episode 8

What are
the most
blends of

with Sanaya El Sayad

Sanaya El Sayad

steeping together
podcast - episode #08

What are the most underrated DAVIDsTEA blends of 2021?

with Sanaya El Sayad

december 23, 2021
Length: 35:03 see all
Listen on:

episode transcript

Marika de Vienne 0:20

Welcome, everyone to another episode of Steeping Together, the 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 I am really excited to be with you all here today. So we work really hard at DAVIDsTEA to create teas that we think everyone will love. We try to develop a variety of flavours that will inspire and transport and delight customers from all walks of life. It generally takes years of development before we let a tea out of the lab. And for the most part, over the last decade, we've been able to release some truly memorable and delicious teas. Sometimes well, it's just not everyone's cup of tea, right? Look, our teas are carefully vetted by a team of dedicated tea nerds specially selected for their benefits, decadence and pleasure. But hey, we're not perfect. Every tea that gets released is kind of like our child. We love them, ad sometimes they find an audience and thrive. Sometimes they're like that kid at the playground that will like, just keep eating sand – but we love them all equally. And to help me explore why a tea sometimes misses the mark is Sanaya El Sayad. Sanaya, welcome!

Sanaya 1:38

Thank you.

Marika de Vienne 1:39

I'm so excited to have you here. Would you care to introduce yourself the way you'd like to be introduced?

Sanaya El Sayad 1:44

Sure. So I've been with DAVIDsTEA for 11 years now. Started off in the stores and I moved on over to the head office and now I'm the Director of Tea, so I build all these amazing assortments and get to taste all these great teas and bring them to light.

Marika de Vienne 2:03

Director of Tea, that is a heavy title. That's a heavy crown you wear – that you wear well Sanaya, if I do say so!

Sanaya: I know… Thank you!

Marika: But like what does that mean, you say you build the assortment, like what does that mean?

Sanaya El Sayad 2:14

It means we look at a season, we decide based on trending flavours or whatever seems appropriate for that time of year, climate, whatever it may be. And kind of build based on flavour profiles, tea types, returning favourites, anything that we think that the consumer really loves, honestly.

Marika de Vienne 2:39

Okay, so what you're telling me is that there's a reason you don't launch pumpkin Chai, for example, in February.

Sanaya: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Definitely!

Marika: I mean… it makes sense when I say it out loud. But it takes a lot of work to think of. Okay, so we have this tea. We love this tea. But when are people actually going to enjoy drinking this tea? Is this more of a spring tea, is it more of a floral tea? Is it more of an iced tea? I think that's probably the easiest, right?

Sanaya: Yeah.

Marika: If it's an iced tea, we're launching it in summer. It's kind of a no-brainer. And then the rest of the time, you know, what ingredients are out there, what ingredients are interesting people, what are the benefits? What are the flavours? It seems like it's a lot, it's a big puzzle to manage.

Sanaya El Sayad 3:26

Oh, it's definitely a puzzle –

Marika: Interesting puzzle!

Sanaya: But yeah, for sure. There's a reason why other marketers don't carry pumpkin products all year round. There's an urgency and kind of this novelty and feeling that comes from launching a specific flavour profile later on in the year, than having it year round. There's a reason why we don't have candy cane products all year round. There's just this feeling that's associated with those. And it kind of tinkers off if you have certain things available all the time. So like iced tea – yes, there are some people that drink iced tea all year round. And we have that in our collection if you do, but to have an entire line that's coming out in the fall that is iced tea focused just wouldn't really resonate with everyone the same way.

Marika de Vienne 4:10

Yeah, I think when I started here that was one of the concepts you had to like, sit down and hold my little hands and explain to me. You were like, “Marika, I know you could drink candy cane all year around, but not everybody's going to want to do that.”

Sanaya: Yeah.

Marika: And that also allows for not only seasonality and you know, launching it at the right time, launching it at the time that people are most interested in, but we forget that a lot of the ingredients that go into these teas are not available year round.

Sanaya: Right!

So you can't you know, produce – and I'm picking something out of a hat here – you know, you can't just get papaya all year round! You know, there's a seasonality to these products and we kind of launch it in, you know, with respect to when Mother Nature herself will produce it. And so it goes in tandem with like, yes, people are more in the mood for that tea, but also hey, the ingredient isn't available at that time of year, so maybe we just don't have it.

Sanaya: Yeah, for sure.

Marika: Well, I love your job. I love –

Sanaya: I love my job!

Marika: You do! I just think it's a fascinating, like I said before, a fascinating puzzle to put together. And you have a – I call it the Sanaya-sense. You have a Sanaya-sense for when a tea is going to resonate with people, you know, a tea that is a crowd-pleaser. And when we do tastings in the lab, we're supposed to be quiet, you know, we're all slurping away but we're supposed to be quiet so as not to influence other tasters so that everyone has the opportunity to kind of taste it in a void, in a kind of private space where they can judge a tea appropriately, And you have like the ultimate poker face, like you will never betray! But when it comes time to speak, you are just absolutely sure about what you like about this tea, and it hasn't had anything to do with your personal taste, I think you've really developed a Sanaya-sense that allows you to pick teas that are crowd-pleasers. That will get the party started, shall we say.

Sanaya El Sayad 6:09

Yeah, I try my best to not bring my personal bias in, and I try and mitigate those comments when they're being shared in the tasting room, which is completely normal and fair. But I think my experience working in stores kind of trained my palate to understand what the customer would like. So if I taste a tea, I don't necessarily love drinking mango teas, for example. But if I taste a mango that's a little bit more juicy versus a mango that's more floral, I'll know that the customer will be drawn more to the – our customer at least – will be drawn to the juicier mango flavour profile. And I can share that and kind of give that feedback to our R&D team. So I think that's really important during the tasting, to just understand what has worked in the past, maybe go through those teas, taste those first, and then come to it with that kind of mindset.

Marika de Vienne 7:03

Yeah, I know, you're a real professional taster, you have a bank of knowledge of, you know, what has worked and what you think will work. And I think you have the ability, as you said, to remain as objective as possible and find teas that will reach a large group of people. Because with the amount of work we're putting into these teas – and the amount of love and passion, I mean, a lot of it is just love and passion for it – You want them to succeed. Like I said at the top of the episode, these are our kids, you know, we worked really, really hard to get them to develop the flavours that they do and to find, you know, a home. And it's hard. It's a hard job!

Sanaya El Sayad 7:42

It's hard. And I also think that we have to be strategic with the timing of certain things. So our Research and Development team is so great, they're so advanced, they see that certain flavours are trending. But it doesn't necessarily mean that they're trending in the commercial landscape just yet.

Marika: Right.

Sanaya: So they might bring us tea that has chilli threads in it, and might be just like, spicy experience that isn't necessarily accepted mainstream just yet. And although that will probably come, I don't think we could launch a tea like that just just yet. I think that it would be detrimental to the trend and then we'll be hesitant about trying it again later on. So it's just, we have to, it's definitely a puzzle.

Marika de Vienne 8:26

Yeah, it's interesting. And I think you know it detrimental to the trend is important. Because we're not the only people behind this tea. There are growers, there are different suppliers around the world, like chilli threads, for example, you know, you want to be able to launch a product so that everyone can benefit from it. From the customer all the way down to the person who's picking the product,

Sanaya: Right.

Marika: So in order to give the that tea or that particular ingredient, you know, it's proper time to shine, the timing needs to be really, really precise.

Sanaya El Sayad 9:01

Definitely. For sure.

Marika de Vienne 9:03

But we don't, we don't… We don’t always do that right, Sanaya.

Sanaya El Sayad 9:09

They’re not all slam dunks.

Marika de Vienne 9:11

They’re not all slam dunks! But I love looking at things that aren't slam dunks, because look, every single tea that leaves our lab has a seal of approval. And it's a seal of approval of about I'd say, what, 30 people? Like we're looking at –

Sanaya: Yes, for sure.

Marika: It’s the Director of Tea, it's the people in the R&D team, it's the Content team. It's the merch team, you know, it's all of these different perspectives and opinions and tastebuds and level of expertise coming into it. So when a tea doesn't really resonate with a large group of people, I'm always really fascinated by it, especially when it's a tea I love!

Sanaya El Sayad 9:50

I know, I know. I know. It's hard. It's hard to grapple with, I understand completely.

Marika de Vienne 9:55

So, today I wanted to look at four teas that you deemed to be the most underrated of 2021. So just to give everyone a perspective, how many teas do we launch a year, about?

Sanaya: Oh my goodness… So many!

Marika: I mean, we have about 150 permanently, right, rotating in and out.

Sanaya: Yes, exactly.

Marika: We have about, I think 70, 80 or 90 teas that are permanent, that are just always there, you know, we always have Forever Nuts, we always have Cold 911. But we have, you know, highly seasonal teas that come in and out. So how many do we have?

Sanaya El Sayad 10:26

I'd say it's over 100 seasonal teas that we launch a year.

Marika de Vienne 10:30

Yeah, we’re really enthusiastic about things that we love!

Sanaya: Yes, yes!

Marika: When we get excited about it, we want to share it with everyone. So out of those 150, I'd say we've had a pretty good year, I mean, the ratings on the website have been getting better and better. People really seem to be resonating with a lot of the collections. But here we have four teas that we're going to just sit, and we're going to talk it out Sanaya. It's gonna be tea talk therapy.

Sanaya: Okay! I'd love to talk them over.

Marika: So globally, though, why do you think a tea doesn't become a crowd pleaser? Just like generally.

Sanaya El Sayad 11:07

It's tough, because it takes a lot of effort for a tea to perform. So I guess that's where the question is, when we all hold hands and we promote a specific tea, why doesn't it… I think there are different ways to look at it. So when we all hold hands and promote a tea that still doesn't resonate, I think that's one issue. The other issue is, do we have too many teas in our assortment already that people don't really care, quite frankly, that we introduce another peach tea or whatever it may be.

Marika de Vienne 11:37

Right. Because Just Peachy is so perfect, already, DAVIDsTEA why are you throwing more peaches into my court? Like I'm good.

Sanaya El Sayad 11:45

Yeah. So I think in this landscape now, where we're primarily online, you introduce another complexity of now we have to sell a sensory product to a consumer that is looking at a screen, which is a whole new problem that we're facing. We used our stores as a sensory experience, a tasting experience. You could sample, you could buy small quantities to bring home and go to the store the next day if you loved it that night, and buy some to have throughout the week. But now you need, you really need to sell the consumer on a picture, a description, a name. Something that that we were doing before because we did have a website. But now on this primarily, in this primarily online landscape. It’s a added challenge.

Marika de Vienne 12:40

Yeah, and in a previous episode we discussed with Kelly Miller, you know, how to choose a tea online. And there's just so much information, like you said there's the name, there's the origin, there's the ingredients, there's the description. But how do you know what you're really getting yourself into? Well, let's look at these four teas that I firmly believe people should have gotten themselves into!

Sanaya: That's good!

Marika: For many, many, many different reasons. Okay, so we're gonna start, because I'm the host, I get to decide,

Sanaya: You choose!

Marika: I get to decide, of these four teas that you've brought in… Bumbleberry Burst. Tell me about Bumbleberry Burst.

Sanaya El Sayad 13:16

Alright, so Bumbleberry Burst is on the base of a pu’erh, and it has a bunch of different berries in there. It also has Garcinia Cambogia, which is a very long word, very long word. And it's great for digestion. So is the tea base. So what we were trying to do with this guy is we were trying to lean on the success of fruity teas, while not mentioning necessarily the benefit, but hoping that that would come through in the secondary marketing of it. So it was just really banking on a fun name that, to be honest, do you know what a bumbleberry is?

Marika de Vienne 14:02

Now that's what I was gonna say. So I love this tea. I genuinely love this tea. What really hooked me on this tea is it's a fruity pu’erh and because pu’erh is usually very earthy and dark, for lack of a better term, it's nice to have a bright fruitiness associated with it that doesn't clash with the tea, doesn't hide the tea, you know. The pu’erh and the freeness work hand in hand, and then, and then! You can make it hot or iced and it's equally pleasurable, and I find it very rare to find a tea that I will be completely satisfied with on every level, be it hot or cold. But I do not know for the life of me what a bumbleberry is.

Sanaya El Sayad 14:44

Right? So a bumbleberry is a medley of berries.

Marika de Vienne 14:49

Oh, well you could have just said that. Why didn’t you just say that?

Sanaya El Sayad 14:55

Which is where – That’s – because there are – Yes. That’s fair.

Marika de Vienne 14:59

I mean in hindsight it's easy to say well, “Why didn’t you just do that?”

Sanaya El Sayad 15:01

Yes, exactly, in hindsight we could have named this a lot of different things but I do I do think that the name – those ambiguous “What is this exactly?” names with ambiguous kind of like, burst or splash or boost, those words, can sometimes just fly by and people don't really pay attention. Whereas if it was something like… I don't even have an example for you. Maybe if we'd called out a specific berry in the tea that is a little bit more relatable people would have resonated with it more, or berry medley something like that.

Marika de Vienne 15:39

Agreed. I mean, you just gave a really wonderful explanation about you know, the burst or the zest or y’know, what adjective or word are you going to use to like amplify the ingredient? To give people the feeling of the tea? I'm still stuck on the fact, and you can laugh if you want, but when I first saw the name, I thought is this a berry that bumble bees like? I was like bumble, like bumble-berry.

Sanaya: Oh. So many things that we don’t think of!

Marika: So you think it’s the name here, you think the name is what didn’t work for people?

Sanaya El Sayad 16:12

I think the ambiguous name, I think that the tea type can sometimes be a hurdle for people, it's not a black tea, it's not a green tea, it's not as easy to understand as others. And I think that honestly people might be finding this flavour profile elsewhere in the assortment.

Marika de Vienne 16:32

I don't think they are, I disagree, but that's because I love the fact that we went there with a pu’erh base. Because a lot of our pu’erh teas have chocolate, have you know, marshmallows –

Sanaya: The more sweet and indulgent.

Marika: The more sweet and indulgent, and I just really like to have a summer pu’erh! Honestly, I just really like to have a summer pu’erh. Okay, I'm going to let go of the fact that Bumbleberry Burst wasn't the bursting hit I wanted it to be, and we're going to talk about Confetti Cupcake.

Sanaya El Sayad 17:02


Marika de Vienne 17:03

So what we didn't put in this tea is what we forgot to put in this tea. This is a birthday cake extravaganza. It has everything!

Sanaya El Sayad 17:17

It does.

Marika de Vienne 17:18

It's so pretty to look at, it's got the white chocolate, it's got the sprinkles, it's got nut pieces. It's just an absolute celebration. And – it's all natural!

Sanaya: Yes, it is.

Marika: It’s entirely natural! This level of sprinkle and colour and decadence and intensity. All natural. Sorry, I keep repeating it because I'm stuck on the fact that you as a team, you were able to pull this off.

Sanaya El Sayad 17:50

Right well that was what we were trying to do. So the birthday cake flavour is a very popular one amongst all industries. So whether it be beverage, protein powders, whatever, whatever, whatever –

Marika: Yeah, people love birthday cake… It’s great!

Marika de Vienne 18:03

People love the flavour of birthday cake… It’s great cake.

Sanaya El Sayad 18:06

As a team, our quest was to launch a natural birthday cake. So our tea, our Birthday Cake in the past had artificial flavouring and an extensive ingredient list. Whereas we, our goal really was to introduce one that had a cleaner ingredient list, more natural ingredients, which is what we did, so.

Marika de Vienne 18:28

I love that about us. I love that look, we had a good Birthday Cake. There was nothing wrong with the Birthday Cake we had, we were hitting all the marks with that tea. But we really want to try to move away from you know, that artificial candy notion? Like at DAVIDsTEA, we take what we do seriously, but we still want to have fun while we're doing it. And that's what Confetti Cupcake, you know, was like gonna embody! We were like, this is all natural, but it's also like this crazy flavour. Like can you believe it? And… maybe wasn't the greatest hit this year.

Sanaya El Sayad 19:01

Right? And it's cool, it does have like this white Ghiradelli chocolate in it, and it’s a beautiful blend. But I think another, another thing here, is that we wanted the customer who is drinking Birthday Cake in the rooibos category to understand that this was a natural replacement for it. So we put it in the rooibos category, but didn't necessarily add enough rooibos to have it categorized in that specific category.

Marika de Vienne 19:28

Girl you lost me. I mean, I understand. I understand. We didn't put rooibos in, but I'm kind of okay with that. Am I being too forgiving? Am I being too generous?

Sanaya: I think you're being nice to me cuz I'm here. But I appreciate it.

Marika: Okay, so lesson learned. We're going to put more rooibos in the Confetti Cupcake? Is that the –

Sanaya El Sayad 19:49

I think so. And I think it just – when you look at it from afar and you’re not familiar, you don't know that we're talking about tea. Could you mistaken this as a sprinkle blend, or something that you would top cupcakes with? Maybe.

Marika de Vienne 20:04

I mean, that opens a whole Pandora's box of like, what is tea?

Sanaya: I know, I know.

Marika: You know, is tea Camellia Sinensis, is it something else that's added. I'm not going to debate that here.

Sanaya El Sayad 20:14

But the thing is, is that the flavour profile was really a white chocolate vanilla birthday cake, but that brings in the name as well. So people that resonate with that Birthday Cake flavour profile, does Confetti Cupcake necessarily mean that you're going to have this white cake flavour? Not necessarily. So it's just, it's just things that in this new landscape that we have to keep in mind.

Marika de Vienne 20:38

It's just so many moving pieces. I don't know how you keep it all in your head! How do you keep it all straight. Okay, so let's move away from Confetti Cupcake from, you know, it's kind of, as I said, so many moving pieces. And let's go to something a lot more direct? Pomegranate Echinacea. The tea is called Pomegranate Echinacea. There’s not a lot of guesswork there. I don't, I don't have to wonder what a bumble is. You know, I don't, you know – and it's a great tea. It's an immune-boosting tea, it’s like an immunity-boosting tea. And I'll tell you, I'll start, I'll start! I'll tell you what I love about this tea!

Sanaya El Sayad 21:14

Tell me! Please, please go ahead.

Marika de Vienne 21:15

When I am under the weather, I go to the tea section at home that I have. And when I look at like my-wellness, like feel better teas. It's like lemon, ginger, ginger, honey, ginger –

Sanaya: Lemon.

Marika: Lemon. It's just, it's never – eucalyptus, you know, maybe. But they're very, very – they're flavours that I enjoy but they're extremely direct and medicinal. There's no break in that. And what I loved about Pomegranate Echinacea this year when I took it is that when I was feeling under the weather, I finally had a fruity tea to give me a break from all of those really specific medicinal herbs. And I thought people are going to love this because when you're sick, you're drinking so much tea, wouldn't it be nice to have a break with something fruity. And this got completely unnoticed. Like I feel like this flew under the radar in a way that I was a little surprised by.

Sanaya El Sayad 22:11

I know. And I think that similar to a sleep tea, people are wary to try something new because they don't want to mess with their sleep.

Marika: Ooohh.

Sanaya: So in this landscape of, everyone is trying to take care of themselves, trying to boost their immune system. That was what 2020-2021 were all about. There's a trust element in, “I don't want to buy something that won't necessarily work.”

Marika: Work, right.

Sanaya: Or they're being overloaded with similar messages and stories from different companies. So maybe this tea would have performed better in another collection, in another time. But when you introduce it at a time when every other company is talking about the same thing, we saw that we weren't as successful.

Marika de Vienne 23:01

Fair enough. I'm sad about that one, but I'm gonna let it go so that we can move on to the one that truly broke my heart. The one that still hurts. The one that confuses and upsets me in the middle of the night. Coconut Oolong.

Sanaya El Sayad 23:16

This was tough.

Marika de Vienne 23:16

Oh Sanaya, there’s nothing wrong with this tea. I'm sorry. There's, this is perfection. And I have gifted this tea conservatively to about 20 people and I'm not exaggerating every single time people like open the package or open the bag that I've given them, they look at me with a kind of polite smile like “Oh, thanks,” you know, like “Ooh, should be good.” And then invariably like two days later, I get a phone call like, “Oh my god, this is the best tea I've had in years.” So is it the name, is it the fact that people don't understand it? I can't – As soon as you taste this tea you fall in love. It's just, it's a oxidised oolong rolled on its side with a coconut flavour that isn't fruity, that isn't cloying. It's very simple ingredients. It's got an amazing back note of like sticky rice to it. So it's extremely comforting. And I need everyone to try this tea, what happened Sanaya? Like, what happened!

Sanaya El Sayad 24:15

So if we were speaking to our current customers when this tea re-launched. What we had done with Coconut Oolong is, when I was working in-store this was the exact one that we had launched. Somewhere along the line, ingredient accessibility – whatever it may be, we introduced lemongrass to the blend, and that really changed the flavour profile and just –

Marika: It would.

Sanaya: Yeah, it just wasn't as creamy there was a citrusy note that you weren't really needing, wasn't necessary, and then we introduced the original again this year. So we tried to convey as much as possible that this was the original ingredient list and original flavour profile and all of that but I just, again, when you don't have the stores, the bandwidth of the staff to spread your message, it gets to be a little bit more difficult when you're online. And it just didn't resonate. I don't know, it's so, it's one of my favourite teas of all time.

Marika de Vienne 25:13

I think it's one of my favourite teas of all time, like I drink it, conservatively, four to five times a week. It's an absolute go-to for me. Summer, spring, winter, like we were talking seasonality earlier, this tea it doesn't matter. Morning, noon, night, Sunday, Tuesday, studying for a test, like whatever doesn't matter. This tea is so so good. And it's one of the issues that we have is, even if you're in-store, or if you're selling a tea online, sometimes all you want to say about the tea is, “It's really good. You should try it.” You know?

Sanaya: Yeah.

Marika: You want to convey so much about it. But at the end of the day, this is just an absolute delight.

Sanaya El Sayad 25:59

I know. And this is one of those teas that if you ask anyone around the office, if you ask the Tea Team, we will all say that we love the tea. So the this is one of those situations where it's – we just can't understand. When we don't see people buying it, it's just so hard to wrap our heads around and then we have to go back to, “Okay, well we did change the formula. Maybe people don't trust us.” But it's very hard.

Marika de Vienne 26:24

I'm just gonna give, I'm gonna keep gifting it to as many people as I can –

Sanaya: Go for it.

Marika: Because everyone needs to try this tea, and I know it sounds like a sales pitch, but it's not. It's really, it's just really, really good.

Sanaya: It’s so good.

Marika: And that's what we're drinking. That's what we've been drinking this whole time because we know how good it is. We know how comforting it is. And it's just such a great addition to any conversation.

Sanaya: Yeah, it's incredible.

Marika: So I think we should take a break. We should drink another mug of this, and we'll be right back.

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Marike de Vienne 27:35

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 of their experience and expertise to tell us what they would drink in any one of these given situations. Sanaya, are you ready to play “What Are You Drinking?”

Sanaya El Sayad 27:54

I'm so ready.

Marika de Vienne 27:55

Here we go. Sanaya, you did it. You made the deadline. No one thought you would, least of all yourself. But you have. But see, it's like 11am so there's no champagne. So what are you drinking?

Sanaya El Sayad 28:11

Oh, okay. All right. So what am I drinking? I'm gonna imagine I'm at the office.

Marika de Vienne 28:20

Okay, fair enough.

Sanaya El Sayad 28:22

Okay, I go to the kitchen, I go to the maté section.

Marika de Vienne 28:27


Sanaya El Sayad 28:29

Oat Milk Latte. Iced. Oat milk in the iced Oat Milk Latte tea.

Marika de Vienne 28:37

There’s a lot of layers to unpack here.

Sanaya: I know.

Marika: Okay, so you're going to go to the mates, as soon as you said maté I was like, okay, buzz, celebration.

Sanaya: Yeah.

Marika: Why – maybe this deadline, you know, this this work that you had really took the energy out of you. So you want something energetic and great.

Sanaya: Right, right.

Marika: Iced because hey, this is your party and you want it iced, and then you added oat milk to the Oat Milk Latte tea, which I completely approve of on a personal level. But how is that celebratory to you? To me that’s like –

Sanaya El Sayad 29:08

Just indulgence, like a little snack.

Marika: Ooohh! Okay.

Sanaya: It’s like almost lunchtime. We’re getting our little coffee –

Marika de Vienne 29:14

I like how you took the details of the question to heart, you’re like,

Sanaya: I was listening!

Marika: “It's 11am. It’s almost lunchtime.”

Sanaya El Sayad 29:20

It’s snack time. Yeah that's, that would be my choice.

Marika de Vienne 29:27

That’s, I mean –

Sanaya El Sayad 29:28

And that is a tea that, also it's gotten overlooked. Everyone should taste it.

Marika de Vienne 29:32

It is a really good tea and it is really good with oat milk. I just, it's like you said, it's very decadent. Okay, so you're going to treat yourself.

Sanaya El Sayad 29:39

I’m treating myself. Thank you. It’s my choice!

Marika de Vienne 29:45

It's your choice! It’s your game, it's your question. I should not be questioning it as much, just to me like Oat Milk Latte is absolutely something that I drink like to get cozy.

Sanaya El Sayad 29:53

Like cozy moment, yeah yeah yeah. No I'm thinking like, it's a Saturday morning, I'm walking in the Montreal streets, I'm enjoying my day. Like it's just a celebratory moment.

Marika de Vienne 30:05

Oh man, I could practically hear like the groove funk music.

Sanaya El Sayad 30:11

Jean jacket.

Marika de Vienne 30:15

Yes a jean jacket! Why does you wearing a jean jacket make that drink sound better? It's a perfect pairing. Now I want to do an episode on pairing your clothes to your tea because it’s the ultimate pairing. Okay, question two. You just moved into a new house. And you haven't started unpacking anything yet, but you really want a cup of tea. Your fridge is completely empty. You don't have any sugar, honey, milk, but you just found the box with your kettle and tea in it. What are you drinking?

Sanaya El Sayad 30:47

I'm going Jasmine Black Pearls.

Marika de Vienne 30:50

A fan – an office favourite. I was using “fan favourite,” but it's an office favourite.

Sanaya El Sayad 30:54

Yeah. And to be honest, it's because I did move recently. And this was one of the teas that I had. And I could, I didn't – I could not find my infuser. So what I ended up doing was just putting three pearls into the cup that I had on hand and adding some hot water to it and it just bloomed and the tea leaves stayed at the bottom of the cup. It was beautiful. The jasmine is nice and relaxing, but then you get the buzz to keep on going with the move because the black tea is just – it's one of my favourite teas. It's so beautiful.

Marika de Vienne 31:29

I always feel like I have done something so good for myself when I drink that tea. Like I am a queen.

Sanaya: Yes, I know.

Marika: And I deserve this tea. That's how I feel when I make the Jasmine Black Pearls. Honestly.

Sanaya El Sayad 31:43

I know, it's so unique. I've never had anything like it before anywhere else. So it just feels like a special moment. I love it. It's so great. So that would be my answer. Jasmine Black Pearls.

Marika: Yeah, especially, you just moved –

Sanaya: Final answer.

Marika de Vienne 31:55

Final answer! Okay, accepted. I will, I will stop talking. Question three. Sanaya, you just won the lottery, what are you drinking!?

Sanaya: Oh, okay…

Marika: Like you've just won. Like you just realised you won the lottery.

Sanaya El Sayad 32:12

Does it have to be a tea?

Marika: I mean, it’ a tea podcast!

Sanaya: Let’s make it a tea.

Marika de Vienne 32:19

Let's, let's, okay, you just won the lottery and you're at work.

Sanaya: Oookay.

Marika: You like, you checked your ticket at work. You happen to be at work.

Sanaya: I happen to be at work. Alright.

Marika: You want me to lead you in with the same enthusiasm that I first asked the question?

Sanaya: Yes, please.

Marika: Sanaya, you're at work, you just won the lottery! What are you drinking?

Sanaya El Sayad 32:38

Okay. Since I'm at work, and I can't pop a bottle of champagne, I would make our equivalent of a sparkling beverage. I'm imagining there's sparkling water in the fridge.

Marika: Sanaya, they don’t know that we don’t have sparkling water in the fridge right now.

Sanaya: Okay, well, it's right now in the fridge. Okay.

Sanaya El Sayad 32:58

Okay, so I'm imagining we have sparkling water in the fridge and I'm going to be making a Sparkling Sangria TeaPop. What is a TeaPop?

Marika de Vienne 33:07

Yeah, I was gonna say, what is a TeaPop?

Sanaya El Sayad 33:11

A TeaPop is a sparkling iced tea. So you just put four times the amount of tea you would normally use. Top it with sparkling water.

Marika de Vienne 33:20

Okay, so it's a bubbly –

Sanaya: Bubbly tea!

Marika: It’s like a soda, fizzy tea with no sugar. That's great. It's kind of, it's so on the nose and perfect that I almost have no response to that because you're going for a mocktail.

Sanaya: Exactly.

Marika: You're still at work. You have to wrap your brain around the fact that you may not have to come back here again. Because you just won the lottery.

Sanaya El Sayad 33:44

It’s my last team of my life.

Marika de Vienne 33:46

It’s your last tea! No, we know you, you’re going to be in the next day at 9am, bright and early. That is just who Sanaya is. But you're gonna celebrate with a mocktail and Sparkling Sangria is a pretty on the nose mocktail. I mean, it tastes like sangria.

Sanaya El Sayad 34:03

It does. Yeah. I think it's a good answer, I would say.

Marika de Vienne 34:07

This is a quiz where there are no points, and there are no winners and losers, but I would say –

Sanaya: Well I win!

Marika: You’ve won, exactly! Well done Sanaya, thank you so much for playing “What Are You Drinking?” Thank you so much for unpacking the most underrated teas of 2021. I can't wait to have you be a guest again. Will you say yes already to be a guest, later on?

Sanaya El Sayad 34:31

Oh, yes, for sure.

Marika de Vienne 34:32

I have so many more questions for you! Thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who's listening today. If you have any questions or comments or suggestions for the “What Are You Drinking?” game you can always reach us at steeping.together@davidstea.com, or you can reach us through our website at davidstea.com. Happy steeping everyone. Have a good week.

Sanaya El Sayad 34:54

Have a good week!

El Sayad

Sanaya El Sayad

about the guest

Sanaya has been working at DAVIDsTEA for over 10 years now. She initially started as a seasonal hire in-store while working towards a history degree at McGill University. Although she was passionate about her field of study, tea became somewhat of a calling she just couldn’t ignore.

She began working at our Head Office in Montreal, where she eventually became the Director of Tea Buying. Her passion for tea–and sharing it with others–made her an integral part of the team. In fact, Sanaya often has the final say on which teas are released into the world. Cool, huh?

She's also traveled with DAVIDsTEA to visit the beautiful tea gardens of Sri Lanka and had the opportunity to work on a water impact project in Kenya. Fun fact: Sanaya’s love of tasting and experiencing new things extends to her love of trying new restaurants and sipping natural wines!

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season 2 | ep. 22


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Answering your questions

On this week’s season finale, guest Sanaya El Sayad spills all the tea by answering your most asked questions!

season 2 | ep. 21

the bigger

with Chantrelle Edwards
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with Chantrelle Edwards

The bigger picture

This week, we’re talking to Chantrelle Edwards, founder and CEO of Hella Tea, all about POC representation in the tea community.

season 2 | ep. 20

all about
in tea

with Celia Aceae
& Kelly Miller
Celia Aceae & Kelly Miller
with Celia Aceae & Kelly Miller

All about sweeteners in tea

This week, our guests Celia & Kelly discuss sweetener in tea—from the ones you add before you sip to those already built into your favourite blends.

season 2 | ep. 19

exactly is

with Dr. Robert Sobel
Robert Sobel
with Dr. Robert Sobel

What exactly is flavouring?

We invited Research & Innovation expert, Dr. Robert Sobel, to help us unpack what natural and artificial flavouring really means.

season 2 | ep. 18

with tea

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

Cooking with tea

Who says tea is only for drinking? This week, returning guest Nadia De La Vega talks to us about how to integrate tea into your everyday cooking and which ones are the best to cook with!

season 2 | ep. 17

tea & meditation:
a moment for

with Sara Gallagher Bloom
Sara Gallagher Bloom
with Sara Gallagher Bloom

Tea & meditation: a moment for yourself

This week, we talk to yoga and mindfulness instructor—and tea enthusiast—Sara Gallagher Bloom to discuss the benefits of meditation and how tea can fit into your routine.

season 2 | ep. 16

much ado
about matcha

with Celia Aceae
Celia Acea
with Celia Aceae

Much ado about matcha

And the spotlight goes to… mmm matcha! This week, we’re diving deep into the creamy, energizing & traditional world of matcha with none other than our four-time returning guest, Celia.

season 2 | ep. 15

trends in

with Victor Yu
Victor Yu
with Victor Yu

Upcoming trends in tea

We have invited Victor Yu, of the Random Cuisine Blog, to walk us through the latest tea trends brewing all around us. Find out about the latest and greatest in tea beverages, desserts and beyond!

season 2 | ep. 14

caffeine in tea: what
does it

caffeine in tea:
what does it really

with Nadia De La Vega
& Celia Aceae
Nadia De La Vega & Celia Aceae
with Nadia De La Vega & Celia Aceae

Caffeine in tea: what does it really mean?

Let’s take a deep dive—or at least a shallow dip—into all things caffeine in tea. Returning guests Nadia & Celia help unpack the not so simple topic that’s on the minds of many tea lovers.

season 2 | ep. 13

deep dive
into tea

with Kevin Gascoyne
Kevin Gascoyne
with Kevin Gascoyne

Deep dive into tea pairings

Want to learn how to pair teas and impress your guests next time you invite them over? Well, let Kevin Gascoyne give you the rundown on all things tea pairings!

season 2 | ep. 12

pu’erh tea,
an enduring
love story

with Kelly Miller
Kelly Miller
with Kelly Miller

Pu’erh tea, an enduring love story

Kelly joins us this week as we attempt to unravel the mystery behind tea drinkers’ longstanding love for pu’erh, one of the most ancient tea types.

season 2 | ep. 11

creating positive
change in the tea

change in
the tea

with the Ethical Tea Partnership
jenny costelloe
with the Ethical Tea Partnership

Creating positive change in the tea industry

We sat down with Jenny, Executive Director at the ETP, to get a better understanding of how our industry is working together to create a fairer and more sustainable tea industry for workers, farmers and the environment.

season 2 | ep. 10

at davidstea

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

Sustainability at DAVIDsTEA

We acknowledge that there is no DAVIDsTEA without a healthy planet. So, who better to define what that means to us than Nadia, our Director of Tea Sustainability & Content?

season 2 | ep. 9

how to introduce
tea to non-tea

how to
tea to

with Carolina Levy
Carolina Levy
with Carolina Levy

How to introduce tea to non-tea drinkers

Carolina Levy, owner of tea company Soy Té, shares insight from her personal experience of bringing tea to Mexico.

season 2 | ep. 8

how to make
iced tea, lattes
& teapops

how to
make iced
tea, lattes
& teapops

with Freedom Taylor
Freedom Taylor
with Freedom Taylor

How to make iced tea, lattes & teapops

Want to sip outside the box? This episode’s for you! We’re exploring all the different ways to make a cup with Freedom, our resident rule-breaker.

season 2 | ep. 7


with Tao Zrafi
Tao Zrafi
with Tao Zrafi

Tea mixology 101

We invited Tao Zrafi, @travelingbartenders, to share his secrets on the best ways to mix tea with alcohol.

season 2 | ep. 6

does water
type affect
tea taste?

with Ravi Pillai
Ravi Pillai
with Ravi Pillai

Does water type affect tea taste?

Did you know the type of water you use to steep your tea makes a difference? Find out how on this week’s episode!

season 2 | ep. 5

wild rice: an
indigenous tradition

with Tea Horse
Tea Horse
with Tea Horse

Wild Rice: An Indigenous Tradition

Join us as we talk to Tea Horse about their unique take on wild rice and the role that tea plays in bringing people together.

season 2 | ep. 4

licorice: love it
or leave it

with Celia Aceae
Celia Aceae
with Celia Aceae

Licorice: love it or leave it

Join us this week for a deep dive into what seems to be one of our most polarizing ingredients: licorice.

season 2 | ep. 3

building a

with Mamas For Mamas
Shannon Christensen
with Mamas For Mamas

Building a community

On this week’s episode, we sit down with Mamas for Mamas’ founder to explore all the amazing work the organization has accomplished to help moms and caregivers in need.

season 2 | ep. 2

white tea
& how to
blend it

with Billy Dietz
Billy Dietz
with Billy Dietz

White tea & how to blend it

On this week’s mini episode, we’re delving into the challenging yet welcoming base of white tea, and how to blend it.

season 2 | ep. 1

building an
online tea

w/ Tea with Jann
w/ Tea with Jann

Building an inclusive online tea community

Our season 2 premiere tries to answer one crucial question: How do you build an inclusive tea community in an increasingly divided world? Tune in to find out.

season 1 | ep. 8

what are
the most
blends of

with Sanaya El Sayad
Sanaya El Sayad
with Sanaya El Sayad

What are the most underrated DAVIDsTEA blends of 2021?

Most of the time our teas find an audience and thrive. Other times, they just…don’t. This week, we’re exploring why a tea sometimes misses the mark.

season 1 | ep. 7

what makes
tea so good?

with Peru Gyawali
Peru Gyawali
with Peru Gyawali

What makes Nepalese tea so good?

Did you know that Nepalese tea is some of the finest around the world? Listen in as we shed some light on what makes this newcomer so great.

season 1 | ep. 6

how do you
choose the
perfect teaware?

how do you
choose the

with Freedom Taylor
Freedom Taylor
with Freedom Taylor

How do you choose the perfect teaware?

Vessels can completely transform your tea drinking experience. This week, we’re teaching you how to choose the right ones for you.

season 1 | ep. 5

how do
you create
a tea?

with Billy Dietz
Billy Dietz
with Billy Dietz

How do you create a tea?

Ever wonder how tea is made? Like how we get it to taste as decadent as dessert or as sweet as candy. Tune in to find out!

season 1 | ep. 4

how do you
become a
tea taster?

with Ravi Pillai
Ravi Pillai
with Ravi Pillai

How do you become a professional tea taster?

Get your pen and paper ready! Today’s episode is all about how to train your palate so that you can really taste every aspect of the tea you sip.

season 1 | ep. 3

what are the
best ingredients
for sleep?

what are
the best
for sleep?

with Celia Aceae
Celia Aceae
with Celia Aceae

What are the best ingredients for sleep?

In need of a good night’s sleep? Join us as we delve into the benefits and drawbacks of different sleep ingredients found in tea.

season 1 | ep. 2

how do you
order a tea

with Kelly Miller
Kelly Miller
with Kelly Miller

How do you order a tea online?

We’re here to answer all your Qs about shopping teas online and how to find the best ones for you even when you can’t have a sniff or sip.

season 1 | ep. 1

why do we
love tea so

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