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It tastes the way I should have expected.

Benner Tea Co. Sweet Black Tea (Aldi)

Benner! Good to see you again, buddy!

For the uninitiated, Benner is Aldi’s resident tea brand, and they offer up quite a wide variety of basic products covering that category. Previously, we’ve looked at their diet citrus tea, which I found to be pretty darn good. Now, we turn our attention to something I don’t have a lot of experience with – sweetened black tea.

This one is available in 6-pack, plastic bottles, and retails for somewhere in the $5.29 range. I typically don’t splurge on multi-packs of tea – for some reason I prefer gallons – but it caught me at the right time. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t often splurge for mass-produced sweet teas, period. Most of them have that artificial taste that more resembles tea that was brewed several days ago. I’m sure it’s pretty tough to make a shelf-stable product taste “fresh”, but hey, that’s not my problem.

Benner’s version has five listed ingredients, and you have to reach number four before “black tea” is even mentioned. Honestly, that didn’t really surprise me; it only solidified my expectation to be disappointed. The smell is very…manufactured. There’s definitely tea in the aroma, but it’s also combined with things that clearly aren’t. I wouldn’t say it’s unpleasant, but it isn’t exactly enticing, either. Once again, it serves as further proof that this probably isn’t going to be an enjoyable experience.

And it’s not. It’s just…fake. The sweetness hits first, and then is counterbalanced by the slightly bitter black tea flavor. And that’s part of the problem: the tea plays second fiddle. Rather than being the star of the show, as it should be, it’s a second or two before the taste buds even detect that there’s tea in there. It reminds me of three-day-old tea that someone tried to salvage by loading it up with sugar. Because, you know, sugar fixes everything. (Speaking of which, there’s a whopping 36g of sugar per bottle; this makes up 72% of the maximum recommended daily sugar intake. You know, for the zero people who pay attention to that sort of thing.)

Overall, this is what I expected, but was simultaneously dreading. It’s drinkable, but in the way any liquid is drinkable if you swallow it. I don’t know, maybe the national brand is way better. Or, maybe it’s just one of the better examples of a mass-produced tea; it does seem to be popular. Either way, it’s not something I would ever be interested in trying again. 

Overall: 3.5/10. Eh…it’s a mass-produced tea product. Therefore, it tastes like three-day-old tea was masked with loads of added sugar. Obviously, it’s not going to taste fresh-brewed, but I was still hoping for something more. The $5.29 retail price (for six 16 oz. bottles) is a buck or so cheaper than the name brand, so there’s that. And the individual bottles are nice to take on the go. But you know to damper your expectations when black tea is the fourth ingredient listed out of five total. And that fact alone, I think, sums up this one quite well.

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