673 Tasting Notes


This was a nice little sample that came with the chocolate sampler last month. Thank you!

Many of us are looking out the windows at SNOW today. I’m loving it!

Snow arrived a few days ago in the Rocky’s and the next is coming Christmas Eve. It’s half way melted already leaving just enough to look pretty.

Granddaughter Schey came over last night and we went to the monthly Downtown Free ‘Food Walk’.
We were bundled up in boots and warm coats http://flic.kr/p/dD4h7t, walking first into the ‘Welsh Rabbit’ for Cheese Tasting (naturally smoked Wisconson Gouda and English Chedder). http://flic.kr/p/dD9EoU
When we left the cheese shop there was a man with a tray of hot cinnamon waffles from ‘The Waffle Lab’ on the street corner handing out free big waffle sections. http://flic.kr/p/dD9Eef YUM! Hot cinnamon waffles while walking down the street!
We wound up at the end of our ‘Food Walk’ at ‘Happy Lucky’s Tea House’ where Joe was giving samples of flavored, pressed grape oil paired with tea. (my favorite was Russian Caravan Tea paired with Habanaro Chili Oil).

Schey and I finally sat at the bar and ordered a pot of holiday tea and a cookie to share…(which Sam paid for before leaving for the day. His ’on-the-house gift to us).

Today, I’m picking up grandsons Micah and Donovan for a trip back to the tea shop for TEA WITH GRANDMA! A wonderful thing to do right before Christmas! The boys love going out for tea!

To get in the mood, I decided to drink this flavored tea. (I know, a shock!) I don’t dislike flavored tea’s, I’ve gotten more selective I guess.
I appreciate that Della Terra has samplers where you can try lots of different tea’s at a reasonable price. There were some of the chocolate sampler tea’s (like the Chocolate Puerh) that I was pretty fond of.

The Raspberry Truffle was full of flavor. Chocolate, raspberry…all very rich and strong. You know what the tea is all about. FLAVOR!

When you read the ingredients on the package, it says chocolate flavoring and raspberry flavoring. You can taste them.
Some of the other Della Terra tea’s use natural ingredients for flavor and I like that more.
To tame the sourness of the artificial flavoring, I added half and half which helped a great deal. Then I sweetened my tea.

I don’t think this will disappoint anyone who wants a dessert tea. The flavor is exactly what is in the name. You can’t taste any tea but you taste lots of flavoring.

This is the first of the Chocolate tea series that I can REALLY taste the chocolate…very strongly. The play of both flavors (chocolate and raspberry) works.

Not a thumbs down or a thumbs up cuppa tea.

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Thank you mrmopar for this puerh sample tuo cha!

The Tea
This morning, I popped this mini into my purple clay gaiwan, that’s only used for puerh. It was a new tuo cha and I enjoy drinking these when I’ve got a busy day ahead.

As always, I did a rinse, then because the tuo cha was pretty hard I did another quick rinse. I poked the lump of hard leaves a bit after pouring on more boiling water and waited a little more than 30 seconds. (I like to help the steeping along in the beginning)

The wet leaves smelled more like an old book store or library than most. Leather, a little musty and a bit of dirt. Good smells though.

When I sipped my first taste of the dark red brown brew, the liquor was dense like a paint stain, but light and smooth with some faint sweetness.
I expected a cedar flavor which wasn’t present in the tea. No woodsy or earthy flavor, just a mellow…even light American coffee smoothness. Unexpected but nice.

I filled my cup again and again, still holding the same flavor each time without change. A good little tuo cha…thanks mrmopar!

I went to Steepster to begin writing a review about this tea.
When I pulled up the review from the previous evening, something bad had happened.

My review had a comment from someone I didn’t know. He said I was a liar here on Steepster, and that I had an agenda which was to promote only certain tea companies.
It also said that I hide behind my glasses, that I don’t tell the truth about anything. It even misquoted my blog story about the Children’s Shelter Christmas, and said that I beat my children. He said he would like to press charges against me. (The kids were beaten by their parents, not by me!) There was much more!

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Several Steepster people saw what was happening, as the attack suddenly went live… and came to my defense, Bless them.

At first I was shocked. Then, I realized that the person had to have planned this for some time. They knew things about me.
A troll or someone with an agenda was out to slam me. But Why?
I chose not to engage with any anger.

So sad for them really. What sadness to carry that kind of poison inside towards others.

You who have known me for the past year have seen me go from Celestial Seasonings Tea, to Davids Tea’s and Kally, Butiki,
Steap Shoppe, Teavivre, Whispering Pines and Verdant to name some of the more common ones. (I’ve left out lots of puer from different sources).

Like you, I drink the tea I like. That’s it.

Some of you love Davids Tea or 52 tea’s or Harney & Son’s. You love what you love. I applaud you for that freedom to choose and I enjoy your reviews. Sometimes, I get to try those favorites of yours in a tea swap!

The comments of the troll disappeared off my reviews. POOF, GONE!
So, I removed my comments also. Why confuse people I thought.

I think this issue isn’t done with. It will probably return.

Other people are going to get slammed or insulted by these trolls now and then so here is what you need to know.

They are not who we are.

We are a kind community and one that is free.

We write our own reviews based on our own opinions and I for one am not for sale, and I can’t be intimidated. I am not afraid of drinking tea and writing honestly what I think. I choose the companies that I buy my tea from.

mrmopar, Indigobloom (who saw what happened) and JC who saw too,
and all the most kind people I’ve ever encountered…and I’m not going to run for the hills in fear.

(Stepping off my soapbox now..) Kumbaya! (Well I do have a sense of humor too!)


So weird, the person was following me, and now he disappeared completely from Steepster. Might show up with another name though. Beware!


Ugh, that’s awful. But I suppose every community has its trolls, from what I have seen the folks here deal with them very well and gracefully!

Autumn Hearth

hugs those personal attacks are horrid and ignorant. I didn’t see the comments myself, but I did see Indigobloom come to your defense so I looked him up before everything disappeared. Seemed he had his own struggles, he went from rating Verdant Teas much higher to lower. His review for Laoshan Green I think it was, was very distressing. He talking about order lots of tea to support Verdant helping the farmers, then he got upset when he realized he should be helping local farmers in his community, not over in China, lots of caps and anger there. Very sad.

Bonnie Autumn, from what I’ve learned, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. There have been others who have been slammed. I’ve been called a name or two before making fun of me as an ignorant American. Say what they will, they are all correct.

I am nobody special. I’m a tea drinker. That’s all I do here, drink tea and share my experience.


I am so sorry that something like that happened to you. I don’t get people sometimes. :(


Hey, it’s over now…Merry Christmas!!! No Grinches!!!


Bonnie – I received all the comments in my email and read through them. I think your response was absolutely appropriate and unantagonistic. Kudos for not lashing out! Some people just go looking for fights.


Thanks Kittenna, next time…ninja Ibloom, Kittenna and Bonnie!


no you are special as is everyone i have come to know on this site. god made each one of us special. never let these kind of people make you feel down. like you said feel sorry for them because they must have a very miserable life in order to having to resort to an action like this to gain some attention.

Hesper June

I did not see any of the comments, but you are a very special lady to us. And any one that has been on here for than a few minutes knows how much we love Bonnie and value her honest opinions on teas. You were one the first people I followed on here, Bonnie. Because I could see right away that were you were someone I could learn a lot from and I enjoyed your lovely stories. I am glad you aren’t going to let this person ruin your day:-) Happy Holidays,Bonnie!

Invader Zim

I wonder if it was the same person as before with a different user name, or someone within that circle.


Who knows who it is? Might be like you said Invader Zim, the same person.
Thanks for your nice comments everyone! Makes me blush! Anyway, the reason I wrote about the experience is to confront the problem and make other people aware of it because this has happened before and will likely happen again. I received an email from David Duckler last night that said this kind of trolling happens regularly to tea companies on other sites but not hardly ever from Steepster.
We should be proud of that! Best to ignore these sad people, not engage them and get on with loving tea! You are GREAT Steepster friends! Have a Jolly Christmas!

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With 4 inches of ‘New Snow’, I hunkered down yesterday, enjoying TV, and drinking a mini tuo cha and some Lapsang. I didn’t write a review, I just watched the snow. http://youtu.be/25mLJSC1oUQ Ray Charles ‘Winter Wonderland’

Today, my Winter Wonderland was safer to venture out into. Roads and sidewalks had been cleared, the sun was out and shining. It was cold, but at 3:00 PM it was 40 degrees.
Off I went with a Christmas Card for my favorite tea professionals at Happy Lucky’s Tea House.
Burr! It was beautiful but cold in the shadows, with the wind blowing frigid air off the pockets of icy snow. I had forgotten to walk on the sunny side of the street to keep warm!

Eric, Sam, Andy and Diane were working at Happy Lucky’s today and Owner George had a chat with me too. I often bring a sample of some tea to share, and today was no exception.
Eric set up a Gaiwan and cups for everyone, we had several steepings of my tea and discussed the flavor and sometime later, I ordered tea.

I was having a hard time deciding what to drink. After a fragrant and floral tasting, what would I drink? It should be something completely different!

At the end of the tea bar, was a large pot of hot Chai in a dispenser that keeps it hot and has an automatic blending arm that goes around and around, keeping the milk moving. A small sign invites customers to try a sample of Chai, or you can pick a mug and have a full cup.

Most of the Chai’s have ingredients that I’m allergic to. Rooibos is the one that’s the worse for me.
I wasn’t aware that there was a Black Chai on the tea menu that was Rooibos free!
Today, for some reason, I asked Eric if there was a Chai without ingredients that I’m allergic to. He said yes, India 500 Mile Chai!
Great news! I love Chai in the Winter!

Then he asked how I wanted my Chai prepared?
“Indian Style, traditional with whole milk, and honey,” I said.

He went to the espresso machine and ‘steam scalded’ my milk without frothing it, steeped the black Chai (which had no black pepper in it) then added a moderate amount of local honey.

Eric said, “Real Indian Chai should be made with scalded milk so always ask for it to be made this way.”

I took a sip and noticed how mellow the Chai was. Not too spicy and not bland either. Just a nice medium Chai, round and balanced.

Some of my own stock of Chai’s at home knock your socks off with cinnamon, cardamon, clove or chocolate and orange. I like the spicy Chai’s…but sometimes, I want a Chai like this one. I want to taste the milk and honey without having the spices nip at my my tongue.

I’ll have this again and again when I stop at my favorite tea house.

The rest of the Chai was poured into a large cup to go (I had already had a chocolate matcha latte…it’s a long story, but caffeine helps migraines for people like me who are temperature sensitive) and off I went.

I set my tea-to-go cup on the roof of my car, went to the end of the block with my camera, and took a few pictures of Old Town at night. http://flic.kr/p/dCU6ry

What a great way to spend time on a cold evening!

PS…you will see notes below from someone who does not know me
and began ranting…a troll that I’m going to ignore. He posted the
same information on another review of mine. Poor guy. I just feel sorry for him.
OK he removed his comments so I’ll remove mine.


Sometimes nothing is better than a cup of hot, sweet, simple Chai. Especially with snow! I’m envious, it’s raining here in NY. I miss the snow!


I think it’s on the way!


Pretty pictures! And the chai sounds wonderful!


nothing better than a real traditional chai!! I’ve only ever had it in a restaurant, at least well made like that. Hats off to Luckys!


Scalded milk: yes!!!!


TeaFoold, really? are you saying you haven’t done the same on your own reviews? and I quote… “Another beautiful selection…from dry leaf on. Lovely Tea. Bravo!”
There is nothing wrong with being positive or getting excited over finding a new tea to love. Why does it have to be termed hype?


Bonnie, it isn’t just you. I’ve seen this troll post on other people’s reviews as well. Don’t take it personally… just ignore it!
Your reviews are awesome, I love your HYPE

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

I did not know that about migraines, caffeine, and temperature-sensitivity. I mean, I knew bout migraine and caffeine, just not the temperature sensitivity part. Thx Bonnie. Will have to google more now.

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http://youtu.be/_NLCbqP6HjE Oh Yes,, Let it snow!!!!

I’m so excited, like a little kid! It’s finally snowing! Big huge flakes of snow (not snowkles!). 3-6 inches tonight (which will melt by Thursday or Friday) and then…the Weather Lady said the next snow is expected CHRISTMAS EVE! It’s my childhood Christmas dream!

You have to understand. Growing up in Northern California and watching all the programs about Santa and Christmas with snow.
I probably asked (begged) God a time or two for a miracle. Oh He heard me alright, but waited for me to need snow. Waited for me to be a child in an old woman’s body. Now, I appreciate the wonder of it all even more because I’ve waited so long!

I plugged in my Christmas Tree and opened the curtains so that everyone driving home in the snow could see my lights as they come down Elizabeth Street.
Then I plugged in the little tree on my tea table (it has an antique mirror behind it) and opened the side curtains in the dining room for people driving into Saddle Ridge to see.

Festivity, lights, sparkle and delight! Snow!

Next, I made a big pot of Ginger Sage Winter Sage Spa Blend Tea with 1 tsp. Laoshan Black added, and a few chunks of 04 Yanxin Reserve Shu Nuggets.(I find that this is a perfect combo…somewhat like the Imperial Summer Breakfast Blend but more savory, spicy).

The Laoshan Black, Puer and Herbal Blend together is so rich, full and robust. (You can add Honey or Milk without weakening the tea.)

Your mood will be elevated, it will make you feel warm all over and relaxed. It’s so delicious…one of my favorites for Winter!

If you’ve looked at the ingredients and thought…“Well, not now,” or if you drank some without adding Honey or Black Tea to it or a little Puer nugget…give it a try. (Plain isn’t nearly as tasty in my opinion, as it is with Honey!)

Happy Snow!


hope santa is good to you!


mrmopar…I got a great box from Santa awhile ago that blew my mind. Puerh…! Know anything about that? I’m still enjoying those little toucha’s like candy!


candy is always good!


I have some of the Basil spa blend coming my way. Ever since that sample you sent me I’ve been craving it badly!


I have it, Indigobloom!! I’m currently at Pearson, too bad it wouldn’t have been easy for you to get here :p


The blends are addictive. They also show what you can do with your tea’s. I add some Laoshan Black to an herbal sometimes (depending on what it is).


Kittenna, no worries we will figure it out in the new year. Have a safe flight! :)
Bonnie: I’m so looking forward to doing that myself!!

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
673 tasting notes

Backlog Sunday 12-16-2012

Yesterday, there was a scheduled celebration at St. Spyridon’s in Loveland for the feast day of our parish. Metropolitan Isaiah (Bishop of Denver which also covers 12 States) was coming…
and then…

Sandyhill…and the killings!

I woke up early. Granddaughter Schey wanted to go to church with me and spent the night on the couch.

I quietly went to the kitchen and made a large pot of Laoshan Black Tea. This was serious tea for a serious time. The Best! A tea that’s good for contemplation and caffeine (both needed today)!
With a large pot and 2 glass mugs on my tray I set the tray on the coffee table bench and whispered Schey… to wake her up.

The tea was a perfect start to our day. (The only thing we would have for the next 6 hours)
Cocoa chocolate, potato….the best rich full bodied tea ever.
We were focused and this tea is focused too. I’ve loved Laoshan Black for so long that it was comforting to drink before going forward with my day.

When we walked into St. Spyridons, the first thing I saw was an Icon of Jesus with many children, a candle and note…
‘In Memory of those Killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School’.

It is comforting to smell incense, to have candles and flowers, hushed tones and chanting at such times.

It struck me that here in Colorado, the Bishop has had to comfort people since the Columbine massacre, and the Aurora shootings and now…to speak about Sandy Hook. His sermon was not just a bunch or empty words.

At the end of the Liturgy, there was a ‘Service for the Departed’ for those at Sandy Hook. This is the beginning of a ‘40 Day Memorial’ in our tradition. A vigil of remembrance.

All over the United States, others were remembering and thinking about what happened in many different ways. This is what my community does and has done.

Watching the President name the names of the Children and Educators made us as a Nation weep. Blessed are those who mourn…

I had a conversation with my 11 year old grandson about what happened…he’s the one who was directing the conversation.
We talked about how to be sure you’re safe and not be afraid.

I told him (without going into detail) about being jumped by a stranger and having that stranger try to kill me. I was afraid!
I stayed afraid until I began to believe that I have so many
days given to me.
Nobody can take them from me or add to them except me!(By that I mean that if I smoke or do things harmful to my body, I can shorten my life).

He seemed to be thinking it all over and thinking about how many good people there were at the Sandy Hook school…helpers…too. The helpers are hero’s!

I’ve rambled…but I had things I wanted to say. I wanted to share what the experience in my corner of Colorado has been.

http://flic.kr/p/dBLy6z (service for the departed)




Thank you for that…

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Friday: After the horrible news hit CNN, I had places to go like most people. First the Post Office and then other errands around town before stopping off to watch my grandson Ian in his school play. He had landed the starring roll in ‘A Christmas Carol’. Ian was Scrooge!

At Happy Lucky’s I ordered something ‘children would like’, a tea that a mom or dad or grandma would share with a 6 or 7 year old.
(I was thinking about the little ones killed in the Connecticut shooting, and contemplating that event.)

Peppermint Pat-Tea was my tea choice. It has mint and cocoa hulls with chamomile which makes a tea that is very yummy. However, tea server JOE told me that when you add another half measure of cocoa hulls and let the tea steep longer (7-9 minutes) it’s ‘super’ chocolaty.

I had server JOE fix me a pot of his ‘special blend’ and then I had some blended to take home for sharing with my grandchildren over the Holidays.
I like to sweeten and add a little milk to this cocoa minty tea. It’s almost like cool-mint hot chocolate! Creamy, warming without the need for artificial flavors to give a ‘Welcome to Winter’ taste that I look for when my mood needs a pick-up.
It’s hard to believe that this is an herbal blend! The cocoa hulls have a little kick…but otherwise you are warm and relaxed by the chamomile.

I left the shop with my tea for home, just as the sun set and the thousands of white lights in the trees downtown turned on. It was COLD! A few more stops and I was still too early for the play.
I stopped again, this time at ‘cough…’ Starbucks…and locked my keys in the car for the first time in my life.


(Shortening the story) Daughter picked me up, saw play (Ian was great), called Insurance which sent towing to open my door…no charge, went home.

When I FINALLY got home, I didn’t want to be on my computer. I watched the news and drank more tea. I prayed and went to bed.

At my age, I’ve had news of many tragedies. A President, his brother and Dr. King killed by gunmen, Wars and more Wars from Korea and Vietnam on. Killings from Jim Jones, the Manson Murders to Columbine and Aurora now this latest horror. I thought of all those we don’t hear about. Children in Syria being killed…the children who are starving in many parts of the world, the missing children here in the U.S.

I’ve thought about this. Sadness, depression and Sadness again.

Long ago, I decided that the evil in the World is not going to steal my joy!
If you’ve ever had a pet dog, you know how they’re in the moment. They hug, jump…wanting attention and love. They give so much affection. In a way, (without the licking and jumping…ha) we need to be like that. In the ‘now’…hugging, oblivious to everything else but the joy of life and love.

Modeling this kind of love can change the people around us.


I’m here again with my dear friends.

I love you guys!


sending love right back at ya :-) xxx

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It’s difficult to come behind Paul and his Pulitzer Prize winning review… such a lovely write-up of this fine tea, but I’ll do a little follow-up.

Paul was so right…the leaves are beautiful.

Sometimes, I look at the leaves and marvel. Long and twisted, blackish/brown with a light smoky scent. I mean it, light smoke.

I love Lapsang. I’ve sent out so much China Lapsang Souchong from my local tea shop (Happy Lucky’s) that many of you have tasted it and know what I’m talking about. It’s been all over the United States, Canada and the U.K. (I even sent some to..gulp…David Duckler!)
I have some nerve don’t I!

My favorite Lapsang has been my favorite because it’s smoky and sweet. I use Lapsang Souchong mainly to COOK with! (David Duckler used what I sent him for a fish rub which is something that I do ground together with Urfa Chili, Peppercorns and Sea Salt)

Master Bi’s Lapsang is NOT for cooking (unless I win the lottery and go to China and buy up all of Master Bi’s stock)! This tea is for DRINKING!

When I was drinking the tea, the flavor wasn’t harsh or flat, but smooth…velvety smooth with a gentle sweetness that’s in a different league than any Lapsang I’ve had… ever.

The Smokiness is like the aftertaste of great bacon or bbq…not the firepit smoke in your face. No smoke knocks you down!

Here’s the part that got my ‘eyes wide open’…I could still taste the ‘tea’ under the smoke. Yes, a raisin, floral, bakery goodness that was present, wafting around in the aroma and taste.
Such complexity is not there in Lapsangs most of the time (IF EVER)!

Oh David Duckler, if you can get this as an item for regular ordering…it’s the BEST LAPSANG I’ve ever tasted!

(As an experiment for those who love Lapsang’s, I added some milk and the flavor wasn’t diminished at all. Still spectacular!)

Further steepings are amazing!!! The roasty oolong flavor with a slight smokiness is the best of the best taste! This is not like anything you can imagine when you think of a Lapsang. Please, don’t just stop at the first steep!

I just wrote a story on my blog if anyone is interested: www.teaandincense.com

Here’s an excerpt:
Our first Christmas…living in the forest community of Paradise…we went on an adventure to cut down a tree together. We bundled up nice and warm and piled into my car.
Christmas carols were blasting from my tape deck and I had a big thermos of hot cider to share. The tree farm was decked out with lights and decorations… welcoming the 6 of us to cut down any tree for $10. (they had Christmas music playing too and a fire pit for warming hands and eating free cookies)

We took our time… going from tree to tree. Which one would it be? Too tall? Too short, too bare or too fat?! Our tree had to be perfect! We all had to agree! For these girls, Christmas wasn’t always a happy time. Someone was often drunk or high or missing at home (if there was a home at all). Some were beaten at holidays.

Finally, the nod was given and we drank some cider to seal the deal. The tree was tied to the top of the car and off we went to decorate our tree!

When we got home, someone had come by with a note that they wanted to give us a tree. I had to make a quick call of thanks and head them off. How nice of them though!

The next day, when I returned from work…the girls were all excited!

“Mom, look what’s in the kitchen…come and see…!”


I’m excited for this one!!!!! Especially after your review! I got my reserve samples yesterday :D

Invader Zim

I have yet to sample this. It terrifies me, but I will try it, and it will be the first Lapsang I will try. Reading you and Paul’s tasting notes on it calms me, and makes me more curious than terrified.


Invader Zim the Brave!


I took some to Happy Lucky’s for my tea guys to try. They were amazed! The best they had ever had too…and the second steep you can really taste the roasted oolong. Delicious beyond what you think of as Lapsang. Almost a new category.

Autumn Hearth

Okay if I wasn’t jealous already I’m certainly jealous now. And there was a moment that weekend when my husband said oh go ahead an subscribe, but I felt guilty, should have leaped on that moment of weakness. Sigh.


i already love lapsang. i want this tea so badly!


I’m hoping that this will eventually become available to everyone since I can’t afford the subscription either. I’d love to be able to buy this!!!

Invader Zim

This one terrifies me because I don’t like black teas to begin with (does that make me a black sheep or a non-black sheep of the tea community?!) and I’m not a big fan of smokey teas. But the way you two (Bonnie and Paul) describe this, it sounds amazing and I’m less apprehensive about trying it. Although, I’d much rather go bobbing for apples…I like apples :)


Do you like oolongs Zimmie? Do you like bacon?

Invader Zim

Is the sky blue Bonnie? lol yes, I like both!


TeaFoold, you are a troll. Please stop harrassing my good friend Bonnie. You are taking her words out of context. What she means (as I understand it) is that some companies are new or want to grow, and deserve to have their delicious teas shared with the world and the HYPE she gives them will help achieve that.


Lol, I guess I missed some drama! Always interesting since I get comments emailed to me ;) Silly trolls!


Kittenna, yes…someone was calling me names here and on another review. Then, the comments were deleted. I took mine off also in the interest of less confusion for everyone and it’s Christmas.

Donna A

Hi Bonnie. You seem like a nice person with interesting reviews and that’s why you were one of the 1st people I “followed” when I joined Steepster. Thanks for taking the time to post! And Merry Christmas.


Thank you Donna…Merry Christmas to you too!

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12-12-12 Whoopie! My youngest turned 40 today! Good Grief!

None of you have gotten to that place in your own lives, (you’re still young) but let me tell you…it’s odd, sitting in a French Restaurant, having a Birthday lunch of Crepes Breton with a woman you gave birth to long ago who’s 40 years old! Yikes! Kinda Strange!

So, I’m supposed to say all kinds of wonderful things about that, and about her. (I do that all the time, say wonderful things I mean here on Steepster!) It’s true.! 8 kids, she’s written 2 books that have been published, bakes bread…blah blah blah. Good stuff!

What I want to say is, that when I write about my great and caring daughter (and my son Aaron too), I’m the one who’s been on the receiving end of a miracle. They aren’t great people because of me.

I wasn’t always the best mother.

Sure I fed, clothed, housed my children and loved them…but I had a lack of self esteem and depression. I was a single mom and dated some guys that I should have stayed clear of. I was an emotionally needy, confused young mom. Not the person you think of here on Steepster.

I never did drugs, alcohol or beat my children, but sometimes they parented me, sad to say.

Do they blame me now? No.

My daughter has always said, “Mom…your mother had low self esteem so you caught it from her.”
Always, compassion. Always, an open heart. Annalisa- 12-12-12.

The Tea
I received this tea packet from David Duckler around my Birthday last May and saved it for a special occasion. He said this is the favorite tea of Wei Wei!

I prepared the tea in my Gaiwan.
Rinsed the emerald green Tie Guan Yin leaves quickly two times.

The perfume from the wet leaves was one of those rare experiences.
Powdery, sweet, very floral…carnation and orchid with honeysuckle
but not funeral flowers…not nauseating floral overload.

This was the best floral scent in the World! Love and life smells like this! It was breathtaking! If you were walking on the outskirts of heaven barefoot, the scent that would rise up would be this scent…I’m certain.

I took a sip of tea and the aroma was so wrapped up in the flavor that they were the same. Floral, incense, sweet and smooth with a little buttery mouth-feel.

No astringency, no dryness. No acidity or vegital flavor.
Pure ‘Garden of the Gods’!

Incredible Tea! Hot, warm, cold…the same. Gorgeous.

Oh Mr. Duckler…if you could get more of this tea for Verdant?!

Thank you David for this tea which has made this 40th Birthday celebration of my daughter Annalisa even more memorable.

Here’s a picture I took on the way home today of some Snow Geese on the frozen part of a small lake in Central Park. THOUSANDS come through here every year!!!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

This tea sounds AMAZING! :D I love your reviews. I enjoy that you enjoy life so much :) I’m absolutely in love with it – glad to see others loving it too!

I love the picture, but those are Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Snow Geese are almost completely white other than having black primaries (wingtip feathers). Sorry, I’m a bird nerd…haha. :D

Hope tomorrow is just as wonderful, and I love the pics you include :)


i think you have done a great job with the kids. never doubt yourself. compassion from a child is the highest way of them saying you were great and the show the love for what you did for them. tell her happy birthday from us and she will have to have tea with us if we make it out to Colorado. i am sure she is just as proud of you as you are of her!


Oops on the geese…knew they were from Canada though and not Wyoming…hee hee. We do get the White morph and Blue morph Snow Geese. We even get Pelican’s in Summer!!! 378 species of birds are recorded in this County. (Actually being 45 minutes from Rocky Mt. National Park, there’s lots of wildlife in general).
Thanks mrmopar… Sometimes parents take all the credit for great kids and in my case, the credit goes to my kids for raising me! Love them! I was 20 when my son was born, so I think we grew up together! She does love tea!

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drank Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea
673 tasting notes

This morning, I was drinking Verdant’s Earl of Anxi Tea…The one that has Frankincense in it.
As I was drinking my tea, tasting the tea leaves…sweet and juicy, smooth with a light citrus from the goji berry and orange…then the floral jasmine and oolong.
In the next moment I was transported by the frankincense…the exotic and spiritual. I am used to the scent of incense in Church. To drink in the scent is different though. Something like the difference between hearing about prayer and praying. The scent and the taste are different but the same, only the experience of drinking the incense is intense. Holy somehow.

I sat sipping my tea with the evocative ancient, fragrant taste. I was thinking about my son and how much I love him and how glad I am that he cares for others, especially the poor. For me, as his mother, this truly is a blessing. This morning the tea and the memories were an offering, a prayer of thanksgiving.

I wrote a story on my blog about my son Aaron and Christmas
called Uncle Aarons Santa Sack. It’s a nice story. I’ll begin it here:

I’ve written stories about my grandchildren and my daughter because I see them more often and they live close to me here in Colorado.
However, I haven’t written much about my firstborn…my son Aaron.

Aaron and I are alike in many ways. Creative, artistic, stubborn, smart and funny. We’re both tall, and have the same small eyes and Highland Scot’s nose (not small). Boggle is our game (or any word game), and old movies!
Aaron is smarter than I am though. He has ADD ADHD and life has been very challenging for him. He has been brave, never giving up and is successfully running his own small business.

One Christmas, when all of us were still living in Northern California, Uncle Aaron arrived on Christmas Day at sister Annalisa’s cabin home which was in the Redwood’s. I was already there, along with my brother Steve, his wife Kathy and my Nieces.

It was a big crowd! My daughters cabin was small and we had at least 20 people jammed inside for dinner.

Before opening presents, we ate!

First, big platters of ribs were passed around! Anna’s homemade french bread, potato salad and greens, all sorts of side dishes…and more ribs. There were those children who always put olives on all their finger tips. Everyone was noisy, laughing and happy.

Rolls of paper towels were passed around for cleaning BBQ sauce from faces and fingers. Groans and smiles at dessert cakes and pies.

The living and dining room had been converted into a combined eating area with several long tables. When dinner was finished, the chairs were removed and formed into a circle to view the children (who were seated on the carpet) opening gifts and for settling with coffee, tea and beer. (The children had already opened family gifts in the morning, so this was an opening of gifts from grandma and went quickly!)

When the children were done with the gifts and were about ready to go off and play…Uncle Aaron got up from his spot on the couch, put toddler Micah down and said, “Not so fast!”

“What do you mean?” his sister asked.

“We’re not done with the gifts yet, I have something else to do. Wait right here!” he said.


There’s a picture there with the sack too.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I love how you write about this tea.


Thank you Michelle. David Duckler and I had a long conversation about incense while I was forming my blog with him and before this tea was born. I discussed how incense in the name of my blog was from the phrase…“let my prayer arise in your sight as incense and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice”. How a life should be like incense.


The origin of incense is so ancient, I like to believe that it holds many secrets of the world, that’s why its scent feels so mysterious and meditative to me…

Thanks for sharing that beautiful story, you brought back many holiday childhood memories of mine… As for Santa’s sack, my favorite is the one decribed at the end of your blog’s review…wow, you have many good reasons to be a proud mother… Aaron’s generosity is a blessing.

People in general feel more compelled to give around the holidays, that’s when as a society we feel more responsible for the well being of the less fortunates, which allows many folks to have decent food to put on the table on such a critical time of the year. But most of us forget that a year has 365 days, do the math, one day of generosity is just not enough… I know we do what we can, and that’s ok, but Luckily, there are also people like your son to fill the gaps…

Bonnie, please thank Aaron on my behalf :-)


What a wonderful son you have. Such a good story.

Donna A

What a wonderful heart-warming story. It sounds like you have a great family. Aaron has learned young what a blessing it is to be a giver. I volunteer at our local food co-op. Other than the director, it is an all-volunteer effort to help the needy in my community. It is supported by area churches. I interview clients and we give them food and help with utilities. Anyway, I always leave the co-op in a better mood than I came in with because the clients I have interviewed have all been a pleasure to work with, and it feels good to be a part of such a good cause. Thanks for such a great story. I’ll want to check out your blog regularly in the future.


Donna, I just knew it! The people on Steepster are the BEST! Love hearing how so many like you are caring about others! I’ve been on the giving end and on the receiving end of charity. Thank you for what you so lovingly do for others!

Donna A

Bonnie, I’m blessed to know a lot of people Iwho love to serve others, whether it’s here in my community, or when disaster hits elsewhere, and also by helping people in need by traveling to places like Costa Rica, Africa, etc. One cool example is a guy I know and his buddy leave their wives for a couple weeks every summer and take a road trip-this year it was to the West Coast. Their goal is to do at least 2 good deeds per day. I could write a book on the wonderful things I’ve seen people do. When you’ve been on the receiving end, it makes you want to give back. In my case, 20 years ago when my twins newborns, I had a rare cancer for which I had to go through 2 surgeries and radiation. People from my church, unasked, brought meals practically every day for a year, came and helped with my 3 yr old, hired someone to take care of the babies when I was at treatments, so my husband could keep working. It meant more to me than words can express. It is definitely much better to give than receive. Forgive me if I’ve gone on too long! You don’t see these stories about the good things people do in the news unfortunately.


I think that’s wonderful! Maybe this is where Hallmark Stories are born?! Ya Think?! Hooray for you the survivor!

Terri HarpLady

Thank you both for these wonderful stories of compassion & generosity! I love this place! :)


Me too Terri! You all are great people!

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drank Organic Guranse by Butiki Teas
673 tasting notes

I’m having an odd day.

I began with this tea, one that I like but had tucked away too long and should have been drinking. It’s not old or anything like that…but has escaped from my vision. We do that, forget a tea in the back of some other tea that we’ve taken to heart.
I shared a pot of Tangerine Guayusa with my granddaughter last night
while we made tea and chocolate dusted toffee and watched ‘The Artist’ on Netflix.
There was the Guranse…so I put it out for the morning pot of tea.

This is a yum Winter tea. It has all the maple black tea taste I remember with a bit of malt. Very nice on a cold day.

Then I read a Facebook note from my daughter. A reminder of something that happened 24 years ago today. A horror.

My daughter and 3 other girls were driving down Skyway from Paradise, CA to Chico. The road is on a ridge with canyons on both sides, quite beautiful. Two lanes up the mountain and two down with a wide buffer between. The division of upward and downward lanes wasn’t even. At times, you could look uphill or downhill on the oncoming traffic.
Katrina turned 17 on Dec. 7th and my daughter was turning 17 on the 12th. I knew the driver a little. The other girl I didn’t know. In fact, I had no idea the girls were going to Chico.

It’s amazing that all 4 girls wore their seat belts in a new convertable. California hadn’t passed a seatbelt law yet.

At some time, on one of the mountain turns…the driver lost control, flipped over and over the median and ended up in the uphill lane upside down. The driver and front seat passanger got out and my daughter and Katrina were trapped in the back.
A fire started and someone stopped with an extinguisher and put out the fire.
A tow truck driver arrived and had a heart attack and died on the spot.
The fire department arrived and used the jaws of life and cut out my daughter and Katrina.

I received a call to get to the hospital in Chico but nobody would say anything else. My son had my car and I couldn’t reach anyone to take me to the hospital for quite a bit…until I found a friend of my mom’s.
Going down Skyway, all we could see was a massive traffic jam for miles and miles…not knowing that this had anything to do with my

At the hospital I was briefed. My daughter was in shock but fine. Katrina was dead. She died instantly. My daughter didn’t know and was not to be told yet, she was still too fragile.

When I was allowed to tell her the next day, she somehow knew. She remembered and was heartbroken. What grief for such a young girl, and what a big heart she has always had full of compassion.

Every year my daughter still misses Katrina. A sweet daughter of Hawaii who lived in a difficult situation at home, but had such a pure heart and deep love for others just like my Annalisa.

I sat with her mother in a bar while she got drunk. Me, drinking coffee, making sure she got home safely. She was mad for awhile that my daughter had lived.

I can’t imagine such sadness.

Memory Eternal Katrina Afong.


Oh my gosh that is so incredibly sad. I have a friend who frequents a road that sounds similar near Los Angeles, and I swear every time he’s there he posts some update about being careful because someone’s flipped their car or lost control on a motorcycle.

Donna A

A parent’s worst nightmare! As far as the tea, it is an odd coincidence that I drank Organic Guranse this afternoon and put my review in. I liked it too.

Invader Zim

So sad, I appreciate you willing to share this with us Bonnie. I think there is someone cutting some strong onions next to me though.

Butiki Teas

Oh no, how very tragic. That sounds like such a dangerous area.


I feel good that since I posted this my daughter came by and we made some more toffee with tea infused in it. Such a sweetheart. She turns 40 on 12-12-12! No kidding!


The lapse of time when you didn’t know if Analisa was ok must have been a nightmare…I was hit by a car when I was 8 and my mom still gets chocked up when we talk about it. I can only imagine what it does to you with such a close call!


I reread your story about Mr. Gill today. So many people are sad around Holiday’s. My cousin and his wife were broadsided by a woman who ran a red light 2 days before Christmas and both were killed about 5 years ago. Nobody ever expects tragedy. Some people become bitter and hard, and others honor the memories of those they love by deeds of compassion and kindness towards others. Not easy to do, but nothing worth doing is easy as they say. I’m sure your mother is thankful for you! (So am I and we’re never met!)


Ok Bonnie, now you make me tear up…and I’ve never met you but I know kindness has your picture right next to it in the dictionary… good reminder that things must never be taken for granted.


Oh no that is a sad story. Breaks my heart.
I’ve never been in a serious car accident, but my Mum has been in two that she should not have survived. On the hwy, hit by a drunk driver going 180km/h and then yrs before that, squished between a mac truck and the guard rail.
I didn’t find out about either one til she was home safe, and I still worried about her like mad. Makes me grateful to have family. Online line and blood related xxo

Terri HarpLady

Sorry to hear this sad story, but also grateful on your behalf for your child being spared. I love the relationships you have with your children & grandkids, in part because it reminds me of the relationships I have with mine! I brought them into the world & raised them, but now they are really my best friends.
You are a strong & compassionate woman!


I know this is an odd place to write things like this, but I also know that lots of people are not happy at this time of year. I wanted to say Hey! Drop me a note if you’re sad! Drop me a note if you’re not sad too! We’re all here together!


Thanks for sharing this, Bonnie. In August of 2010 my uncle died in a motorcycle accident (he was my dad for most of my life). I always miss him this time of year.


Memory Eternal for your Uncle Claire. Of course you will always miss him.

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Colorado Grandma
Grandmother to 3 teenaged girls and 5 young boys. (we all drink tea!) I began teatime in the Summer over 30 years ago when my children were little. We took a break from play for tea and snacks every day. My children loved tea time.
There are several tea houses close to my home and a Tea Festival in Boulder. Fort Collins is a bit of a foodie town. We brew lots of Beer (Fat Tire is one brand) and have several Spice Shops (Savory was one featured on Food Network).
Colorado State University is a mile from my home and the Rocky Mountains begin to climb at the end of my street. The climate is semi-arid with LOTS OF SUN AT 5000 feet. (Heavy Winter snows start in higher elevations). Living my whole life in Northern California (Silicon Valley) I have to admit that I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I attend a wonderful Greek Orthodox Church and enjoy cooking ethnic foods (all kinds). I am disabled with Migraines and Fibromyalgia.
My family is Bi-racial (African-American, Scots) and Bi-cultural, (Peru, Cyprus, France, Mexico, Native American)
I’ve worked at a Winery, was a System Analyst, in telecom, been an Athlete and Coach, Artist, Vista Volunteer. Love healthy cooking (and delicious food!). Love to travel and have been to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Peru, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska


Fort Collins,Colorado



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