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Recent Tasting Notes

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

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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73

This’ll be the last tasting note for the evening. I feel like I made some really good progress today in clearing out my queue; but I’m exhausted with typing right now and just want to curl up in bed and go back to watching Gossip Girl.

Before I get into the tasting part of this tasting note though, McQuarrie’s recently updated their website! Here’s the link: https://mcquarries.ca/

The new site is so much superior to their old one, which looked like it was done in the 90s and was not only horrible to navigate but dreadfully outdated with what teas they had/have available for purchase. So I’m happy to see some improvements from my local loose leaf shop!

But you know what’s even cooler/more exciting!? With this new update they’ve not only included more information about each tea they sell, but they’re listing where it’s from originally if it’s not locally blended! Because of this, I’ve discovered that they carry MTC’s Monk’s Blend! That means I can stock up much more conveniently on it since I don’t have to go to Regina to do so! How awesome is that!? I’m looking at you VariaTEA – I’m sure that this is exciting news for you too! You could order more Monk’s Blend or Rum Cream now! I’m so happy that McQuarrie’s is getting more “out there”.

Also, I think they’re now carrying the same Apple Strudel Pistachio blend we both love/d from Cuppa’T – if it weren’t for “Grapes” in the listed ingredients I’d feel totally confidant about it. I don’t remember grapes, raisins or anything along those lines in Cuppa’T’s blend. This one I’ll need to inspect in person to be sure it’s the same one.

I’m already cart building though! Squea! Is it wrong if I take advantage of $2 shipping given that I live in the same city as the store? It feels both so wrong yet so right.

So now this tea…

Less exciting. I cold brewed it, and honestly it was really rooibos heavy and surprisingly quite floral with not much fruityness to it. I’m finding this is getting to be a bit more consistently average. I’ll be more than ok when I run out, I bet. And more than willing to pick up some new stuff from my local shop to try out instead! Like maybe the Xantou White Mandarin Pu’Erh. That sounds like it could be pretty good…

VariaTEA

This is exciting news!! And, their prices are appropriate so yay!

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73

I think I may have been just the tiniest bit premature in giving this one a “77” rating. I had it again and the rooibos base was really present and woody. Also, it was a little buttery? Like, buttery in the same way I found the Nina’s Paris Rooibos base tasted – which was like actual butter, from a stick. No thanks.

There were also strong floral notes though and a juicy fruitiness that almost touched on passionfruit but didn’t quite make it there. There was resemblance though, and that should count for something.

On the whole; not bad but not as good as I was remembering so I have to assume part of my last tasting note was just excitement from trying a new tea. So, I’m gonna bump down my rating just a few points…

Flavors: Butter

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73

Finally getting around to trying this one! I’ve shared it with a few people now, but this is the first time I’ve personally tried it. And it’s weird because when I was picking teas I was craving this one so much, and I’ve literally never had it before.

And then, when I took my first sips I distinctly thought “Meh, this isn’t that impressive” but realistically with five other cups of tea in front of me to choose from this was the mug I kept coming back to for sips (even over consistent favourites like Cranberry Pear) and the first one I finished off, so there’s gotta be something about it that I really, really loved.

I don’t know; the rooibos was sweet and very natural tasting, and the fruit was juicy and mildly passion fruit flavoured, even if I don’t think it was super distinct. I definitely wouldn’t guess passion fruit right away if I was trying it blind, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s just one of those teas that really builds in flavour as you sip it?

I have lots left from my 50g purchase, so I’ll be sure to have it again sooner rather than later – and I definitely want to try it as a cold brew; I think that could yield really good results.

And added bonus: this is local! I love being able to support a local loose leaf store!

OMGsrsly

6 mugs of tea at once?! That is impressive. :)

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86

Passion fruit is a difficult flavor to deliver, so often it’s done as a greener version of pineapple or just a sweet citrus sort of this. This tea captures it really well, with th slight melon’ish flavor and not so sweet finish. The Rooibos itself is quite good, bright without being overly sweet either. I was a bit worried this tea would just be another ‘tropical’ mix but I find myself liking it more and more with each sip! Thanks to roswell strange for sending a sample to my wife!

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76

Sipdown!! (180)

So I cold brewed this which left only 1 tsp left. I was hesitant to make this hot since it has hibiscus which tends to take over in hot cups but I am happy to report that both the hot and cold brew taste very similar. The cold might lean a little more to the sweet berries where as the hot is a touch more tart but ultimately both are nicely balanced and super tasty. I would actually think about stocking this fruit blend given it generates a nice cup every time. Thank you Roswell Strange for the generous sample you sent me to enjoy, especially as this is one I would not have picked up on my own.

Oh and in other news, I am starting to think that I am more accepting of the hibby tartness so maybe I should stop ignoring all fruit blends that have it…

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76

Thank you Roswell Strange for this tasty fruit blend! It seems thin at first but the berry flavor comes through so nicely and the hibiscus gives it a bit of tart fullness to round out the sip. I was worried the hibby would be too strong but luckily it is quite nice in the blend. Delicious :)

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71

Sipdown!! (192)

Had the last of this cold brewed and somehow managed to bring out the passionfruit flavor. I am not sure what I changed but it is there today and wasn’t in the last bottle. This is still most prominently sweet rooibos but that flavor gives way to fresh passionfruit goodness right at the very end of the sip. Subtle but present, which has made for a pleasant last cup. However, at the end of the day this was merely okay and so I am not rushing to stock it. I am very grateful to my awesome tea twin, Roswell Strange, for the chance to try something new :)

Roswell Strange

So… I sent you more tea today. But only like four more samples – and two are definitely just one cup samples so don’t panic! I was mailing stuff to Courtney and since my stuff from 221 had just showed up took advantage of the new goodies to share some things with you (two Stash teas I don’t think you’ve had, and two fancy shmancy straight blacks for your journey/quest).

VariaTEA

lol Yay! So is that two packages I am waiting for now or just one? You have to stop sending me tea :P

Roswell Strange

You’ve got the one with stickers, right? Other than that one there are two coming in just regular mail/envelopes – so not a bunch. The older one has a Menthe Soleil bloom in it.

VariaTEA

Oh dear. I am trying to stay under 200. I think your job is bad news for my attempt to reign in my cupboard because now your are ordering/sharing more tea :P

Roswell Strange

I have to make up for the lost time when I was only receiving tea from generous Steepster members and couldn’t afford to reciprocate ;) Also have to get you back for making my cupboard balloon :P Oh, I also got a large sample of Peanut Butter Marshmallow Treat today so no need to pass that one along :)

VariaTEA

I am still waiting for mine so you will have to tell me how it is

Roswell Strange

So much for cracking open my plain Marshmallow Treat, eh? I have two new Genmaicha samples (PB being one of them) to finish up first…

VariaTEA

haah you are just never going to get to it :P

VariaTEA

I should just send you a sample of it so you can try it.

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71

So cold brewed, any passionfruit flavor is gone for the most part leaving behind just a sweet rooibos flavor. Very weird.

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71

First review…such pressure.

Okay, well first of all, thank you to Roswell Strange for sending me such a generous sample. I have already brewed up a hot cup as well as set up a bottle to cold brew for later.

Hot, this is a pleasant enough cup. It is mostly rooibos at first but that slowly gives way to a subtle but fresh passionfruit flavor. However, the strongest element is definitely the rooibos that is bordering on the edge of medicinal (though thankfully it has not crossed over so the cup is still enjoyable). I just find myself wanting more passionfruit which should not be the case for a tea called “Passionfruit”. Hopefully cold brewing will bring out the flavor a bit more.

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77

Sipdown (172/176)!

Looks like I have some backlog to get through. A few days worth, anyway! And lots of stuff packed into those two days including a trip to DAVIDsTEA and some new teaware. Squea!

Anyway, I cold brewed this one to finish it off – and it was like a delicious, mellow berry punch or cocktail. Insanely refreshing, for one thing. I really seemed to burn through my 50g of this, which I only bought something like three weeks ago? It was good though.

I’m sorely tempted to go back to McQuarrie’s and go buy more of it, but I just bought $65 in tea and teaware yesterday including 100g of Superberry so that should keep me going for a while too.

Goodbye, Grandpa’s Fruit Garden!

Flavors: Berries

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