Menghai Tea Factory

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Another Christmas tea! Yay!

I started this one last night. I used Granny Stella’s tomato knife to work a chunk about the size of a teaspoon off of the brick. I notice this is called an iron cake. I haven’t heard that term before, so perhaps Garret and/or mrmopar will enlighten us?

My husband and son joined me drinking this one. They would have bailed on me if there had been any fishy odor. This tea has none.

I steeped this for forty seconds at first, increasing to sixty seconds for the fourth and fifth steeps, which is where I am right now.

The color was deep at first but not inky black. This is a medium strength flavor, not knock you down powerful but not subtle either. It has the horsey profile I like.

I am such a newbie at puerh that I have trouble distinguishing between the good ones. I can tell a bad one easily enough! I am trying very hard to learn to distinguish between cedar, mushroom, earth, leaves, and wood.

The main thing that came to my mind as I drank this was “nature.” Not wilderness nature but perhaps a large farm bordered by woods with fields of grazing horses. There is the horse farm scent to this, but added to it are leaves crunching underfoot as you walk, breathing in fresh, clean air. Sometimes I get a hint of caramel in this one. Steep four had a little cedar oil richness coating my mouth. Steep number five is still going strong so I will probably continue working with this teaspoon of leaves, and soon I will try it with more leaf and shorter steeps.

Of the three teas I have tried from the Mandala order, they are all very good and I would not be able at this point in my puerh education to tell them apart if I were drinking them “blind.” But I can say with certainty that I enjoy drinking every one of them and look forward to sharing many cups of these teas with family and friends.


What matters is that you’re enjoying your journey into puerh! I look forward to reading your reviews for when i decide to start down that path :)


Like you, I can’t tell the good ones apart. I did recently revisit some of the first that I really liked and found them now to be lacking. I guess there is hope for us.

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bought this tea to age will update in about a year to see how it compares with the other v93s i have.

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purchased as a fairly new production tea. i think a few years aging will mellow this tea out some. i think it has too much of a licorice taste for me as of yet,but i am sure with aging that will go away to the smooth menghai taste that i am used to. btw the 2010 star of menghai entirely different.

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I was getting some cheap glass teapots from Yunnan Sourcing, and I couldn’t resist taking a couple of pu’er cakes as well, especially with the expensive shipping of them. I don’t now a lot about young pu’ers, and I chose to get three vintages of 8582. I have sampled a couple of older 8582’s, and I liked them, and these young cakes where cheap. So I bought this one made 2008, another from 2009 and a third being made 2010. A vintage comparison! Although Steepster doesn’t (yet?) support comparative notes, I’m gonna give some thoughts on the comparison on this single note.

FIrst, they all were clearly the same tea. The taste was about the same, difference was more on how the taste behaved.
‘10 first attacked me with a taste I believe most describe in English as astringent bitterness, but the initial nastiness made room for a liquiricelike sweetness quite common with young cakes. Although first shocking, the initial taste moved aroung quite smoothly, it’s roughness was quite round if one can say like that. Aftertaste was pleasant. I’d say potential, but I won’t probably be drinking this for a couple of years.

‘09 was most interesting one. First I thought this was slighlty more tamed version of ’10, but at some points it gave some weird tastes. It didn’t behave consistently. At some brews this was definantly the weakest one, but sometimes it really shined. I really don’t know why.

‘08 was my overall favourite. It’s taste was most harmonious, balanced. There was quite a bit of roughness, but this tea wasn’t as bipolar as the ‘10 and ’09. If these three cakes really form a valid timeline of aging, I’d say this is my vasual pu’er in a couple of years.

Now the interesting thing is, are the differences in taste due their ages, or are they resulting from different harvests? Their age differences are relatively large, the ‘08 being three times as old as the one from ’10. On the other hand, they are only a year from each other. That will probably clear out in a couple of years, as their relative age difference lessens. I’m excited in onberving the aging of these three.

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I am not a big fan of Shu, but oddly sometimes this tea serves me so well, such as on a cold winter night!

This tea has nice bright dark red tea liquor. The taste is smooth with a soupy texture, feels very clean, no offensive over-fermentation taste at all. It’s after taste is not only sweet, but also somewhat more complicated (in a nice way) than most shu I’ve tried. No wonder it’s seen by a lot of people as a classic product of shu.

If I have to critique on it, I would say its taste is on the weaker side. But very possibly many flavors of shu that’s favored by a lot of other people just escape my radar. The tea is very soothing, with great mouth feel and excellent warming effect. It really made every skin pore of mine feel comfortable!

A friend of mine commented that he feels this tea doesn’t taste much different from its 2008 version, which seems to me may not be a bad thing at all.

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I am recently in a puerh sheng mood, which doesn’t happen often. So I would grab the chance and taste a few more sheng products :D

This tea is supposed to be one of the routine, decent products of Da Yi. It’s from 2007, which was not a great year for puerh, but not the worst year either. The tea is pretty good, that’s if you are like me and don’t mind bitterness to a small degree. I think this tea is reasonably bitter, and by reasonably, I mean the bitterness is not long-lasting. It hits the inner part of the tongue and disappears fairly quickly. The aftertaste is very nice. It’s the aftertaste that make you feel the mouth is very cool and clean. There is a little bit of astringency and a hint of smokiness.

The leaves are not very chopped, but not the whole leaves either.

I made about 8-9 infusions of it, and pushed the brewing pretty much to an end. It’s not a very strong sheng among the teas I’ve tried recently.

I’ve sadly found I’ve got a little bit of allergy recently. A friend of mine used to say, if you live in Northeast and don’t have a season allergy yet, don’t think that you are spared and it may start any year! Now I think I’ve got it :-S but just a little bit. Probably that’s why I crave for sheng puerh recently. It did help a lot. Probably just drinking that much of water would help anyway, but only with tea, I can patiently drink so much water!

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I’ve noticed lots of people have been craving sheng puerh lately, myself included. I wonder if it is indeed seasonal allergies!

Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

Possibly! Autumn can be a very dry season. Tea that brings moisture to the mouth is great for the season :D

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First produced by Menghai after the name change to Xishuanbanna Menghai. Production started in ‘97. This specimen part of a tong. Slightly loose, and damp ’shu’ beeng cha. Quick rinse and first two brews were very dark due to presence of loose leaves. Subsequent brews mellowed out, with hui gan appearing, and slight ‘dust’ notes. Beeng has been opened to air and ‘re-vitalise’.

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This tea is very rich with a slight mineral taste that moves on to an almost oak taste as found in a good dry red wine. This tea brews a nice dark orange color with a light floral or citrus aroma apricot or muskmelon. Easy drinking no bitterness or astringency. Brews up nice and tasty. A nice drink for the end of a long and late work week. Brews up almost creamy. Very good tea.

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This was a very unremarkable Shu. I have been on a ripe Pu kick lately and have experienced some great ones but this one didn’t measure up. It is very one dimensional and bland. Theres nothing exciting, no creaminess, no boldness. Its just deep red liquor with a blah flavor. I will use the rest of my sample to mix with young Sheng’s that I don’t want to alter the taste of.


You may want to let this one ‘breathe’ for about a week with some humidity and use a little more leaf when brewing. I usually go at least one week in the ‘pumidor’ before i would even think about tasting it. wait before you mix it and retry if before you proceed. I have one I got from Mandala and it has aged pretty good.


Don’t give up hope on it yet!


I have had this one for about 3 years and it hasnt changed. I usually use about 3.5 grams but used 4.5 on this most recent session and its still blah. It will mix nice since it won’t impart much flavor, I also used it to season my yixing pot so all is not lost.


Oh my after 3 years it should have changed some, but like you said season the yixing !


I just bought a cake of this and gonna give it another shot because it got great reviews elsewhere. Besides I just had a sample and who knows how it was handled.


I just got into my 2009 one yesterday. It has changed some since I put it up. It is still developing I think and the color has gotten a whole lot darker in the infusion since I got it. Hope the cake is better than the sample.

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This is hands down my favorite Shu! Its smooth and full of flavor. I detect notes of raisin and smooth creaminess. I judge all other Shu’s against this. The liquor is bold and full of creamy flavor. Deep red in color. I will always have this as long as its offered.


This is a good one!

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Just tried this one today. This tea gives a very dark infusion right off the bat after the first rinse. It comes across bold and strong with a woody almost like someone had put chestnuts in the pot with it. It has a touch of sweetness that has carried through 5 infusions with no loss of flavor yet. The aroma is just like a new shou with the barnyard smell that is knocked out by the taste. I personally think this one still has the new fermented taste still a little strong for now, but I think this will be really great in a year or two. I have no doubt about these being old tea tree leaves the strength of the brew has not dissipated yet. I will continue to experiment with this one till the flavor is gone. Giving it a so so rating for now because I believe it will age well.

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I’ve had this tea aging in my cupboard for about 4 years already. The last time I tried it (2 years ago) I remember the flavors being quite vibrant, but I thought I’d give it another try this afternoon.
Parameters: water just under boiling; infusion times 45s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, and so on, for about 12 infusions. I filled up about 1/4 of my gaiwan with leaf.

Dry leaf: Wet hay, a little musty, grassy notes.
Wet leaf: Leather, cedar, loam, finishing with caramel and vanilla notes.
“ChaQi”: A surprising feeling! Heat, all along the neck, and a flushed face. First sadness and nostalgia (infusion 3) followed by calm (infusion 6).

This tea tastes exactly like it smells. The first few infusions yielded an earthy, pleasantly dirty flavor with an utterly creamy mouthfeel. There is no bitterness. As you drink it, you can imagine you are in a cabin in the woods, and that it is raining outside. Infusions 4, 5 yielded new mineral notes. Infusions 6, 7, 8 became increasingly sweet, with the distinct aftertaste of wild blueberries along the sides of the tongue. I look forward to this tea becoming even smoother as it ages.

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This is so nice tonight. Really mellow and slightly haylike, but there’s a bit of sweetness here too. This almost smells like honey and wood to me.

I’ve debated posting anything about my day yesterday, but it feels good to air it out. While crossing the street yesterday morning, I got hit by a car. Some crazy lady just plowed into me when I was halfway through the crosswalk; she did not stop at the stop sign. Good news: I am okay. After she initially hit me I put out an arm against her hood, thinking she would see me, and when she continued to push me forward I threw myself backwards out of the way of her car. She drove away, never even looked at me or the various people that were honking at her, and she never stopped. I pulled a number of things in my shoulder and around my scapula, bruised my tailbone falling, and have bruises on my legs. Very thankfully, I am alive and not broken. The whole thing still feels really surreal and kind of like a far away movie.

It feels really wonderful right now to just rest and drink some tea.

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Terri HarpLady

Unbelievable, Claire!
I’m glad you’re ok. Did you report it? That gal shouldn’t be driving!


O my goodness. I’m so glad you’re ok. What a terrible thing to have happen


yowza. some people. glad to hear you’re ok


Steepster was hanging on to post again. So you are now a day away from the car incident and I can imagine very sore. Recover quickly. Drink lots of tea. It seems to cure everything from what I read on other sites :)


Thanks for the good wishes!
Terri – I didn’t report it. When it happened I was in shock and ended up getting up and just walking to school. About a half hour later I realized it really hurt. At that point I got checked out by the doctor and called the police, but they said I had to go down to the station to be checked out, and I haven’t had the time/energy to go over there.
K S – Yes, I am very sore! I’m attempting to take it easy, and I am drinking lots of tea. :)

Terri HarpLady

I know in St. Louis they have cameras everywhere now days, which is an irritation, but the accident may be caught on film…
I know that I would never remember what the car looked like even, had I been in your circumstances. Just be gentle with yourself. Sending some good Reiki vibes your way!


Oh my gosh! I will be praying for you today! The soreness after something like that is always nasty!


Terri – I actually remember that it was a small black car, like a toyota corolla. The lady had long blonde hair and was young too. I have some time in the morning so I will probably try to stop by the station.

I’m happy to say that while I’m still quite sore and bruised, it’s getting better! And now I’m home and can drink puerh to my heart’s content. :)


That’s so scary. It’s so horrifying that you went through that, and it’s especially terrible that that she drove away. I hope your soreness and bruising heal quickly.

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called the thick ripe cake. well aged dayi with hints of cherry on the first steep.hints of oak at the back of the tongue. second infusion cherry with lemon a taste almost like a well aged scotch. will explore more steeps. now off to enjoy…..short steeps under 15 seconds for now.

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sounds yum!

Misty Peak Teas

Hey Mr Mopar. I did a video that you may enjoy about how to brew Pu’er, just posted it online today. Id love to hear your take on it. I was doing gong fu, then recorded the Gaiwan simple method which may be more popular on here.

Let me know your thoughts, if you like :) Cheers


Bonnie, Azzrian it’s a good one no off odors or any signs of twigs or anything in this one. A nice clean cake. Misty saw the video it;s nice it should help many out. aA lot of people use the gaiwan style preparation. I tried it but my big hands could not do it righ so i got clay pots for my preparation. I actually have a pot for each of the major producers that are dedicated to each factory. Hopefully the will retain that bit of each one as they get older and more use.


mrmopar, a fat gaiwan is easier to handle (I have one) Or the type with the spout and handle (mine is clay). I think the use of a gaiwan should not be ruled out entirely,because of what you can do playing with the leaves.


I got an easy gaiwan coming in from china soon. I think i will be more comfortable with it than the one i have here. The one i have coming in has the spout so i should be able to master it.


good idea….think you have it all now!

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Excellent. However, expensive.

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Thank you mrmopar for this fantastic Pu-erh Sample!

I really should read up on Puerh’s before I go off brewing up on my own. Somehow, a purist will probably be horrified at my methods here.

I was enjoying myself, having a great time with this Puerh!

I have a lovely little seasoned purple clay Gaiwan that I use for Puerh. A pick, strainer and cup is all I need for a good session.

Usually I use less leaf than other people because fibromyalgia has made me very sensitive to taste. I make quantity adjustments because of that and use 3 grams of Puerh when others use 5 grams with the same taste results.

Today, I wanted to try a larger amount of leaves. I used 5 grams, which is a huge quantity for me, then did 2 quick washes.
(I poked the hard nugget of Puerh during the first 30 second steeping to break it up a bit.)
The liquor was dark golden brown with a hint of red throughout.

Steepings 30 seconds unless noted otherwise.

1. First steepings are usually not my favorite. They can knock you down with a fuzzy cedar or redwood taste and texture that’s very strong and sometimes bitter.
But this Puerh…HA!
This tea was extremely Smooth, Juicy and Semi-Sweet, with a light cocoa, sugar date flavor! I was pleasantly surprised!

2. The second steep flavor was like Bittersweet Chocolate or a light Pinot Noir. There was no grit or earthy flavor, but a thick mouth feel that made me think of sipping chocolate.
I added a few grains of sugar and the caramel flavor came up with a richness that I had suspected was hiding deep in the thick, smooth tea.

3. As an experiment, I tried a quick immediate steep.
The color was dark, the flavor…a bit dryer and spicy on my tongue like cinnamon and clove. The creaminess wasn’t as strong and the richness was lighter.
There was more of a wood cedar taste than when I steeped the leaves longer. I liked the longer steeping better.

4. Returning to the longer steeps, this time at 40 seconds, the Puerh was spicier.
Cinnamon, clove and allspice. A bright Paso Robles Zinfandel with Sunshine and Ripeness in the bones of the flavor.
This tea was beginning to remind me of…a Chai base, or Sangria.

It’s the Holidays…and I remembered that the person who sent this Puerh to me…who has become a true friend…has at his side the love of his life. She is fond of Chai.

So, I did what anyone other than me would NEVER do with a great Puerh! I made some Puerh Chai in honor of her, hoping that this is something that he’ll try. Here goes…

I made 2 steepings of Puerh, added half and half, then a little sugar and a little honey (I don’t like too much honey because it can overpower the taste of the tea). Stirred it up…and YUM!

Caramel, smooth, spicy, creamy…(Hey mrmopar, you have 5 cakes of this Puerh, so tell me if you make this for your sweetheart!)

This Puerh is great stuff! Probably the smoothest I’ve ever had and the closest to the experience of drinking wine.

Thanks again mrmopar my friend!


that sounds incredible Bonnie! YUM. I hope we get a chai review from mrmopar ;)


Me too if he doesn’t boop me on the head for screwing around with such a fine Puerh. It’s a super fine brew!

Terri HarpLady

This is one of the ones I’ve been wanting to try! It sounds wonderful!


Mrmopar says it only is sold in 100gr cakes so it shouldn’t be too expensive or hard to find. It’s really good though! Very smooth.


i wont boop you in the head! it is all about the enjoyment of the tea. everyone of us has our own way to prepare it, and yes i may make a chai out of this one. terri it is pretty easy to find and not too expensive. if you look to pick some up i will find a good priced one for you. keep me posted.

Terri HarpLady

I saw it on Beryleb’s page on ebay. Do you know if there is a place to purchase a sample size of it? I know the 2 of you love it, but I’d like to try it before I buy a cake.


I only have a couple grams left. Need to buy some myself. The small 100 gram cake was under $8.00


jas-tea has them u.s. 7.99 yunnan sourcing usa 7.50 or pm me your address i will send you a sample.

Terri HarpLady

I didn’t see it at yunnan sourcing, but saw one on jas that looks similar, listed as
2009 Menghai Hong Yun Ripe Pu-erh -100 grams
is that the same tea?


yes that is the same one. it is just described a bit differently on the yunnan sourcing site.

Terri HarpLady

Thanks, mrmopar. : )


you are quite welcome!

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I love it." but not too much

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Just had it in the morning

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The gold dayi also has fortitude. Deep into the session, there is still a strength of kuwei and full body that is not present in most of the recent Dayi teas I have tried. It is clear why Cloud and the HK tea forum crowd are backers of this tea.

Read more below:

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Thank you mrmopar for this sample Pu-er!

What a lovely gift I received one day a about a month ago from my friend mrmopar. Samples of Pu-er! Tears of delight, really!

Tucked into the package were little tuo cha’s that I can’t read the names of (written in Chinese) so I won’t be reviewing them, but they look like pieces of candy. Colored wrappers full of mystery.
I’m having so much fun with them!

This morning, I picked one of the chunky samples in a labeled zip bag. It looked like dark, hard and gnarly Shu Pu-erh bark. Excellent!

A quick wash first, and I was set for several infusions in my purple clay Gaiwan.

Only the first infusion had a lighter brown color. The rest was deep red-brown. The wet leaf scent was mild, more on the vanilla bread side than leather.


My first impression was, this is a good Pu-erh.

I could tell right away with the first light steeping, that there was something different about the taste. It was slightly sweet, very juicy with a spice to it that I couldn’t sort out and pin down.

The feeling of the tea in my mouth was light and smooth…with the flavor of banana skin way off in the background. At first I wasn’t convinced of that, and I walked around the room to make sure I wasn’t picking up a scent from somewhere else. Banana skin, yes.

Steeping again, a much thicker brew this time, and quite red-brown. The flavor was still not earthy or woody and no flavor of cedar either.(This was another surprise because I would have expected woodiness with such vibrant color.)
What I tasted was vanilla cream, some salt and a hint of caramel.
There was something else. Spice or herb, a savory something that I could not identify. The Pu-erh was playing with me gently.

Pouring a third time, the thick and rich broth tasted more like cedar wood with a tang that lasted just a moment…then melted away into a smooth, sweet velvety finish.

I am always tempted to add a few (very few) grains of sugar when a Pu-erh comes to the caramel, cedar, salty stage. I know what will happen next! The same flavor that you taste with quality caramels is what this Pu-erh tastes like with just a little sweetness added to it. (a little cream is nice too). I love salted creamy caramel!

Don’t misunderstand, I like my Pu-erh straight, but sometimes…it becomes dessert towards the last of the steepings.

This is a very good Pu-erh!

I wrote a story for my blog and here’s an intro if you want to read more, it’s about a time long ago when I was working at the Children’s Shelter School, Christmas (1979).

Shelter School Christmas

Our facility was a room in an abandoned Psychiatric Hospital from the 1930’s. A big, drafty, wood and plaster building that creaked and groaned. It looked like a set from an old Hollywood movie!

Two social workers sat in the hallway at all times, while the teacher and I were alone with 10-15 students in a classroom lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves and tall windows, (a scene right out of a Harry Potter movie set). If you peeked in, you’d agree it was a strange looking scene, old radiators and wood planking.

During the Christmas Holidays I decided to plan a party. Without a kitchen, I was still able to teach the kids to make snacks. Then, we decorated by cutting colored paper rings and streamed them across the room. We made strings of popcorn and glittery stars. Each student made a soft, stuffed ornament that was theirs to keep and take to whichever group home or foster home they would be sent to.

It was important to show how to create something from little or nothing, how to celebrate when life is frightening and uncertain. It’s a great lesson in life.

We were going to finish with a party!

I taught some of the tougher hard to reach boys how to properly serve tea and snacks. We even used serving trays for our party.
These boys took their job seriously, practicing over and over again.

(the story continues)

Oh, by the way…Happy St. Nicholas Day! Dec. 6th this is celebrated in many places around the World. 4th Century Nicholas of Myra gave to the poor and defended children and women. He paid the dowery for poor women to marry (something important back then).


so glad you like it. i was stunned when i first tasted this one. i think it is a great one and got a 2007 and a 2012 version of this one to age. yummy stuff i do declare!


Oh Bonnie, what a lovely Christmas story. I wonder where those children are now. I’ll bet you are part of their fondest memories :)


Thanks for reading it I-bloom. They’re always a part of my memories too and my daughters as you read, and we talk about it now and then. I’m sure others have similar stories.


Probably,but you tell it so artfully well :D

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Thank you, Bonnie, for the sample :)

Dry smell: This tea smells really nice. It smells very very sweet. It has an unusually vegetal smell for a puerh. It is a moist smell like a fresh forest. I can also smell a little hint of green bean.

Wet smell: This tea smells really great after the first steeping. It still has the extremely sweet smell and vegetal taste. The most prominent smell is still something that reminds me of green snap pea’s

Taste: The taste is kinda funky. It has a sweet taste but also a starchy note and feel. There is a deep woody flavor that tastes like a freshly cut down tree.

EDIT: After 1.5 litres of my red aura cake and a litre of this I’m feeling really calm, happy, and relaxed. I’m assuming this is what people describe as qi. I’m not sure if it’s just this tea or a combination of both


oh the red aura is a great tea. i got 3 different production years of it. i can’t wait to see how it ages.i agree about the star of menghai it will be better in a couple of more years i think.


The cut down tree is probably cedar and the starchy is like a thick feeling like avacado but not that thick pasty. Hard to explain isn’t it. You did well…got to your happy feeling.


Yup that sounds exactly what I experienced. It’s so difficult interpreting and passing on all the complexities that a tea has. Hopefully I’m getting better so my reviews can be of use to others

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