season 2 | ep. 15

trends in tea

with Victor Yu

Victor Yu

steeping together podcast
- season 2 | Ep. 15

upcoming trends in tea

with Victor Yu

july 2022
Length: 46:28 see all
Listen on:

episode transcript

Marika de Vienne 0:18

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 enthusiast, I'm your tea-obsessed host Marika and as usual, I am delighted to be with you all here today. We all know that tea is, well, trending for lack of a better term. For those of us with a tea fixation we have known that tea is the coolest beverage around for a long time. But for the rest of the world tea, tea-inspired food and drinks seem to be popping up everywhere. From the increasing popularity of boba shops here in the West to ice cream being flavoured with tea, tea seems to be incorporated in food and desserts everywhere you look. So to talk latest trends in tea drinks, desserts and beyond, we have invited Victor Yu of the Random Cuisine blog to talk us through all the newest tea flavoured trends brewing all around us. Welcome, Victor.

Victor Yu 1:18

Well thanks, Marika, for having me! I'm so excited. I love like hearing about tea. But also I've been experiment experiencing all these teas, like in Montreal, Toronto, and I'm glad to share all this knowledge to the I guess DAVIDsTEA audience, right?

Marika de Vienne 1:34

Yeah, for sure. And anyone else who isn't necessarily a DAVIDsTEA fan who just loves tea in general, as part of our audience. I'm so happy to have you, you have the distinction of being the person with whom I've spoken the most to pre-recording, we just had a most fascinating conversation about the history of flavoured tea, new revelations in the world of like quantum physics and space, like we really went all over with this conversation. I cannot wait for our listeners to know who you are. Would you care to introduce yourself the way you'd like to be introduced?

Victor Yu 2:09

Yeah, so I'm Victor. So when we're talking about like quantum physics, I do actually have a PhD in quantum physics at McGill University. And then during the time when I was studying, I was also doing hosting these cooking parties, with people from a bit from around the world. It started with just like two Mexicans and one Peruvian, and I start appreciating the culture. And then after that, we bring more and more people from different culture and tells why like my instagram handle–well actually, it started as a blog called, still existed, even though I haven't blogged for nearly eight years on this blog, but still existed. But now like slowly shifted to my own Instagram account, which is actually still called @randomcuisine. And I would say that I do have knowledge of at least like, fluent in about 50 food cultures. Yeah and it's very interesting that the more you know each one of the culture, the more we start, like interconnecting like other cultures. Like even China, because I'm actually Chinese myself, right, but I'm born and raised in Montreal. But I always want to learn like how the food is different from the North to the Central part, to the Southern part of China. And I mean, I would say like Sichuan cuisine is a very good example, where you have all these spices. And it's like, you could find similar spices that you could find in India. Yeah right? So that's why this is something that, like, very interested me in terms of like, food and cultures, and even eventually the food trends. And that's actually where like having this knowledge and sort of predict what are the upcoming food trends, something that interests me very well, so.

Marika de Vienne 3:47

Yeah no, I love your Instagram, because as you said, you're exploring so many different cuisines from around the world. And one of the things that unites us as a species is food.


It is.


Everybody eats. You know, a lot of different things we don't do, but eating is one of them. And there are a great many parallels that you can draw between these extremely distinctive, divergent varied cuisines. Like you said, the food of Sichuan uses so many spices from around the world. And that's kind of what I love about your Instagram is that you are putting to the forefront all of these cultures, different foods, be it Morocco, be it Chinese, be it Mexico, be it–I mean, Indian, you explore all of these cuisines, but you explore it in a way of connecting us all to the things that bring us together around this food. And in doing so, you're able to, I don't want to call you like a trend predictor. But you've been around the block enough that you're like, Well, if we take all this data and we extrapolate what's happening in terms of this food culture’s influence over another, what's the next trend going to be?

Victor Yu 4:55

Yes. And I think it also has to do with, especially the pandemic is a very good example. In the past few years knowing what people have been cooking. One of the first thing is banana bread–is such a simple dessert or I guess like food that is so easy to bake. And you know, like it's what banana is relate to is comfort food. And that's why like we kind of know like, some of the food trend would be like, say like VitaSoil, the chrysanthemum juice.

Marika de Vienne 5:29

Chrysanthemum juice! I feel like that has been coming up very slowly for years. Do you think it’s going to…? For listeners who don't know, chrysanthemum is a flower, a white flower that when you steep it gives you a very light brew, very, very pleasant brew. And you'll find it kind of everywhere in you know, Asia and Southeast Asia. You'll get chrysanthemum drinks, like the same way you’ll get it at like a corner store. It’s very very common.


Or dim sum.


Or dim sum! I mean! Do you think? Do you think chrysanthemum’s finally going to crest that trend wave?

Victor Yu 6:05

And I just shout it to my company. I said, like, I predict 2022 will be the year of the chrysanthemum! Reason why is because Toronto is always the first to start a trend, but it's just like it's different shops, but they don't really talk to each other. But for me, like every time I go to Toronto, I always explore like these like new places, those who actually like, they don't go for traditional flavours they go outside the box, and I noticed like people actually start to put chrysanthemum in ice cream. But also like this place called Icha Tea in Toronto, where they actually have like two chrysanthemum-based desserts. One of them is like a chrysanthemum cheesecake, and the other one is like a mooncake. It’s like wow, I said this is incredible, I’m pretty sure eventually will come to Montreal. And I think chrysanthemum and maybe I might be wrong, but it has like sort of like floral-ness, but also like almost like a honey, I would say. Would you say that?

Marika de Vienne 7:02

I would absolutely agree with that. I feel like depending on how old the chrysanthemum is, like, if it's been recently dried or older dried, and also the water temperature that you're steeping it at to extract the flavour, I find that at a lower temperature, the honey notes come out a lot more than at a much higher temperature. And so yeah, it's got that light floral, it's got that honey. But what's interesting about what you just said is, that's how you're able to predict these trends is you're going to these places that aren't necessarily speaking to each other, and you're able to kind of see everyone's kind of in the same mood. Everyone's feeling the same thing. There's a new ingredient that's just being discovered. Toronto being the largest city in Canada, and also an incredibly diverse and multicultural city, you're gonna have influences from all around the world. So if you see it pop up in more than one place, you're like, Okay…

Victor Yu 7:59

There’s a possibility because at the end, I did predict many trends.


Oh did you now?


Yeah, well, a long time ago, it was the year of the matcha. That was like four or five years, and now they put it in. Or now like DAVIDsTEA or even like Starbucks or any restaurant, people put matchas! But the thing is, maybe it's a green colour that attract people. Like I don't know, what do you think why matcha got so trendy?

Marika de Vienne 8:27

I wonder that for a very long time because as a tea person I've known about matcha for many, many years. The block for me was always that unlike every other tea that I had, it required a separate preparation. And I think that it was that that prevented matcha from becoming as popular as it did, as other Japanese teas became trending in North America. Like 2000, do you remember 2004 where everybody was drinking sencha? Like sencha exploded and everyone was drinking sencha, and then genmaicha, and then gyokuro, and it exploded like that. But matcha didn't follow and I think it was the preparation that really confused or alienated people, like they didn't want to invest in, you know, 60 or $70 worth of equipment to make this thing. My assumption, this isnot backed by any kind of data, but what we started seeing in the beverage world was a increase in the use of protein powders in gyms. And people started understanding and using powders a lot more in their beverages and matcha being a natural tea that gives you great health benefits, the antioxidants, but just the sustainable energy. I think it's one of those teas that started trending first within the health gym world, but then because of its absolute malleability to be used in food, it kind of parallel. So to me, and you're the trend expert, maybe you'll say you're completely wrong Marika! But as someone who was just observing from the sidelines, it seemed that it was happening in two-pronged effect, that health world and the cookie world, the cake world, the dessert world, and all of a sudden it became more accessible to people because they were just seeing it a little bit everywhere. And having tried it, the inclination to invest in the equipment became more practical. It was like, Well, I'm probably going to drink this on a regular basis. Am I even in the ballpark here, Victor?

Victor Yu 10:38

Well actually it’s interesting because now you're talking about like powder drinks for gym. And I think like the fact that the powder, that fact that it’s powder is actually easy to dissolve. So in a way, that's why it's so easy to give that bright colour to desserts. But it's also you know, there's always this Instagram factor, right?

Marika de Vienne 10:56

That’s true. I'm not a social medias person, per se. So I always forget that, how influenced people are by the visual appeal. And yeah that bright green colour of macha? So attractive.

Victor Yu 11:10

Exactly, it actually pops. Because when you think of it, like going to cafe shops, like most coffee shops will be more wood-based like the décor. Yeah, then you have something green, it is like so attractive that you will be more attracted to look at the thing that is green. And people will associate to matcha. But now like nowadays, there's also pandan, which is also green, pistachio, but people won't associate with pistachios, unless if it's like a gelato place and all that. And so I would say it's just the Instagram factor. And as long as it looks great on their feed, is you know, it's like, as long as there's something that looks good on your feed, then people will publish it. And that's actually how it creates these booms. So I'm seeing more on the social media perspective, and also as a physicist, and looking at algorithms and what makes things pop, is actually these kind of things. It’s like they want to feel good, that hey, it looks good on my feed. Why not, I’ll post that.

Marika de Vienne 12:05

Yeah, that that green, that green is such an alluring colour to humans, because it means vegetation, it means health. It means thriving, right? Just on a very, very basic level. If you see green in nature, that's very, it's a safe place to be, you're going to be in a safe environment. And so you see green in your food and you. intrinsically you're like I'm doing something good for myself. So to your point about seeing it in an Instagram feed. It's like, oh, that looks good. It'll probably feel good. Let me give it a try.

Victor Yu 12:38

Totally. Also it’s a colour that looks more familiar, like in a way it looks a lot like green vegetables, right? Obviously if it's like a very dark green hue then people won’t go for it. But because it's bright green I think there's all these associations, whether they're connected or not, people will still go for it.

Marika de Vienne 12:59

For sure. And then you get to taste it. And unlike any other tea really out there, matcha has that textural feel to it. That just adds that creaminess, it's just really comforting. It mixes really well with milk, it mixes really well with sweeteners. So it has the added benefit of also being incredibly unique and incredibly delicious. And so that's I think why the trend has been sustained. Because we talk about food trends. I mean, there are anomalies, right? There are things that pop up for six months, and then they just die out and you never hear from them again. Matcha started when about, like you said five, six years ago?

Victor Yu 13:37

Five, six years ago it has boom and then after that there's other trends that pops up, but I would say matcha is still ongoing because you know, a lot of shops. I think like a lot of franchise will be the one who will determine the trends but macha will still always be an ongoing trend. People didn't know is also good, like as an alternative to coffee. And I think there's, I think I would say like in the recent years people have done more and more studies. I'm not sure if it's actually studies or like they've been promoting marketing-wise. Like coffee is like a short term boost. Matcha is like a long term boost so you can stay awake.

Marika de Vienne 14:14

Right! I can speak to that. Yeah, just as someone who consumes eight cups of tea a day! Um, there is something in tea that means that you're not going to absorb all the caffeine like you would in coffee, coffee gives you that super energetic boost, and then you have that crash. Whereas the caffeine, the way it's absorbed within your system when you're drinking tea is more sustained. And so you don't feel that crash as much and I think in a world where we are pressured to perform all the time, it's a notification, it's an email, it's a meeting, it's a something, we can't keep putting our systems through these peaks and lows. We can't keep putting our system through as much pressure as we have. So tea, and matcha specifically, is a nice way of creating like that sustainable energy within yourself throughout the day. So you saw the matcha coming up in the world and to your point there's other ingredients that are emerging pandanus leaf is something that you mentioned, chrysanthemum I'm really waiting–I love chrysanthemum, I really wanna see if you're right on this.

Victor Yu 15:21

Yeah because, I made this prediction not because it's just out of the blue, there are like a lot of reason and part of is because of the VitaSoil, like people grew up drinking chrysanthemum juice. And that's why I'm not as surprised that it always has to do with the return to comfort, right? And I think like last year, wasn’t the year of 2021 but it might be like, might still be trending, is like the White Rabbit candy, right?


Yes! White Rabbit candy is something that I love. It's so delicate and creamy and chewy. So it's like a soft chew candy, right?

Victor Yu 15:57

Yeah it is, it's very creamy. And actually, that's one of the things I did, because I worked very closely with this ice cream place called Unicone. And I told them like for the mid-autumn festival. And the thing is like the rabbit actually has an association to the mid-autumn festival, as the pet of the goddess of the moon. People might not know that in fact, it is the pet! There are still a lot of childhood associations, if I'm not wrong, but White Rabbit candy is actually one of the first candy produced in China.


Is it?


I think so yeah, and also the flavour has not changed other than they added a red bean flavour and matcha flavour. But like the White Rabbit has never actually been changed. That's why like a lot of people actually grew up with White Rabbit candy and that's why having a flavour now, during the pandemic time, people want to crave that. I can tell you like, when Unicone posted it, they actually put the wrapper around the ice cream cone, that represents the White Rabbit wrapper. And people were immediately recognise like, oh my goodness, and they actually got nearly 2000 likes, 650 reshares. I already like, because I usually go there like the first day when they pop up the newest flavour. There's already a huge line going to like the White Rabbit. And it was actually paired with a jasmine orange sorbet. Yeah, but the funny thing is that a lot of the Asian just said, I just want the White Rabbit, I don’t want the sorbet!

Marika de Vienne 17:27

It is an incredibly nostalgic flavour. It's a candy that I'm really happy to say you can find a lot more easily, at least within the larger cities in Canada, now Montreal, Toronto in Asian supermarkets. When I was living in China, you could find it everywhere, it is the absolute number one candy, you give this to any kid, they're happy! It's a very, very, very nostalgic flavour. And because it's so accessible, it's like a white milk cream, light vanilla kind of feeling to it. If you've never had it, it's very accessible to us here in the West because, I don't know…

Victor Yu 18:06

It’s in every Asian grocery store, and you know what, like ask any Asian about White Rabbit candy, like even Filipino, one of the main characteristic is this double wrapper. They there's one edible wrapper, like once you unwrap the first one, everyone will talk about this edible wrapper. That's actually what like one of the signature of White Rabbit candy in a way.

Marika de Vienne 18:25

I remember, and this is completely anecdotal, wen I was a child my father would always take me to Chinatown to do groceries. And there was, I don't remember the name of this candy, was like a rice candy. And it also had this, what you're talking about, the paper around it, that you could eat an edible paper around, and it would melt on your tongue as soon as it hit your tongue. Victor, as a five year old, it was the highlight of my week. Especially because I grew up in a house where we didn't get a lot of pre-made candy. That edible wrapper is so so so cool and comforting and fun. I'm just so happy more and more people get to discover these different kinds of candy.

Victor Yu 19:04

And that actually was interesting, because there was an article written probably around November because I did presented like food trends, and how we can use social media to predict food trends. And one reason why it's booming is because it is there's this nostalgic factor. But there's also the Westerners who never heard of it. But why Asian love is so much, it's a form of discovery. So that's why like there were I think in San Francisco [a place] made like a White Rabbit chocolate chip cookie, yeah. Yeah, white rabbit cheesecake, and these are like, at the end like when you think about White Rabbit is like this creamy component that replaces in a way like any flavouring. So instead of vanilla you can choose to use White Rabbit infuse it within cream. That's actually how you can make a lot of desserts so.

Marika de Vienne 19:53

Oh, that's so interesting. Okay, so this is what happened. You know, we talked about matcha. We talked about White Rabbit. What's coming up aside from chrysanthemum? Because the world of tea is huge. I feel like people are constantly sending me via Instagram, via text. They know I'm like the tea person in their life, so as soon as tea is in a different food, like someone's going to let me know and ask me my opinion. What is the next like tea trend that we're seeing? I mean, obviously boba shops have already taken over. And there's lots of flavours within those different companies where you buy a bubble tea or a fruit tea.

Victor Yu 20:33

I would say like, I wouldn't say is still a new trend, but is still like, booming. I think it start booming more and more, and I see it in Montreal, especially my favourite pastry chef Patrice Demers is actually start using it. I would say like hojicha, I mean, and we’re drinking it right now, right?

Marika de Vienne 20:52

I'm so excited. When you told me that you convinced Patrice Demers to use hojicha in his desserts. I was so excited because I love hojicha, it's a tea that wasn't as popular when like Japanese teas were coming up in North America here like we talked about earlier in like 2004. But it's a roasted green tea and I absolutely love it.

Victor Yu 21:18

Yeah, and I'll just show it to you like the message because he did a hojicha shoot, pastry. And I told him like, Oh, I love the combination of hojicha and clementine, which is actually a great pairing.

Marika de Vienne 21:29

Hojicha and citrus is glorious!

Victor Yu 21:34

Citrus, yes. Yuzu and all that. And you could see on the message that he started loving to use hojicha. The thing is, like there's a huge world of hojicha people don't know about right. And I think that the current hojicha we’re drinking has more almost like a coffee like drier taste to it, if I'm not wrong. Yeah and this is almost like a dark roasted hojicha. And I actually use also light roasted hojicha, in more in this powder form. And there's actually more on the opposite spectrum where it's like more creamier, almost like hazelnut flavour, chocolate, but not really coffee like bitter and drier note. So I started loving hojicha because of Stereo cafe in Toronto, where they actually only had a, I believe it was like matcha and hojicha? And I just had the hojicha sauce and it blew my mind, I say like whoa!

Marika de Vienne 22:30

It’s a tea that I love because it is a green, but it’s roasted. So it can take quite a beating in terms of water temperature, manipulation, you can make a wonderful concentrate, like you said to make all of these different, like desserts and everything. It's very under-utilised. And to your point. There are many different grades of hojicha, we kind of talk about hojicha and matcha like they're one singular tea but within those worlds, there are flavour gradients and you can get from the lightly roasted to the stronger roasted, and it pairs so well with so many things.

Victor Yu 23:07

And I can tell you like I think one thing about hojicha, and I think that that's why like hojichas should be continued pushing because like I said, a very good example is the light roast and dark roasted. But also you could get hojicha from the stem or the leaves or even the branch as I heard of. And there's so many flavour profiles that are so different. And like one of the collab I did with Unicone was that it was a mystery. I asked people if you managed to get the actual flavour of our like common flavour between the ice cream and actually did the granola part to give that crunchiness.


Hojicha granola? No way!


Hojicha granola. And I tested, that's actually a very good example where I used a powdered form because it's almost like a concentrated. And the light-roasted granola versus the dark-roast is completely different flavour profiles, even the mouthfeel makes a huge difference. And they did a hojicha yuzu and again, citrus and hojicha together, it was like probably one of the best collab I ever did with Unicone. And people were like loving it because it was a mystery flavour, and a lot of people start to guess. And the reason why I did that giveaway is to basically make hojicha popular, like a more assertive way right?

Marika de Vienne 24:20

So is hojicha trending or are you pushing this trend?

Victor Yu 24:22

I’m pushing it! You know, I’ve been pushing it, like it started with Calem.


Yes the ice cream. Yeah.


Exacrtly. And how to start a trend is basically start planting seed and then eventually will grow. And that's actually where like Calem start using it, after that Unicone. I convinced, Swirl? The vegan ice cream place that is mostly coconut base. We find that even an ice cream sandwich, like hojicha ice cream sandwich, it was amazing. Then I convinced Sasha because they never heard of it but yeah, and they start using it. And they even made a, was it like a Hojicha Forest cake, was amazing.

Marika de Vienne 25:02

That would work beautifully with the roasted notes.

Victor Yu 25:05

Exactly. Because instead of chocolate, you use hojicha.

Marika de Vienne 25:10

I mean, I'm happy that you're introducing more people within that world to this tea because it's, in the terms of Japanese tea history, it’s the newest kid on the block. When we talk about like traditional, it was only invented in 1927. This is absolutely new. But I think we in the tea world have known about it for years. And it's one of those teas that I've been telling people for years, you got to try it. People will be like I don't like green tea. You'll like hojicha. Oh, I don't really drink Japanese, I don't like the intense caffeine content. Well, this is half branches and half leaves, like you may assimilate the caffeine differently. It's roasted, it reminds people of really comforting flavours that we have here in the West. And so it's a very easy transition to discover a new flavour base. So I'm with you, Victor. I’m also going to start pushing it!

Victor Yu 26:09

Yeah sometimes you have to push a trend to make it happen! And I see the result of it like, especially Patrice using it. I mean, I’ve been planting the seed to Patrice for a while. I say like you know, you start considering using hojicha. And he said like he start loving using it, because there's so much dimension to hojicha.

Marika de Vienne 26:28

And I mean, this is going to turn into a Patrice Demers appreciation episode. But I mean, his work, whether you see it on Instagram or you read his book, he is an incredibly generous person, an incredibly creative person, a deeply humble person, and always on the lookout for things that are new and are fun. And what I like is he gives credit where credit is due. He's not one of those pastry chefs who was like, it was all me the whole time! You know, he's really, he's very much like, I was inspired by this person, I was inspired by this culture, I was inspired. He's very, very open about where he draws his inspirations, and he just wants to share it with everyone. And that's the kind of person you want to introduce these things to, because it's not going to be a food appropriation of it, it’s going to be a very organic introduction to something that has a long history in another culture.

Victor Yu 27:24

Yeah and I totally agree with you. Because in his last book, like every chapter was thanking like his producer or his sources. And that's why like, that's what’s so great about Patrice is that like, he actually like giving credit to other people, actually helped him create in a way.

Marika de Vienne 27:43

Yeah, it's not something that you see often in the culinary world, like a true transparency of where these inspirations came from. And it's so important when we talk about, like, something that's trending, just because it's new for you, doesn't mean it's new. Just because it's trending now, doesn't mean it didn't exist before. And so you have to tip your hat off, acknowledge and give credit to the inspiration that it comes from the culture that it comes from. So yeah, Patrice if you're listening, we love you.


For sure! I’ll send him the podcast.


We love you, we love your work, we love your whole attitude and approach. And we want to encourage people to do the same. You know, DAVIDsTEA, for example, would not be a company had it not been for the long history of tea throughout the world. And we always try to do our best to highlight the things that have inspired us. Because without those people, it would never have happened. Without the producers, without the history and the culture, we would not be here today. And so it's fun to talk about trends, but you have to acknowledge where it's coming from. You know, it's interesting, I used to be very allergic to the word trend. I used to, I like to be, you know, not trendy. I like to be the outsider, you know, because I was the outsider. And so it was very comfortable for me to not follow trends. And I always felt very negative about when things would get marketed to me. I'm like, you just want my money. All you want is my money. I felt like there was a kind of dishonesty there. I don't know how you feel about it, I know that I have become increasingly more comfortable with it, because of the internet. Because we have so many more things being marketed to us. Yes, it can become overwhelming. But it's also a way to highlight things from different cultures with which I've never had contact before. And it's an opportunity as opposed to an imposition. It feels like marketing in the 80s and the 90s was very much about marketing from a certain culture in North America to that same culture in North America. And now when we talk about trending, I'm really excited by it because it's like what are the most popular greatest hits from the cultures around the world, and how can I discover them? I don't know how you feel about it. I've made my peace with it because it's benefited me personally in terms of my own food and flavour self discovery.

Victor Yu 30:21

And I totally agree because I think trends could be something like what's trending on Instagram or what goes viral on Instagram? What's viral on Tik Tok? And so it's like, I think what's going on we're in this era where like, okay do we have these trendy songs on TikTok, on Instagram. But then how are you going to distinguish yourself from the pack? Because now, I think I feel, I do find a bit ridiculous that now everyone's just copying each other.

Marika de Vienne 30:47

Doing the same dance! Yeah very confused.

Victor Yu 30:51

Exactly, but I'm more, I always been calling myself a trendsetter. Because I don't like following people's trend, because then if they seen it by a few Instagram or TikTok, why would I do the same thing? So that's why I always have to think outside the box. Because especially since mine is mostly food content, I don't do any dance at all. I am quick to use, I won't say like, someone who does these dance moves. How can I translate to food. And I think that's why I always have to think of like something out of the box, but by still keeping the same element, the same beat. And that's actually how like a few of my videos went viral because I'm able to use the same song. And then like, transpose it to foods so yeah, that's actually some the challenge.

Marika de Vienne 31:35

That's really exciting because I've never in my life been a trendsetter, nor do I have the predisposition or inclination to do so! But if you're bringing something real and authentic to people and using the tool that is trending, I think you know, go for it. Absolutely. Absolutely. With more people can discover matcha or hojicha or dumplings or tajine or anything like that, because of a trend? And can discover its true nature, not its whitewashed or manipulated, you know, for a different audience. Like its true authentic nature. Use a trend, it's a great way to invite people to the table.

Victor Yu 32:23

Yeah and at the end trends, it translates to creativity. And what is creativity? Is basically using like your, for me it's like knowing different backgrounds, from different cultures or like, what our settings are like different majors. And that's what I love about like, sort of my career when I shifted from physics to marketing, is because I use my physics knowledge and apply it to marketing. So for me, it's just like using different elements from different backgrounds and then create something somewhat new. So it could be like a twist, but it might not obvious to the general public, right? One of them is I would say like cake in a jar will be a very good example.

Marika de Vienne 33:03

Cake in a jar. Yes, I've seen this.

Victor Yu 33:06

It’s been a trend like a while back, right? But now like, if you stretch it in a different naming, you could name it like, cake in a box, then like people won't actually associate to cake in a jar, but it means that you could push a boundary what's a cake is. It could be like a baklava cake, or like Persian love cake or it doesn't have to be the Genoise…

Marika de Vienne 33:33

A layered cake. A layered Western cake.

Victor Yu 33:36

Yeah, it can be like a millefeuille also, which is considered as a cake…in a box. So that's where you can kind of stretch it in a way it's not really a trend but yeah. Oh actually, maybe another example I think will be the best example, when I work with Ru Yue cake. It's translate to like, sun and moon. They originally, they actually had a boba cake.

Marika de Vienne 33:58

These are these are the Japanese mousse cakes?

Victor Yu 34:02

No they are actually the bento cakes.


The bento cakes, yes.


So which has been a trend last year I think just because they are small and they are in a, you know takeout container.


Yeah, they're very cute.


Yeah and the owner Daisy actually just was just putting boba and then regular like chiffon cake and then like brown sugar boba. Then I told her there's this thing called the tsunami cake, and all she have to do is put an acetate around it, put some boba and ask the person to lift it up and it creates this flooding.

Marika de Vienne 34:34

And the boba flows over the cake, how lovely!

Victor Yu 34:37

And this trend kind of exist in the 1980s, 90s which is the Barbie cakes. Exactly the same thing. We're just repurposing in a way that people might not associate it. It’s exactly the same thing. We're just modernising it. So it's exactly from a static boba cake to a flooded cake. Same thing.

Marika de Vienne 34:56

Oh my goodness.


Just how you create a trend.

Marika de Vienne 34:58

Everything old is new again right?

Victor Yu 35:01

Exactly. In a way what is like all these new trends, is basically inspired from the old thing, but just give it a new style. Yeah, like the feta tomato.

Marika de Vienne 35:10

Oh my god, the feta tomato pasta? Yes. I mean, baked feta has been a part of Greek culture for hundreds of years! But you put it on pasta on TikTok, and all of a sudden everybody's making it, myself included!

Victor Yu 35:27

Yeah! And the reason why so trendy is because it just takes someone with a trendy song. And make it like a tasty style video. And also the fact that it’s trend is because these are accessible ingredients. Yeah, so that's why like banana bread, feta tomato pasta.

Marika de Vienne 35:44

Feta tomato pasta, I loved it. It was absolutely a comfort during this whole time.

Victor Yu 35:48

Yeah it’s always the old thing, you just give it a new life, that’s it.

Marika de Vienne 35:51

A new life. And it helps you to explore things you would never have done before. Victor, I think you're a fascinating human being. You’re a fascinating human being, you look at the world through a very different lens than I do. And it's just, it's a fun place to be. So thank you so much for pushing hojicha, for explaining how things work. I'm going to keep sipping on the Hojicha, we also have a Golden Lily oolong here, I don't know what you prefer. Now what can I serve you?

Victor Yu 36:23

Well I could go for the Golden Lily because it's something I'm not that familiar, but the hojicha is [kind of like I like to explain] and I always love it, and I love like, every time I drink a hojicha I think I need to continue pushing the hojicha! Like I said, there's so many facets of hojichaa that people have not explored. Even just matcha itself. Like T Sacco actually like Raina, she actually has her own matcha business. When I drink her matchas, her matcha actually tastes like doesn't taste bitter, but almost like seaweedy. Like umami taste, right.

Marika de Vienne 36:58

Oh yeah, a good matcha should not be bitter. And you should always kind of taste the ocean just a little bit. Certainly because if it comes from Japan, ultimately, no matter where you are in Japan, you're never further than 70 kilometres away from the ocean. So that should be part. It's in the terroir. It's in the earth. And so yeah, a good matcha’s got a little bit of mineral quality, a little bit of seaweed, but everyone makes it differently. Okay. We're gonna keep talking if we don't stop talking, Victor. So let's take a sip, take a break, and we'll be right back.

AD BREAK 37:37

Today's episode of Steeping Together is brought to you by Organic Hojicha. Not a fan of green tea? Are the bright green vegetal notes just not your thing? Don't like boiling your water to a specific temperature so as not to upset these delicate precious leaves? Well, Organic Hojicha is the green tea for you. This roasted green tea has rich and toasty nut flavours that exude cozy you can taste. And varying your water temperature when steeping can actually make a pleasant cup each and every time without getting too bitter. So there is no way you can mess it up. Organic Hojicha, the green tea for people who don't like green tea.

Marika de Vienne 38:22

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. Victor, are you ready to play “What Are You Drinking?”

Victor Yu 38:38

I am ready.

Marika de Vienne 38:40

All right. Question one. Your work bestie just got promoted. After work you're going out for drinks, but you want to start celebrating right now. What are you drinking?

Victor Yu 38:52

So that's for celebration?

Marika de Vienne 38:54

It's a celebration, but you're going to be going out for drinks later. Like you're in the office. Your bestie just came in, I got the promotion! And you're like, oh my god! Like what are you drinking in that moment?

Victor Yu 39:05

Ah, I would say something stronger, like a strong tea. Oolong and a dark tea would work.


Like a darker oolong?


Yeah just to get that boost. Yeah, to get ready for the celebrations. I would say a darker tea like a oolong or black tea.

Marika de Vienne 39:25

Yeah, I think, I like the choice of the darker oolong, as I've stated before oolongs are my favourite base, family, whatever you want to call it. There's so much variety within it. But it's also really accessible to people because in North America, we're so used to drinking black tea that when you're introducing people to oolongs here in North America, I have a tendency to start with the darker ones because it's a flavour that they, you know that they recognise. But yeah, it's a good energy boost, it’s a good sharing cup. You can share a good oolong with anyone.


Yes, totally agree.


Are you ready for question two?

Victor Yu 40:02

I am ready.

Marika de Vienne 40:03

It's opening night and there's less than 15 minutes before the show starts and you make your big debut. The last week of dress rehearsals has gone really well. But peeking out from behind the curtains you see the theatre is packed with people, your nerves start to get the best of you. What are you drinking?

Victor Yu 40:24

Definitely a white tea.




Yes. White tea, I think it's just because it's light, it’s like very smoothing. And I think they help calm the nerves. So yeah I would say white, yeah.

Marika de Vienne 40:37

Interesting. I'm not a huge fan of white tea, I've said this before, but I agree with you that from a textural side, it's very smooth. You have to brew it at particular temperatures. So taking that moment, taking that care before you go out and perform in front of everybody with energy or emotion or vigour, whatever, that kind of works. I see that working.

Victor Yu 41:02

Yeah and I think it depends on the type of people, like for me, I think I'm used to now like public speaking. And I think like in that situation is like, just calm down. And I think I've just like, because I also have like so much knowledge also just because like once I've calmed down, then I started making connections and like, it only works when you're in a calm state. And that's why I would say the white tea will be more appropriate for that situation.

Marika de Vienne 41:30

I like that, it’s really using the tea to bring you into that space that you need to be in.

Victor Yu 41:37

Yes, correct.

Marika de Vienne 41:39

Love it. Excellent. Are you ready for your third question?

Victor Yu 41:41

I am ready.

Marika de Vienne 41:42

Your future self has time-travelled to speak with you. He is being very cryptic about why any of this is happening, but he tells you that you should probably sit down before he relays a crucial message to you about what lies in your future. It's all very weird and scary. So before you sit and listen, what are you drinking? Oh,




So future Victor has found a way to come back. And he's like, Hold on to your hat, buddy, I gotta tell you something!

Victor Yu 42:19

Yes, I would say because one of my favourite tea is actually a chrysanthemum tea, because I just grew up like drinking with my parents and such a light tea. And I would say something more nostalgic. And especially I’m pretty sure future me will still like have this memory because I still have this memory for over 35 years. Definitely like a chrysanthemum tea with jujubes. Yes, or what they call, Chinese red date. So yeah, simple as that. So definitely have a conversation and like bringing, like make me catch up with the past and the future me.

Marika de Vienne 43:01

That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, you would want something that would calm your nerves and nostalgia, and seeking the known when you're about to go into the unknown makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense. And yeah, you're probably going to still enjoy that in the future. So it's also something that you can share. Very smart play Victor, you're not going to be caught off guard when your future self time-travels, are you?

Victor Yu 43:27

I think that's part of it. Like me, I love predicting sort of the future, or you can make the future happen, or you just need to take action to make the future happen. And yeah, I'm just love, like, whatever the future holds and see about it.

Marika de Vienne 43:45

That is beautiful. Yeah it's a very optimistic way to look at the future. It's a way that I completely ascribe to, there's a lot to look forward to. We've been through some scary times these past few years. But I do think that if you hold on to that hope and you work towards that hope that eventually we can create it.

Victor Yu 44:05

Yeah and I think a very good example is like, we look at either we view the world negatively or positively, is the same thing as like a cup of tea, whether you see the cup as half full or half empty. We're basically seeing the same world, but just a different interpretation. And for me, it's always like this positive view, there's always something positive out of like the negative and that's what I always say so. Yeah, it's not worth it to focus on the negativity. Honestly, we have to but yeah.

Marika de Vienne 44:32

Well said, I could not have said it better myself Victor. Thank you so much for taking the time, for sharing what's coming up, what's been pastm, all of it. For pushing hojicha, as I said before!

Victor Yu 44:47

I'm still gonna push it! Like already have the first step, like even like when I pull my Instagram followers, people more know about hojicha because I keep promoting it through my feed, my stories, and I've just come to continue pushing it. And now we're at the step of, I would say appreciate the variety of hojicha. Not even just hojicha, like matcha also like different grades of it. And there's so much to this world that people still don't know about right?

Marika de Vienne 45:16

Oh this is amazing, and if people want to follow you it's @randomcuisine on Instagram. You update, I feel daily, I don't want to pigeonhole you but you update quite a bit.

Victor Yu 45:25

It gives this perception that I’m active I'm not that active. I always like want to disconnect and like I use this disconnect time to basically appreciate human connection. And that's why I'm in live in your like, office. Like what’s the point of going through Skype or Google meet. And just like have this human connection.

Marika de Vienne 45:51

It's beautiful, over a cup of tea sharing all these kinds of things. I know you and I are going to continue the conversation but for listeners it ends here today. It ends here right now. So thank you, and thank you for listening to today's episode. If you would like to reach us with comments questions or suggestions for the “What Are You Drinking?” game you can do so at, or through our website Have a great week. Happy steeping everyone.

victor yu

victor yu

about the guest

Victor Yu is the food writer behind the Instagram @randomcuisine. But he has a wide range of interests and creative pursuits. He successfully defended his PhD thesis in 2018 at McGill University in Montreal, where he studied the quantum regime of 2D materials at absolute zero temperature. After an immense contribution to the field of science, Victor closed the chapter of academic research, and now works as a digital and social media strategist for Nourish Food Marketing, a Toronto-based food agency representing some of the largest food brands in Canada. Victor is always on the lookout for the next exciting food and flavour pairing trend and loves learning about food cultures from around the world. In his free time, he gives food tours of Chinatown in Montreal on Airbnb Experiences and helps promote small businesses and local restaurants through his Instagram.

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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