103 Tasting Notes


Hello fellow tea enthusiasts! :D I first reviewed this Cranberry Tea 5 years 2 months ago for Thanksgiving. Here is the original review if you care to read it. :D


Ingredients: Black tea, cranberry pieces, artificial flavor.

About 2-3 years ago Upton Tea began a more detailed description of ingredient labeling required by the FDA. In their Upton Tea Quarterly, they stated a new FDA requirement for labeling all teas containing artificial flavoring, as well as other ingredients previously not required to be listed.

Fast forward five years. The dry tea leaf aroma is very fruity sweet, much sweeter than I remember it, and I did not smell much Cranberry aroma. There are less Cranberries of a smaller stature than I recall. This is disappointing, which I can possibly attribute to a bag near the end of the lot. Wet leaf aroma is fruity & sweet as well. Cup color is a reddish brown hue with a definite—you guessed it—fruity sweetness, with little cranberry aroma detected. As of January 19th, the tea is discounted nearly $3 from Upton’s retail price.

Taste per brewing below, is sweet for sure, some of which I attribute to the artificial flavoring. Light cranberry flavor (lighter than I remember), with not much noticeable tea flavor. To coax more out of the tea, I added one level tsp additional tea to leaves at 205 degrees for another 3.5 minutes. The tea base balanced better with the flavoring in the second cup, and cranberry tartness was more noticeable, with less sweetness. Honestly, I think one cup with 1.5-2 tsp of tea at a full boil for 4 minutes would yield a more balanced, tart tea.

I know this Cranberry Tea is still sourced from the same supplier in Germany (with artificial flavoring now listed), as in my review 5 years ago. Despite being naturally & artificially flavored, this tea does not taste medicinal, and the taste is not too artificial in nature. I am slightly lowering my score from 88 to 84, based on smaller (and less) cranberries, & a less tart flavor which I attribute to what is now an end lot, sale offering. This is still a good and flavorful tea, and the best Cranberry Tea I have tasted!

NOTE: Apparently Steepster overrides your tea rating if you re-review the same tea. So I will list as follows, and my rating will be averaged.

First Review in November 2011 (linked): 88.
Current Review: 84.

Cupped: Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Reviewed: Friday, January 20, 2017.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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How so you say hello to fellow tea lovers you’ve lost touch with over the last 4.5 years?! Let me start by saying I still am a Tea Fanatic, and continue to drink all kinds of tea every day! I also have been into Craft Beer, and drink the occasional cup of coffee! In July 2012, when I last posted, I had no intention of leaving Steepster, but after a Summer & Fall with my Niece Brie, I lost touch. Through many good times and some not so good, life went on as life always does. In late December after a trying year, I decided to get back to reviewing teas, because it’s just one thing I enjoy! :D

The last several years, as the Holiday Season ends, I extend my Holiday tea consumption with those special teas through the second Monday in January. This is also the the last College football game for the season-The National Championship! I know it’s Tuesday, but I wanted to review this tea. So the easiest way to do this, and without further ado, is to begin the tea review! :D


Decaffeinated black tea, cinnamon, ginger root, natural pumpkin spice flavor, clove, nutmeg oil.

Let me start by saying I do not drink many decaffeinated teas, because 99%+ are very bland IMHO. This tea is one exception, and even though I can’t really taste much of the black tea base, the additional flavors, make for a satisfying cup of tea!

The dry teabag smells mainly of clove ginger, and pumpkin spice. The wet leaves in the bag reveal more clove & pumpkin spice, but what really surprised me was the cinnamon! The cinnamon with its sweet, spicy character really came to the forefront. In the cup the scents were not as intense, but cinnamon and pumpkin spice—and to a lesser extent—the ginger & clove had a very calming effect on me. :D My palate enjoyed the cinnamon and pumpkin spice flavors. Upon swishing & swirling the tea, ginger and clove awoke from their slumber only to cling & reside on the back of my tongue! Maybe it’s my lack of exposure to nutmeg in tea, but I really had trouble isolating it in relation to the other flavors.

This Pumpkin Spice blend is quite flavorful, and worth a try. It is a perfect tea to sip and share on Steepster with my tea friends, and a great way to say “Hello!” after a long hiatus—too long in fact! This tea says: “Come In!”, “Welcome!”, as it warms my heart, and I feel as if I’ve not been away very long at all. :D


Cupped & Reviewed: Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

Welcome back!


I’m really glad you came back on here. I think I came upon your reviews with the one on Red Rose and I just thought you wrote very well and sounded like a nice guy. It’s definitely been a rough year for me as well. Tea can help at times with its warmth or to share with others. Some times I just look forward to a cup when I get home from work to relax a little. I like craft beer as well, and used to drink coffee also. My stomach isn’t able to handle it very well anymore though.
This tea sounds nice, especially at this time of year. Hope your new year is better!


Thanks QC!! All the best to you too! :D


You to mrmopar!! :D

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drank Vanilla Chai by Bigelow
103 tasting notes

I bought this tea because my nephew Brennan said it was good and he thought I would like it. I was eager to cup this despite it being at least partially artificially flavored.

In my first cup I added a little skim milk. To be honest, even the small amount of milk seemed to hide flavors, although I thought I tasted vanilla and other Chai spices. My second cup was steeped without milk, per info below. I did taste a decent black tea base, vanilla & cinnamon, and perhaps cardamon in the background.

It was a decent cup of tea, but I did taste the artificial flavoring in this blend and it really distracted me, & disappointed me-even though I was expecting it. :// Hopefully, this tea will be better cold brewed.

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 19, 2012.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

Hope it’s better cold brewed for you =)


This is the tea my nephew liked. It’s a decent tea. I plan on cold brewing it tonight, and maybe post another cold brew review this weekend or early next week.


Haha, I have a ton of that stuff somewhere I don’t know what to do with. Even back before I discovered loose tea it was too artificially-flavored for my liking. I never thought to try cold-brewing it though, hm.


I’ve read a lot of your reviews and think you’re an excellent writer. Love the way you write of tea and it’s connections in your life. Brought back some memories of mine. Wish you were still around posting.


Thank you quietcreation! That means a lot to me! Well, in late Dec 2016, I changed my profile pic, and I do plan on posting tea reviews again soon. :)


That’s really awesome. Welcome back!

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Another awesome Darjeeling from Thunderbolt Tea! The dry leaves are even more varigated and tippy [& more furry too!] than the Sungma. The leaves are very sweet-like cake with caramel icing. Or is it vanilla?? The tea also exhibits a mildly fruity & floral nose. Steeping leaves are more vegetal, sweet, fruity & floral…….with what seems like a light minty quality. The wet leaves are sweet and vegetal, with a crisp fruity character, a mild spiciness, & an ever so gentle, nutty aspect as well.

Cup is very light yellow-orange color, with a sweeter, more floral nose than the Sungma previously cupped. A definite buttery aroma is very apparent as well. Initial tasting is very smooth & mild on my palate, with a buttery texture. The tea transforms with a crisp, brisk tang [not harsh] or spice on my palate! Along with this zesty character comes mild fruits & almonds. A pleasant & mild astringency lingers on my palate to complete a wonderful tea experience! :))

There’s nothing like this extraordinary Darjeeling from the Turzum Estate to complete a wonderful day! It’s also the perfect way to mark my one year Anniversary on Steepster, as well as my 100th tasting review!! Steep on Steepies!! :D

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Whoo hoooo! Happy 100!!!!!


Yay, 100!!!


Thanks Bonnie & Kittenna. :))

Aaahhhh…….nostalgia! Here’s a link to my very first review! Kittenna, you should like this one. :D



Hahahaha, ewwwww!!!


You never know, you might like it.


This one sounds amazing also! Happy 100th! Yippeee!!!


Hehehee…….Thanks. to get to 100 reviews yesterday I drank 9 cups of tea! I think I like this Darjeeling a tad better. It has a bit more astringency, which is still very mild compared to some other FF Darjeelings. :D


Wow one year and 100 congrats!

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As you can see by the picture the leaves are well varigated multi-green and medium brown leaves, with a nice amount of white tips that are well twisted. The dry aroma is very fresh & sweet, smelling mostly like white chocolate, with mild spice note, & even more mild fruit aromas.

Steeping aromas were fruity & nut-like [akin to almonds] with a sweetness I attribute to white chocolate. Wet leaves themselves are mostly green shades, with lighter white tipped & light brown colors. As far as wet leaf aromas, there is a combination of light fruits & flowers, lightly minty and spicey [light peppery notes]. The leaves are large and well shaped for a FF Darjeeling.

The cup is a light yellow-orange color with rather mild aromas. So fresh & sweet, it smells lightly vegetal and nutty at the same time. The flavors on my palate are slightly deeper & still mild, with a vegetal quality and mild almonds. I cannot place the fruits that present themseves on my palate. I get frustrated sometimes when I’m at a loss of words. :// There is also a gentle spiciness and flowery quality on the back of my tongue. The elusive flowery bouquet is fresh and light-much like a distant flower garden ready to be enjoyed.

From start to finish this Sungma Darjeeling is great, & one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to drink! :)) There is also little to no astringency on my palate at 3:15. Sometimes, when a tea like this frustrates me, it is only because it is truly great. It is the beauty of the tea & the experience, that words cannot describe. I’ve accepted that and done my best, but sometimes words and descriptions cannot fully explain true beauty-even if you can reach out & touch it, or in this case taste it! :D

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.


I decided to add roughly 1 tsp to previously steeped leaves, and it was a completely different and delicious cup of tea. :)) [3:00 minutes at 195-200F]. While the tea was steeping, the liqour was sweeter, & also more fruity & nutty. In addition, the wet leaves had greater fruity, minty & vegetal qualities.

The cup color was still a translucent medium orange, with aromatics such as a heartier buttery sweetness, an enhanced almond scent, & more pronounced fruits. The flavors tasted were also deeper: fruits, nuts, butter & the spicy character. All of these flavors played on my palate, with a noticeable, pleasantly mild astringency. :)) Although not the case with this exemplary tea, when I prepare a second cup by adding leaves as noted above, sometimes the astringency can be a bit too much-even for me. :))

Each cup was delicious, with the first cup being more mild and elusive. The second cup was still mild, while being a little more savory, & I did enjoy the temperate, palate pleasing astringency. :))

Cupped: Thursday, July 12, 2012. Updated Review: Friday, July, 13, 2012.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

Too true words are hard to describe sometimes but we try anyway! You did a fine job!


Sounds fantastic. I need to start exploring Darjeelings. I’m sure it would be hard, but if you could pick one first-flush Darjeeling as the best you’ve tasted what would it be (from this year)?


These two are from 2012 & are my favorites recently, & quite possibly the two best maybe ever. Although it’s hard to pick, because I’ve tasted so many good ones. I think these two would be good FF Darjeelings for people new to them because of their minimal astringency:

TD67: Risheehat Estate 1st Fl. Darjeeling SFTGFOP1 -Upton Tea Imports

TURZUM SFTGFOP1 CLONAL DELIGHT DJ 1 FF Organic Darjeeling 2012 by Thunderbolt Tea

They’re quite pricey though.


Updated this review for anyone who cares to read it. :))


oh my that sounds incredible. The astringency is one thing that bugs me about Darjeeling. Yummm!


It’s really great, but it should be at $31/100g.


Whoa this sounds amazing! So many delicious flavours coming from this Darj it sounds like. I will have to check it out! =) Great descriptions


Thanks!! I do my best while decribing teas, but sometimes it’s hard to classify a certain nuance of a tea.

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drank Cold Brew Teas 4 by Various
103 tasting notes

For three of the four teas reviewed here, I used a slightly different technique. I covered the teabags with very hot tap water [45 sec to 1 min at about 120-130F]. I did this instead of heating the kettle, which is heated to a 30-40 degree higher temperature. Then, I filled my press with cold filtered water and refrigerated for a nice cold brew.

Ginger & Honey Green Tea-St. Dalfour

I used 4 teabags and steeped in my tea glass for 13 hours. This second time cold brewing this tea yielded similar results as noted in my * Cold Brew Teas 2* review. Full green tea flavor and pucker factor without astringency or bitterness. Little to no honey flavor noticeable. Basically, the green tea and ginger [kicking as usual-just the way I like it!] have the same [or nearly so] fullness, strength, and presence I tasted & noted in my first review. You can’t go wrong with this one. It is a very refreshing cold brew! :)) Score: 88.

Cupped: Monday, July 9, 2012. Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.

Ginger Tea by Yamamotoyama-Stash Tea

This tea was also prepared per instructions & refrigerated for 15 hours!! I had wanted to cool it no more than 12 hours but forgot about it. It probably turned out a bit stronger at 15 hours, but I didn’t care. I LOVE GINGER!! I really couldn’t taste the green tea or safflower. YES the ginger was strong, and DELICIOUS! The ginger played on my tongue like a guitarist abusing a triple neck guitar-and I loved every minute of it!! :)) All I can do is shout, ENCORE!! ENCORE!! :D Score: 97.

Cupped: Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.

Perfect Peach-Bigelow Tea

I made a quick Iced Tea using these old teabags, putting my remaining 4 teabags in my glass press, covering it with boiling water, steeping it for 5 minutes, adding about one cup (8 oz) of ice, and cold water. Here are the ingredients:

Ingredients: rose hips, hibiscus, peaches, natural and artificial peach flavor (soy lecithin), spices, orange peel, lemon peel, apples, strawberry leaves, roasted chicory.

The steeping tea was a dark orange and smelled of rose hips, hibiscus, & peaches. Then I tasted it. It mainly tasted like rosehips and HICH-biscus. :// After I swallowed the tartness (& it faded a little), I was picking up the peach flavor and the orange peel. I was glad to be tasting flavors other than HICH-biscus. There just wasn’t enough peach flavor in this blend. It was a little to tart, and didn’t have enough peach flavor for me; especially since it’s labeled “Perfect Peach”. It was a fairly good herbal tea, but not even close to a perfect peach! :// Score: 73.

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.

Earl Grey Tea-Twinings of London

Using the steeping method above, I used 4 teabags and refrigerated for 10.5 hours. Probably could have shortened the steep time to 8 hours. There was a tremendous aroma of bergamot!! The tea flavor noted in my hot brew review, is completely overpowered by the bergamot here. That’s O.K.-IT’S ALL GOOD! :)) The bergamot is very refreshing, & only intensifies on the back of my palate. :)) A great cold brewed tea! :D Score: 91.

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.

Iced 1 min, 0 sec

All this cold tea, you should be shivering!


I had 9 cups of tea Thursday, at 8-9 Oz each, that’s 72-81 oz, plus I had milk & water! That’s well over 100 oz of fluids, and alot of caffeine. I was running most of the day, ya know?! ://

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Thank You Bonnie for such a unique, delicious tea experience. I’ve seen this tea before, and it’s almost perfect-such a stylish tea! :))

This Blue Nettle tea reminds me of conical slugs, or vortex cones. The steeping cones floated horizontally on my water, and seemed to be basking in fruity lemons as this light aroma tingled my nose. The wet leaves in glass smelled lightly vegetal & lightly fruity, much like artichokes & lemons; which cooled to a light woody quality often found in black teas! When I picked up a cone [the leaves were unfurled] and inhaled deeply, aromas of tart lemons, artichokes, & dill [perhaps a pickle] surprised my senses! Amazingly, there was a sweet contrast present in the aroma. :))

The cup was a very light ecru color, with light vegetal & lemon aromatics. The tea exhibited a very light, lemon-like, artichoke taste. There was a very smooth & clean aquatic or oceanic quality that I have never experienced before!! I’m not crazy!! Did anyone else experience this?? There was such a smoothness on my palate, but after I swallowed the tea-POP!! BANG!! POW!! The tea recharged on my palate with a mild tartness. That was another first for me, & nothing short of AMAZING! :))

My second cup [7 minutes at 212F] showcased a lemony tart aroma between 4-5 minutes. One cone was still clinging together, so I broke the leaves apart, hoping to achieve more aroma and flavor. There was deeper tart lemon and artichoke aromas, with some sweetness. Wet leaves also gave deeper aromas of lemon, artichoke, dill, and woods. The longer steep brought out light smokey notes as well.

While still quite light, the cup turned a deeper yellow. Slightly deeper artichoke essence adds sweetness, while a lemon nuance adds acidity to the nose. All of the flavors of the first cup are present [lemons, artichokes, aquatics]-only somewhat deeper in nature. Smooth & clean on my palate, with a more mild kick, void of most of the tart-natured, post swallow flavors I experienced in the first cup.

Nothing but great things can be exclaimed about Blue Nettle! From this teas unique shape, aromatics, & flavors, it is truly one of my supreme, most memorable tea experiences!! :D Thanks again Bonnie. :D

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 12, 2012.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec

I think this is the finest review! Clear and completely unified with the tea! I love Blue Nettle!


Great review, but eww to slugs!


Slug tea…sounds like something from a Harry Potter comestibles establishment.


Did anyone of you get that aquatic aspect I mentioned? Bonnie??

Butiki Teas

Absolutely. There is definitely something marine there. I was thinking along the lines of light seaweed notes.

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This is my last sample fron Fong Mong Tea and I would like to say Thank You for the generous samples. :))

The steeping wet leaves really let me know this was a greener, more floral tea. The wet leaves had a lightly roasted aroma, but what struck me more was the immediate floral sweetness. My nose led my mind and I couldn’t escape thoughts of honeysuckle and then orchids. There was also fruity notes present. Cup color was a very light yellow, with a light creamy, sweet, and floral nose. The flavors were light, with a very pleasant and balanced smoothness of florals and fruits.

The wet leaf aromas intensified somewhat in the second cup, while still remaining mild. Light, roasty, & milky, with a peach-like fruitiness, cooling to reveal sweet honeysuckle/orchid florals. Surprisingly, the cup color and aroma is still quite mild, with only slightly deeper creamy sweetness and florality. The flavors mimicked the aromas, with the creamy smootness and peaches clinging to my palate, whispering a gentle “Hello”. [1:45 at 195F].

My last cup was even more gentle all around, from the leaf, to aromas, to the flavors on my tongue. Subtle fruit and floral qualities made this cup sweet, smooth and relaxing. [5 minutes at 212F].

This cup was the most mild of all the Fong Mong samples, and that’s not a distraction from this Blue Jade, and its serene, fruity, & floral goodness. Great for when I need a tea for relaxation, and when I’m in a contemplative mood. This Oolong is like a relative that doesn’t necessarily demand respect, but teaches it, if one is only willing to listen and learn. :))

Cupped & Reviewed: Tuesday, July 10, 2012.

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Another great Shu Pu-erh, and a special Thank you to Amy for a great sample! :))

The dry tea smelled fresh and sweet, mild mushrooms, but mostly like fresh, clean earth. While the tea steeped, there was slightly more pronounced aromas-gentle mushrooms, with a definite clean, earthy aroma. The wet leaves were the most aromatic-somewhat toasty, and I just couldn’t believe how fresh, earthy, and clean the leaves smelled! :))

The cup was dark, but not as dark as the Menghai I reviewed two or three days ago, and what a pleasant, mildly earthy aroma. This tea was so refreshing on my palate. Mild mushrooms and clean earth made this cup so smooth, sweet, and delicious, that I drank it very quickly. :))

The second cup was even better. The wet leaves lost their toasty quality, but the sweetness remained, and the clean earth aromas intensified-reminding me of a “fresh air after the rain” aroma. The kind of aromas where the soil and earth are cleansed and renewed, sharing their rebirth with my senses. :)) The cup was darker, & more aromatic. The flavors were deeper and full, yet still quite mild What’s not to like about mild mushrooms and clean earth?? So sweet and delicious, I drank this cup just as quicky as the first! [4.5 minutes at 195F].

I’m glad I saved the leaves for a third cup. :)) More mild in all respects, yet still so clean, smooth and delicious! What a lovely tea and three quality steeps. :)) [7 minutes at 212F].

I’m still amazed that I got three quality steeps (14 minutes total). Each cup delivered mild mushrooms and clean earthy flavors in varying degrees. Sweet & smooth and my favorite Shu so far. Truly special, and so pleasing to my palate. Thanks again Amy for a real treat! :))

Cupped & Reviewed: Monday, July 9, 2012.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

And on the shopping list it goes! Another new place to get Pu-erh YAY!


I love Pu-erhs, but sometimes I ask my self whether cooked Puerhs are appropriate for my tastes in warmer weather. Well, when I think of the Bana Lucky Coins, or this Bana Denong, or the Menghai, the answer is definitely YES!! :))

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Today I decided to do a custom blend featuring Upton’s Fuding White Treasure and Harney & Sons Nahorhabi full leaf Assam. If you’re interested, my reviews can be found here:



Initially, I was a little concerned that the Assam would mask some of the subtleties of the white tea, so it’s possible that I used more white tea than I normally would if I were drinking it straight. I used 2-3 grams in my glass press for my 8 oz cup. For the Assam, I used about 3/4-1 tsp. While steeping the tea, I was picking up more of the nutty or roasty quality of the white tea, and only slight aromatic qualities of the Assam. Had I under compensated and not used enough black tea?

The cup color was midway between each tea, being light brown in nature. Even in the cup, I was detecting more white tea aromatics, and only light maltiness from the black tea. On my palate, surprisingly the Fuding White dominated with its roasted taste, and I was only noticing light, malty, chocolate flavors. I believe the white tea smoothed out the Assam. I was amazed it had turned out this good for totally guessing on the amounts of tea. While my first cup was smooth & delicious, I was hoping for just a bit more of the Assam character and flavor.

I decided to reuse the steeped leaves for my second cup, adding roughly 1.5 tsps of the Fuding White & about 3/4-1 tsp. of the Nahorhabi Assam. Did I now run the risk of the black tea masking the white tea? Steeping aromas were more malty chocolate Assam, but the white toasty aromas were lightly noticeable. :)) Cup color was still a mixture of the two teas but darker. Cup aromas were more malty & chocolaty, but the roasty quality of the Fuding White refused to whimper away. The Assam flavors were leading here, with the toastiness shadowing the sunlight. The flavors on my palate were deeper, but still sssoooo smooth & delicious! :)) [2:45 at 185-195F].

I’ve gotten the best of both worlds with my custom black & white blend today. The first cup showcased more of the Fuding White Treasure, and in the more balanced second cup the Assam was master. All in all, quite a harmonious blend, like a good friendship.

Speaking of friendships, my loving Beagle Cookie died 10 years ago today. While it was a very sad day & time, I still think of her quite often, usually remembering the happy times! We used to go for walks almost every day-she (we) loved our walks! I still remember how I would worry when she snuck out “on the prowl” all night long. :// She used to love to chase rabbits (she was a rabbit dog), outside kitties, and eat crickets. I’ll never forget those clear, bright, sunny, blue sky days, when she used to roll on her back in the grass with a smile on her face [YES, I said smile :)) ]. She always enjoyed chasing butterflies-running, trying to catch them in the sunlight! :))

Oh, how the memories return, and give me sadness & JOY! :)) :



Cupped & Reviewed: Saturday, July 7, 2012.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Crying in my breakfast now. Sigh. We call our puppy Smiling Sam. That is one thing that made us choose him from his litter. He was running with a toy in his mouth, and my husband was totally captivated by how happy he looked and thought he looked like he was smiling.
Cookie must have been a truly great dog to be so remembered after ten years! If you have seen the movie Dean Spanley, you will know she was one of the Seven Great Dogs that on earth at any given time. :)


I wanted to post those songs, the first one by heart reminds me of the “chasing butterflies”, and of course my eyes got soggy.


What a good heart you have Scott! No wonder Cookie smiled! Happy doggie life with you, what a blessed gift you gave to her!

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