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205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 45 sec

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106 Tasting Notes View all

  • “This tea courtesy of Doulton! I am very excited because I’ve been wanting to try this tea ever since I read about it. The leaves are absolutely GORGEOUS! Long, dark and handsome! It’s so hard to...” Read full tasting note
  • “My order from The Simple Leaf arrived today and I’m so excited to try this tea! I’ve been reading some really fantastic reviews about this tea on Steepster, so my expectations are high. The aroma...” Read full tasting note
  • “Mmm…Dawn. I’ve missed you. I know you won’t be with me for much longer but I will enjoy each minute we have together. If you’re curious, I have a longer review up on It’s All About the Leaf:...” Read full tasting note
  • “I know, I know, it’s way past its prime now, but I hoarded my last 1/3 packet of this for cold weather sipping; even when it’s elderly, it’s heavy and luscious and cocoa-y. When (ha!) I get time to...” Read full tasting note

From The Simple Leaf

If you haven’t heard about Arunachal Pradesh or Abali before, prepare to be delighted. When we first received this tea, we just had to stare and wonder at these gorgeous, long, hand-rolled orthodox leaves with prominent tips. Simply smelling the aroma from the leaf had us floored before we had even taken our first sip. When brewed, it produced a wonderful mellow, golden liquor that was pleasantly smooth and refreshing. Tasting this tea brought back visions of a light mist hovering over tea bushes at dawn. Enjoy hot or iced.

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106 Tasting Notes

260 tasting notes

Lovely, lovely Carolyn sent me some of this to try and I can see right off the bat why she likes it. It is a really delicious tea. The aroma is heavy and rich. The flavor profile evokes things that would make most dessert lovers drool – cocoa, caramel, honey.

It is smooth, and the flavors blend seamlessly. It is a tea that benefitted for me from sticking to the tip of the tongue and the back of the mouth, where the sweeter flavors came out to play. Sucking in air over it intensified the sweetness, but inhaling through my nose with a closed mouth evoked a kind of honeyed perfume taste that was extremely pleasant.

Dawn is a decadent tea, and yet it doesn’t leave you with a weighty feeling. Some teas are so luxurious that I feel like I should be in a food coma afterwards [tea coma?]. This certainly has that heavy, silky feeling in the mouth that I love, but something about the finish doesn’t feel heavy. The aftertaste is nice and light.

When I first saw the name of this tea, I didn’t really “get” it. I mean, it was a pretty name and all, but it seemed abstract to me. Now, I completely get it. From the dark leaves to the light amber liquid, to the heavy flavors lifting into airy sweetness. I don’t think I’ve ever had a tea that was a metaphor before [though the fact that I can find one in this may partially be because I have a tendency to overanalyze things]. However, it makes complete sense to me, as someone who has already seen more than a few sunrises in her quarter of a century already.

It reminds me distinctly of one of my last days before winter break at UVA, when a bunch of us trekked up a big hill to the nearby-ish observatory around midnight. We had no real agenda other than spending some time with each other before the semester ended and we all went to our respective corners of the country. Boys tackling one another and girls huddling in the chill. Climbing trees and drinking beer out of a pony-necked bottle. Telling stories and laughing, and waiting for the sun to rise together. We grew quieter as morning approached and eventually settled down in a section where the trees cleared enough to see part of the campus. All you could here was us breathing, and our breath streaked the air around us. The darkness began to lighten as the sun started to warm the horizon as the blushing, yellowed, amber tones bled across the sky. The almost heavy feeling in the atmosphere that seemed to settle in as the typical waking hour approached started to lift, and within a span of time that seemed to pass far too quickly we’d witnessed a natural phenomenon. It’s an act that’s occurred more times than I can count, practiced and perfected over the eons, but I hope that it never gets old.

For a tea to mimic such a simple, beautiful thing that is strongly tied into the memories of so many people is pretty powerful, and I can see why this would be a true delight to wake up with. So I must say thank you to Carolyn, and make sure that I order some more of this. And soon.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

I’m so glad you liked it! It was a revelation to me, but clearly not such a revelation as it vouchsafed to you. I love your connection of it to dawn. I hadn’t seen that and had wondered grumpily what I was missing in my understanding of the name. But now that you describe it, yes, that is precisely the metaphorical taste of the tea. I’d kept looking at the leaves saying, “These look nothing like dawn. They’re dark brown.” So thank you for the enlightenment.


What a nice review. This sounds good I would put this on my to buy list.


@Carolyn I usually suck when it comes to symbolism-type stuff, but this made sense to me in a funny way. I’m glad my idiot-savant moment benefited you! Thanks again!

@silvermage2000 It’s very good.


Guh. And now we have yet another company I need to order from. This sounds…. awesome.


What a beautiful review, takgoti. I love shiver-inducing moments that happen like that. When everything in the universe just seems to be perfect. I love nights like the one you’ve described. When you just feel… ALIVE. I’m happy that this tea helped you feel that way! Yay to Carolyn for finding it!


Beautiful. I tend to stay away from dessert teas but this sounds lovely. Plus, dawn is my favorite time of day.


@Auggy Haha! This one’s worth it, in my opinion. I’m poking around to see what else I might try.

@teaplz Aw, thank you! Yes, that’s exactly how it feels. I’m sure that part of it is my over-romanticized side kicking in, but I don’t mind a little extra hazy halo around my fonder memories.

@Shanti It isn’t overwhelming sweet, which is very nice. It’s well-balanced. Mellow. I wouldn’t be trepidatious about offering it to any of my friends or family, which is saying a lot.


@takgoti You might enjoy their Honeybee Oolong or their Maharani. When I tasted the Honeybee I thought of you immediately. I can send you a bit if you’d like.


@Carolyn I hope that you know that I am not saying these things in the hopes that you or someone else will send free tea in my direction. If it’s really okay, then of course I would love to try some! And also, as soon as your husband stops glaring at your tea collection you let me know what I can send to repay the favor.


@takgoti No I didn’t think you were fishing for tea. I actually thought of sending you the Honeybee a few weeks ago but then decided that you might feel stalked if you kept receiving packets of tea in the mail from me that you hadn’t requested.

My wonderful husband has decided that the solution to the tea invasion is to get a step tansu to store the tea in and to place the teapots along the steps of the tansu. http://www.chinafurnitureonline.com/admin/images/enlarged_images/BJTS02RS_e.jpg

This is planned in our budget for March. So I just have to get to March and be very, very good and then all will be well in his world.


@Carolyn Shut the front door! That is too cool!


Teas that bring back memories are the best. Yes, I liked the post, but where’s the love it button?


yep, just added this to my shopping list. this tea sounds wonderful!

@ Carolyn – that step tansu is too cute! what a great idea!


Woot, just placed an order and included Dawn, thanks to your review. Also, THERE IS A TEA WITH MY NAME. Shanti tea. Shantea? I am excited.


@Ricky Aw, thanks.

@LENA It’s very nice indeed! I like it a lot. So smooth.

@Shanti Oh, nice! If you don’t like it, blame Carolyn. [Absolutely kidding.] And what? Trotting over to look. Oh, wow! AND ranked 7th! That’s pretty impressive. It sounds good, too, looking forward to the review!


Aw, thanks. It is one of very few fond memories I have of the year I spent at UVA. Needless to say, I hang onto it pretty tightly.

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308 tasting notes

Needed something to wake up today. I like this tea a lot, but there is something that smells like manure in the background. That’ll would probably keep me from ordering more. What is that smell?

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 45 sec
Jim Marks

Heh, no wonder you don’t like pu-erhs.


Exactly! ha ha. I think it’s why I like the Mountain Malt more – it has less of that flavor.

I still need to try the genmaicha you sent. I’m waiting till I’ve had some consistent sleep to mitigate the migraine risk of the green tea. I’m looking forward to that one.


Manure? I did not detect that at all in this tea. I thought it was chocolate-y…


Manure?? I did detect something hay-like in Shanti (the tea, not me) but Dawn was like 100% chocolate/caramel to me.


Do you detect dirt or earth in it?


Not really, but now you’ve got me curious…I haven’t had Dawn in a while, so I’ll have to try it again and see if I can pick up on that. Or, maybe the batches are different (so perhaps the season you received yours it had more earthy notes). Aww…I hope the manure/earth/dirt flavor isn’t too off putting! :)

[P.S. I just re-read my first comment, and realized that it came off as super snide, which is NOT what I intended at all…sorry! I just meant “yuck, manure!”, not that you’re making this up or anything!]

Jim Marks

I find that almost all non-Assam teas that are oxidized to either oolong or black stages have a certain “dustiness” to them. I think the astringency in Assam hides it, they probably have it too, though. I think that much oxidation just makes the bio-mass less like a leaf and more like loam. So dirt or earth I’d understand, but manure?

The unpleasant but obvious question, of course, is what kind of manure? Horses? Cows? Pigs? Sheep? Goats? They all smell radically different. Heck, even pasture raised vs. feed yard kept smell different.


@Shanti – I didn’t take it as mean or snide. No worries.

@Jim – Next time it’s warm out, I’ll walk by the horse pasture and then the cow pasture and let you know. I’m thinking horses; in a pasture.


No wait, maybe it’s cows. :) Yeah, cows.


Was I the one who sent you this tea? I thought it had rather chestnut-y overtones.


Oh, good. :) I was afraid it came off as “omg you think it smells like manure? you’re wrong and I’m right” when I just meant “omg manure? Ick!” Sigh, it’s easy for tone to be misconstrued over the internet, so I just wanted to make it clearer :)


@Doulton – Nope I ordered this one. Unfortunately, I ordered the mid-size bag (not the sample). But, I think my husband likes it more than me.


When steeped, I think this smells like dusty peanut shells dipped in cocoa powder. And sometimes I do get that “loamy” note.

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2273 tasting notes

I am tasting this tea thanks to the amazing JacquelineM who miraculously produced a sample of this long unavailable tea. When I first joined Steepster, this tea was all the rage. I put it on my wish list, but the company that sold it – sob! – closed before I could buy any. I think losing the opportunity to try this legendary tea bothered me more than any other that “got away.”

And here I am with a generous sample. She could have sold this on the black market to some tea head for lots of money, but instead she sent it to ME! And I saved it for my birthday, which is today! This is my evening cuppa, a treat for myself in the quiet now that the day is winding down.

This is beautiful, beautiful leaf. Dark, long, twisted leaf that is highly aromatic, especially when you scent your cup first. (Thank you, Garret, at Mandala Tea for teaching us to do that. It adds so much to the experience. Pour your hot water in your empty pot, let it warm a moment, then pour out the water and add the leaf. Put the lid on for a moment. Now, lift the lid and take a long, deep sniff of the pot and leaves. Once you have experienced the aromas, add your hot water and steep.)

This is an extremely complicated tea. I am so glad I tried the hojicha first because my thoughts went something like this: Cocoa! Rough cocoa! Roasted cocoa! Roasted….something….coffee, caramel, smoke like hojicha, and…was that a hint of cinnamon? Chicory, yes, it is there also.

No wonder everyone loved it. Thank you so much, JacquelineM, for blessing my birthday with “the one that got away.”

On another note, when I looked up the plantation on google I saw an article that said a tea garden manager of that area was abducted in fall of 2012 and held in the jungle by some group – I forget now exactly who – but had been rescued. Oh my! Glad to read that he was rescued.


Happy birthday! So glad you had a special tea to enjoy on this great day :)

Terri HarpLady

ooh, that does sound like an interesting & tasty tea! Happy Birthday!!


Happy bday! Yes it is great you got to try it if only once. Its sad though to find a tea like this then its gone :( Im sort of glad I never tired it lol not really but ya know.

Josie Jade

Hope you had a wonderful birthday! :0


Happy Birthday!


Thank you! It has been lovely!


Happy Birthday & many more!


Happy birthday!!!!!!! Happy, happy, happy! Woody cat purrs Happy birthday too !!!

This one is also nice with a little milk and sugar in the afternoon. I am really glad the tea manager is rescued too – my word!


Belated, but still sincere. Happy day to you!
(I am hoarding a teeeeeeny bit of this myself like it was gold.)


Happy Belated Birthday! I’m glad to know you had such a lovely birthday present :)


Happy one day late Birthday!


Thank you, everyone! :) I am sitting here drink Keemun Hao Ya A and licking the spoon from my youngest daughter’s first cake experience!


Happy Birthday!! Hope you had a great one. It’s my bday to :P


Happy Birthday, now belatedly, to you as well, Indigobloom! I hope you had a lovely day!

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911 tasting notes

I’ve been wanting to try this tea for ages because of the Steepsterite raving. Thanks to Doulton, I finally get my chance!

Visually, the leaves are so long and twisty – they remind me of when worked at a tobacco company and one day opened up the break room freezer only to find 8 gallon-sized plastic bags stuffed with dried tobacco leaves. Those leaves smelled nice but these smell better – cocoa-y, but unlike some cocoa-smelling teas there’s no dryness to it, making it smell richer. But once the tea was in my cup? Oh, that’s lovely. Chocolaty and insanely sweet – like honey or syrup or sugar – and then a little touch of something that makes me think of maybe honeysuckle but that I wouldn’t go so far as to say is floral. So not really sure what that bit is about but it all combines to make something lovely.

With as light and sweet and fluffy as the tea smells, it is surprisingly solid tasting. It’s very smooth with only the barest hint of astringency/dryness at the end. It tastes a lot like a good Tanyang Gongfu actually, but instead of the sweetness being figgy (well, figgy to me… I think technically it supposed to be plum), this one is more of a lighter-than-clover-honey taste. There are strong cocoa notes, especially as it cools and particularly in the aftertaste. There’s also a hint of something that is sharper, something that I can really only identify when I slurp and then it reminds me of burnt sugar or a marshmallow that got a little singed while being roasted over a campfire.

I can see why it has such a fan base – it has really full and yummy flavor that is quite enjoyable. But as good as this is, I think I prefer TeaSpring’s Tan Yang Te Ji (which is no longer on their site – what’s up with that?)

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

I knew it had to be similar! It’s a sad sad thing that Te Ji leaf grade isn’t available anymore. Sold out I expect. The other leaf grade is so expensive it’s not even funny. I’ll probably still by some, but still!


Yeah, I was going to compare the prices between the two but couldn’t find the Te Ji – oh the horror! But if the other one is a higher quality leaf, I can only imagine how tasty it would be. The Tan Yang Te Ji is just so good I think it would be hard to beat!


I paid around $10 for the Te Ji, so it’s a good deal more expensive. I really want it. I think I have enough customer points to buy myself a discount coupon, in which case I feel I can defend paying $17 for 50 grams. And if I’m spending anyway, I can get one of their pretty pretty gaiwans too, and see if I can push the whole thing over $70 for free shipping. (Argh no! No shopping, self! Not yet! Not now!)


Hahah! That free shipping price point is so dangerous! (Which I’m sure is why they have it!)


YES. Singed marshmallow! That…is the vaguely-hash-y note.

I realize that makes almost no sense, but I knew immediately when I read it that you were talking about the same thing. That’s a great way to describe it.


Yay! I felt kind of nutty writing that down and almost went with burnt sugar but there was a slight smoky and a higher sweetness than just plain sugar so that’s what I ended up with. Yay for not being crazy! :)

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59 tasting notes

I’ve updated my first log of this with a couple more details, but I just had to post another note.

For some reason, this tea makes me crave it late at night. It’s so smooth, light, and calm. There’s just no bitterness at all. I’m now noticing a hint of starfruit there, in addition to the highly cocoa-centric flavor.

I’m not sure if this applies to other tea drinkers, but it seems to me that different teas give slightly different highs – Chinese green teas often make me feel thin and twitchy and mentally hyperactive, Assams are more physically energizing. Dawn is sort of like a runner’s high. If I’m not already too full of vigor, I can sleep after having it even though it has caffeine. The milk I use might be affecting this too; milk seems to soften all aspects of a tea, including the stimulant effect. I use about half of what I would use for a more robust black. It looks a bit light in color after the milk is added but the flavor is very nice.

Dawn is also still good even if oversteeped. It’s the first black tea that I’ve actually considered steeping twice; often, the smell of used black tea leaves is somewhat repulsive to me, but Dawn’s large leaves still smell and look nice.

The other thing I had to say is that this is now my girlfriend’s favorite tea. She also likes it blended with Keemun.

I’m going to have to bump up my rating again.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 15 sec

This sounds sooooooo good. The Simple Leaf is very much on my to try list – I love how they concentrate on one region and offer a small, thoughtful selection.


Jacqueline, I am so with you on this I would order it right now (and still might) but I just got in an order from Samovar (samples) and Harney and Sons samples & order is on it’s way! I too am anxious to try this one.


@Harfatum – I totally get what you mean about different teas affecting you differently. Normally black teas make me a shaky jittery mess, but this one is so gentle and wonderful. That is another reason (besides its heavenly taste) why it is my favorite tea.

@JacquelineM & SoccerMom – I highly recommend that you move Dawn to the top of your shopping list. You won’t regret it! Although SoccerMom, prepare to be delighted by Samovar as well!


@ Harfatum It’s a done deal! (It’s at the top of my list) :P

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94 tasting notes

I cleaned up my apartment today so that the cleaning lady could vacuum, and as a reward I made myself a cup of Dawn. It’s a lot richer than I remember, which is a good thing. I think part of the change can be attributed to the fact that I didn’t use boiling water in the past, and this tea thrives on boiling water. For anyone who hasn’t tried Dawn yet, it is truly amazing. It’s like unsweetened hot cocoa…there’s even this almost powdery/thick mouthfeel, like you’re drinking a rich suspension of chocolate and cocoa and tea. The second steep is wonderful as well. Simple Leaf, you rock. Congratulations, you get my first 100.

ETA: A slightly longer steep (closer to 4 or 4:30) really makes this seem like a decadent, rich cup of unsweetened hot cocoa.

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

Yay for the first 100! I don’t have one yet.

Also, I loved where you said you cleaned up for the cleaning lady. Of course, we do that too, and so does everyone else I know who has house cleaners, but it amuses me to think about it. :-)

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411 tasting notes

Hey Steepster! Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. I went on vacation for a week, then we decided we wanted to upgrade homes (we have a very small little house, and we’re trying to get a larger one). If any of you have ever sold a home, you’ll know, it’s a LOT of work to get it ready to put it on the market. So I’ve been running around like chicken with my head cut off. The house goes on the market on the 9th. Cross your fingers for me.

Anyway, here’s a review I wrote a while ago for www.itsallabouttheleaf.com – one of everyone’s favorite teas.

These are some of the most beautiful leaves I’ve ever seen with a black tea. Usually black teas are all short pieces, small and fairly boring looking. This tea has long, twisty leaves with the occasional silver highlight. And the aroma.. oh it will take your breath away. Sweet, malty, and exotic with hints of dark chocolate.

These elements come across in the flavor as well. For an unflavored tea, its got a lot going on. And, it has a lot going on while being one of the lightest black teas I’ve ever had. There’s hints of malt, the chocolate, and some other dark flavors that all blend together and in the melding end up quite light, almost refreshing.

This is a must-try tea – even for those who are unmoved by black teas. This may be your gateway drug tea. (Come to the dark side – we have cream and sugar!)


205 °F / 96 °C

I would give you 10 like hearts for your statement: Come to the dark side – we have cream and sugar! LOVE it!!!!

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158 tasting notes

I am seriously drowning in tea now. My orders from 52teas and The Simple Leaf both came in today, and now I’m starting to think that investing in a better tea storage solution is completely critical. This wouldn’t be such a disaster if I were capable of ordering just one or two samples, but I’m really not. My counter is a minefield of new tea.

Soooo, anyway!

What can I say about this tea that other people haven’t already said?

Opening the bag, you’re hit with the scent of cocoa powder — the light, fluffy, dusty kind. To me, the aroma was a lot like chocolate milk. Everyone to remark on the leaves themselves is utterly in earnest — they are incredible. Thick, woody, substantial, smooth. They are tea leaves that you could kill a man with. They have heft.

They are also very difficult to estimate by eye, reinforcing for me that a scale is something I’m overdue to invest in.

Steeped, while still very hot the aroma slips occasionally toward something distinctly honey. Honey and cocoa are definitely there…and so is a woody depth that reminds me not just a little bit of Golden Moon’s Imperial Formosa Oolong. You never lose sight of the fact that this is tea, either; what I think of as the quintessential tea flavor is there, but darker, shadowed.

The other note I can identify is one I’ve gone back and forth about adding here for reasons that will become obvious, but it’s just so prevalent that I can’t really see any way to get around it:


Not fresh. More like…hash. Why yes, I did spend a few years in my youth doing things you’re not technically allowed by our country to do!

Seriously, though, it’s there. In small quantities, and more like the memory of something than the fact of it, but recurrent enough that this note would be incomplete without its mention.

For all that the list of flavors is dark…the tea itself is surprisingly not so, with a very low and subtle sweetness on the tail end that uplifts the oolong-like fullness in the mouth.

A delicious tea, and completey worthy of whatever ranting and raving people have been doing.

PS: Good for a second steep.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec

chocolate pot?!?!?! Normally the weirder the tea, the more I want to try it, but that scares me… Every year I go to reality haunted house and one of the rooms smells EXACTLY like pot smoke (I’ve been told)… I’m also allergic to cigarett/cigar smoke (not campfire oddly enough)… But maybe between the chocolate and the pot this would help my chronic pain. Samovar’s Ryokucha has been discribed as crack, so this doesn’t surprise me lol.


Great review. I agree with you about the aroma. Right now my tea is stored in a system of cardboard boxes: there’s a rooibos box that I glare at; a green tea box, and a black box and then an herbal tisanes box. But I’m going to start sub-dividing: I need a box for smoky blacks and for floral blacks and for fruity blacks.


Haha, Cofftea. It really doesn’t scream ‘cannabis’, in case you’re worried. You would never smell it and immediately think that; there would never be any risk of mistaking one for the other. Think of it as being more like…the various floral or fruit notes you can pull out of an oolong, for instance. It’s not the fruit or flower, but it shares similarities that trigger parallels for you, even when very subtle.

Doulton: But where do you keep your boxes? That is the question! My cabinet…is too small! I should probably invest in some sort of counter-top chest…hmm.


Killer review. You definitely make me want to try…for reminiscent flavours and all…

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558 tasting notes

Learned this morning that I don’t quite care for this with a bit of cream. It’s much more chocolate-y all by itself. I might try a second steep today (if I ever make it through this first cuppa) of additive free dawn. I do enjoy this tea in the mornings, surprisingly enough.


I have to sheepishly admit that I thought that we were already following one another! ::facepalm:: Glad to get that corrected :D

Meghann M

I thought I was already following you as well. Then I saw morgana’s comment about your tea cozy and I realized I hadn’t seen this and couldn’t think of how I missed it…unless I wasn’t following you. And yup, that was it. Love the tea cozy pic btw!


LOL! I feel a little better. And thank you! I tried really hard to capture how adorable Doulton’s cozy is. The little flower on top just kills me :)

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425 tasting notes

Rather enjoying this this morning. Warm and cocoay-earthy. Good for book-reading, I think. Even though I never quite know whether or not I TRULY like this tea, I think I’ll be rather sad when I run out. Especially since the Simple Leaf shut down. There were so many other teas from them I wanted to try! I should have bought an ounce of each one the first time around, instead of just planning to do it in batches of three. If only I’d known.

I don’t think there will ever be a Single Estate tea company as wonderful as them. It’s all the awesome companies that go under, sadly. I’m almost out of the ti guan yin I got from the Jade Teapot too.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I was very sad to hear of The Simple Leaf’s demise…


Me too! I wish we could buy Dawn direct from the tea farm.


That would be awesome.

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