Arbor Teas

Recent Tasting Notes

84

I am thrilled to get to try my first yerba mate today! I opened the package to peek and sniff last night, and was reminded of a pleasant green tea, just in a different sort of consistency.

Anyway, the taste is unfamiliar and interesting, and yet, it still tastes a lot like green tea. I assume that’s because of the way it was cured. It has a certain spiciness to it, and a taste that reminds me of green leaves. Something about it sort of reminds me of peppers, but not in a hot way, more like the way a pepper tastes on the inside. It’s not like tea exactly, but similar. I like it.

I used a teaspoon and a half to make one mug’s worth. Not really sure if that’s the proper amount, but it seems right. Now that I’ve reduced it to dregs at the bottom of the cup, I’m starting to notice the famous yerba mate buzz. It does feel a lot like caffeine, but without that “I’m going to have a panic attack” feeling. I feel stimulated and a perkier, ready to tackle all the mundane stuff I have to do today before I leave for vacation.

So curious about Arbor’s other yerba now… hmmm.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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77

The Final Sipdown: Day 5
Decupboarding Total: 7

Another tea down! This one is another one that falls under the it’s-good-so-I-didn’t-want-to-drink-the-last-bit category. Nicely (but not overly) smooth, smoky (strong enough for the smoky lover but not so strong that it would scare off the not-yet-a-smoky-lover crowd) and slightly sweet, this is a good tea to fill my smoky needs.

Or it would be if I still had it in my pantry. But I don’t. Booyah.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
takgoti

BOOM SHAKA LAKA.

Whoa, that brought back 4th grade right there.

Auggy

4th grade sounds like it was very interesting for you! :P

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77

You know, I didn’t really get on with Arbor Tea’s Keemun . Not because it was bad but rather because it just wasn’t what I expected from a Keemun. So I wasn’t sure how this tea would go since it is their Lapsang (which is really tasty) and that Keemun (I assume as that Keemun is the only Fair Trade one they have, their other being just Organic). But fortunately this is quite tasty! The smoky smell is stronger than the taste but it’s still got a nice level of gentle, almost sweet smoke to it. That smoke is tempered a bit by a starchy, almost bready tea taste that I assume is the Keemun (since I got that note from their Keemun previously). The tea doesn’t feel heavy or tarry – just smoky and tea-like. Ultimately, I like their straight Lapsang a little better compared to this one but the two are very similar teas so either would satisfy a smoky urge.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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98

So many tea fails lately. Today I learned that my glass infuser cannot handle chai spices. It gets clogged.

While I didn’t realize that the infuser was mostly just holding the liquid instead of letting it also flow into the cup, I ended up with extra milk in my saucepan. And I thought it was because the infuser and chai itself took up space in the cup, so naturally there would be some left over that wouldn’t fit. That’s a lot of explanation to say that I ended up with half a cup of INCREDIBLY SPICY chai and no milk to water it down with because I poured it out.

I’m still gonna drink it, though. It buuuuurns, but I think I like it.

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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98

Ok, I caved and opened the bag. But I did the chai a disservice when I left it steeping for at least 15 minutes. I got distracted and didn’t hear the timer go off. Then suddenly, it hit me. The monster I made was very strong and astringent. The ginger is so powerful it makes my mouth tingle. I added a splash of 2% milk, but I think next time I’ll go with the brewing with half water, half milk method instead. Still, it’s very good.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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98

Oh. I think I’m in love.

This is my first hardcore, loose leaf chai. I’ve only had it in matcha form or bagged up until now. I am most definitely going to buy this! I think I should maybe brew it for a minute longer, but it’s just… it’s a symphony of spices. The mixture looks so cool while it steeps… like a mix of bark, crushed leaves, and seeds.

I did it in half 2% milk, half water and added sugar. I wish I had half and half, as that would make this epic. Someone stop me from buying the pound, please. <3

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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50

The taste of this tea is good, the mango essence seems real, but it is overshadowed by something else I can’t place. Maybe it’s the calendula flowers in it, as I’m not entirely sure what those taste like. (This is my first tea that included them.)

I don’t know what it is, I just can’t get into this one. I normally love mango tea.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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90

Nooo, it’s already all gone. D: This is also going to be on my shopping list for when I’ve cleared out my tea cabinet. Along with at least 5 other teas I’ve tried by Arbor Teas.

Tart and interesting, especially when brewed for 6 minutes. It really brings out the rosehips and plum flavor, plus is strengthens the oolong portion of the tea as well. The plum tastes just like the real thing at this amount of time. Like I can almost taste the tart skin but the mild sweet inside.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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90

I woke up this morning and could not wait to get this open. This is such an interesting tea! Rose hips, dried schizandra berries, hibiscus, and of course plum! It looked like potpourri in the bag as I transferred it to a tin.

The plum taste is absolutely vivid. It’s like the tea was soaked in Japanese plum wine, then dried. I admit I find the hibiscus flavor a little overpowering in this blend, but I still like it in all its complexity. The oolong is very mild beneath it all, but accompanies it well.

It brews up to a lovely pinkish-amber hue, and smells like fruit juice. In fact, the tea’s flavor reminds me a lot of juice when it has had time to cool. It’s wonderful. But that’s coming from a plum tea fiend.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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79

Okay, I’m still sick so technically, I probably shouldn’t be trying new teas until my taste buds decide to fully rejoin the party. But c’mon! This one has got to encourage that along, right? I mean, ginger is good for your sinuses and lemongrass just screams healthful to me. Plus, it’s got orange and I’m a sucker for anything orange flavored. Besides, all that spice and citrus has to help my head and chest, yes? Yes.

The dry mix smells surprising – very earthy with a nice splash of sweet orange. I’m thinking mulled cider if cider came in orange flavor. He husband mentioned orange cloves. And I can see that because the more I sniff, the more I end up thinking cozy-by-the-fireplace thoughts. I really was expecting something more summer-day-in-the-sun but that’s really because I got stuck on the “orange and lemongrass” side of things and not the “cinnamon and ginger”.

When my little tea timer went off and I wandered into the kitchen to pour, the whole kitchen smelled sweetly of cinnamon. Nice! Sticking my nose in the cup, I get a very orange-ginger smell. It’s a little sweeter because of the lemongrass and cinnamon, but this smells very similar to my oh-so-adored Samovar Orange Ginger (and thus to a lesser extent, Rishi’s Tangerine Ginger which is just not cool but has a similar-ish taste profile).

My first sip, though, makes me change that assessment. Yes, I can still see similarities, but the cinnamon in this one really changes up the game and puts this in a distinct class. For me, this is officially a cinnamon tea. Cinnamon teas are hard for me because images of Red Hots (or Hot Damn – ah, college!) float through my mind with each sip and I just don’t enjoy that. But while this isn’t quite the cinnamon flavor I’d put on my toast in the morning, this registers just shy of the Red Hot comparison. Lemongrass seems to pick up next, adding a kind of clean lightness to the flavor (which honestly probably keeps the cinnamon from becoming too heavy). The ginger adds a nice warmth to it and I think the orange comes in at the bottom of the taste as a sweetness that couples with the lemongrass. There’s a nice depth to the flavor here that makes this very easy to sip. Uhm, where did the rest of my cup go? No really. Did I drink it that quickly?

This isn’t going to be competing with Samovar’s Orange Ginger for the tingly orange herbal place in my pantry but it is good so I could see giving it the cinnamon place in my pantry. Of course, I don’t currently have a cinnamon place in my pantry. But it’s hard for me to find herbals that don’t make me make a face when I sip so I might have to make a cinnamon place because this definitely ranks above the “only good enough to not make me cringe” category. I’m almost out of all smoky teas in my pantry (how on earth did that happen??) so at some point I’ll be making an Arbor Teas order to get some of their lapsang. I think I’ll throw some of this in too.

ETA: Oooh. Second steep (7:00) is like the cuddly-warm lemongrass steep. Lemongrass with a cinnamon undernote and then a warm tingle of ginger with a splash of sweet orange. Tasty!
2tsp (=2.5g)/8oz

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
gmathis

I remember my grandma helping me make potpourri thingies by sticking cloves into an orange and then dusting it with … something powdery; maybe alum or corn starch? That’s what your description made me think of.

Auggy

Aw, yay memories! I wouldn’t be surprised if the taste made you think of that, too, just because it gave me a very Christmas-warm-by-the-fire vibe.

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88

This is lovely, light and slightly toasted. Smooth.

This tea is almost comparable to the Wuyi oolong from JK Tea Shop. I say almost as this one seems to have fewer infusions…BUT, the advantage is this one is organic.

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92

My first “real” cup of tea of the day… this afternoon, hubby took me out to lunch and I did drink their iced tea, but it was nothing spectacular. At least I did get some caffeine though and am not suffering now from caffeine withdrawal.

Anyway… this tea is fantastic. It has a very lovely finish – it isn’t as astringent as some Assam teas, it has more of a coppery like finish that melds well with the slightly acidic/citrus-y note that I am getting from the tea. It is lovely, full-bodied and flavored, with a nice, robust malty note and a very pleasant baked quality to it. Everything that I want from an Assam and even more!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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78

Steep Information:
Amount: ~5 tsp
Water: 1,200ml 185°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Served: Hot

Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: sweet, vegetal
Steeped Tea Smell: sweet, fruity, slightly vegetal
Flavor: slightly bitter, slightly astringent, vegetal, silky, sweet
Body: Light
Aftertaste: slightly astringent
Liquor: translucent orange-brown

This is the second Arbor Teas sample I have tried, both so far have had a sweetness to them without needing additives. I very much am enjoying these teas!

Arbor Teas sent me this sample for free in order for me to review it and get the word out about their teas in October as it is Fair Trade Month. It arrived USPS Priority mail, but had to wait a few days at the post office for me to pick it up. The compostable packages are opaque and have listed suggested steeping parameters and a stapled on paper tag with the specific tea information. They include a note about re-packaging your tea into opaque air-tight containers for longer shelf lives.

From http://www.arborteas.com/the-environment.html
“Our dedication to protecting the environment pre-dates our love of tea, which is why we’ve taken every step we can think of to reduce the environmental footprint of Arbor Teas.

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we’re always looking for further opportunities to “green-up” our company, giving back to the planet whenever we can. Here’s just a quick summary of the measures we take at Arbor Teas to reduce the environmental impact of our business:
• Our entire catalog of teas is certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.
• We are the first and only tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. In doing so, we’ve significantly reduced both the carbon emissions and waste stream associated with our products."

And from their letter to me “every tea in out catalog is certified organic, and nearly two-thirds are Fair Trade certified.”

Find Steepster reviews of the tea here.

Resteep: 185°F for 3 minutes, 1,200ml – the same other than the tea became medium bodied not light

images: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2010/10/arbor-teas-loose-leaf-white-tea-organic.html

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec
AmazonV

iced was pretty good as well

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80

Steep Information:
Amount: 9.9g
Water: 1200ml at 195°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Served: Hot

Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: sweet floral vegetal, a little nutty
Leaves: green and silver thin twisted strands about an inch long each
Steeped Tea Smell: lemon, citrus, black tea scent
Flavor: slightly astringent, crisp black tea, very clean and light
Body: Medium
Aftertaste: sweet citrus floral notes
Liquor: translucent light red-brown

This was a very nice crisp tea for sipping in the afternoon while browsing the internet. It is not a strong tea to kick you awake in the morning, but more one to be sipped and savored. I very much enjoy this tea, I enjoy when a company strives to be organic and fair trade so long as it is not at the cost of the tea. This tea shows that they are able to provide a high quality tea while striving to help tea farmers and the environment. It does however lack anything completely unique to make it a 4/4 leaves tea (a WOW) that i must keep stocked at all times.

Arbor Teas sent me this sample for free in order for me to review it and get the word out about their teas in October as it is Fair Trade Month. It arrived USPS Priority mail, but had to wait a few days at the post office for me to pick it up. The compostable packages are opaque and have listed suggested steeping parameters and a stapled on paper tag with the specific tea information. They include a note about re-packaging your tea into opaque air-tight containers for longer shelf lives.

From http://www.arborteas.com/the-environment.html
“Our dedication to protecting the environment pre-dates our love of tea, which is why we’ve taken every step we can think of to reduce the environmental footprint of Arbor Teas.

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we’re always looking for further opportunities to “green-up” our company, giving back to the planet whenever we can. Here’s just a quick summary of the measures we take at Arbor Teas to reduce the environmental impact of our business:
• Our entire catalog of teas is certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.
• We are the first and only tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. In doing so, we’ve significantly reduced both the carbon emissions and waste stream associated with our products."

And from their letter to me “every tea in out catalog is certified organic, and nearly two-thirds are Fair Trade certified.”

Find Steepster reviews of the tea here.

Resteep 2: 1,200ml 195°F 3min a bit too bitter + sugar = OK
Resteep 3: 1,000ml 195°F 2min brisk w/sugar, nice and refreshing + sugar = good
Resteep 4: 1,000ml 195°F 2-2:30min weak, added 30 sec and got nice light crisp tea + sugar = good
Resteep 5: 1,000ml 195°F 3-3:30min weak, added 30 sec and got nice light crisp tea + sugar = good
Resteep 6: 1,000ml 195°F 4-5min weak, added 60 sec and still weak, stopped re-steeping added to iced tea and didn’t drink

Cold:I took the first hot steep and put it in the refrigerator as it was a hot day. I then added the leftovers of each brew. It was a nice light refreshing black iced tea, it needed a bit of sugar. I used raspberry torani, MilitiaJim used Kiwi. Delicious. I think I enjoyed this as an iced tea better than hot.

images: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2010/10/arbor-teas-loose-leaf-oolong-tea.html

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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89

Alright, Organic Special Grade, take two.

This time I’ve steeped it for seven minutes. Last time it was just a tad too mellow for my tastes, so this time I decided to experiment. (Especially since a friend told me I could just let it go for as long as I wanted.) It brewed up incredibly dark as usual, and everything the leaves touch turns dark amber.

I also added sugar and honey, a tablespoon of each. And this is so good. The extra two minutes have made a great difference. It is still not bitter in any way, but the flavor has strengthened. It’s so incredibly smooth and sort of buttery. It does dry the mouth out a little, though. And it does definitely taste roasted and earthy. I might have to add this to my shopping list…

Upped the rating. And I will see what happens at nine minutes eventually. :D

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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89

My second pu-erh from Arbor Teas! This one didn’t brew up as dark and coffeelike as the Ancient Palace, but the taste is very similar.

The tea leaves smell stronger, however. I steeped mine at a little over 5 minutes, but next time I think I’ll try for longer. This infusion is delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I am in the mood for something very, very flavorful. It has that “aged” flavor that I described earlier with my first pu-erh, and it tastes just as smooth. It has a very soothing quality to it, and the flavor makes me feel sort of nostalgic for some reason, though I am still unfamiliar with these teas.

All in all, this is definitely worth trying and experimenting with. Which I will. And I’m sure these experiments will involve honey. Mmm. Off to work!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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86

I have a problem. I love smoky teas. Simply love them. And this is a problem why? Because there are a lot of good smoky teas out there that I would enjoy having around… but I don’t think I really need 18 different lapsangs in my pantry. (Okay, realistically it’s more like five or six, but that’s still probably a wee bit excessive.) It’s just too hard to choose between all the good smokies out there to decide what truly needs to have a place in my pantry.

Take this tea, for instance. It’s tasty! The initial smell of the dry leaves was of bacon and campfire and was almost a bit rough/heavy smelling – I really thought this was going to be a bit heavy handed. But after steeping, the smell melded into a gently smoky tea that makes me think of crisp fall days with campfires burning in the distance. It’s not as sweet as some of the Bohea teas I’ve had lately but it isn’t tarry, heavy or thick like some not-quite-as-yummy Lapsangs I’ve had in the past (or those that require milk to smooth). Instead, it’s smooth, soft and I’m pretty sure I can taste actual tea under that smoke – shocking! There’s even a flash of something very fresh and almost vegetal green tasting – just a flash.

The second steep (4:00) isn’t quite as soft and tea-y than the first steep but it’s still quite tasty, reminding me of Golden Moon’s Lapsang Souchong, which really got me started on my smoky tea love. As it cools, the smoke taste smoothes back out and it almost starts to taste like I put a pinch or two of raw sugar in it. Really enjoyable.

So we get back to my problem. There are just too many good smoky teas out there that I want to give a good home – and this is one of them. I think when my GM Lapsang runs out, I’ll have to see how this one fits in that gently-smoky-and-light-textured smoky tea niche that the GM Lapsang has been filling lately. I think it will do very nicely.

Mmm. Smoky.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Dan

I think we need a meeting of LSA (Lapsang Souchong Anonymous) I love smoky teas also and I don’t think having 18 around is excessive. I love mixing LS with Oolong and a strong base tea to make Russian Caravan.

Angrboda

I have the same problem. I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling ever so slightly guilty if I have too many smokies around the house. Like I’m neglecting all the other types of tea. I’ve given up choosing a favourite LS though. At least until I meet one that isn’t just great but actually knocks me off my feet. In the meantime I just make sure that I’ve always got one and let the brand be a smaller priority. Right now I’ve got TeaSpring’s and A.C. Perchs. Perhaps I ought to do a side by side of the two…

Also, I second the LSA suggestion. “My name is Ang and I love lapsang!” :9

Auggy

Yay for LSA! As long as it isn’t a group for those trying to break the smoky tea habit… I don’t want to break my habit. I mean, I could quit any time but I like smoky teas, so I don’t want to quit. So yeah, I’m not really an addict. I could stop. I just don’t want to. Right? Right!
(Okay, now I really am craving something smoky, dammit.)

Heyes

I love lapsang tea (although I’ve only had two kinds) but I can’t imagine multiple steepings.

Auggy

Mmm, multiple steepings are the best! I think second steeps tend to be sweeter, at least on some of the Lapsang/Bohea I’ve tried. Though not too many are successful on third steeps (at least for me).

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85

This is a really lovely Oolong. The liquor infuses to a lovely amber color. The aroma is somewhat woodsy and vegetative to me. The flavor has a beautiful underlying sweetness to it, I can taste an apple-ish quality to the tea. It has a deep woodsy undertone to it. Some earthiness and just a hint of vegetative quality to the taste – the fragrance of the tea is more vegetative than the actual taste.

A very nice Oolong!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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79

Went through a bunch of steepings on this, my last sample tuo cha. After a quick rinse with boiling water, the first infusion was strong enough to put hair on my chest – following ones were mellower and by infusion four and five, it was really sweet, woody, and earthy. A very enjoyable pu erh.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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79

Trying this one for a second time, and I’ll be switching up the parameters a little, decreasing the steep time to see what flavors that brings out. I still find the tuo cha to have a very mild and slightly nutty aroma, and the liquor to be not as reddish as many other pu erhs.

An initial rinse, and then a one minute steeping time. Now rather than savory, the liquor is sweet, with a definite earthy flavor and something akin to chocolate in the background. Very different from the inital long steep I did last time. The second steep is at two minutes, and is still quite sweet. I’m also getting more of the savory at this stage, plus continuing earthiness. I think this would be a good tea to continue experimenting with – it seems to yield interestingly different results with varying parameters.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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79

I chose this one as my final evaluation sample from Arbor Teas, as I’ve had good experiences with tuo chas in the past and wanted to see how this one measured up. I like that each piece is individually wrapped – it just appeals to the packaging nerd in me. The smell of the cake is mild, with a little bit of grain/cereal to it.

I gave it a quick rinse in hot water and then set it up for four minutes of steeping. The resulting liquor was dark and cloudy brown, and did not have the same level of reddishness to it I’d gotten used to seeing in pu-erhs. My first impression of the flavor was its full and savory character – similar in that way to the Camel’s Breath tuo cha from CTG, but dialed back just a bit.

This does not have the wonderful sweetness I got from Arbor Teas’ special grade pu-erh, but it does have lots of deep, stewy flavors. This might sound crazy, but I can actually imagine this iced next to a plate of ribs. Okay, that might actually be really nasty, but those are the kinds of flavors this one reminds me of. Looks like there’s plenty of strength left for multiple steeps, so I’m planning to give this another couple rounds later today.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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85

My last bit of this sample pack too, and again a little more than my usual amount of leaf. This is a really nice example of the oolong style, hewing pretty much straight down the middle of the green/black tea divide. There’s a bit of green vegetal flavoring, and some black roastiness, along with the typical rich mouthfeel of a good oolong.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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85

Had two infusions of this yesterday afternoon, but no time to log it until now. It’s probably just the fall season getting to me, but I swear they tasted roastier and more “fall-like” than previous tastings have. I am still getting some vegetal, spice, and fruit notes, but coated in a warm and slightly smoky cloak. This is definitely a tea that rewards deeper investigation!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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85

Had the time to do a couple of steeps of this (2 minutes the first time and 3 the second)and enjoyed it very much both times. I’m still getting the general sweetness I experienced last time, plus a very nice balance between the vegetal and slightly roasty or malty flavors. As it cooled I picked out more of the sweet tones, and really appreciated the rich feel this tea has. Good one!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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