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Recent Tasting Notes

72

Sipdown (122)!

Picked up a single bloom of this one at McQuarrie’s when I was there earlier in the month. It’s been a little while since I had a bloom tea, and when I was skimming the selection there this was the only one I noticed with a black base, so I figured I’d give it a shot since blooms with black bases don’t seem to be a super common thing.

Like I usually do with bloom/flowering teas, I made it in my 25 oz. mason jar from DT. It’s the only brewing vessel I have other than a DT Perfect Mug that’s clear/glass which is important given that I wanted to actually get to see what the bloomed tea looked like. I did take a picture of the bloom, but right now I’m at this awkward ‘in between’ feeling of tired and awake, and I don’t really feel super up for uploading it. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow? I have tomorrow off too…

This was actually pretty decent as far as bloom teas go; a lot of the lavendar in the flower didn’t seem to stay “attached” and sort of ended up as floaties in the mason jar which I then drank. But because of that, the lavender didn’t get too strong overall but still had a presence. Other strong flavours were malt, stewed fruit and raisin from the black base and then quite a bit of rose from the actual rose in the blend. It tied in together pretty well. Given most bloom teas are just a pretty aesthetic this had some solid flavour to match.

It was a bit bitter by the end; but given that it was sitting throughout all of Bridget Jone’s Diary with me just slowly sipping on it as I watched the movie I think it held up remarkably well. I mean, it was essentially “steeping” for like an hour and a half? Or however long that movie is, anyway.

Today’s word of the day is: Engross.

Engross means “to take up the whole interest or attention of; absorb”. So, you could say the only thing stopping me from getting engrossed in the movie was drinking this tea.

EDIT: Picture of the bloom… Hopefully you can all see it!

https://scontent-sea.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/11156327_10204802427154447_275498323494594361_n.jpg?oh=5b33c672864d7d8f7f741ba74596789d&oe=559CA793

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74

I picked this one up in person; it’s always kind of nice shopping in person because you don’t have to blindly purchase something just based on the description or other people’s reviews. I got to see and smell this before hand! The smell was definitely very banana and that certainly made me excited because it’s been a while since I’ve had a good banana tea with a black base – right now 52Tea’s Butterscotch Banana is sticking out in memory but it’s been an awfully long time since having it. The marula was very interesting too; other than knowing it’s an exotic fruit I have no experience or familiarity with it so that absolutely caught my attention.

It seemed, overall, like a very interesting find from my local store!

I cold brewed my sample – someone recently called me the ‘Queen of Cold Brew’ and that may be pretty accurate. I will cold brew just about anything, especially at this time of the year.

This had a very interesting flavour! The banana was the dominant note; it was almost sickly sweet and tread a thin line between realistic, overripe banana and banana candy. It struck up fairly vivid recollections of two things. The first was the banana liquer that I currently have in my fridge, which is very sugary and sweet. The second thing was Khao Tom Mad which is a Thai dessert made of banana, sticky rice and coconut milk served in either a banana or coconut leaf. I’ve only had it once, but it was pretty amazing – maybe even life changing. I definitely think some of the sweetness of the banana comes from the blackberry leaves; my experience with them has been that they tend to made fruit flavours really, really pop.

I don’t have a familiarity with marula, but I’m told by my roommate that it’s supposed to taste a little bit like guava. I don’t know if I necessarily got that with this blend – though I did get a little bit of tartness which the roomie says is probably from the marula. It was quite mild though and didn’t play much into the overall dynamic of the tea. I am a little bit sad the marula didn’t have more of an impact on the taste – I love when I get the chance to experience new flavours in tea.

The rest of the tea was supporting notes for the banana; both mild cinnamon and a bit of drier wood notes were present. The finish was the biggest let down for the tea though; there was a light sudsy/soapy flavour than was unpleasant and slightly lingering. I first thought that the wood was a little weird to have been coming from the rooibos in the blend, which was my initial assumption – but then I remembered that one of the listed ingredients is lapacho. Aha! I’ve had bad experiences with lapacho, including soapy notes and very dry hardly palatable wood notes. I definitely do NOT see the appeal of lapacho. Fortunately, it was quite mild here. It would certainly explain both the soapy notes and the off wood notes, though.

Overall this tea was pretty interesting, and a bit of a rollercoaster. It had an incredible beginning with some of the tastiest banana notes I’ve had in a very, very long time and the middle was pretty solid too but the weird lack of anything Marula, of which the tea is named after, and unfortunate presence of Lapacho made for a bit of a disappointing finish.

Still a worthwhile try though given how unique it is, and something I’ll continue to personally fiddle around with. I’m determined to taste some marula!

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65

NO NO NO NO NO!

Made this hot in a timolino for work today; I thought I’d need the caffeine boost (I was right; it was painfully slow at work – bad weather and May long weekend = no one getting groceries) and this was the most convenient mate/guayusa blend to grab in the kitchen when I was rushed.

I thought this was bloody spicy when it was cold brewed, but it’s so much worse hot! I tasted nothing but chili pepper, and it was making me cough and my eyes water. I don’t do spicy things! The vast majority was dumped out – I fear the level of creativity that’s going to be needed to finish off the rest of this bag…

If anyone wants a sample (or all of the rest), let me know – I can probably afford to send out a few letter mail type samples to a few people or send it all off to one person right now (fuck money). You’ve been warned, though!

I bumped my rating down.

Today’s word of the day is/was… Precipice!

The definition is: “a very steep and high face of a rock or mountain : cliff”

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65

Holy mother this is a fucking spicy tea!

I mean, I shouldn’t have really expected otherwise because of the three ingredients in this is chili rings, and the last time I had a tea with those was that chocolate chili herbal one from RiverTea and it was almost too much for me. Visually, this has a hell of a lot more chili in it than that blend too. But I bought it anyway yesterday ’cause it seemed so unique and fun.

Unique, yes. Fun? Uhh…

I went with a cold brew to first try this one. Basically, the front of the sip is your regular roasted mate flavour; nothing out of the ordinary there. You kind of taste a bit of extra sweetness from the candied pineapple but it’s not adding a whole lot. But then. Man, then, BAM! Without the formality of a nice transition you’re just hit with the fires of hell all over your mouth.

It. Is. So. Damn. Hot.

But you know what? It’s bearable because it doesn’t linger much longer past when you finish your sip – and it’s certainly accurate to the name. So major points for that; I don’t know if they could get any more accurate in that department. I wont make the mistake of prepping it for something casual to sip on again; but I do think this will absolutely do the trick when it comes to being something loud, in your face, and highly caffeinated to drink for those early, early morning file maintenance shifts.

And spice lovers, you have to try this one! It’s exactly what it claims to be, and how often can you say that about a tea?

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Thank you Roswell Strange for sending me yet another new tea to try. I made this as a latte because I figured a “spice” tea may be similar to a chai which definitely excels as a latte. Unfortunately, even the milk couldn’t help this. It tasted like mud. Sweet, cinnamony mud. This got dumped. 220.

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86

mmmm I’ve had this a couple times this week but keep forgetting to write a review on it. Kittenna shared this one with me and it’s delicious! Very much mandarin as opposed to “orange.” the flavour is subtle but blends really nicely with the tea to make a blend that is super tasty. I added a tiny bit of sugar to one of my cups and it was nice because the flavour popped just a little more. Overall a really nice take on these tea in oranges :)

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84

I’ve grown somewhat bored of this tea. It tastes fine, but anything I drink too often becomes boring, and since I have 50g in a ziploc baggie (that’s how they sell it), I’ve been trying to get through it faster than usual. Still tasty, but I’d prefer a straight tea.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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84

Backlog.

Still think this is tasty, though I think I oversteeped it a touch the other day. Yummy dark coffee flavour with some toffee sweetness.

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84

And now for the current note! Brewed this up for a travel mug yesterday (and managed to keep to my 2-minute infusion) – it was really tasty. Robust base, a bit of coffee flavour, a bit of chocolate, a bit of sweetness, no bitterness or weird flavours caused by ingredients often found in “coffee substitutes” e.g. chicory… win! I really enjoyed my mug of it, and am happy to have a good bit to drink.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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84

Very backlogged note.

Picked up 50g of this while in Saskatoon, because the ingredients sounded tasty. A coffee-flavoured tea with cacao shells and no actual bitter coffee beans? Awesome! Also, it smelled good. They had a few others that I was interested in, but the 50g minimum really put a damper on trying too much (I got two other teas, one for my boyfriend’s mother and the second was 50g of the lovely mandarin white pu’erh Roswell Strange introduced me to).

Anyhow, the first time I brewed this, I accidentally left it for 9 minutes. Although it smelled DELICIOUS, the flavour was unpleasantly bitter, though I did get through one cup. I believe the resteep was also bitter (I don’t always time resteeps, though I should sometimes), which was disappointing. It seemed very promising though, so I was excited to try it again – this report continues in another tasting note for today’s tasting!

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87

Ok, these are super cute and quite delicious, thanks Roswell Strange! I hadn’t tried a mandarin pu’erh before, and so wasn’t quite sure how to proceed… so I just kind of broke the whole thing in half (it’s small, like 4 cm diameter and 1.5 cm tall) and scooped out the tea to infuse. Wasn’t sure if I should put peel in, but my mom (with whom I was sharing this with, because I was 99% sure she’d enjoy it, which she did) felt like we should, so I did. It probably amped up the orange essence a bit, but I don’t really know (since I added it to both cups).

Regarding the tea itself, I think a white was a great choice for pairing with the citrus – there was a subtle orange flavour (like mandarin orange – delicious) with a lovely, light, malty pu’erh. Great smooth, warm finish, too. I’m honestly tempted to try and pick some more of these up before I head back out east (any interest, Toronto area tea buddies who I see with some regularity?)

We got three delicious steeps out of it (so far), and I only used half the cake for two mugs. Definitely a great sample for me, Roswell!!!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
AllanK

Too much of the peel will make it too smoky but you definitely want to put in some peel.

Sil

I’d try it out

VariaTEA

I have some of this and I am too scared to try given the pu’erh

Roswell Strange

@VariaTEA, I think it’s really nice! You should try it. I’ve got another still, and I’ve been really trying to find time to sit down and make it again because it’s one I think I’d want multiple infusions of. @Kittenna, did you ever find time to pick more of this up? I can always buy more and send it out to someone in Toronto like VariaTEA to be split up for people who want to try it. I think it was about $10 for three of those cakes?

Kittenna

We actually did manage to make it to McQuarries! So I got 3 more cakes. I left the rest of the one you shared with my mom, and brought the three whole ones here – one for Sil and two for me (for now). (I also bought their Cappuccino tea, and Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos. The latter is for my bf’s mom, and the former was pretty good, but I’ll write a note later.)

Kittenna

Also, AllanK – thanks for the input! I had no idea at all what to do, but I’m glad I did the right thing. I only put a small chunk of peel into each cup; might try a bit more next time, but good to know that “too much” is a possibility.

VariaTEA

So I might sound really dumb for asking but do I use the whole cake for a cup or should I be breaking it up into multiple pieces? Also, don’t worry RS, I shall try it eventually seeing as you were kind enough to send it but first I must build up the nerve to do so.

Kittenna

Not dumb at all! What I would do is peel back the top part of the orange, and scrape/scoop out about your usual amount of tea from the cake inside. Break off a half-thumb-sized piece of the peel, and add it to your infuser. Brew as you would a white (or rinse if you desire, I suppose. I didn’t rinse.)

Kittenna

To be honest, I found it easier to break the cake/peel in half with my hands and scoop from there (it loosened things up a bit. I didn’t want to crush all the leaves!)

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50

Back to samples from my cupboard! This one was a Halloween gift from Roswell Strange. There’s definitely a lot going on here. I can see orange peel, apple pieces, flower petals, and possibly some nut pieces mixed in with the black tea. Dry scent is mildly sweet with some spice.

The steeped tea smells quite sweet, and I can pick out cinnamon, apple, and orange among other aromas. Hm, this is a strange one. For some reason it came out a bit bitter, even though I only steeped it for 3 minutes. I taste a bit of cinnamon, but definitely not pumpkin. There’s some nuttiness, and something that reminds me of chocolate? The more I drink it, the more bitter it gets in my mouth. Blahhhhh.

Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Nuts

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
carol who

Disappointing! I have a sample of it waiting for me :( I’ll try it for a shorter steep.

Roswell Strange

Aww, sorry you didn’t enjoy :(

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Huh. Cinnamon mud nutmeg tea (those flavours up top are sometimes so strange!)?!

This one is from Roswell Strange. She was super sweet and sent out a happy Halloween card with a tea treat inside!

Smelling it in the bag, it reminded me of marshmallows. Haha. Not a lot of spice. But steeped, it’s definitely spice. Not bright spice, but a bit dull. There’s definitely some cinnamon and clove in here, but I’m not really tasting nutmeg. I am a little nutmeg’d out though because I made vanilla-nutmeg sugar cookies. :D

I’m not sure I actually taste pumpkin, but there’s something lending a heaviness to the tea.

It’s pretty neat, and I’m really glad Roswell send this sample. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to get it, but it’s a fun Halloween treat. :)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Cameron B.

Mud…? Ick. XD

OMGsrsly

I don’t always understand how people taste some of the weird flavours in tea. :)

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The lovely Miss Roswell Strange sent me an awesome surprise Halloween card that included a sample of this tea.

I like this one. It’s a nice pumpkin spice tea. Mild pumpkin, mild spice but this seems well balanced to me. It’s a nice fall tea that I’m enjoying today.
Thanks so much Roswell for the surprise.

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70

roswell strange sent this along as a surprise halloween treat and it was awesome! Love the halloween card and the surprise, because well surprise tea is ALWAYS awesome. This tea falls a little flat for me. Maybe it’s the base, but it’s kind of like an almost pumpkin spice sort of tea but then it gets lost along the way. However, it was still a decent enough cup, and it’s tea from a friend and one i haven’t tried before so YAY! :) thanks so much RS!

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56

Sipdown (123)!

Hooray! Last tea of the night, so last tasting note of the night!

I got sick of the idea of having to drink nearly forty more grams of this stupid tea, so I bagged all but one cup worth of it up and brought it in to work. I dumped it all, metaphorically not literally, on Chef Darcy who seemed happy enough to have it. It’s nice that I now have people in close proximity I can pass super shitty tea on to instead of slowly parceling it out into swaps.

I’m having this last cup hot in a timolino and, if nothing else, it’s drinkable. The usual annoying, cloying and clashing flavour has transformed into something that tastes almost entirely like nana mint with a bit of fennel undertones. If every cup I’d had of this one had come off this way I would have found it boring but drinkable and wouldn’t have passed it on to someone else.

PS. I had a lovely time talking to Veck and Wuyi-Wolf in the chat tonight! I didn’t except anyone to be around so late at night/early in the morning but it was a wonderful surprise and definitely kept me motivated while writing all of these tasting notes!

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56

Normally I have a lot of problems with this tea; it just tastes so off, with weird conflicting flavours. Licorice, mint, fruit, bleck!?

So understandably, it’s been taking me a fair amount of time to actually finish this one off. But, I made a mug yesterday anyway; if I ignore then I’m never going to finish it, right? And well, I ignored the mug I made (yeah; I see the irony) until it was cold. But you know what? Maybe that was a good thing – because while this is still far from my favourite tea, it was actually better cold than hot!

EDIT: I just realized I’ve never written about this one hot before. To sum up my experiences of this one hot… Don’t.

But still, I predict another long break before I make it again. This one just isn’t for me. At all. Yeck. Separately, I enjoy pretty much everything in the blend but this combination just really doesn’t work for me.

And ugh, I’ve got the teaware blues…

I want this so much: http://www.jadescha.com/collections/brewing-tea-pot/products/celadon-clay-tea-pot?variant=1036226116

And this one too: http://camellia-sinensis.com/en/teapot/theiere-de-m-chen-ch-49

Tre just doesn’t get it; how do I explain to him why all the teaware? HOW!? The need for both of those is just so strong though. I can already see a trend this year; much less money spent on tea, and so much more on the teaware…

OMGsrsly

That first one is the one I have, and while it’s cute and I love it, it’s cracked right through the bottom and also doesn’t pour super fast. If you’re interested, we could find a better price on Aliexpress and you could e-transfer money or something if the prepaid cards don’t work… ? I can’t help with that yixing, that is super unique!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

oooh those are beautiful! I love the celadon the most!

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56

Cold Brew…

I rated this 64? I must have been in a generous mood, ‘cause I just haven’t really been able to get this one to work for me. I like all of the stuff in it, but together I just can’t make it work. And there’s nothing specific I can pinpoint as bad; it’s just… Not good.

Too much fruit, too much mint, too much licorice-y stuff. Maybe the problem is just that there’s too much going on overall!? Still haven’t done a hot cup (as far as I can remember) so that next…

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56

Well, I’ve put off tasting notes long enough. I have today and tomorrow off and I spent all last night playing Spore (I just bought it and I’m LOVING it) and this morning relaxing/lounging around the house, so no reason not to start writing! Besides, I just placed a food delivery order and it’s gonna be like an hour until that shows up. Caramelized Onion & Brie Cheese Grilled Cheese, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad, and Fig and Veggie Prosciutto Pizza here we come! But that’s not what this note it about…

This tea is from my local store, and when I was picking up the Rocky Horror Spice for my Halloween “Trick or Tea” packages it was an impulse purchase. I honestly can’t say what specifically drew me to it, though. Anyway – now I have 50g of it. Welp.

For my first time trying it I cold brewed it because that seemed like the most naturally suited prep method for the flavours. These are the notes I recorded:

- Very strong spearmint smell
- Smell actually made my stomach turn a lot
- Not sure why spearmint has been doing that lately…
- Brewed a surprisingly dark brownish colour (from the berries?)
- Didn’t really get the elderberries in taste and actually didn’t see much in the dry leaf
- Very sweet mint with some licorice type flavour
- “Licorice” must have been from the fennel, which is noticeable in the leaf
- The name seems fitting
- Not sure how I feel about this one yet

I sent some out to VariaTEA so I’m excited to maybe compare notes when she gets the chance to try it – I’m not sure how I feel about this one yet. It didn’t leave a great impression, but it was drinkable which is a plus.

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70

I love anything Rocky Horror themed, and I think this is the second tea by the same name I’ve tried. Miss roswellstrange sent it in a surprise package, and let me tell you – it made my day! Hell, my week. :)

As for the tea itself, it’s just okay, sadly. Wasn’t a fan of the base, and it kinda tasted like a mud pie with some pumpkin pie spice in it. Which, if it was a puerh, I’d think it interesting and notable, but this literally was too muddy for me to really enjoy.

It’s the thought that matters though, right? Of course! And so I sip happily with this surprise tea gift, knowing someone cared enough to send it along my way.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Mud, Nutmeg

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Roswell Strange

Hooray! I’m happy they’re making it to people :)

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84

Ok, so this was my big “new tea” today.

I bought it last week; and it comes in little mini-cakes. As it happens, these are my first Pu’Erh cakes which is intimidating in and of itself, except more scary still is that these come wrapped in the dried skin of a mandarin orange. I was so out of my depth figuring out how to open this fucker up to get to the tea without totally destroying and ruining the beautiful mandarin orange shell. The original plan was to send one of the cakes to VariaTEA and let her be the guinea pig testing it out, but I got impatient and wanted to try it today.

Anyway; there is a “seal” of sorts on the top so I kinda gently pried that open with one of the little pick things for walnuts and other Christmas type nut things (not a nut cracker; but the thing that helps get the nut out of the shell?). That part went well enough. After that though, uhhh…

Gotta note; this cake smells amazing! Surprisingly fresh and with this really nice sweet orange scent that fills the room in a very comforting way.

Using the little nut pick thing I did my absolute best to gently pick apart some of the leaf to make my cup; it was sorta hard to do with the tough Mandarin shell really limiting the amount of exposed tea and it made a bit of a mess but eventually I “found my groove” and got a good amount of tea loose and in decent shape. From there, I did a quick wash and then steeped my tea!

This is a white Pu’Erh and, to be honest, I’m not very experienced in Pu’Erh (as my horrible technique tonight likely demonstrates) so I’m not entirely sure what significant flavour difference that has or if the technical side of things (aging, storage, whatever else makes Pu’erh Pu’Erh) is really any different. But my observation was that this was much, much lighter and smoother than any Pu’Erh I’ve ever had – and definitely not as earthy or raw as I’ve become accustomed to.

What it was, was very natural with really beautiful and serene notes of sweet hay, mandarin/orange, and honey. While the process of making the cup was messy, this actual result was anything but; very feminine and soft while still full bodied. I’m really happy I decided to push my comfort zone and pick this one up; and I look forward to the journey I’m sure I’ll be taking with it.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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71

Sipdown (115)!

Well, my McQuarrie’s order came in this morning which was perfect because I had time to put together a little something for some of the people I swap with more frequently! Lets just say I’m doing some “reverse” trick or treating this year! Halloween is my favourite holiday ever!.

It’s sorta sad that I placed an online order with my local loose leaf tea shop; but right now our city has no transit service so I would have had to walk a very long distance to the store or take a $20 taxi ride there and another back – and local delivery within the city is only $2.00 so it was way more cost efficient to do it this way, despite how silly it felt. I mean, even if buses were running, bus fare is $3.10 so…

I bought 100g of this to use for tea packages, and after measuring everything out for everyone I ended up with just enough leaf left for one cup for myself! So hooray for that? I maybe could have waited until closer to Halloween to have it, but why not do it now? If I’m gonna send it to a bunch of people I should try it right?

Honestly, I think this is pretty average. You can tell the black base isn’t the best quality and it got fairly bitter by the end of the mug (tea dregs sitting at the bottom, I think) but overall it’s the sorta “gimmick” thing it has going on that made me pick it to give out. I mean, it’s your sorta standard “pumpkin” tea for fall but the name and cute little ghost sprinkles make it more definitively Halloween than fall.

Speaking of; other than the black base being a bit bitter I could taste apple in the flavour as well as some Chai like spices – mostly cinnamon. There was some other fruit stuff going on; like an “orange peel” or zest sort of taste, and maybe pumpkin? There’s hibiscus in this, but not in any of the leaf I ended up with for my mug and, honestly, I saw very little of it in the whole 100g bag so I wasn’t shocked I couldn’t taste any.

Hopefully everyone finds this to be pretty decent!

OMGsrsly

Ghost sprinkles?!

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73

Sipdown (108)!

Finished this one off as a cold brew. Now I need to make a trip to McQuarrie’s because I no longer have any McQuarrie’s teas in my cupboard and that’s a disservice to my local loose leaf store.

This cold brew was decent; very strong on the rooibos, but not in a medicinal way. Instead, it leaned heavily on the wood chip side of things. And then, there was the buttery taste that I’m coming to associate with more “low grade” rooibos blends. But other than that, there was some nice gentle floral notes and a strong fruity flavour! So it wasn’t a bad way to see this one finished off.

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