644 Tasting Notes

93

I just had the most epic fall, seriously, if it didn’t hurt so bad I would say it was a thing of beauty. Yours truly was standing on the bed snuggling Espeon who was on the top bunk (bunk beds are awesome for storage) sleeping in her bed. When I went to get down my foot somehow managed to get tangled in the sheet and instead of stepping off the bed I crashed to the hardwood floor. My hip and wrist took most of the fall, making it hard to sit and type, my clumsiness really is a thing of legend. But at least I have my pre-New Years cleaning done!

And since it is the day before possibly my favorite holiday (it really is a tie between New Year and the Mid Autumn Festival) I am going to review one of What-Cha’s Chinese Oolongs, specifcally Fujian Cinnamon ‘Rou Gui’ Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea, yes it is Yancha time! I am noticing a trend, each time there is an important event I seem to review a Yancha, so this is officially going to be a thing now. So, first off, a little backstory, this specific Wuyi oolong first showed up in the Qing dynasty (which could be somewhat recent or a really long time ago) and is the most recent tea to be added to Wuyi’s famous bushes, this one bringing it up to five. The name Rou Gui is a reference to its cinnamon notes that are supposedly present in the aroma and taste. So, history aside, let us get to the sniffing! The aroma is, well, heavy, it is very heavy, like sinking into a hot bath when you are super sore and tired, you just kind of fall into it. There are notes of sweet cocoa, honey, cooked plums, and distant sweet spice. There is also a fairly gentle aroma of char and smoke, but it is more like a distant campfire than a raging coal furnace. This tea smells like warmth and smelling it makes me feel immensely relaxed.

When I brew Yancha I load my teapot with leaves, I mean I really fill it up, and usually use just under boiling water and super short steeps, think a few seconds. Not the brewing method for everyone, but this is my technique, in case anyone were curious how I brew my beloved Yanchas. So the leaves, once thoroughly soggy smell quite mouth watering. The heaviness from the dry leaf is still present, it is joined with a stronger char note, the cocoa is also stronger, and now there is a bit of loam and Spicebush. The liquid is spicy and sweet, like chocolate and molasses with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish is a bit of char and honey.

Ok, first steeping time! I got bouncy waiting for my cup to cool to a suitable drinking temperature, nothing worse than a burned tongue…ok, burning your tongue and then spilling it all over your lap is also pretty awful. So, as expected, this tea is rich and heavy, it starts with lite molasses and toasted oats then builds to dates and spicebush at the middle. The finish is a bit of cocoa and loam with a surprising cooling sensation at the back of the throat.

The aroma of the second steep is heady, heavy, and sweet, it blends the molasses and char notes with succulently sweet spicebush and honey notes. I am such a fan of spicebush notes in tea, it is probably one of my favorite flower scents. So this time around the taste is not as sweet, the char notes are more predominant, and it has some nutty notes as well. Think a blend of fire roasted walnuts, tobacco, cinnamon, and a touch of molasses at the finish and you have this tea, also fun is that it warms this steep instead of cools.

Time for round three! The aroma this time is cocoa, heavy, and rich. It makes me feel sleepy and relaxed. The taste is milder and softer, starting with cocoa and char, moving into tobacco, plums, and nutmeg, and finishing with a distant taste of smoke and walnuts. I shan’t bore you all with further tasting notes, but I did get several more steepings out of this tea, and according to my notes, promptly took a tea drunk fueled nap afterwards!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-cha-fujian-cinnamon-rou-gui-wuyi.html

Maddy Barone

Geez, I’m sorry you took a tumble. Hope your bruises heal up quickly! I really enjoy this tea, and I loved your poetic description.

ashmanra

Holy cow, I keep picturing that fall in slo mo. Hope you feel better!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Thanks you two! I am feeling better today, sore though surprisingly less so than I expected, so that is awesome!

OMGsrsly

D: I’m glad you’re feeling better than expected! That sounds nasty.

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82

Is there a world outside my desk? I seem to have lost track of it! I only say this because I have spent more or less every waking moment painting my Sourge army the past couple days, and I can say so far they look glorious! I am so much happier with my current paint scheme, to sum it up in two words, how about ‘chitinous’ and ‘biomech’ just as a little spoiler. You can all bet that when I am finished I will be showing them off. Part of my reason for the rush is I am joining my local gaming store’s Dropzone Commander League, I was not sure I was going to be able to, but as an early birthday present to himself Ben is paying both our way in. Sometimes, he really is too much.

Today I am giving myself a little TeaLC with Stay Calm and Relax, and herbal blend of Lavender, Chamomile, and Cinnamon, which I admit sounds like a fascinating blend of things. Also I could use the relaxing aspect of a flowery tea since I have felt progressively worse, yuck! But enough about me, how about you pretty pile of flowers, how do you smell? It smells both comforting and pretty, intensely heady lavender mix with the straw like floral notes of the chamomile, these are joined by warm and sweet cinnamon at the finish. I am not sure how much credit I give the health aspects of aromatherapy, but I can certainly get behind the emotional aspects, and let me say, lavender is one of those smells that just makes me feel so peaceful.

You know, I noticed something a little odd from the wet leaves, other than I always forget how plump chamomile flowers get, I noticed that there is a slightly yeasty, almost cake batter like aroma coming from them. How neat, though odd. Other than this cake batter note, there is the distinct floral explosion that is lavender. The liquid is primarily chamomile with lavender following close behind and cinnamon bringing up the rear.

Tasting time! I love how it has a slight purple tinge to the liquid, it is one of my favorite thing about lavender teas. So here is the sad-ish truth of the matter, I have noticed that teas that have that much lavender in them tend to be a bit on the bitter side, but this is also one of the few type of teas that I break my ‘rules’ such as they are and add a nice dollop of honey to. There is something really delicious about drinking warm chamomile, lavender, cinnamon tea with wildflower honey, they play of the sweetness of each other, the cinnamon warms you up to your core, and that lavender lingers forever in the aftertaste. I seem to really be on an herbal kick lately, something about this time of year seems to bring that out in me, probably because they are full of flowers!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/tea-leaf-co-stay-calm-and-relax-tea.html

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87

So, remember how I used to hate lemongrass in tea and recently found out that by itself it makes a pretty fantastic sipping experience? Well it is deja vu time because here is Lemongrass Herbal tea, though this one has a slightly sweeter tone than the previous one I had, which is neat. It smells like lemon juice, a bit of lemon leaves, and a touch of flower nectar sweetness. Brewing them up brings an aroma of lemony sweetness and a bit of fresh hay.

The tea itself is delightfully sweet and lemony, like a mix of lemonade, a touch of fresh hay, and a distant floral note. I am still enjoying lemongrass as its own little entity in tea, apparently it is good for digestive woes. I did drink this after feeling ill (I over indulged in chocolate, like I do) and it did settle my stomach, plus it is mild enough that drinking it if you feel a bit queasy is not unpleasant.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/simple-loose-leaf-co-op-box-day-2.html

Ubacat

Lemongrass also goes good with fresh ginger.

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

oooh yes!! That sounds like the ULTIMATE I ate too many sweets and have a stomach ache tea ;)

Ubacat

Good for colds and flu too!

Kirkoneill1988

I’m not much for lemony teas

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95

Just looking at the name of this tea, I knew I was going to want to drink it before I went to sleep, it is my favorite use for herbal teas after all. This one is a blend of Rooibos, Chamomile, Mint, and Natural Vanilla flavoring, opening the bag I am greeted with the aroma of straw-like flowers that is chamomile, vanilla, woody caramel that is rooibos, and a gentle coolness of mint at the finish. I like that the mint does not slap me in the face like some blends with mint can do.

Brewing the tea is very similar, with a fairly equal blend of Chamomile, Rooibos, and Vanilla, with mint being the least noticeable of the notes. This tea tastes delicious! It is a blend of chamomile and vanilla at the front, this transitions to woody sweet rooibos. and lastly a mild hint of mint. I really like how I didn’t really detect any mint until the end, it was very refreshing and cooling on my insides.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/simple-loose-leaf-co-op-box-day-2.html

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33

Yay! A smoky tea, in fact it is THE smoky tea, the one that started it all, Lapsang Souchong. Black tea smoked over a pine fire, imbuing the leaves with its smoky essence. The aroma of this one is certainly smoky, though honestly I am not getting much of the usual piney camp fire in this one, I am getting more of a smoked meat aroma. There are also notes of leather and malt, an interesting smelling tea. Brewing it up I notice that the notes of smoke loose some of their meatiness and have more of a liquid smoke aroma, along with maltiness and a touch of sweetness.

So, I once said I never met a Lapsang Souchong I didn’t like, and sadly I think I have to change my opinion on that. This tea tasted like liquid smoke, beef jerky, and malt. It has a bitter finish that I was not most fond of, so I foisted it off on Ben who was also not a fan but wanted tea and drank it anyway. I am not quite sure what went wrong, pretty much immediately after drinking this tea I developed a splitting headache, so maybe it was something wrong with me, since I am not sure I am ready to admit I did not like a Lapsang.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/simple-loose-leaf-co-op-box-day-2.html

Kirkoneill1988

beef jerky, sounds lovely

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83

Imagine my surprise at seeing Gyokuro as one of the teas for this month, then imagine my surprise when I actually looked at the leaves, it looks nothing like the needly Gyokuro leaves I am familiar with! It kinda looks a lot like Tencha, the leaves that are ground into making Matcha, but that is crazy rare, since it is wanted to make said powdery goodness. The aroma of the leaves is a blend of green notes and a tiny bit of toasted rice crackers. You know, those delicious Japanese crackers that have bits of seaweed and such? I used to be addicted to those once upon a time. The green notes are a mix of fresh hay, sweetgrass, actual grass, and a tiny bit of seaweed.

I brewed this in the standard Gyokuro way, lots of leaf and cool temperatures, it is always fun brewing gyokuro, though I do wish I had a shiboridashi! The aroma is a mix of green growing hay, freshly cut grass, a bit of Nori, and a little like rice. As expected the mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, the taste is so sweet it is almost syrupy as well, that is a potent sweetness! Like honey and sweet hay, this transitions to a more umami seaweed and lastly a bit of bok choy. A few minutes after the sipping and there is a sweetness in my mouth from it. Hilariously I did another steep but got distracted…came back about 20 minutes later, I drank it because YOLO and it was actually pretty tasty. Super green and umami, but tasty!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/simple-loose-leaf-co-op-box-day-1.html

Mike

Nice, it’s gyokuro day! :P I just finished my Teavana gyokuro…I’ll have to try this one next! Great review!

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96

It has become a bit rare that I run into an Oolong I have not heard of, so yeah, I went into immediate research mode while drinking the Sheng Cha Oolong. For the most part I could not find much, mostly I kept finding information on Puerh and since I do not know what version of Sheng it is, that made searching even harder. What I did find is that it is from Taiwan, specifically they are from trees left to grow wild for decades, which is pretty cool. The aroma of the leaves is delectably toasty, it smells like baking super grain heavy bread, you know, like one of those 20 grains breads. Now take that loaf of bread and drizzle a bit of honey on it and you have the aroma of this tea. I am salivating, but I am in a constant state of craving bread, so that could be why.

The aroma of the first steep is so grainy! Like someone is toasting grains right next to me, it is honestly a little cruel how much this tea smells like toasted wheat, sesame seeds, and barley. The taste is banging hot, and not in a ‘oh god I burned my tongue so bad’ way, I mean this is the new hotness. It is like drinking honey drizzled whole grain bread while sitting next to a vase of wildflowers. The majority of the taste is toasted grains and yeasty bread, but there are delicate notes of flowers and honey, which I really liked.

Second steep is very similar in aroma, there was a touch of toasted peanuts as well this time around. The taste is more grain and less sweet, it is definitely like eating toast. I am a little wowed by the grainy aspects of this tea, I could see it being a good bread replacement when I am shambling around the house moaning graaaaiiiinns like a gluten craving zombie.

Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/simple-loose-leaf-co-op-box-day-1.html

TeaTiff

This is the second glowing review of this tea I have seen. Maybe he will bring some to KC when he comes?

Tealizzy

Yum! I haven’t tried this one yet! Maybe tonight!!

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68

Well, the inevitable happened, I have become addicted to another game. This time around it is the game Plague Inc that has hooked me, it is a strategy game where you play as a strain of (in my case) bacteria trying to wipe out humanity. I also hate this game because I spent hours staring at my phone playing and did not win a single game, this game is hard! Currently I am playing the free version, but I really want the full version, but no offense phone, I want it on my computer. Sadly I lack the $15 to shell out on a new game, and if I had it I would be putting it towards finally getting Minecraft on the PC, le sigh, so many games, so little time.

Today’s tea for What-Cha Wednesday is Ceylon Golden Tips Black Tea, it is so fuzzy and pretty, very golden! Ok, you guys caught me red handed, I spent way too much time staring at the leaves, they are adorably downy, like little caterpillars, though what really struck me was how they have a slight silvery sheen to them, unlike the fuzzy golds from China, which are Shining Gold (yes like the Citadel paint) these have a dullness too them. This tea fascinated me, though I do wish there had been a tiny bit more information as to where in Sri Lanka they come from. The aroma of the fuzzy leaves is iconically a Ceylon, it is brisk and bright, but it also has notes of oak wood, roasted peanuts, distant flowers, malt, and fruit. The fruit notes are muscatel and cherry, in fact, this tea reminds me of a three way dance between an Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling, how fascinating! The aroma is not overwhelmingly strong, it is delicate and a bit pretty, much like the leaves themselves.

I waffled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to go Western or Gongfu style for steeping, deciding on Gongfu for now. The aroma of the now soggy and not quite so golden leaves is pretty malty and brisk, it wakes up my nose with an almost effervescent quality (I love when I have an excuse to use that word) the sharp notes of oak wood blend with a touch of flowers and muscatel sweetness. The liquid lacks all briskness, it is smooth and sweet with notes of malt and a creamy touch of cocoa, it is almost like night and day!

The first steep is surprisingly light in color and taste, also the brew is cloudy from all the leaf fuzz, this might be the first time I have ever wanted a strainer because I am pretty sure I could have made an adorable little fluff ball out of all the fuzz. The taste starts out with delicate notes of fresh grapes and malt, this transitions to cocoa that lingers. I am surprised at how smooth the mouthfeel is, I was expecting it to be all tickly from the fuzz.

The second steep, oddly, has pretty much no aroma at all, there is a tiny hint of malt and that it is. The taste was also a bit odd, there was a surprising note of rich yam and a bit of malt, that was about it. It was strange how this tea seemed to lack all body and yet had such a rich yam note.

So, clearly I need to steep this tea Western style to see how it compares, and I can safely say that this tea is one of the strangest I have encountered! While it lacked any and all body, it had a really delicious taste. The taste is a blend of raisins, malt, a touch of cocoa and a tiny bit of maple syrup at the finish. I am baffled how a tea can have a lovely taste but absolutely no substance and weight, it was like drinking warm flavored water instead of tea. It confuses me! It does not taste stale or off in anyway, just like the ‘cha qi’ or lifeforce of the tea has been removed, maybe this tea was attacked by a tea vampire or something. I dunno, I feel very conflicted by this tea, it tasted nice but was so lacking in oomph, so yeah, I am going to blame pixies or something fantasy related as to why this was the case.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-cha-ceylon-golden-tips-black-tea.html

OMGsrsly

Bunnicula got to the tea. For sure. :)

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Eeee! I loved Bunnicula as a kid, thank you so much for that reference!

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68

Well, the inevitable happened, I have become addicted to another game. This time around it is the game Plague Inc that has hooked me, it is a strategy game where you play as a strain of (in my case) bacteria trying to wipe out humanity. I also hate this game because I spent hours staring at my phone playing and did not win a single game, this game is hard! Currently I am playing the free version, but I really want the full version, but no offense phone, I want it on my computer. Sadly I lack the $15 to shell out on a new game, and if I had it I would be putting it towards finally getting Minecraft on the PC, le sigh, so many games, so little time.

Today’s tea for What-Cha Wednesday is Ceylon Golden Tips Black Tea, it is so fuzzy and pretty, very golden! Ok, you guys caught me red handed, I spent way too much time staring at the leaves, they are adorably downy, like little caterpillars, though what really struck me was how they have a slight silvery sheen to them, unlike the fuzzy golds from China, which are Shining Gold (yes like the Citadel paint) these have a dullness too them. This tea fascinated me, though I do wish there had been a tiny bit more information as to where in Sri Lanka they come from. The aroma of the fuzzy leaves is iconically a Ceylon, it is brisk and bright, but it also has notes of oak wood, roasted peanuts, distant flowers, malt, and fruit. The fruit notes are muscatel and cherry, in fact, this tea reminds me of a three way dance between an Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling, how fascinating! The aroma is not overwhelmingly strong, it is delicate and a bit pretty, much like the leaves themselves.

I waffled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to go Western or Gongfu style for steeping, deciding on Gongfu for now. The aroma of the now soggy and not quite so golden leaves is pretty malty and brisk, it wakes up my nose with an almost effervescent quality (I love when I have an excuse to use that word) the sharp notes of oak wood blend with a touch of flowers and muscatel sweetness. The liquid lacks all briskness, it is smooth and sweet with notes of malt and a creamy touch of cocoa, it is almost like night and day!

The first steep is surprisingly light in color and taste, also the brew is cloudy from all the leaf fuzz, this might be the first time I have ever wanted a strainer because I am pretty sure I could have made an adorable little fluff ball out of all the fuzz. The taste starts out with delicate notes of fresh grapes and malt, this transitions to cocoa that lingers. I am surprised at how smooth the mouthfeel is, I was expecting it to be all tickly from the fuzz.

The second steep, oddly, has pretty much no aroma at all, there is a tiny hint of malt and that it is. The taste was also a bit odd, there was a surprising note of rich yam and a bit of malt, that was about it. It was strange how this tea seemed to lack all body and yet had such a rich yam note.

So, clearly I need to steep this tea Western style to see how it compares, and I can safely say that this tea is one of the strangest I have encountered! While it lacked any and all body, it had a really delicious taste. The taste is a blend of raisins, malt, a touch of cocoa and a tiny bit of maple syrup at the finish. I am baffled how a tea can have a lovely taste but absolutely no substance and weight, it was like drinking warm flavored water instead of tea. It confuses me! It does not taste stale or off in anyway, just like the ‘cha qi’ or lifeforce of the tea has been removed, maybe this tea was attacked by a tea vampire or something. I dunno, I feel very conflicted by this tea, it tasted nice but was so lacking in oomph, so yeah, I am going to blame pixies or something fantasy related as to why this was the case.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-cha-ceylon-golden-tips-black-tea.html

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86

I am just waking up from a not too restful nap and thought to myself, I should write! Clearly that is why my nap was not a good one, I have too many tea thoughts floating in my gourd. Or it could be that I just wanted to drink some tea, that honestly tends to wake me up at all sorts of odd hours, and of course I have to listen to the leaf when it calls me.

Today we are looking at a very well loved kind of tea, a green that is also loaded with citrus! Trader Leaf’s Smooth Citrus fits that description to a tea (oh no, I am making half asleep puns) being a blend of Green Tea, Lime Pieces, Calendula and Sunflower Petals, and Natural Flavors. For years I thought I hated citrus in my tea, all those lemony iced teas in the South filled me with a great deal of displeasure, turns out I only really disliked black teas with citrus, though that does need to be retested since I am always surprising myself with new things I like that I previously didn’t. The aroma of the tea is a blend of lemonade and fresh cut grass, there is a hint of growing things, and the slightly more savory (at least to me) notes of limes. It is refreshing and evocative of summertime and sunshine, and this is why I like green teas with citrus, the smell just makes me happy! And if you are a follower of aromatherapy you are not surprised since citrus is notorious for doing just that.

Brewing the leaves turns them into a citrus explosion, boom, lemons and limes everywhere! There is a bright green undertone that reminds me more of lemon leaves and fresh grass then it does tea, well those notes added to a pile of fresh squeezed lemons. The liquid is a bit more mellowed out, not some much a citrus explosion, but more if lemons and limes added to things. There are notes of mown grass and lemon leaves, the tea smells more savory than sweet, which is making my mouth water a bit. But I am the kind of gal who likes her lemons and limes covered in salt or in savory dishes, so this is right up my alley.

Whoa! (and not in the apathetic Keanu Reeves sort of way) that is a lot of lemon, so much lemon taste. Like a blend of freshly squeezed lemons and limes and a pile of lemon leaves. After the initial citrus burst the green tea waves its little leafy hands in my mouth…that was a weird phrase…but it oddly works…with notes of freshly mown grass, a bit of sweet nutty sesame, and a very bright, clean presence. This tea tastes refreshing and clean, like a summer sunrise where there is just that tiny chill in the air and everything sparkles with dew. Once the months get warmer I am going to try this tea cold steeped, it is practically mandatory with it being such a summery blend.

For blog and review: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/trader-leaf-smooth-citrus-tea-review.html

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My Rating Guide, This is a personal rating and not necessarily a reflection of the tea’s quality
100-Must have on hand, it is one of my favorite teas
85-99-Really good teas, like exquisitely good
65-84-Not bad, they can be good but generic, or just teas that I found enjoyably ok.
40-64-Not a favorite, but not terrible. I would drink it if it was in front of me but I doubt I would seek it out on my own.
20-40-Not the best tea ever, either it was not to my liking or it was really bland. Chances are I would turn this one down unless I was really thirsty.
0-19-No, just no. Either there was something wrong with this tea or it was utterly undrinkable by me.

I am a nerdy, obsessive, crafty, tea blogging, gaming nut. Yeah, that about sums me up! Ok, you want something more informative….

I am a Geek, hardcore fan-girl Geek. It shapes my life. I spend a large chunk of my life painting miniatures and contemplating my various army layouts. I hoard dice, get obsessed with games, and will talk about whatever fandom, game, etc that I am obsessed over until I am blue in the face. I am not just a gamer girl type Geek, I also fit in the collecting knowledge and spending way too much time reading and researching category of Geek.

But there is more to me than just being a giant nerd. I love tea, always have and have just gotten more and more obsessed as I get older. I love trying new teas and then writing lengthy descriptions about them on my blog, I love reading and researching the history and culture of tea, I love collecting tea pots and fancy tea tools.

When the weather allows it, I love to go mushroom hunting. I don’t eat them, instead I use them for photography and spore prints. I love nature and worked as a Naturalist in the Northwoods one summer, it might have been the best job ever.

I have Fibromyalgia, it sucks, but I feel people who are going to interact with me should know since I tend to vanish because of it so fair warning! I do tend to not vanish very long though. Also I have some ‘social disorders’ which basically translates to I am really awkward and bad at socializing, so forgive any lack of social graces.

I also have cats, love the ocean and all aquatic life, love cheese, and collect hats.

My favorite tea is definitely Oolong, but I also love Japanese greens and…ok I just love tea actually :P I am not a huge fan of lemony black teas or tart fruit teas. I also loathe hibiscus (usually)

This is my actual tea wishlist, you know that I actually update and keep track of…I tend to forget Steepster’s https://www.facebook.com/notes/amanda-wilson/tea-wishlishtshopping-list-perpetually-in-progress/10152336515414411 I use my steepster WL to keep track of teas I have had and really want more of :P

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Kansas City, MO

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