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117 Tasting Notes

81
drank Earl Grey by The Tea Merchant
117 tasting notes

This was in my LiberTEAS Sampler Box. I can almost say, with a totally straight face, that this is a very satisfying Earl Grey (bwahaha, I typed “satisfrying” and had to go fix it after I stopped giggling), and I’m almost sure I know what that means in this context. Let’s see…

Dry leaf fragrance blindfold test: Hmm… Very obviously black tea, but not very obviously Earl Grey. There’s something in here, I’m just not sure what. Maybe because I’ve never smelled “oil of bergamot” on its own, so I couldn’t identify it if I tried. Basically I just look for kind of a lemony scent, and I didn’t really find that here. I smelled hay, though. Yes, hay. Don’t look at me like that, I don’t know either.

Steeped tea blindfold test: Okay, now I can definitely identify it as an Earl Grey. With hay.

Flavour: Yep, Earl Grey, but not of the in-your-face ilk. Smooth, pleasant. And, er, it doesn’t taste like hay, as far as I can tell, but I’m no Huck Finn. Bonus: no bitterness or astringency.

Will I stock it after my sample’s done? No. I only need to stock one Earl Grey, and so far my favourite is Golden Moon’s Tippy Earl Grey. Do I like it enough to finish my sample? Absolutely, it’s really quite lovely, it’s just not “the one.” Y’know? Also, the caffeine’s pretty strong in this one. In case you can’t tell, I’m a little loopy from it.

Tea amount: 1 tsp/~4.75g
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: None

Oh! I discovered something just now. My two infusers are in the sink and I didn’t feel like washing them since I’d just done a load of dishes, so I used one of those paper bag things that you get free with some tea orders. And what I discovered is that I have no clue what to do with them. I just took one, put in my teaspoon of tea, and wrapped it up and presented it to my teacup like a little gift. It worked out okay, I guess—I mean, none of the tea escaped its confines to go for a quick paddle, but the bag did leave behind a kind of papery taste on which I’m not altogether keen.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec
LiberTEAS

I am glad that you enjoyed this tea. It is a good Earl Grey.

Regarding the papery taste from the T-Sac type filters … I never really took the time to notice it before recently … maybe because I don’t usually use T-Sacs unless I’m on the go, but, the last time I used a T-Sac, I noticed a slight papery taste that didn’t excite me. It had been so long since I’ve used a T-Sac for my personal tea enjoyment, but, yes, the flavor is there … not a strong flavor, but, it’s there, nonetheless.

Bonnie

Good that you notice the t-sac, it means your taste buds are fine tuned!

DaisyChubb

Tsacs are great to have on hand for tiny rooibos of guayusa blends – I usually use them for lattes too to mask the slight paper taste :3

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67
drank Peppermint by Celestial Seasonings
117 tasting notes

I gave this box to Mum, who likes mint tea. I don’t, really, but kept two bags for myself: one to try hot, and one to try cold. If I loved mint tea, I would probably like this quite a lot. It’s a simple, straight-forward thing, with a soothing, pleasant flavour. I took a few sips and then dropped in an orange Airborne tablet, since I’m still feeling crummy. The resulting orangey, minty brew tasted better than “meh” but not as good as “num.” The important thing is, though, that it made me feel like I was giving those cooties a paddlin’.

Tea amount: 1 bag
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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95
drank Mayan Mist by Della Terra Teas
117 tasting notes

The first time I tried this blend, I chai’d it up1. Yes, didn’t you know? It’s a Thing. So I chai’d it up, and it was incredible. But I hadn’t yet tried it on its own, so didn’t feel right giving it a rating. Since today is Diwali2, I wanted to try something I’ve been eagerly anticipating, so I waited for Mum to get here and chose this.

Mayan Mist’s dry leaf fragrance is very sharp. To be honest, it can be a little off-putting. But really, if you’re put off by it, just ignore it, or you’ll miss out on a pretty lovely experience. The brewed tea loses all of that sharpness and just smells really orangey. If flavours of the “orange spice” ilk are your thing, you should really enjoy this.

Except for the coconut, the taste is exactly what you might expect. I say “except” because I can’t smell or taste any coconut. Maybe it’s just there to take the edge off, provide balance, something. I dunno. But although I do like coconut, I’m fine with it not playing a starring role here; orange spice is more than good enough for me. It’s really orangey and it’s pretty spicy, but if it were just a little more spicy, I wouldn’t complain.

I have enough of the sample left for one more cup. Eep! This is definitely a blend I want to keep around all the time. As far as I can tell, it’s as versatile as Samovar’s Ocean of Wisdom3, which is awesome. If I had to choose a preparation method, it would be the chai version, which was so good all I could do was sip and “mmmmm…” until I reached the bottom of the cup. Steeped normally, it’s still really good, but it doesn’t cause the temporary loss of speech.

I’ve got to branch out more! So far, my Happy Place resident teas are all Della Terra blends (save for one, Samovar’s Ocean of Wisdom).

Tea amount: 1 tsp/~4.75g
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: Fresh, grated ginger; ½ tsp/~2.4g Demerara sugar.

1 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/137647

2 दिवाली मुबारक! Happy Diwali to my Steepster family! =) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwali

3 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/57991

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Claire

My first time reading about Diwali, thanks for the education. :) I am also in love with Della Terra’s blends, their chocolate teas are soooo good.

Nik

I still have to try a cup of Dubbele Chocolade on its own. It’s just so tempting to play with it! It’s going to be tough not to sweeten it with hot chocolate next time just to see how it tastes. =)

Bonnie

Diwali was HUGE in Silicon Valley. (Well, I can’t think of an ethnic celebration that wasn’t HUGE in Silicon Valley for that matter.)

Terri HarpLady

Happy Diwali, Nik! Thanks for sharing the Wiki about it, I always love learning about other people’s spiritual stuff!

JasonCT

Namaste Nik and Happy Diwali! We had our puja already this evening with a few of Sita’s work colleagues, it was my first Diwali celebration!
Here’s a nice cup of chai to celebrate.

Sil

Happy Diwali! Love Your tasting notes :)

Nik

Thank you, everyone! Aww, Jason, that’s awesome, your first Diwali celebration! =) Thank you, Sil! :D

Serenity

Happy Diwali!

Nik

Thank you, Serenity, same to you! =)

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64
drank Double Earl Grey by Paisley Tea Co
117 tasting notes

Sheldon: What kind of tea would you like? (Proceeds to open a lovely little glass-and-wood “TEA” display case full of bagged teas.)
Amy: I think I’m gonna try…green tea mixed with lemon zinger.
Sheldon: Two tea bags in one cup…We’re not at a rave!

Sheldon: Now, imagine this…You and I, entering Stuart’s party, and all eyes turn to see America’s most beloved and glamourous couple…
Amy: Yeeeeaaah…?
Sheldon: R2-D2 and C-3PO. Dibs on 3PO.
Amy: Sheldon, when I said “couples costume,” I meant, like, Romeo & Juliet, or Cinderella & Prince Charming, not two robots from some silly movie I don’t even like!
Sheldon: Ohhhhhhh-kay! I’m gonna let that slide because I know you’re hopped up on tea bags!

Bwahahahaha…I love The Big Bang Theory.

Yesterday, I dropped an orange Airborne tablet into a second steep of an H&S organic rooibos teabag. It worked out well enough that I’d like to try it with a first steep at some point. Today, I tried the same experiment with one of these teabags, except that it’s a first steep, not a second steep. When I tried this tea for the first time, yesterday, I wasn’t impressed by the boldness (or lack thereof, rather) of the bergamot. I thought maybe the orange Airborne would go well with it.

Unfortunately (and also, shockingly), I don’t think this tea is strong enough for this experiment. Shockingly because surely a black tea would do better in the experiment than a second-steep rooibos, yes? Apparently not. =)

I was good this time: I steeped for three minutes and tossed the bag instead of being lazy, leaving it in, and then getting annoyed as the tea gets bitter. After steeping, I dropped in the Airborne tablet and waited for it to dissolve. Instead of black tea with really strong citrus, the result is really strong citrus with a kind of weak echo of black tea.

Oh well, it was worth a shot. I still think this is a good idea, so I’ll just try again with a different tea. =)

Tea amount: 1 bag
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: 1 orange Airborne tablet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
LiberTEAS

I love Big Bang Theory too. My favorite sitcom.

Dixie_Amazon

… hopped up on tea bags.
Bwhahaha! Just remembering it cracks me up all over again.

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64
drank Double Earl Grey by Paisley Tea Co
117 tasting notes

I’m pretty new to the world of Earl Grey. For the longest time, I’ve stayed away from black teas because of my sensitivity to caffeine. Recently, I’ve begun drinking a little bit a day and, for the most part, finding that I’m able to tolerate it. This is really exciting, because I love black tea’s fragrance, and so many lovely blends use it as a base.

One thing I’ve discovered is that I love citrus flavour in my tea. The very first Earl Grey I tried was Golden Moon’s Tippy Earl Grey1 and I think I may have been spoiled. I can’t speak to its generally mediocre Steepster rating, but I loved its really intense citrusy fragrance and flavour. This tea? Not so much. I mean, the fragrance and flavour are certainly there, but when you say double Earl Grey, that’s what I expect. What I got here, though, was more like ¾ Earl Grey. =)

It’s pretty low on astringency, always a nice surprise with a black tea. My inner lazy bum prevailed and I left the bag in the cup, almost always a mistake with black tea, I’m learning. Consequently, the brew got pretty bitter pretty quickly, but that’s no one’s fault but my own. Admittedly I was a bit groggy, but I couldn’t see any brewing suggestions on the box, so I just started sipping when the brew looked dark enough and got through most of the cup before the bitterness set in. As the tea cooled, the black tea fragrance intensified. I took a sip: it was too bitter to enjoy, but ignoring that, I found the black tea-bergamot balance quite a bit improved. I think if I’d removed the tea bag, the brew would’ve been as nice cooled as it was hot, if not better. Well, I’ve got 23 more bags to get it right. =P

Tea amount: 1 bag
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: none
Dry mouth factor: 4/10

1 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/126970

Preparation
Boiling
canadianadia

“My inner lazy bum prevailed and I left the bag in the cup” – lol

Nik

I’m trying to get better! =P

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62
drank Peaches & Ginger by Harney & Sons
117 tasting notes

I can’t believe I’m drinking a black tea unsweetened. I’m not happy about it, but I’m trying really hard to (a) wean myself off sugar—not completely, but at least off the need to immediately add it to every brew; and (b) educate my palate, something that I don’t think I can do if I’m so heavily dependent on some sort of sweetener to enjoy everything. Usually I just take a couple of unsweetened sips before adding fun things (milk, sugar, honey, condensed milk, whatever). What I’m trying to do now is have one full, unadulterated cup if I have more than a sample of the tea, and only then do I get to play around with future infusions. Unfortunately that means that this experience is tinged with just the slightest hint of resentment. =)

The dry tea smells just peachy. I can’t decide whether it’s the fruit, a candy, or perfume-y/artificial. Initially it was pretty overwhelming, but as I got accustomed to it, it began to smell much, much more natural. So in the end that part of it worked out pretty well. I couldn’t detect any ginger in the dry leaf’s fragrance.

Brewed, the peach fragrance is only very slightly muted, and the ginger fragrance sort of pops its head out and waves hullo before disappearing again. I can’t really smell the tea itself, either; it seems to really just be all about the peach.

The tea tastes peachy. While each sip has that pleasant burn/bite of ginger, the flavour itself isn’t really present. I think this is unfortunate, because a better balance would really make this tea shine. I’d also like to taste the base tea, but everything is overshadowed by the peach.

Surprisingly, I had no trouble at all with astringency, unusual in my experience with black teas (and I’m really sensitive to it). I did have a problem with bitterness, but that was entirely my fault: I got lazy and left the bag in the cup, choosing to chug the tea instead of getting up and disposing of the bag.

As grumbly as I am about it, not indulging my sweet tooth did, I think, improve my experience and evaluation of the tea. That said, I’m really looking forward to my next cup, because I just know that I’m going to love this sweetened. =) I also can’t wait to try it iced. (Because peach!)

Tea amount: 1 bag
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: None
Dry mouth factor: 2/10

Preparation
Boiling

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57
drank Organic Rooibos by Harney & Sons
117 tasting notes

Second steep note: I know, steeping a bag a second time is usually pointless. But as this was an experiment, I didn’t want to “waste” a new tea bag on it.

I’m not feeling well. I went to Tar-zhay with Mum the other day, trying to hunt down some of that seasonal/holiday milk (red velvet!) momo said was there. I didn’t find the milk, sadly, but I think I may have come back with some cooties. The fun tickle in the throat, the malaise, the occasional nausea…all the usual party guests are here.

I took two Tylenol and wanted to take some Airborne (the orange kind). I always take it in cold water, but just discovered that I can take it in hot water, too. So I went ahead and boiled some more water and poured it into the same cup and dropped in the Airborne tablet. FYI, it bubbles way more aggressively in hot water than in cold and is lots of fun to watch. =)

Anyway, this orangey rooibos hot fizzy concoction was really good. I love Airborne by itself, and this was much better. It’s so good, in fact, that I wish I could take Airborne more frequently than every 3-4 hours; I could happily guzzle this all day. Next time, I’ll try this with a new teabag to see if the stronger rooibos flavour is an improvement.

Preparation
Boiling
Terri HarpLady

Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well, Nik. Your bubbly concoction sounds interesting, and I’m glad it tasted good and provided amusement for you during your malaise. Feel better soon!

Nik

Thank you! I’m already feeling better than I was before I medicated. I hope it keeps the symptoms at bay until the thing works itself out. I’m a terribly whiny, pain-in-the-butt patient. And since I live alone, I only end up annoying myself.

canadianadia

I had no idea that Airborne can be used in hot water. I love that stuff! Yep, definately going to try that. I hope you’re back to feeling 100% soon

Nik

Thank you, I hope so too. :D

gmathis

Husband was telling me about the funky flavor milks at the store. Interesting!

Nik

The lady at Starbucks was saying that they’re getting in a bunch of new mugs ‘n’ such on Monday, including their holiday line. I might go check them out (I’m on the lookout for a small (6-10oz), spill-proof thing for my tea, and can’t seem to find one anywhere) and at the same time see if Target has the specialty milk in stock again.

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57
drank Organic Rooibos by Harney & Sons
117 tasting notes

I’ve just had my second cup of this. I had the first cup a few days ago and I’m…flummoxed. The two cups were very, very different. I can’t imagine what was wrong with my olfactory sense and tastebuds then (or is, now?) to make my perception so wacky.

Last time, I didn’t write a tasting note because my cuppa was kind of icky. I could have sworn that I smelled something a bit fishy—maybe not fishy, really, but kind of…fish watery? I dunno, it was all very odd, hence no tasting note. This time, all that was gone. I just smelled paper (this is the bagged version that I have) and plain rooibos.

I don’t know what makes one plain rooibos better than another. I’d think that they’d basically be the same. I wouldn’t say that about actual tea, but red rooibos, ya. Buuuuut I guess I’m wrong, because although this has all the “proper” elements of a plain rooibos—its warmth, its woodsy aroma and flavour, etc.—it’s just okay, not great. I love (red) rooibos, so I’m pretty forgiving, and I’m no expert, but I’ve tasted better. How and why better, I’m not entirely certain, just…better.

Weird: there’s a bit of astringency, but not in the usual sense. Instead of hitting the back of my mouth, it hit my throat, like actually in my throat. It lasted just a moment, and disappeared as the tea cooled. Such a strange sensation.

Steep time: I just left the bag in the cup. I don’t worry about rooibos getting bitter and knew that I’d sip-gulp the cup down in a few minutes, anyway.

Tea amount: 1 bag
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: none

Woo, 100th note! Do I get to join the Little League team, now? :D

Preparation
Boiling
Claire

Congratulations on your 100th tasting note! Keep them coming.

Nik

Thanks, Claire!

Sil

Yay! I keep missing my milestones lol

canadianadia

Cheers to your 100th note (raises tea mug)

Nik

Thank you! [clink]

Ninavampi

Congrats on 100!!! :)

Nik

Thank you!

LiberTEAS

I don’t know that there’s really any difference between one plain rooibos and another… but I suppose it would be like any herb and depend upon how it’s handled during harvest and afterward. Also… I have noticed a significant difference in flavor between the conventionally grown rooibos and organically grown rooibos. I didn’t think there’d be a big difference, but back when I was still selling teas, I did a side by side comparison so that I could choose the best product. The organic is vastly superior.

Nik

Thanks for that, LiberTEAS! I think I have another organic rooibos in my stash, possibly Numi or something, that I like better than this one. I’ll have to find it and try a side-by-side comparison.

Alphakitty

Congrats on 100!

Nik

Thank you!

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drank Chocolate Puerh by Numi Organic Tea
117 tasting notes

I am not sure about this one. It smells like chocolate and…dirt. I know, I know, I’ve read the tasting notes, too. People say pu-erh has a lovely earthy aroma. Well, now that I’ve smelled it for myself, I’m thinking it’s really just a polite way of saying dirt, and I don’t find it lovely. So I guess if I’m going to delve at all into the world of pu-erh, that might be a problem. =)

The brew tastes like chocolate with a bit of cinnamon, maybe. It’s not bad, but I can’t get the smell of dirt out of my nose! Honestly, it is so much like hot chocolate, that I think if I wanted hot chocolate, I would just make hot chocolate, calories be damned.

I reckon I’ll leave the rating off, for now. I’m sure it’s lovely for what it is, and those who like what it is will probably love this. It’s just not my taste. That said, I plan to experiment with a few more bags to see if I can make a concoction that’s more palatable; if not, there’s always the swap bin!

Tea amount: 1 bag
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: 1ish tsp Demerara sugar

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Sil

haha yeah i’m finding the same thing. If you find a nice pu-erh that you enjoy let me know. I’m just now starting to try some of them to see what all the fuss is about. Matcha was a fun experiment…pu-erh seems…less so lol

TeaBrat

you could also try raw puerh, which doesn’t taste like dirt. :)

Terri HarpLady

Nice honest review, Nik! I think for most, Puerh is an acquired taste. I garden a lot, & crazy as it may sound, I love the smells of leaf mulch, compost pile (sometimes more than others), & just the soil itself. Feel free to call me a wierdo, LOL!

Nik

Thanks, all! I am not giving up, yet. I think there was a pu-erh and a pu-erh chai in the Golden Moon sampler box. If I remember correctly, I really liked them both. I’m sure there is as much diversity there as with any other tea. Instead of getting hung up on this one, I’ll give it another few goes and then just move on to something else. (Easier said than done, given my stubborn nature, but I’ll try to move on.)

canadianadia

Bravo for giving it a go. I have yet to give any pu-erh a try so I’ve been sorting through reviews for suggestions that might appeal to my taste. I appreciate your honest review as someone delving into the world of pu-erh, perhaps I will join your ranks someday. :)

Nik

@canadianadia, thanks! When I tried the Golden Moon ones, the pu-erh and the pu-erh chai, I had no idea what pu-erh was (not that I really do now, but I didn’t even know it was a Thing). I think it was really good for me to go into it completely blind; perhaps if I’d known that “earth, mushrooms, fish” are often associated with it, I mightn’t have been brave enough to try. =) I don’t remember buying this tea, so I’m wondering if I won it from Numi or something. I wouldn’t buy two boxes of a tea I’d never even tried. See, if I kept a journal like Terri started, I would know exactly how it ended up in my cupboard. Ah well, it’s there now, may as well play with it. =)

Terri HarpLady

LOL, Nik! I am a crazy journaler!

canadianadia

I do wish I tried pu-erh before learning anything about it. The fishy descriptions are the ones that scare me off the most. One day I’ll stop being a chicken and just give it a try. :P

Nik

If I end up getting the Golden Moon ones before you try it, I’ll send you some. Neither their pu-erh nor their pu-erh chai had even the faintest hint of fishiness. If they did, I probably would’ve dumped them both straight in the bin. Blech!

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84

The thing about low expectations is that I often end up happy. I’m pretty picky about my strawberry, because it’s so rarely done well. I strongly dislike “berry” flavour: that flavour that is a hodgepodge of berries that can’t be individually identified. I do very much like individual berries, like blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, but if it’s not the berry itself, the flavour better be done well. And, because I haven’t said it enough in this paragraph, berry berry berry.

Right. So. Strawberry. Lovely on its own, if it’s not very tart. Lovely in some candy, if it’s done properly. Kind of icky as a bubblegum flavour. Ice cream? Maybe. See? Picky.

The other thing is about me and fruit teas. The problem is that we don’t really get along very well. It’s not so much that they’re yucky, just that I can’t get over how weird it is to drink hot fruit anything. I always find myself wondering how it’d be iced, and how that’s how I have to try it next time. Until now, anyway.

This is a great blend that’s blended very well. It’s a nice, berrylicious fragrance, but even better is its flavour, which is that of strawberry jam. I do so like my jam. I steeped it first for maybe 7 minutes, I don’t remember exactly. The second time, I lost track of time and steeped it for about 22 minutes. I’ve yet to ruin a rooibos blend by over-steeping it, so I wasn’t really concerned. The only consequence was that the tea got a bit too cool to sip in a leisurely manner, so I gulped it down and almost brushed myself off whilst placing my teacup in the sink, looking for imaginary toast crumbs.

I think if this had had a stronger strawberry presence, it would’ve been too tart for me to enjoy; as it is, I find it really well balanced. This was in the sampler box I bought from LiberTEAS, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to try it. It would’ve never occurred to me to buy this and I would have missed out. I can hardly believe that I’ve found a fruity tea I like drinking hot. Bazinga!

Tea amount: 1 generous tsp/~5.25g
Water amount: 6oz/~175mL
Additives: About ½ tsp Demerara sugar for the first steep and nearly a full tsp for the second one. The first cup wasn’t sweet enough and I could just feel that adding a bit more would help bring forth the strawberry. The second steep was pretty weak in spite of the long steep time (meh, it was worth a shot), but I was right about the sugar. Moar strawberryer.

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec
Rebecca Lynn

I feel the same way about berry teas! Too often there is this generic fruity flavor. Glad this one was good though!

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Bio

2012.10.07: I hear people like to understand other people’s ratings, so here’s a loose guide:

01-29: Dear God, why.
30-49: I’ll finish this cup, I guess, but no more.
50-59: Meh.
60-69: Decent. Maybe I can blend it with something else and make it better.
70-79: Heeey, this is quite good!
80-89: I love it, but I’m not in love with it.
90-100: Permanently resident in my Happy Place.


Update: I have steeped, and it was good. =] Still a tea-ophyte, though.


This is a tea site, so I feel like “well, I’m Indian” should be enough of an introduction. Because, I mean, it’s kind of in my genes, right? But the fact of the matter is that I’m an absolute tea-ophyte.

I’ve just discovered a world beyond Celestial Seasonings. I’ve just discovered “sachets” instead of “normal” tea bags and bought my first loose tea sampler. I don’t get the whole water temperature and steep time thing yet, nor that if I want to get a yixiang tea pot, I’d need one for each type of tea. I have this infuser ball thing, but I haven’t used it yet.

Don’t cringe, but right now I’m still just boiling water and pouring it over a teabag, adding some sugar, and drinking a nice, hot cuppa. I’d like to learn more, I think, and I’d like to train my palate. I figure participating in this community is the best way to do that.

So ya. Hi!

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