59 Tasting Notes
Had this with breakfast yesterday. This is an undeniably happy tea with simply no shortcomings. After re-sampling what was previously my highest-rated tea I’m going to boost Mountain Malt’s rating even higher. I gave most of my specific thoughts in my first review so there’s little point in repeating them.
Now, I made this at 10:30 am or so. It was probably partially due to the high-fat breakfast I had (thick-sliced bacon, a fried egg, and an Asian pear – delicious), or the raw cocoa bar that I finished later that day… but I was absolutely full of unwavering energy till 4 or 5 am that night. What a kick this tea has.
Kenilworth Estate OP has long been one of my favorites, and its very reasonable price makes it my first recommendation to anyone who wants to try a good black tea.
To me, this is the dictionary definition of black tea. It’s slightly molassessy and very smooth. It’s also got that “brisk” flavor that Lipton likes to talk about. This briskness is a very nice thing, and relatively few black teas have it. So if you have drank Lipton Hot Tea and liked parts of the flavor but wished it was a bit richer and didn’t burn your throat from the astringency or taste like dirt with lemon juice when it got under your tongue… you should try this tea.
The things I don’t like about this tea are that the brew is a little bit thin, and a hint of the “spent leaves” flavor was coming out after just 4 minutes. Playing around with the timing can probably come close to getting rid of these problems, though – I recall preferring a 3 min steep and a little bit more leaves last time I had this.
I hadn’t had this for several months, so I’d been really looking forward to getting it in my latest Upton order. Since Kenilworth is such a large producer of tea with apparently few varieties, I think that a fair portion of the reviews for other Kenilworth OPs are reviews for this exact tea.
When I opened this, I just went “Who-ho-hoa!”. This has a really interesting smell. It’s complex but not at all understated. Really, extremely smoky for a (presumably) non-smoked tea. Sort of like creosote. The actual flavor is something like a pumped-up green or oolong. This tea has woody notes and a respectable amount of bitterness and astringency. If you have been wishing that greens or oolongs could take milk, this one might be worth a try for you.
All in all, I’m glad I have this tea, but it’s definitely an interesting tea more than a purely delicious one.
It’s all right. Sort of like a rooibos with more spice and less rounded flavor. There’s some cinnamon, some honey, and some apple cider in there. But overall I just don’t like it as much as rooibos. It could have been the meal I was eating with it, but my tongue felt sort of icky after drinking this. I’ll give it another shot sometime, but from this experience I don’t see why I’d ever pick this over a good rooibos.
It is amazing to me how many different non-tea flavors and aromas you can find in tea. Bananas, orange creamsicles, gummy bears, artichokes… and now Dawn, which brings chocolate like no other. The dry leaves smell very nice, cocoa is the main thing that hits me but there’s more too – something that I can’t quite place vaguely reminds me of my trip to Japan. My girlfriend thinks there’s a bit of seaweedy smell, which might be it. Don’t let that put you off, though, the leaves smell very nice. The leaves are very long and full, something you rarely see in a black tea. Tiny steepers won’t work here!
I made it with a bit of milk, because I love milk tea so much. The actual brew was an olfactory and gustatory illusion – while sipping, it’s chocolate. Exhale, and it’s a lightish but smooth black tea, without the spice or vegetality you’ll find in most Darjeelings and Nilgiris. In my eyes, this is a very good thing. There is also a little of the woodiness or smokiness that is often quite strong in Chinese teas. It even took the the milk gracefully. In the end, it’s maybe the first light black tea that I can say I really like, without a “but”. Dawn is really a rare achievement – it’s not just a great tea, it’s great and unique.
As a final note… The Simple Leaf’s marketing on this tea is facepunchingly incredible. I dare you to look at those tea fields and those happy Indian dudes and read about sustainability and not buy some.
Thanks, Steepster, for pointing me towards this tea :D
Oh, this is a top tier Assam, for sure. Prepared as on the packet (1 tsp per 6 oz water, 3 min steep time) and taken with a bit of milk and sugar, it’s very smooth and not harsh at all. It has a rich mouthfeel and a rounded, robust flavor. As you’d expect, it’s quite malty, but there’s more than just that going on. I’m having a little trouble placing what exactly the more subtle flavors were – maybe some carrots – but my girlfriend said that she tasted some jasmine. She agreed that the tea tasted special; normally she prefers Chinese teas, but she really liked this one. This cup was a tiny bit weaker than I’d like, so I’ll let it steep another 30 seconds next time.
The funny thing about this tea is the aroma of the dry leaves – there’s surprisingly little! Most of the looseleaf teas I get sock me in the face when I open the packet, but not this one. It’s mild and pleasant. This is one of the few teas where the flavor beats out the smell of the leaves.
Overall this is one of the best Assams I’ve had, and probably top-5 among all black teas. It is a very satisfying tea.
Having a mug of this at 3am, double-strength. No reason not to when it doesn’t have the caffeine or harshness of regular, camellia tea. Vanilla is still a bit too dominant in the flavor but it’s a really nice combination.
This is less a commentary on this particular tea than on rooibos in general… but with this around, why ever drink plain water? I was just doing it to avoid the downsides of proper tea.
Just picked up a tin of this, loose. The taste is just what you’d expect from a blend that is mostly Keemun black, with some various other teas (including green and oolong) mixed in. The overall smell is nice, but the vegetal notes from the lighter varieties of tea disrupt the smoothness I like in a black tea with milk. My girlfriend feels the same way – she likes the overall smell, but feels hoodwinked by parts of the flavor. It’s still a decent tea, but might do better without milk.
I like this tea ok loose, but to be honest I think I prefer the bagged version. More of the floweriness comes through, as opposed to the leafy flavors in the loose version. If I’m in a place without loose tea, bags of this tea are a welcome sight.
Having not liked this tea as much as the Ceciliyan Estate and Golden Kenya I bought with it from Upton, I put it aside while I drank those two. Now that they’re almost gone, I’ve come back to Tea Bank, and I’m getting some different flavors from it.
This tea now reminds me an awful lot of a Chinese black tea. It’s hard to characterize exactly what this means, but if you’ve had any Chinese black teas, you’ll know how different from Assams and Ceylons they tend to be. Tea Bank seems to be halfway between Ceylon and China. It also has a smokiness that I never noticed before. It has a more interesting flavor than I was getting from this tea when I first bought it, but it still isn’t as rounded and yummy as my mainstay black teas.
This is my first rooibos tea. I’m not sure why it took me so long, but I’m glad I tried it.
Besides the vanilla, I’d compare the flavor to what you’d get if you took the intersection over the flavor of all black teas, and then also took out any hint of harshness or astringency. Not really any of the wonderfully diverse terroir-based flavors you’d get in most black teas, but it’s just so damn smooth and friendly. It’s funny how close this tea gets to the flavor of a black tea with milk, without any milk added.
It’s a little heavy on the vanilla for me, but overall it’s enjoyable. If black tea is a ripe cheddar, then this is American cheese. I’ll stick with black for my everyday tea, but this is worth having when you want a tea that you can drink as much of as you like, or just as a change of pace.