to hear that. Yeah, I think that's like, what I would love for most people to take away from things. It's like, you don't have to be so tied down by like, these rules or these ideas of what tea could or should be. And you already know those sort of parameters, and it's up to you to just like, play with them and move and wiggle around and sort of find something that resonates with you and makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Like it shouldn't be super serious. It shouldn't be super, like stagnant. It should be like fun and playful. And the end of the day, it's just a beverage, it's just a drink. So it's there to make you feel good from the inside out. And I just love to make sure that like, what I'm drinking in terms of like a vessel supports the tea that's inside.

Marika de Vienne 32:32

That’s amazing because I think in a great many aspects of our lives, we impose so many rules on ourselves, we impose so much judgement on ourself? Like, I know that if I'm not drinking a tea, the supposedly “correct way,” there's a little bit of guilt. There's a little bit of like, “Oh, I'm not I'm not giving this tea its true platform or I'm not appreciating it the correct way.” And every once in a while you need to do this for yourself or find someone – and thank God I found you – to kind of check you and remind you that like this is your life. This is your moment. And those rules if you want to follow them, you do you!

Freedom: Literally.

Marika: But that doesn't mean you have to follow them every single time. So I mean, thank you for giving me that freedom, Freedom?

Freedom Taylor 33:23

Yeah! Freedom for everybody.

Marika de Vienne 33:27

So I want to say that you were the first guest to bring an iced tea for us to drink.

Freedom: Yay!

Marika: Everyone else has brought, you know, a hot tea teapot something exclusive or just like their favourite comfort tea. And when I asked you what you were bringing you said you were bringing Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait iced and I smiled politely.

Freedom: That’s a nice way to say that, I love that.

Marika: I was like oh, oh, strawberry. Interesting. Interesting choice. I really enjoyed this.

Freedom Taylor 34:02

I love this tea so much. I – alrighty, so the biggest reason I think why I love this tea Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait so much is just because it's so sour. The mouthfeel on this one is insane. It almost brews like a bit syrupy? Where it has so much body that it like lingers on your tongue. I just love things that are sour, like reminding me of like candies or gummies from when I was a kid. There's just something about this one that just like brings me back to my childhood that I love so much. Also, I talked about tea of the month when we first started, but this was a September tea of the month and my birthday is in September. So for me this is one that I just like hold close to my heart and I've literally said to a few people at the office that if we ever discontinue this tea I will boycott DAVIDsTEA, like I will be so mad! So this tea is my favourite. I drink it all the time. The colour is amazing. The sourness is amazing. And I'm just here to push it onto everybody so it doesn't get discontinued!

Marika de Vienne 35:04

Look, it's a good tea. I'm not saying it's a bad tea. I enjoy it as a tea. I've tried it several times on your specific recommendation, like this is not the first time we've spoken to me about it.

Freedom: Oh, no, no, no, no!

Marika: But this is the first time I've had this tea with you. Every other time, it's been at my desk or it's been at home and I've been like, oh, Freedom really likes this tea. And I'm like, I can see it. You taste the rhubarb, you taste the strawberry. It's got a lovely kind of very light cream finish that balances out the tartness of the strawberry super well. I understand why people like this tea, but I just never cared for it personally, until I had it with you.

Freedom: Yay!

Marika: Just now. And that is just super important because it's not just about the tea. Like that's the point of what we're talking about today. It's not always just about the tea. A lot of the times yes, it's the vessel that you're drinking it in. But I think it's a lot about the person you're sharing it with and the conversation you have over it

Freedom: I totally – aw I love that.

Marika: And now I have a good memory to associate with this tea and I get the impression I'm going to be drinking it again.

Freedom Taylor 36:04

I hope so! That makes my heart warm to hear.

Marika de Vienne 36:07

But I really, I genuinely feel that, I really do from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for sharing this moment with me.

Freedom: Yay!

Marika: So we're gonna take a break. We'll drink some more Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait and we'll be right back.

AD BREAK 36:19

Today's episode of Steeping Together is brought to you by the Nordic Mug. In 2012 DAVIDsTEA came up with an innovative new design for a large mug. You see, at the time most tea cups were small and dainty, and we felt that a large and modern design was in order. So based in traditional Scandinavian design, the Nordic Mug was born and was an instant success. So we made more! With dazzling and beautiful prints for one and all, with each passing season we released Nordic Mug after Nordic Mug, all the while never bothering to change the name. Winter Wonderland Colour-Changing Nordic Mug, Starry Night Confetti Glass Nordic Mug, Ski Bird Colour Changing Nordic Mug. I mean the names have lost all their meaning at this point – It's like weird mug beat poetry. But hey, the Nordics are great. Comfortable to hold, keeps your team really hot, and all in all a beautiful design. Have we gotten lazy with the naming? Yes, yes, we have! But you can't hit everything out of the park, can you? The Nordic Mug, currently taking suggestions for a new name.

Marika de Vienne 37:30

Welcome back. It's time to play “What Are You Drinking?” The quiz where we ask our guests three situational questions, some realistic, some completely out there, and they have to use all their experience and expertise to tell us what they would drink in any one of these given situations. Freedom, are you ready to play “What Are You Drinking?”

Freedom Taylor 37:48

I'm very excited.

Marika de Vienne 37:50

Here we go. Question one. Okay, last night was a blast but you may have partied a little too hard. I mean, did you really need that last round of shots? This morning is gonna be rough. What are you drinking?

Freedom Taylor 38:08

I think I actually have like three drinks going on. I actually think that I’m like wearing sunglasses still and there's definitely like many different things going on. So definitely something warm. Probably just to like warm me up from the inside so that I can like I don't know regret and forget about everything that happened the previous night? So definitely something to warm me up. Something with loads of electrolytes like a good rooibos. Like maybe, I don’t know, Pink Flamingo – no…

Marika de Vienne 38:41

Just a rooibos. Just a rooibos.

Freedom Taylor 38:43

Yeah exactly, like something just like super hydrating, loads of electrolytes for sure, and then no joke, probably a matcha.

Marika: Really?

Freedom: Yeah, something that I know would like make me feel healthy, question mark?

Marika: Ooooh.

Freedom: You know, like the reverse psychology that like if I put green into my body, I am healthy and my hangover’s cured. It's not real, there's nothing true. But like mentally I'm there.

Marika de Vienne 39:09

Okay, but you’ve done the rooibos. So I mean, rooibos is nature's energy drink, right? So you've got the electrolytes, you've got the hydration, and then let's face it – most issues like relating to hangovers, a lot of them are psychological.

Freedom: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Marika: So you might as well tackle it with this you know, false intentional, whatever knowledge that, “You know what? I'm eating the leaf, I’m eating green leaf by drinking matcha.”

Freedom Taylor 39:31

Exactly. Literally! That’s the only thing that is like, solidifying that decision, is like that I'm doing good for myself? I think.

Marika de Vienne 39:37

I see. Are you mixing the two together? Or are you like double cupping?

Freedom Taylor 39:42

Oh, no, I'm like double cupping for sure, I think I might even be triple-cupping at this point.

Marika de Vienne 39:45

What’s the third one?

Freedom Taylor 39:46

I think the third one is like yeah, something warm that like… is coffee? I don't know.

Marika: *gasp*

Freedom: Did I say those words? I don't know. Just something that is like warming me from the inside out. So maybe it's like a bowl of like soup tea, or like something that is more like savoury than like sweet. I don't know something that's maybe like salty would be nice.

Marika de Vienne 40:10

I don't – Look I gasped because the combination matcha and coffee, you're going to take off into space!

Freedom Taylor 40:19

Yeah I’m either taking off to space or I'm like in the bathroom for half the day.

Marika de Vienne 40:25

That's why I gasped, I mean coffee’s not a bad word. You know, like coffee versus tea, look, the debate is endless and we're not going to get into it here. But I mean, matcha you've got that sustained energy and then coffee you got like that intense energy, like you're coming out of this hangover –

Freedom: Running.

Marika: – like a rocket!

Freedom Taylor 40:41

Oh yeah yeah yeah, for sure. I think I need like the most energy because I know that like, I don't have any of it inside me. And like as much as the matcha is definitely good for all of the body and like definitely gonna give me that boost of energy, much in a better way than other things would. I'm just there for it's like, like –

Marika: Benefits?

Freedom : Yeah, like psychological benefits!

Marika de Vienne 41:05

Psychological benefits! We never talk about the psychological benefits of matcha when you think about it. It's like maybe it's good for your body, but it's better for your mind.

Freedom Taylor 41:10

Oh, yeah, it’s like one of those things that like makes me feel like I'm healthy again, yeah.

Marika de Vienne 41:14

You know, all answers are valid. I love the answer.

Freedom: Cool.

Marika: Are you ready for question two?

Freedom: I am.

Marika de Vienne 41:21

All right. It's day three of a week-long cross-country summer road trip with your best friends! You've already gone through everyone's road trip playlist. Craig keeps farting, and there are way too many people packed into this van. Why oh why did you think this was a good idea? What are you drinking?

Freedom Taylor 41:44

This sounds like a nightmare.

Marika de Vienne 41:47

It sounds fun! And then, you know, by day three, you're like, “Oh no, did we really need, to go to the Yukon?”

Freedom Taylor 41:55

I’m just thinking about Craig's farts. So honestly, I think that's what is just like tough for me. And so I think I'm drinking something minty. Something cinnamony something that is like aroma.

Marika de Vienne 42:10

Aromatherapy. You’re going for the aromatherapy aspect of the tea. We don't ever talk about that either, that's an interesting aspect. Just the smell this infusion’s gonna give –

Freedom: The smell… Yeah. To balance!

Marika: To balance out. That's really important.

Freedom Taylor 42:24

Like Cold 911 has got the craziest aroma just for that. It's one of those teas where like a lip balm or a candle in that tea flavour smell would just be like ballpark amazing.

Marika de Vienne 42:37

‘Cause that eucalyptus and then juniper berry combination is like super strong and really, really intense.

Freedom: Wonderful.

Marika: Okay, okay, so, yeah, so it's less about like, what the drink’s gonna do for you once you've tasted it and more like what it's already doing in the cup. Like once you've infused it.

Freedom Taylor 42:52

I think maybe if like Craig wasn't in the car, like we'd be having a fun time and like –

Marika: You're blaming the road trip fiasco on Craig!

Freedom Taylor 42:59

I mean, I've never met Craig but we already have – we’re off to a tough start here. And if he wasn't there, like I would be drinking something like, I don't know, Shirley Temple or like Goji Pop or like a fun iced tea that is like, gonna pep up my mood to make me feel better about this like, third day of being in a car stuck? But Craig is farting and we need some mint.

Marika de Vienne 43:24

Fair enough. That's fair enough. Are you ready for the third and last question?

Freedom: Oh, yeah.

Marika: The Queen of England, all 95 years of her is about to juggle on live television. For charity.

Freedom: Love this.

Marika: What are you drinking? This is a once in a lifetime event.

Freedom Taylor 43:45

Honestly, I'm more curious like what she's drinking! 95 and juggling?

Marika de Vienne 43:51

So what I've heard is that the dear Queen of England's favourite tea is Oriental Beauty. I mean, I think many teas have been attributed to being her favourite. The one that I've seen recurring the most is Oriental Beauty, which makes sense to me. But I mean, yeah, this is happening. It's on. Like, what are you, what are you drinking? Or I mean, in relation to today's question, like, how are you drinking it too? I mean, this seems like a moment to choose your vessel.

Freedom Taylor 44:21

Oh my god yeah, I think we – I think we've got to do right by the Queen. Pinkies must be up in the air! We must be drinking out of something cute and small size. I don't know, like a really awesome six or eight ounce cup, on a saucer obviously, with a little cookie. Or like a cucumber sandwich - No crusts, obviously. But, something to commemorate this. But what tea? I don't know why my mind immediately went to Queen of Tarts? Like this mate guayusa that we had back in the day, that I'm like, “Oh my gosh, this would be too perfect to drink.” But I'm like, I think that's what the Queen should be drinking while she's juggling!

Marika de Vienne 44:58

Well I mean there’s “queen” in the title, like Queen of Tarts. But this is a tea that was like very hibiscus.

Freedom: Oh yeah! Oh, super sour.

Marika: Very tart. I mean hence the name, super sour. You're drinking this in a classic British-style teacup and you’re drinking it hot. I don't think I've ever had that – I've had it hot once maybe. But hibiscus is something generally that I'm going to ice, so you're going for –

Freedom Taylor 45:22

I’m going to go for hot, and I think I'm gonna do pinkies up with it, but then I'm like, I don't know there's something that just like that feels right about drinking like an English Breakfast or like, I don't know something that bodies really well with milk like Kenyan Tinderet, or like I don't know something that sort of speaks to that like tradition of like –

Marika de Vienne 45:43


Freedom Taylor 45:49

Yeah… You know! Something that fits well with that theme. But like, my true gut tells me we're drinking Queen of Tarts, hot, in a little cup with my pinky in the air!

Marika de Vienne 45:58

Hey, you know what? Yeah, there's no wrong answer. Queen of Tarts it is. I can't wait for this event to never happen.

Freedom: Yeah same.

Marika: Just so we can have that combination of cucumber sandwich and hot hibiscus. I want to live this moment with you.

Freedom: This is, this is – Yeah, these are interesting pairings!

Marika: They're definitely the most eclectic pairings we've had so far. So there are no winners in this game but I think you definitely get a gold star for original thinking.

Freedom: Yay!

Marika: Freedom. Thank you, honestly, thank you for taking the time. Thank you for just making me reconsider my daily tea ritual. I mean, I'm genuinely going to start with the vessel for at least a week to see what comes of it, you know, maybe I'm going to go back to starting with the closet. Because you can't take – you can't stop a girl from you know, her 20-25 years of habit. But you've given me a lot to think about because I do think that I've been missing an opportunity to look at my team moments differently.

Freedom Taylor 47:02

Totally. Thanks for having me. I'm happy that I could, I don't know have that little impact on you and make you think of things a little bit differently. Especially you who like knows tea like so well inside and out, to like, I don't know, break out of that mould that we sort of put ourselves into is like amazing. And even in the tea worlds or outside of the tea world, I think it's just awesome to like, break those boundaries, do things that make you happy, and really just like find something that fits you, that speaks to you and makes you feel good.

Marika de Vienne 47:27

And thank you for listening to today's episode. If you'd like to reach us with comments, questions, or suggestions for the “What Are You Drinking?” game you can do so at steeping.together@davidstea.com or through our website davidstea.com. Have a great week and happy steeping everyone.


Freedom Taylor

about the guest

Meet Freedom! He first joined the DAVIDsTEA team back in 2011 with our Spring Collection alongside seriously stellar hits like Goji Pop, Movie Night and Lime Gelato. If you happened to shop in our retail stores between 2011 and 2018, chances are you browsed displays designed by yours truly. This delightful human bleeds teal and can often be found drinking a huge mason jar of iced tea while writing jokes for DAVIDsTEA’s social media accounts (that’s his new gig and he like totally digs it). Obsessed with mixing teas together, nostalgic flavours, colourful iced tea-pops and experimenting with layered lattes, Free (FYI we call him Free because well, he embodies it oh so well) proves that tea-rules are meant to be… adapted? PS. Freedom and the term “fun steeper” are pretty much synonymous because he’s actual living proof that it’s okay to think outside the cup. In fact, here at DAVIDsTEA, we encourage it.

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with Nadia De La Vega
Nadia De La Vega
with Nadia De La Vega

Why do we love tea so much?

Tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet. Know why? Tune in to find out.

Who is


about the host

Marika De Vienne studied and worked with tea growers and garden owners in China before becoming a spice and tea blending apprentice. Travelling to places like Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka turned her into a ravenous seeker and lover of all things tea.

Like many at DAVIDsTEA, Marika has a tea drinking problem. Trust us, we don’t think too much tea is a problem but she’s basically a human science experiment on tea consumption…

So, in an effort to channel this obsession into something a little more constructive, Marika now hosts Steeping Together, where she hopes to spark meaningful conversations over a fresh cup of tea with people from around the world.

Marika De Vienne
Project Lead