Life In TeacupEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
With around 6g of beautiful chocolate chunk, a 150ml celadon gaiwan with boiling temperatures, one quick rinse and 10-15s infusions counting up for about a dozen times before one last 2m steep of happiness. This is such a smooth hei cha with a milky mouthfeel and enough cha qi to push you right into happy town. Beautiful large leaf and a dark orange liquor and sweet bamboo flavor notes. Great tingling sensation on the tongue. Traditional methods often add dairy and sugar or salt but personally I love this just the way it is. One of my favorites from Dark Matter 2016.
Another tea from the Dark Matter 2016 group buy. 5g , 150ml celadon gaiwan, various times and temps to bring out the entirety of the leaf. Beautiful sweet floral aromatic dry leaf and honey when wet. Too subtle with 15-20s short infusions and slight bitterness when moving into 45s. Enjoyable around 35s with just under boiling temps. This reminded me of a mellow bug bitten honey oolong. Fades quickly with multiple infusions. Beautiful large leaf both wet and dry. Love the aromatics just wish the flavor was as heavy. Still enjoyable but would probably continue to experiment with parameters.
I was surprised that this tea needed to be brewed Western style. I also need to try it again to really pay attention. I can say a few things, however. Malt predominated the cup, but a smooth caramelized malt with hints of a few other notes. It was fairly usual for a Yunnan Black, but the caffeine effect or really the qi was not. I’ve never been more alert from a black tea before. No jitters were felt. No head pressure endured.
I will write more about this tea, but for now, I’ll say thank you again to Whiteantlers. Now I need to divy up my tea and distribute it.
Oh Shit! This is Really damn good!
Malty,chocolatey with notes of dried fruit and hay, maybe even some honey notes in there and a slight caramel note comes through after a few steeps. Very smooth and kinda velvety, very delicious, No astringency or bitter at all. Severals very bold strong steeps, it just didn’t seem to want to play out, lost count of how many steeps because I was watching daredevil on Netflix.
A wonderful tea, Perfect for the Dark Matter.
I’m really enjoying this one, Thank You.
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Hay, Honey, Malt, Smooth
My 3rd tea from 2016 Dark Matter. After seeing no real reviews except for LP’s raving, I decided to give this one a go as it had caught my eye from the moment I first saw “Pine Needle”. Forgive my still-developing pallet if I can’t do it justice with my description:“That’s an odd name,” I thought, but the taste is a far cry from anything pine. It has a nice, creamy mouth-feel and it goes down silky smooth. I heard of all these chocolate flavors and smells in other reviews on other teas but I had never experienced one until now. There’s a definite, strong dark chocolate smell to the tea that was so surprising I had to ask my girlfriend to smell the lid of my gaiwan to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating it. The malt and hay flavors are present throughout and compliment the chocolaty flavors nicely. It ends light and sweet and left a chocolate covered cherry smell in my little 50ml cup. I lost track but got almost 10 solid steeps out of it as far as I can figure. This is my favorite of the 2016 Dark Matter so far and I will inevitably buy more when I can find it on the Life in a Teacup website (halp?). It’s just that good.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Hay, Malt
This is the second tea I’ve tried from the dark matter group buy!
I’m sad that this tea has an under-eighties average, because I think it deserves better than that. Hopefully the average will rise as it gets more reviews. I like it. It has a light, refined, sweetish flavor and is still distinctly post-fermented. I have no idea if I steeped it correctly or not, of course. I just used almost-boiling water, watched the leaves unfurl for a minute or two, then decided it was time to drink it, lol.
Hiya! Puerh Noob reporting in.. but in this case it should be Hei Cha Noob :P This is the first tea I chose to try from LP’s Dark Matter Group buy. It’s also my first Hei Cha! Whee! Excited and a little scared with not knowing what to expect other than it’s different from puerh.
7 or 8 steeps in and I know I’m going to have to revisit this tea, originally I didn’t think the flavor changed to big extent, but upon further reflection as I stare into my tea cup making mouth smacking sounds… I have to accept that this tea has just been very sneakily morphing it’s flavor profile through the steeps. I’ve noticed the change in scent more than in the flavor of the tea.. but it’s there… yes it is…
Scent wise my first cup made me think of a light roasted oolong – last cups the scent is much more marine like (meh, me no likey marine stuff).
Sooo this tea sorta confounds me (in a good way.) The first taste that i get is like the scent of fresh lumber from a hardware store, which in my book isn’t bad.. after all I’ve been drinking and liking puerh that tastes like dark damp wood and earth. What has COMPLETELY distracted me from the aforementioned subtle flavor morphing is how I’m experiencing this tea…Sounds crazy but this is a fast tea… It hits with the fresh lumber flavor and bam that gone and I’m hit with a really high pitched sweet experience, like an artificial sweetener, but then that disappears and I’m left with a pretty clean palette and my mouth is left salivating for more.. W. T. F???
10/11 steeps in – yes, I’m floating and starting to visit the bathroom alot.. gah.. I want a bigger bladder installed?? And I’m getting lazy soo other points of interest for me:
Steep 3 – added milk, was pleasantly surprised, milk goes very nicely with this, I’d do it again if I were in a milky tea mood. (I’ve tried to add milk to some shu and not been successful with that.)
The marine flavor is definitely getting stronger and deepening the wood flavor, so the flavor starts as a darker wood, super sweet bam and then a very faint nori end flavor that morphs into a lingering sweet/savory feeling in the mouth that lasts quite a while.
This tea is making me think waaaaaaay too hard, I’ve tossed the leaves that I’ve used into a mason jar since I think they still have alot of flavor to them and Life In a Teacup mentions that Tibetans like to drink the brew the next day.. not sure if they drink it cold or hot, but I like cold tea so I’m going to try it. :)
I’ve found that puerh lets me eat onions and things I’m not supposed to eat, without having to take an antacid with my meals… crossing my fingers that hei cha will do the same thing for my digestion and that I won’t wake up in the middle of the night in pain. Yes, I’m willing to live dangerously and be a guinea pig test subject. Will edit this with my results.
Would I recommend this? I think this is interesting, so yes. Would I buy it… that I’m on the fence about, only because I’m not a fan of marine-ish notes in my tea, though somehow I find this works and it’s not over the top. Based on steeps 1-7 or so? I was definitely interested, it’s the later steeps that are making me think harder about wanting more. Thankfully I can have another session with the sample I have to better evaluate how I feel. :D
Flavors: Marine, Sweet, Wet Wood
This is my 3rd session with this tea. As it was described as “purely dry stored” by the vendor, I was nonplussed the first time I drank it, as it had an overwhelming damp basement flavor. Now that I’ve allowed it to air out for a few months, the dry leaf no longer has the musty scent it had when I obtained it. It is the oldest sheng I have found which is reasonably affordable, but I’m glad I didn’t buy more than a small sample.
I gave it two rinses of about 10 s each with boiling water.
Earthy, slightly sweet, somewhat astringent. Whatever bitterness might have been present when the tea was young is entirely gone, as are any vegetal notes in the lid scent. The damp basement taste and astringency become more pronounced with later infusions. A woody note and an almost ethereal mouthfeel emerge around the 5th steep. The dry cup scent is floral perfume, strongly reminiscent of the better grades of shu.
By the 8th steep there is a profound mouth-drying astringency and the dominant flavor is of wet stone with a faintly sweet aftertaste. While still a deep clear copper color, the soup is beginning to thin out. I’m giving up after about 14 infusions, though there is more damp stone and astringency still in the leaf.
Flavors: Wet Rocks, Wood
I’m pretty sure this is the black tea I reviewed a few days ago after much deliberation by my fellow steepster friends. And the description just fits from the other tasting notes.
Here’s the review that belongs here:
“Whiteantlers, the Red (Black) Tie Guan Yin you sent me is fantastic. The dry leaf reminded me of a Laoshan Black. The leaves themselves were black strings tipped by gold. This is exactly the type of Black Tea I prefer. 30 sec, then 55 sec, 1 min 15, 3 min, and 5 min. First, I get cocoa, malt, thickness, berries, jam, and a little bit of astringency. Second, more jam and cocoa. Third a leathery quality comes out with the berry jam. The same can be said of the fourth. The fifth just has light berry jam and cocoa in light water. This is good. Really good. Thank you so much!”
I am happy to repeat this review again and this tea is incredible for today’s lovely Easter afternoon.
Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Chocolate, Cocoa, Creamy, Jam, Malt, Thick
Dark Matter 2016, taste test
I bought over $40 of samples from Life in Teacup and they were nice enough to just take my money and pick out what they thought would be best :)
I was constantly reminded of the ‘Pine Needle’ tea from Yunnan because it highly suggested from them. Currently it is not being sold online so I feel a little special to try it. At first I drank it at work on break and played with the leaf: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBqREXaRYOj/
I’m now drinking it at home and decided that there is no way I could leave this out of the 2nd group buy I have going on this year: Dark Matter. This tea absolutely wonderful. It’s not often you’ll hear me say such a thing about a Yunnan black tea because they are all malty and lovely. What sets this apart? The mouth feel lingers for over 30 seconds and the taste just hits your brain like ‘woah’. No complains from me. No doubt in my mind that this is going to cause people to go over to Life in Teacup after trying this when they get it :)
It’s surprising really how much of a difference 10°F can make in a cup of tea. At 185°F this tea was slightly sweet with only the barest hint of a floral note. The strong earthy flavor obscured any of the more complex notes I was expecting, leaving the tea tasting more like pu’erh than oolong. Increasing the water temperature only accentuated the deep earthy flavor of this tea. If I had started out with a blind sample prepared with boiling water I never would have guessed I was drinking oolong. I also found it fascinating that unlike fresh tea, this tea didn’t turn bitter or develop an astringency when I chose to use hotter water or an extended steeping time. The flavor only became deeper and more earthy, with a slight mineral note at the end.
You can read the full review on my blog:
Out of all the teas I could drink when I’m upset, I chose this one. This is one of the teas I bought a sample of for the next group buy; which I am going to make quite special because I’m going to arrange all the taste and quality by testing the products first.
So, the only time I’ve ever had a black TGY was from Verdant when they had the experimental oolongs they sent out for one of the monthly subscriptions. This one, in comparison, is lighter which helps bring out the life of the TGY in it. I brewed this one with 90c instead of 100c because I wanted to pull out the subtle notes; such as floral and sweetness. Thankfully it worked out :)
This tea rebrewed over six times and probably could go more, but I moved on to sheng which had me switch.
Overall: This is a surprising tea with lots of sweet notes at the end of the taste while still having the upfront black tea taste and smell. The look of the leaf isn’t rolled/balled which was odd, but as a black tea I suppose it makes sense. This is something that I will be comparing to three other products that in the same category (it’s actually number 2) and right now I’m unsure of which of the two takes the spot… I’ve got a few months to figure this out :)
This is an inexpensive shou that Life in Teacup is selling at $1/15 g. sample in order to introduce pu’erh to the public. Toward that end, the name is appropriate and kind of cool and made me interested in trying it.
The tea itself is…not that exciting. It’s similar to other inexpensive shous I’ve tried that are advertised as “easy to drink” teas for new pu’erh drinkers. It smells and tastes overwhelmingly like hay, making me feel like I’m on a hayride or in a horse barn. This doesn’t appeal to me. I think whenever I get through the pu’erh samples I currently have on hand, I’ll go for slightly better quality than I have so far. Increasing each steep by 15 seconds, you get tons of hay tea infusions, which is… Bleh. The complexity I’m told pu’erh brings to the tea world is conspicuously absent. I guess it’s true that it’s easy to drink in the sense that it’s mild and doesn’t have any particularly offensive flavors. Just not exciting.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the sample from Life in Teacup. They’re a cool company to order samples from. I think I just bought this one sample for $1.00 and and paid shipping, and they shipped me 3 oolong tea samples (which were really what I wanted in the order). I would not recommend or buy this. I’m thinking my strategy of starting out on communist tea is a bit misguided — next time I shop for pu’erh, I’ll go for middle-range prices and higher quality.
I don’t know that I’d say I recommend it per se. It’s certainly worth the dollar charge that got me all the other free samples. I wouldn’t advocate buying more than the sample size though.
Sipdown no. 191. A sample, and the last Life in Teacup oolong sample. (Sniff.)
At least they went out with a bang. The leaves smelled grassy green in the packet but did some amazing things after steeping. I steeped this in the gaiwan starting with 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments.
1. Pale yellow tea with a milky, floral scent. Flavor is light, more floral/grassy than vegetal, something that initially presents with a slightly bitter edge but quickly smooths into a sort of green nutty flavor like chestnuts.
The cup smells very fragrant, a distinctive floral smell. I’m guessing this is why it is called osmanthus.
2. Same color, similar aroma but deeper. Flavor is fascinating. Starts as green floral and ends as green nuts. Along the way it morphs into various things too fleeting to pin down and describe. Really wonderful and, dare I say, fun.
By the end of the second steep, the leaves have almost tripled in volume.
3. Greener color. Nectar in the aroma! Nuttiness is forefront in the flavor now with floral afterwards, but the nuttiness returns in the aftertaste, light and raw and reminds me of Brazil nuts.
4. Greener again, nectar has become milder. Flavor similar to 3.
5. Similar to 4 but the nuttiness is now milder and the floral aroma/flavor is much more noticeable.
Aftertaste is sweet and fresh for a while after drinking.
Flavors: Chestnut, Floral, Green, Milk, Nectar, Nutty, Osmanthus
Sipdown no. 190. since I’ve started counting sipdowns. A sample.
Ten more sipdowns to 200. Sadly, I will not have even made a noticeable dent in my tea stash after hitting 200. I’m wondering at what point I’ll actually see it start to look smaller? Just for fun, I think I’ll try to make a prediction when I actually do hit 200.
Though I haven’t made much of an overall dent, I am getting to the end of the Life In Teacup samples. I have one more oolong sample from them (I think) after this and a few pu erh samples. I have mixed feelings, of course. These oolong samples have been lovely, and part of me is sorry to see them go. On the other hand, I got to enjoy them, finally. And it’s not like it’s the end, either. I did buy some oolong from Life In Teacup and have most of that left in my stash as well.
But anyway, this tea. I looked up what the competition grading meant and found this:
Apparently, this won fourth place in an oolong competition.
I’m also slightly confused because I’ve had a Dong Ding from Life In Teacup which I thought was terrific and a Cui Yu, which I also liked. Not sure what makes this both?
I put this through my usual five steeps starting at 15 seconds and adding five seconds per steep. The tea comes in tightly rolled dark green balls that smelled foresty to me. It steeps to a clear pale yellow-light green.
I’m not usually at a loss for descriptive terms, but I’m having something of a tough time describing the aroma and taste of this one. It’s certainly not a dark roasty toasty oolong though it has a hint of roastiness. Nor does it seem to be a purely green oolong. I mostly get a sort of raw nuttiness in the aroma and flavor with some floral notes around the edges and a hint of milkiness. It’s extremely mild and smooth.
Very enjoyable, albeit somewhat hard to define. I wonder whether if I’d used hotter water I would have got more of the amazingness out of it that I got out of the Dong Ding of a couple of days ago?
Flavors: Floral, Milk, Nutty, Roasted
Sipdown no. 186. A sample.
I had a different experience of this than some other notes reflect, but I steeped in the gaiwan for short infusions starting at 15 seconds and adding increments of five seconds for a total of five infusions.
I also used water a bit hotter than I usually do for oolongs, mostly because something happened to the outlet where my zojirushi was plugged in and I had to reboil the water. I didn’t have the patience to wait for the water to cool, so I used it as it was on its way down from boiling.
The result was that my experience of this was more like a green oolong than a roasted one, but it was at the same time a bit unusual for a green. The aroma had a sort of a milky floral scent at first but mellowed over subsequent steeps into something that smelled fresh and nutty — but not roasted nutty. More like green (unroasted) almonds. By the third steep, the floral notes were quite lovely. I thought of lilacs, though I’m not sure that’s actually what I smelled, and by the fourth and fifth steeps, I got a whiff of fresh, raw, sweet, warm root vegetable, carrot maybe. A little less pronounced in the fifth steep. Perhaps more like turnip or parsnip. The wet leaf smelled like sweet potatoes to me.
Really tasty and wonderful, but I wonder whether cooler water would have yielded the same flavors. Oh well, I am not likely to find out soon as I’m on lock down. All I can say is this was excellent tonight.
Flavors: Almond, Carrot, Floral, Green, Milk, Sweet Potatoes
Sipdown no. 181. Another Life In Teacup oolong sample.
This one is pretty special. Unfortunately I’m not seeing it on the Life In Teacup site now. The dry leaves are dark brown and delicate looking, and they smell like your basic roasty highly oxidized oolong, including the sharp darjeeling-y note.
Steeped, they produce a clear, amber colored liquor, with a roasty, nutty (mostly hazelnut, I think, but also suggesting almond), stonefruit (peach, maybe?) aroma.
The flavor is, however, pleasantly unexpected. It’s not the usual roasty dark oolong flavor. It’s remarkably smooth and soft tasting, with an unusual sweetness to it, but not overly sweet.
I am not sure have had a Bai Hao before, but I am now a fan. This is one of the better, if not the best, Taiwan dark oolongs I’ve had.
I steeped this in the gaiwan at 195F for short steeps after rinsing, starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 second increments.
The first two steeps had the lovely sweet, rounded softness to them.
The third and fourth were a bit less sweet and more hazel-nutty tasting but still very smooth.
By the fifth, the softness was still there but there was also a little sharpening around the edges beginning, which I think heralded the leaves being about to reach their limit.
I went ahead and did one more steep after that, by which this was still flavorful but starting to taste more ordinary, for lack of a better word.
Still probably the best Taiwan oolong I’ve tasted to this point, as its rating reflects.
Flavors: Almond, Hazelnut, Smooth, Stonefruits
Sipdown no. 175. A sample.
I am really enjoying the oolong samples from Life in Teacup. I’ve been wanting to try them, but I wanted to be sure I had the time to really do them justice and I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend some time with them recently.
The dry leaves are dark green and tightly rolled. They have a scent that reminded me of asparagus, fluctuating with a grassy, hay-like aroma.
Indeed, “fluctuates” is a word that describes this tea pretty accurately. I steeped this in the gaiwan at 195F for six steeps, starting at 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments, and I found that it moved back and forth in both aroma and flavor between floral and buttery, though with respect to the flavor the butter didn’t come out until the later steeps.
In the earlier steeps, 1, 2, and 3, the flavor was brighter and more “green,” vegetal and strongly floral, even though the aroma had a sort of buttery, milky aspect to it. The buttery flavor didn’t really come out until the last couple of steeps. Even then it wasn’t as strong and creamy as some tieguanyins, but it was still very tasty.
I liked it a little better than the green jade I had yesterday, but a lot of this has to do with mood. If I was looking for something with a brighter, more green tea like flavor, I’d choose the jade. Something more green oolongy, I’d choose this.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Floral, Milk
Sipdown no. 172. A sample.
Wow, what a pleasant little tea. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, and it was a nice surprise.
The leaves are rolled and green, and they smell fresh and a little grassy in the packet. I steeped them in short infusions in the gaiwan at 195F, starting with 15 seconds after rinsing first.
1. Pale yellow liquor. Vegetal fragrance, a little like spinach or maybe bok choy. Pleasant vegetal flavor, a bit like a Chinese green tea.
2. A bit darker yellow this time. Fragrance is similar to no. 1 with something floral around the edges. Deeper flavor, somewhere between spinach and freshly mown grass. Very smooth and fresh tasting.
3. Liquor color is hanging tough at the same pale yellow. More pronounced floral note this time. I’m still getting a green tea flavor, a bright flavor rather than a buttery one. But I’m wondering if this is trying to morph into something like a tieguanyin in later steeps.
4. A little paler yellow with a greenish tinge. Aroma is less bright, more mellow, heading toward something reminiscent of diary. Flavor still bright and fresh. I don’t think this is going to head any more toward a tieguanyin than it already has, which isn’t much. Leaves have pretty much completely unfurled at this stage and they’re a sort of olive color.
5. Looks yellower this time. The flavor is starting to fade a bit, a bit less bright, a bit more mellow without reaching buttery.
Very enjoyable. I could definitely drink this again.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Floral, Grass, Green, Spinach
Sipdown no. 169. Another sample I’ve been considering for a while and finally decided to try.
This is a visually fun tea, particularly when prepared as suggested at the LIT site and as described in other folks’ notes, where you cover the bottom of your mug with tea, pour in water, and then wait for the leaves to fall to the bottom leaving the jasmine flowers floating on the surface. It looks a lot like the picture, though my tea’s liquor ended up being a darker, more golden yellow. It was fun to watch, but I confess that when I went to drink the tea, after the first few sips I poured it through an infuser basket because the petals kept sticking to my lips and I found that disconcerting. YMMV.
I really love jasmine as a tea flavor, and this is a nice jasmine green. The jasmine is strong — pretty intense, actually — on the dry leaf, in the aroma, and particularly in the taste. But it tastes very natural (unlike some jasmine greens I’ve tried where the jasmine tastes sort of sprayed on). I can definitely discern the tea underneath but not enough to be able to separate it from the jasmine and describe its character as a green. Mine was just a tad on the bitter side, but I think that was because I usually only steep greens for 1.5 minutes max. That’s what I intended to do here, but because I futzed around a bit with the petals sticking to my lips before I decided to strain them out, I left the tea steeping a bit too long for my taste. In other words, I don’t think it is necessarily the tea’s fault.
If I had more of this, I’d try it again and see if I could improve my results. But since I don’t and I’m unlikely to be in the market for any green tea soon, I have to rate this based on this single experience. And I would have liked to be able to taste the tea a bit more and the jasmine a bit less. That said, I like it well enough that I’d definitely give it another shot given the opportunity.
Flavors: Butter, Green, Jasmine
Sipdown no. 168. This sample has been staring at me for a while, and I’ve been staring back. One of us was bound to blink eventually. It’s a rather aged sample, but it has been stored in a cool, dry, dark place, vacuum sealed and never opened until today, so while it may not be a prime example I feel pretty confident it’s at least a choice one.
I am an oolong fan, and as much as I love the roasty toasty ones, if I had to be stranded on a desert island with one, I’d probably pick a tie guan yin. I just really enjoy the lightness and butteryness and the green floral notes. In terms of white wines, I tend to gravitate toward Chardonnays, and the Chardonnays I like best are the buttery ones rather than the crisp green apple ones, though sometimes those hit the spot as well. I have an association in my mind between green oolongs and Chardonnays, obviously. But anyway.
My sample also didn’t have the word Yongchun in it, but I’m sure this is from Life In Teacup. Gingko has been extremely generous with her samples so I have had a lot of them over the years, and I recognize the label on this one as having the same fonts as others from LIT. Even though mine came in a green package rather than a red one as someone else mentioned.
I am also something of an Earl Grey fan, though I don’t love overpowering bergamot. I like just enough to give the tea that characteristic Earl Grey flavor without having the citrus forward. I was a bit worried that this would have too much citrus for me, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.
Other commentators have observed that they didn’t really taste the Bergamot. If I didn’t know it was there, I might not have tasted it either. I smelled something citrusy in the dry leaf, which was green and rolled and otherwise smelled buttery.I steeped this for short infusions in the gaiwan, starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 seconds to each infusion through a total of five.
1. Pale yellow green, buttery, oolong aroma. Tasty vegetal flavor with a crispness that may be the bergamot.
2. Similar color, a bit more yellow. Floral notes come out more in the aroma. More floral notes in the taste, and the same crsipness as well as something citrusy, but very subtle.
3. True yellow in color and a bit darker. Floral, sweet flavor with a hint of sugar. More mellow citrus flavor, but amazingly still a crisp edge.
4. No color change, less sugar, more milky/buttery aroma. Bright floral taste. Don’t really taste the citrus except in the finish.
5. Very similar to 4.
The aftertaste is where the citrus really came out for me. As I sit here typing this probably fifteen minutes after drinking, I can taste a sort of orange zest aftertaste.
All told, this was a pleasant surprise. I think I’d been avoiding it out of fear that the bergamot would be too strong, but didn’t have to worry. The main effect of the bergamot, to my mind, was to brighten and crispen the taste some. It’s like the crisp Chardonnay vs. the buttery one. Each has its place.
Couldn’t find this on the LIT site now, but if it comes back and you have a chance to try it, you should.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Floral, Milk, Vegetal