612 Tasting Notes

Got around to this generous sample finally because I was looking for one from Mandala (still haven’t found it…eurgh) and unearthed this in the mean time. A lovely leathery but mellow pu erh. I really need to give Yezi more props here than I do—I adore Qing Pin and the scotch-y tea, and this is a great intro to pu erh, flavorful but not scary, ha. (I still don’t share the fuss for Jin Pins from any company I’ve tried them from, but I reckon that’s like me and Monkey teas; my palate is just not wired right to catch the subtle notes in their full glory.)

DeliriumsFrogs

I’ll have to get some Pu erh from Yezi next time! :)

Dexter

LOL yep me too – haven’t tried any of their pu’erh.
I agree ifjuly – I don’t give them enough props either. Glad you enjoyed this one.

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DeliriumsFrogs is the best friend a girl could want—she sent me a care package loaded with goodies (import chocolate bars!!), including this tea, just because she noticed I was curious about it. :D She is a master empath and I love her.

It doesn’t surprise me one bit this is a Butiki offering—it’s subtly beautiful and quite unusual. You know right away it’s not a black tea—it brews up a gorgeous bright light orange hue—but something about it tends to make one think of certain special Darjeelings without actually tasting just like one. There’s this nutty, almost savory yet also still sweet quality to it that reminds me a lot of some of the best green teas, but a floral note too that again, brings to mind the muscatel wonder of a Darjeeling without actually being that note precisely. And amazingly, there is in fact a tobacco note—not smoke, mind you, but unlit tobacco. And yet there’s nothing really exactly woody or grassy here. The body is marvelously silky, and there’s a cleanness to the end of the sip I quite enjoy.

The dry tobacco’s what sets this apart most, I think, and it works wonderfully with the floral and nutty elements, and especially the silkiness. This isn’t a tea to drink while distracted—it’s got a lot of unusual stuff going on, and deserves full attention. It’s an experience more than a blank comfort, if that makes sense; it reminds me of some of the perfumes I’ve sampled recently that are complex and special, more than mere adornment. And yet it’s not hard to drink at all, not “avant garde”. I feel lucky to have this chance to experience it.

Sami Kelsh

This sounds magnificent. Truly magnificent. swoons

DeliriumsFrogs

I feel exactly like you; it’s a tea that deserves your full attention. I loved reading your note, and you hit on things I noticed, but couldn’t put my finger on (you are SOOOO great for that. all the time. tea genius, you.)
<3

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Whoa, I’ve been so very lazy about checking the in-depth details of my tea before drinking it lately and was not expecting this to be the way it is! It tastes more like an oolong than a black tea to me (perhaps not surprising given the source…oh Taiwan, you and your wonderful oolongs!), with a steeped color that reminds me a bit of the old fashioned Formosa Oolong from Harney, not dark and not light, in between. The overwhelming “whoa!” note that hits me immediately is apple cinnamon. Not tart-then-sugary apple juice-like teas (which I hate), more like eating homemade, still-chunky-firm applesauce made with rosy apples, a a variety with a lot of floral aroma. I’m so busy being surprised and enjoying it I think I’ll return to this note later. Tea! I love how you tempt me and flirt with me, how just when I think I’ve got you all figured out and we’re comfortably married and middle-aged in our relations, you go put on a new dress or I find out you can fix an engine or something I had no idea you were capable of. You sexy thing.

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

Sexy indeed. This is beautiful to me.

MissB

This is more than a like for this tealog, it’s definitely a love. :)

TeaExplorer

I need a tea that can install a kitchen sink. Going to give this one a try ;)

DeliriumsFrogs

This is all so fantastic…..

Anna

Oh, best note ever.

ifjuly

hahaha, TeaExplorer! let me know when you find one that does. :D

(thanks guys!)

Dag Wedin

MUST try this tea!

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drank Temi Sikkim by Harney & Sons
612 tasting notes

My internet’s been acting up lately to the point it’s just broken for half the day no matter what we do, so I’ve been a bit AWOL and might be scarce for a few days. Sorry guys.

Had this for morning tea and was taken aback at how sweet and peachy it smelled at the top, almost like the old fashioned Formosa Oolong. Delicious. I didn’t read the copy before making the cup so didn’t know what to expect, and then when I saw the Darjeeling-ish light ruby hue I was like “a ha!” Needless to say it’s right up my alley. A shame it doesn’t resteep well past a second steep, but so sweetly Darjeeling-like while being a little different, with yeah, almost old fashioned oolong characteristics, that I could easily see gulping down more of this. Perfect for early spring when you still want the comfort of the black teas you’ve grown addicted to over the long winter but with hints of something more spring-like, fruity-sweet (indeed, a little musky-sweet; I sense that honey mentioned by others) and floral, lighter. Thumbs up.

TheTeaFairy

Hope you solve your Internet problems ASAP, we like having you around :-)

Dag Wedin

Oh i really enjoyed this one aswell! Sikkim is an area just north of darjeeling on the border of nepal and chinam so no wonder its “darjeelingy” :)

ifjuly

Aw, thanks TheTeaFairy! Yeah, it was awful all last week and then completely dead a long period this weekend…then as soon as I bothered to mention it and my predicted absence via hard-to-type mobile devices it started working again. Eh!

Dag Wedin, thanks for the info! I wondered…I do love that style. A really good Nepali tea or lovely Darjeeling, mmmm! It’s cool to know yet another source name to keep in mind. (:

TeaBrat

I like a good Temi tea myself…

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drank Grape Oolong by Butiki Teas
612 tasting notes

Drank this all afternoon, and the last steep I combined with a banana, a couple ice cubes, and some coconut milk. Half-awake late night immersion blender smoothie. More delicious than you might guess given how random a flavor combo it is, ha.

TheTeaFairy

I add tea to my smoothies all the time ;-)

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An awesome surprise gift from Dexter3657, who knows of my affection for the Frenchy teas, particularly DF and Fauchon. Thank you! :D

This is a boozy, sweet-tart cherry tea. As with so many DF blends, it smells amazing as soon as you open the bag and continues to be heady through steeping and finished cup. I love it—it reminds me a little of the liquor-steeped cherries I put in my highball drinks in springtime. Lemony tart like a Corpse Reviver, but a little plush and jammy too, where there’s a burst of juicy bright red cherry to balance it, keep it from being too puckery. It’s not like a dried fruit thing, nor like a straight fresh cherry…kind of like a pickled fruit (and Ysaurella ‘s right, it’s more like a red berry profile too, not just cherry). It’s weird, I hate tartness in tea with stuff like apples…but I don’t mind it with this jammy cherry profile…guess I’ve learned something new about my tastes!

I really like this one. Thankfully for me I’m not getting any cherry cough medicine associations (it’s nowhere near that kind of pinpointy plastic sweet), though I can kind of envision how someone could. It’s perfect for this afternoon—beginning of a long weekend, going to see a play tonight (feeling FANCY Anna! ha), another festival tomorrow, lots of time to just relax and chase each other around the house and play some more with perfume. A little luxurious but fun too. Exactly right for my mood.

DeliriumsFrogs

You and Anna are both SOoooooooooo fancy. :)
This review put me in such a happy mood….

Anna

I think this tea proves ifjuly is WAY fancier than me!

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This was a super generous sample from Stacy (I only see now it says it’s not eligible as a sample but she sent me one anyway because I mentioned it, eeek and whoops). Big ups!

I’ve been curious about this one for a while, because I had no idea such a thing was being made at all in Japan. It’s not like other pu erhs I’ve tried (granted, I’m still a newb). It has a rather strong brown rice element, kind of nutty and grainy, with a mildly sour-sweet finish. I can see what they’re getting at when they mention chestnut—there’s a mouthfeel at the end of the sip that has that sort of creamy-grainy texture which, combined with the nutty brown rice flavor, evokes chestnuts, particularly that…I don’t have a good word for it, not quite plasticky but you know…that element chestnuts have other nuts don’t (some people dislike that part, but I love it!). (ETA: I think this is perhaps the same thing Sil is ingeniously describing as “tasting like the texture of a prune”, yes.) Never had a tea quite like this one, where it has a sweetness and cleanness, yes, but it almost feels savory somehow. And the copy’s right; this also mysteriously manages to feel like something to get your motor going like old fashioned gas station coffee, but I can’t quite describe why or how because it doesn’t resemble a brisk black tea at all (something about it reminds me a teensy bit of either the Khongea Assam or the Four Season Oolong though, which both have that deep but specific, “narrow” “blackness” too).

It might just be fanciful notions racing in the head thanks to knowing it’s from Japan (you know how that can be!), but something about this also makes me think of big spreads of Korean or Japanese dishes, pickled and fermented vegetables and a big basket full of steaming rice…salty fish broth…seaweed wrappers and buckwheat noodles. Like I’m in the back room of the Korean restaurant my college TA worked at, smelling steam that smells like all those ingredients that go in those dishes—rice, sesame, fresh clean smelling fish. It’s not that it actually smells or tastes like these things. But somehow it makes me think of those meals and those kitchens. I’m guessing it’s that powerful roasted rice element.

I also think Terri is on the money when she mentions hojicha (and someone else mentioned genmaicha, yes) and sourdough. (I love when other Steepsters are better at IDing things I can taste and smell but can’t shuffle through my mental archives precisely enough to name myself!)

Pouring it from my gongfu glass teapot, I notice the color through the spout is marvelously reddish-pink-tinged, almost like rose wine. Collected in the cup, it’s a bright burnt sienna, reddish-brown umbery tones.

I’m really glad I got to try it. It grows on me the more I sit here. I think it’d be delicious with or after a big Korean or Japanese meal.

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

This sounds really good…mmmmm…..

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Another fantastic surprise gift from boychik. Thank you!

This tea is unbelievable. It makes me wonder aloud “why does anyone make dessert tea with anything but pu erh?!” To be honest, I’ve been drifting away from flavored teas—hoping it’s just a phase as I focus my attention on pu erh mostly, and because this tends to happen when it starts to warm up—but maaaan this is just the thing to snap me right back. As soon as I opened the bag I was hit with the best rich deep caramel aroma I’ve ever smelled in a tea, and then while rinsing, steeping, and putting my nose to the finished cup it just kept delivering. The body is somewhat full but not rough, and the flavor has this ever-so-slight raspiness that keeps that deep, heady caramel aroma from turning too cloying or gummy—it’s a grounded, toasty caramel, not those individually wrapped light colored candies with cream in the center, not that milky. I reckon this is so people who like it nice and toasty can revel in it (deep deep deep!), and those who want that milky sweetness can add cream and/or sugar to taste. I love how it’s so decadent yet it still definitely tastes like TEA, full of that dark, mysterious, murky wonder.

I feel teased because I’m too broke for even something so reasonably priced right now (or anything for that matter), but let me tell you, as soon as I have a chance to I’m ordering this one. It has the potential to ruin me for any other dessert tea, gadzooks. boychik really knows how to find stuff that hits it out of the park! If you love deep dark rich breakfast blends with sweet treat hints (which I loved about Butiki’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, wish there were more morning blends like that that can wake you up but also make you feel a little indulgent) as well as the sweet rich shu pu erhs and maybe even the roasty coffee-chocolatey Wuyi oolongs, I have a feeling you’d be smitten. It is a little like Herbal Infusions’ Moose Tracks meets Butiki’s Irish Cream Cheesecake meets Mandala’s Big Red Robe Fancy Grade. And something about the end of the sip, how it’s thinner and clean, kind of reminds me a little of Lupicia’s dessert flavored Orzo tisanes.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
boychik

You are such fabulous reviewer. You are so free with words. Amazing;). Thank you, it simply made my morning.

whatshesaid

Sounds amazing!

DeliriumsFrogs

As boychik said, you are such a fabulous reviewer. This was so much fun to read. :) This sounds beyond fantastic.

Sil

you can get this from a number of vendors…thus far all of them have been tasty that i’ve tried, if this version isn’t easily accessible

whatshesaid

Which vendors?

ifjuly

aw, thanks boychik and DF! love you guys and seeing you when i get up here. (:

yeah Sil, i was poking around angelina’s on the steepster DB and their site (because i like to torture myself) and i noticed there was overlap, the whole metropolitan tea scattered to the winds thing. good to have confirmation.

ifjuly

whatshesaid, i notice a lot of the time if you type just the tea name and no vendor in the steepster search box you will find a lot of different companies with what looks to be the same tea (often sourced by metropolitan if i’m remembering right).

whatshesaid

Ohhhh really, interesting! Never heard of this metropolitan company before…

Sil

majesteas in toronto has it… uh london tea room….uh….a bunch.
lol

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A wonderful surprise gift from boychik. This tea is unlike anything I’ve had, I reckon. It’s smooth and sweet and has some satisfying rich black tea flavor, yet there’s a freshness, almost a green element to it too, a little plant-like. The sweetness is a kind I’m not at all used to with black tea; it’s more like the kind I love and associate with greens like Laoshan Green and good bilochuns. I wonder if that’s the cane sugar they describe in the unusual quick-fried process. Whatever it is, it’s delicious and unique (and perfect for the season, which can’t make up its mind if it’s still winter or going to honestly stay spring—this is how I feel right now: https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1.0-9/10154100_622880174469069_8744260657632339606_n.jpg ). Later steeps bring out an oat bran smell I’m digging. Man, I may have to procure a bunch of this. Awesome find, boychik! And thank you so much for sharing it (and so much of it! Gosh) with me. :D

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 0 OZ / 0 ML
boychik

i had to surprise you with something unusual. I remember i resteeped it many times.

ifjuly

yeah, i’ve had 3 cups so far…i love it. i have a confession to make—i’ve been distracted from tea logging thanks to perfume sample logging—but tonight, this tea definitely beat the pants off the perfume i tried (just ho-hum vanilla, cinnamon, and cooked apple). really wonderful. thank you so much for sharing it with me! i’m not sure i’d want to, in your shoes, ha.

boychik

Ok now you have to share that perfume logging;). I love reading abt perfume

ifjuly

right now i’ve been haphazardly posting them along with everything else on facebook. i should put them in a dedicated spot i reckon, before they get too unruly…

ifjuly

ok, here we go: http://absolution.livejournal.com/1334655.html if you push the “forward” arrow at the top it’ll keep paging through to the next log. i’ve only got maybe 4 up right now—i haven’t logged perfume in years ‘cause i don’t play with it while weightlifting, and just got back into it. so you like perfume too? do you have favorites? do tell! (:

boychik

i dont know how come i didnt look at the journal. I just did briefly. OMG Tom Ford’s tobacco vanille. I love it. i dont use it everyday, its too special. Friend of mine as soon as she tried she ran to Bloomies to get it. Miss you…

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drank Vanilla Black by Harney & Sons
612 tasting notes

Rained all day and cold—frost advisory tonight despite the 80F sunglasses n’ crawfish weekend—had this as a remedy when R got home for afternoon tea with Orange Chocolate Chippers (here: http://atlantishome.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/07/orange-chocolate-chippers.html the fresh crumb is what makes them; it’s a little like a drop biscuit or scone at first, pale and piled somewhat high in jumbles, not like a flat chip cookie, plus the orange oil works well with a nice not-too-sweet chocolate without being tart or fruit juice kid-like…the only thing I’d change in the future is maybe cutting back on the number of chocolate chips—seems extravagant to me though husband thinks not, ha). Not a heady vanilla tea at all, just mellow, lets your baked goods shine as it stands back gracefully in the wings. Not exciting and I doubt I’d want it solo very often, but good when you kind of want something black, mild, sweet, and blandly comforting to go with early dessert. Doesn’t have that alcohol burn some vanilla teas do, which is a bonus.

DeliriumsFrogs

Those cookies look like they’d be perfect with that tea! (and your mention of ‘no alcohol burn’ is great, since I really hate that in vanilla teas…). Lovely.

Stephanie

We’ve got a frost advisory too…so glad I didn’t plant my seedlings! hides them in the house

ifjuly

DF, vanilla burn is THE WORST! yuck. in anything…

phew, Stephanie! sadly my neighbors spent Saturday and Sunday doing the whole front of the house. ahh.

boychik

This looks so yummy. Thanks for the recipe. I’m off to baking;)

ifjuly

i hope you like them, boychik! they are not very sweet, as a heads up. and they make a zillion, at least i thought so (though with a full family maybe that’s not a problem for you :)—next time since it’s just the two of us i’m going to split the recipe. it made 2 and a half trays, 50 small cookies for me.

TheTeaFairy

OMG! You made me look at the forecast and here too…cold with snow possibly, WTF?!??

boychik

We are Cookie Monsters! I have to hide sweets fr hubby and kids;)
We made them. Soo delicious. Everybody liked them. I put some away for tomorrow ;)
Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe;)

ifjuly

TheTeaFairy, i am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news. :/

boychik, i love to hear you guys liked them! yay cookie party!

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Profile

Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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