Life In Teacup

Recent Tasting Notes

87

Real nice black tea. Has some very pronounced creamy, thick, malty cocoa notes – even reminencent of a black Assam. Delicious in every sip and very warming to the body.

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

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Having this one today. It reminds me a lot of Heritage Honey Oolong from Mountain Tea. That one is from Taiwan. This is Fujian. Very nice cup. I was expecting heavy smoke or roasted notes. Nope. It is fresh and fruity with hints of osmanthus, ginger, and cinnamon, all wrapped in nuts and orchids.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Bai Ya Qi Lan Oolong by Life In Teacup
1351 tasting notes

I resteeped the leaves from two days ago and this still seems very flavorful. The unfortunate thing is I was filling a candy dish with spice drops and of course I had to have one (or three), now the tea has little flavor. Mostly I taste the roastiness and smell some floral.

My dad always has these spice drops around because we both love them, especially the purple ones – they taste like black jelly beans. I hate the green ones and the white ones, they taste like toothpaste. For fun I poured the bag out and put back only the green and white ones. The rest went in the candy dish. I’ll take the bag to dad. He will find it pretty funny.

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drank Bai Ya Qi Lan Oolong by Life In Teacup
1351 tasting notes

This is really an interesting oolong even if I didn’t get the marshmallow others mentioned. The dry leaf smells like you put your face in bunch of vines and inhaled. The taste of the liquor is green and by that I mean alive. It is kind of earthy. There is a light roasted element. It is only lightly floral to me in comparison to tiequanyin – those I often find to be geranium or latex like. Not this one. I have never been around orchids so I can’t compare but this is very pleasant in taste. The interesting thing to me is an almost pineapple taste. All of these aspects come together to make an amazing cup at only $3.99/oz.

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

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drank Rou Gui by Life In Teacup
1351 tasting notes

I don’t have a picture or a seller description for this one.

The dry leaves a big and dark. They turn black after steeping. While steeping the roasty aroma pours out of the press. This appears to be a medium-heavy roasted Wuyi oolong. The taste is not what I expected.

Sure it has the heavy dark roasted flavor but it also has a prickly fruity/floral thing going on that is somewhere between mango and geranium.

Next I added sweetener to see how it would react. It did not cover or bring out any flavors. What it did was warm the flavors so the melded together. The roasty notes a less dominant early in the sip and explode later. The fruity/floral is now more developed into something resembling tieguanyin.

If you like the darker oolongs this was an interesting one.

Terri HarpLady

I have been contemplating an order from Life in Teacup for quite some time.

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drank Wuyi Jin Jun Mei by Life In Teacup
1351 tasting notes

Remember a few mornings days ago when I needed black tea and couldn’t read the labels? This is the tea I was looking for then in my zombie like state. As much as I needed it, I’m glad I didn’t find it until today so I could enjoy it with my mind and senses in operating order. I think I could almost give up Earl Grey for Fujian black tea and this is a very tasty example.

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drank Wuyi Jin Jun Mei by Life In Teacup
1351 tasting notes

Wild Thing you make my heart sing. Fujian Jin Jun Mei do I need to say more? I found I prefer this with steeps around one minute. It can get a bit drying with long western steeps. Keep it short and this delivers the goods. Honey, caramel/cocoa, and lighter malt than I normally associate with this tea. Re-steeps well.

Terri HarpLady

I’ve been wanting to order from Life in Teacup for awhile now.

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This is actually the 2013 version of this tea. It has Yunnan in the name so I immediately come up with an idea of what this should taste like. I’ll learn someday. The leaf is captivating. I’m glad no one was around to watch me playing with the leaf. Non-tea people already look at me with concern. Long and twisted with some heft to the appearance. For Chinese green tea the dry leaf is big. The taste is really hard to define. It isn’t weird. It’s just different. If I am using the term correctly it is umami. It is also quite subtle. The liquor itself has a kind of broth like quality – or at least this is what I’m perceiving.

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Had this one a few days ago. Steeped it is almost colorless until it cools. The taste is similar to Haung Shan Moa Feng but far less assertive. This is a quiet but deep green tea. Life in Teacup believes they are the only vendors to offer this outside of China. That in itself peaks my curiosity.

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88

Backlog:

I found this tea in my stash some time ago, and I feared that it would have been stale, but it wasn’t. The sample had been sealed well, so the flavor was intact. This is a really delicious tea.

A very delightfully floral and crisp tasting tea … something that enlivens the palate … great for afternoon sipping.

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87

Backlog:

A very flavorful white tea … this is a tea that I’d recommend to someone who thinks they don’t like white tea because the flavor is too delicate. This tea might change their mind!

Sweet, earthy, and vegetative … with the vegetal notes tasting a bit more like hay than grass or vegetables. There is a vague spice note to this tea as well, which I really enjoyed. Not really “spicy” but just a gentle warmth.

There’s a warm nutty taste to this cup too. A soft texture to the tea, very light and easy to drink. No bitterness with a moderate astringency. A really enjoyable cuppa.

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87

I’m sorry I didn’t have more of this tea. Pale in color, I’m basing this review off of a small amount I had left over from the initial sample I received and made no notes on. Yielding very small (for me) 3-4 oz cups with the 2 tsp of leaf I probably had remaining, I still got a satisfying cup. Light citrus notes with a mild tingling mouth feel. Did I leave the zipper from the packaging undone? Or did it just open easily when I went to smell the tea? I hope the latter. Wish I could double or even triple the amount of tea for this much water. This is an exercise in the subtle compared to the rich, thick Long Jing steepings I’ve grown accustomed to lately.

I go for a cooler water brew of about 1min, followed by braver extensions of time… 2, 3, 4 mins. At first I’d brewed using the cooled the water from preheating my infuser, then I skipped this step, letting the water having cooled in my kettle suffice.

I imagine some of my tea drinking friends might say this tastes like water, and with the aftertaste of grilled onions still on my palate from my dinner earlier, I’d tend to agree. But I know better, and allow my taste buds to listen, dialing me back in.

Most of my tea drinking for the last few months has been while very active at work. As such, though I try to prepare it somewhat carefully on the go, I think I’ve lost a bit of sensitivity. While preparing a tea like this is a meditation, a reminder.

I think next year I will invest, purchasing more, so that I can truly appreciate what this tea has to offer.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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95

Backlog:

One day, I’ll be caught up … no matter what Sil says!

I love Li Shan and Ali Shan Oolong teas – they are my favorite types of Oolong tea (although there are a couple of other ones that come close.)

This is sweet, creamy and LUSH. Very smooth – no sharpness, very little astringency, and absolutely not bitter. The astringency is so barely there that if you’re just casually sipping, you won’t notice it … it’s only when I’m really focused on the nuances of this cup that I detect the slight hint of astringency.

I got 10 infusions out of this tea – and it was well worth that effort! Delicious!

Terri HarpLady

I’ve been eyeing the Life in Teacup site for quite awhile…

LiberTEAS

@Terri: I love the company. Some of the finest quality teas available anywhere!

Sil

Terri… step away from the website. NOVEMBER

Terri HarpLady

A girl can dream, right?
Besides, they are closed until sometime in oct, so it won’t be hard to wait until november, right?

Sil

i’m watching you tea sister! we MUST stay strong!

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79
drank Wild Oolong by Life In Teacup
152 tasting notes

Dry – Sweet, fruity, refreshing reminiscent of a white peony.
Wet – Sweet, tart-floral notes, sweet corn, fruit and smells more like an Oolong when wet.

1st 10secs Sweet, green (like a fresh white peony/high mountain green) and slightly nutty up front. As it goes down, it has a more apparent floral note with very light bitter/tartness that gives a good mouth feel. The aftertaste is sweet nutty with an Anxi Oolong taste at the end.

2nd 15secs Sweet, Anxi oolong floral notes with a buttery-creamy hint and some of the green from before up front. As it goes down, it is nutty with the bitter-tartness of the floral notes and a more apparent mouth feel. The aftertaste is bittersweet floral that resembles an Anxi oolong with more sweetness.

3rd 20secs Sweet, green Anxi floral-notes with a slightly buttery-creamy and nutty taste up front. As it washes down it is more floral with slight tart-bitterness. The notes are a bit more apparent in this steep. The aftertaste is sweet, nutty and resembles an Anxi Oolong.

Final Notes
This is an OK tea. I liked that it had traits that reminded me of teas other than Oolongs, like the freshness of smelling a white peony and some ‘greener’ notes in between the more obvious Oolong traits. It is sweeter than most Anxi Oolongs, but with the same bittersweet finish. It is a good tea but is not something I would revisit unless I happened to have it already. It held up well until the 5th steep when it started showing some astringency, possibly because it isn’t very uniform but still a good tea.

If you have some time visit my blog!
http://thetinmycup.blogspot.com/

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C

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98

Dry - Sweet, refreshing, fruity-floral, nutty, baked greens.
Wet - Roasted oats, sweet, refreshing, vegetal yet floral-fruity and somewhat creamy.
Liquor - Pale Green – very fragrant nutty, floral and sweet.

Quick Notes Before the review
– I drank this tea twice before writing these notes. I initially made notes but found that even though there were minor differences; on ‘paper’ it resembled the Shi Fen Long Jing’s notes. I knew there were differences. But I couldn’t properly describe them from memory. I did a side by side tasting between the two and made the notes. I used smell to determine the times for each steep but I’ll give a rounding of the time for each steep.

1st – 25 secs Delicate fruity-floral with some tartness and slightly creamy thickness that was also delicate and smooth. As it washed down nutty vegetal notes dominate its body. Once is left the mouth, The floral-fruity notes become more apparent and enjoyable with refreshing finish.

2nd – 20 secs Still a delicate initial taste but this time the tea give more apparent nuttiness with stronger floral-fruity tartness that slowly smooths and becomes thicker and smoother, almost buttery. As it washes down, the tea becomes vegetal-nutty and even though it is smooth is not full bodied, medium would be a better description giving its more refreshing and juicy finish.

3rd – 20 secs A more floral-fruity start with evident juicy tartness and a nutty finish up front. As it covers the tongue, it is more floral without parting its vegetal and nutty traits. As it washes down, it is somewhat sweeter and crisp that leaves a pleasant floral and refreshing sensation.

4th – 35 secs Taking a bit of a turn it starts up sweeter and floral-fruity that becomes slightly cleaner bu wear some faint floral tartness. As it washes down, it still has hints of vegetal nuttiness but seem to fade, overpowered by a sweeter and juicier freshness at the end.

Final Notes
I was able to get 5-7 (sometimes 8) good steeps out of this one, anything past that point had astringency that I avoid in all greens. Since I tried this one side by side with the Pre-QingMing Shi Feng Long Jing I was able to spot side by side differences and of course when you have a direct comparison everything is more evident.

The main differences between the two are: Shi Feng is on the ‘savory’ side I would go with Umami for a better description a bit more broth like; while Da Fo, is vegetal but has more dominant sweetness. Also, Shi Feng seems to have a more filling broth/soup sensation to it, even when it has very refreshing features; Da Fo, has a very similar first steep apart from the sweetness but rapidly becomes more refreshing and even cleaner in taste (not tasteless, rather juicy). Finally, esthetics. Shi Feng has a coarser look to it, which I believe gives it its more apparent taste; Da Fo is a lot more consistent and ‘pretty’ looking but its flavor is not as apparent but it is more lasting through the steeps. I prefer Da Fo, not because of its looks but for the price you get a really amazing tea.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C

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96

Dry - Nutty, sweet, roasty and cool/refreshing.
Wet - Very nutty vegetal, toasted nut hints, fruity tartness, some floral notes.
Liquor - Very light, yellow with a green hue.

Quick notes I did several Steeps and I didn’t really time the steeps. I mostly used the smell as a guide to determine when I wanted to try it. The times I specified are round ups to what I thought I did, but I did follow Ginko’s recommendations about time but also did some on my own to get that trial and error sweet spot.

1st – 20 secs Roasted nut hints reminiscent of rice scented tea, vegetal, like yellow squash with a full body that stays in the tongue. The nutty and vegetal notes stay in the mouth and becomes refreshing and very pleasant.

2nd – 25 secs Sweeter with a more apparent fruity/floral tanginess and even more refreshing somewhat minty. The taste is nutty vegetal again resembles yellow squash and still wears the nutty rice taste. It is very refreshing yet filling.

3rd – 35 secs Sweeter and ‘juicier’ rather than full bodied with the tart fruity/floral notes being more evident that previously. The taste is more floral and complex but maintains some vegetal and nutty notes in the background. Still somewhat filling but mostly refreshing.

Final Notes
- A very good tea indeed. I’m glad I pre-ordered this one from Gingko, the price was a bit better in the pre-order offer. I really loved it but want to make sure I clarify that even though the tea has pleasant sweetness, I find it to be more in the umami side of teas. Not necessarily savory, when I think about savory green tea, the taste of vegetal broth comes to mind.

This tea was very delicate and very well balanced the whole time. I can make around 4-6 good steeps with the tea, after that I start getting some astringency in the mouth, the taste is still pleasant but I avoid astringency in most greens; Japanese tea being the exception to the rule for me.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C

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88

Brewed in my Finum, traditional green tea temps. Surprising viscosity is the first impression. Wonderful mouthfeel and light tender smokiness. Not a fan usually of anything smokey, on the contrary I’m into this. Lovely pale yellow/green color to the liquor. Sweet undertones that progressively reveal from steep to steep and linger on the palate, along with an intriguing tingle of astringency that carries through to the end. I extended brewing time for each infusion until later, with cooler water, I was letting it sit a good solid 2 mins. Got at least five 5oz cups with half my sample pack.

Another win from the 2013 Green Tea Sample Packs from Life In Teacup!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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87

Grrrr. I hate when I lose a carefully crafted tasting note….. Oh well.

First off, do yourself a favor and get the 2013 sample packs of green tea from Life In Teacup before they’re gone. I’m SO glad I did. It’s been a wonderful journey that will soon come to an end, as my box of tea is dwindling.

2nd, I almost dismissed this tea for a variety of reasons: 1) It looks like gunpowder, and I don’t tend to go for that type of tea, 2) some sites describe it as smokey due to being roasted over charcoal, not so much for me & 3) the small packet (the smallest of all the samples) doesn’t have a zip lock, so it feels like more of a commitment to open.

Those were all just dumb reasons. Don’t delay is all I gotta say.

I brewed this tea in my glass 8 oz infuser, using half the capacity to 1 tsp of tea. Boiling water was used to preheat the infuser, transferred to my Finum cup and then used for the 1st steep of about 1 min. I didn’t measure, but this usually brings water temps to about 170-175ºF.

What’s particularly magical about this tea is how it appears so mundane, and then unravels itself to become the loveliest pristine 2 leaf and bud sets you’ve ever seen, rivaling some of the more exquisite long jings I’ve had. It’s wonderful to watch in glass, dive and fall, uncurling with almost a life of its own. And that little tsp takes you a long way; 5 steeps as I write this.

These aren’t overwhelming flavors per se, but lovely, lasting clear tones. Here astringency is just that, astringency. Not to be confused with bitterness, but a real note that carries from steep to steep, framing a subtle, but undeniable sweetness, a refreshing light quality that doesn’t become dry. If you’ve ever had wine that is off, gone kinda mildly carbonated, and then been introduced to a wine (non-sparkling) where that light bubble is actually an asset, used to enhance and bring more complexity to the flavor profile, then you will understand what I mean by how the astringency here really serves this tea.

I increase steeping time as I move forward, using color and fullness of the leaves as a guide. Overall the liquor tends toward a pale yellow-green, a bit hard to discern in the waning natural light here near sunset. The latter steeps start to lose me a bit, and midway through I got the strangest kind of seafood sent, mildly fishy. Not sure what that’s about, but it wasn’t unpleasant, just weird.

I feel good about this tea late in the day, alert but not particularly lifted. I wonder about it’s theanine content. From the looks of the leaves, and their early spring harvest, it leads me to believe it would have a decent amount.

Many sites describe this tea as being stronger than most greens. Maybe I need to increase the amount of tea, but I didn’t find that to be the case. It appeared my 1 tsp was a good ratio of tea to water after everything was hydrated, so I think I got a good representation of what one should expect. I will try a tbsp next time instead maybe and see how that goes. As a matter of fact, I’m kinda excited about how that will turn out and am tempted to go all in now. But I think 6 4oz cups of tea at 7P is enough for this guy!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Preliminary review

Experience buying from Life in Teacup http://steepster.com/places/2861-life-in-a-teacup-online-easthampton-massachusetts

I bought an ounce of this from Life in Teacup in the spring of 2012 and brewed it up days later on 6/22/2012.

Nothing stands out about the appearance of the leaf: to me the dry leaf looks like Chun Mee, and while brewing it (no in-depth analysis yet) I can see that the wet leaf has a number of torn pieces in it; still it’s relatively uniform-looking with an army green color and a number of whole leaves (looking at it while sitting in my strainer/sieve after I did the third). The aroma while steeping on the third was kind of sour (I did the third steeping pretty short after ‘sniffing’ a sour aroma), and not really very pleasant (at least to me it’s wasn’t).

Still, after having three steepings of this tea this morning, my wife and I both like the flavor of it: no smokiness, no astringency or bittterness, with a mild but good, vegetal flavor (and solid flavor even on the third). Tentatively speaking (based on this initial steeping session), this one is a possible re-buy the next time I buy tea from Life in Teacup (at $4 / OZ).

I hope to update this (and assign a numerical rating) the next time I do another steepings session on it.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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My first thought when sipping this tea was “My god, this is the best tea I’ve tasted this spring!” After finishing the first cup, the rest of the tea in my chahai had turned undrinkable. So, kinda hard start.

Leaves are beautiful, wet and dry. I’ve been missing those tight, sharp needles! Aroma is dry, sweet. Leaves are dancing nicely in the pot ( I use small, gongfu-style glasspots)

Taste is complex, yet remarkably balanced. Sweetness, some sourness as well. Usually when tea tastes sour it tastes sour in a way I don’t like it, but this time it works for me. There is also the dry nut-like taste, which is tied to the sourness. Taste is quite wide. I am assuming I used too much leaves (I felt like using more than I usually do) and while that resulted in a great first sip, the taste quickly transformed, and got more bitterness.

I am not very experienced in yellow teas. There is something very similar in the body of this tea and Huo Shan Huang Ya I have, I’m assuming that’s the “yellow” taste. Tasting blind I would have assumed this was green.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Jesse Örö

This tea was surprisingly strong. I have got this strong teahigh from only a couple of teas, know that I am again used to spring teas.

Nathaniel Gruber

Interesting review. Generally I wouldn’t associate bitterness with yellow tea. In your opinion do you think this was strictly the use of too much leaf material or is it missing something of quality? I’d be interested to know because the few yellow teas that I have tried are vegetal and sweet but I’ve never tried one that turned bitter.

Jesse Örö

For some reason I decided to use more leaves than usually, I used about 1,5 times the “normal leaf amount”. I don’t have a scale, but the amounts I am normally using are similar to those used by other I’ve made tea with.
Of course all teas change in the cup, and this one changed towards bitterness. It tasted like I had brewed it too long for that leaf amount. So, I think I overbrew this one at first, but that became “visible” only after a moment -maybe the tea settled down and got mixed up better, or maybe it just got changed by time.
You say you’ve never tried one that turned bitter? At all? I mean, as far as I know there aren’t many teas that can stand anything, there is always a way to make bad cup out of tea. Well, this year some of the best green teas have been almost invincible, practically impossible to go wrong.

Jesse Örö

I sincerely believe this tea is of high quality. It’s possible that something just happened – one can never “control” tea, maybe this was one of those occasions of tea acting weirdly on it’s own.

Nathaniel Gruber

Fair enough. You’re right, each time you make a tea it will taste different based upon a number of factors including the mood of the one making the tea.

I think I was more getting at the point that the majority of the really best Chinese teas are very difficult to over-brew. Depends on the kind of tea…a Sheng Pu’er is going to be touchier than an Oolong generally. Yellow tea, to me, has always been so pleasant and mild that I was a bit surprised to hear that it turned bitter on you.

Interesting stuff. I’d be fascinated to try this tea!

Jesse Örö

Well, I think I agree, it’s weird how it got bitter, usually this good tea doesn’t act like that.

Many of these higher end spring teas (green, white, yellow) seem to go really dry and sour in a negative way when overbrewn. I think there is something similar happening with wulongs sometimes, when using lots of leaves and a longer steeps. Taste goes “stuck”, there is simply too much of each flavour in the cup, and they start to supress each other.

Nathaniel Gruber

Yeah, I could imagine what you mean. I have had some pretty negative experiences with using too much leaf.

ScottTeaMan

I love Meng Ding Huang Ya! I had this tea in 2008 from TeaSpring. So fresh, nutty and delicious! I only wish I had bought more. I’ve only had one other tea from TeaSpring and it too was very fresh and delicious. I’ll have to order from TS again. :))

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My understanding of Shou Mei is very limited. For a long time, I saw it as one of the least expensive tea in white tea genre, and a restaurant tea. A few months ago, I tried a 2005 white peony that was really interesting. This year, when my supplier sent me the new harvest Bai Hao Silver Needle, he said, “Now it’s time to taste last year’s silver needle again – you may find it even better than when it was new.” I will do it soon. But all these made me want to try some old Shou Mei.

So I got this 2009 Shou Mei. In the past, I always brewed Shou Mei the same way as I do with other white tea – small amount of tea, long steep. This time, I decided to use a “hybrid” method between the old brewing and gongfu brewing. I used leaves that filled about 1/5 -1/4 of the gaiwan, and brewed it for 1 minute for each of the first 3 infusions.

My overall impression is, this is the best Shou Mei I’ve ever had. The tea is floral, smooth, sweet, with a little hint of spiciness. Overall I feel it’s not picky at all. Shorter infusion or longer infusion will change the intensity of the flavor and number of infusions the tea can yield, but will not cause problems – as long as very hot water is used and the tea is not under-steeped. My tea started to get weaker in the 4th infusion, but still went a long way after that. I don’t know what will happen if higher leaf/water ratio is used. But I guess if the leaves fill half of the gaiwan, and infusion is controlled to be within 20-30 seconds, the tea will be great and will yield more infusions.

The tea tastes somewhat like Bai Hao Oolong (Oriental Beauty). People who love Oriental Beauty may consider letting their Shou Mei stay around for a couple of years. After all, Shou Mei is so much cheaper than Oriental Beauty!

So, if you have some old silver needle or white peony left in a corner of your tea cabinet (don’t we all have accidentally forgotten teas!), take it out, taste it and let us know what you think of it!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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