2245 Tasting Notes

95
drank Mulberry Magic by DAVIDsTEA
2245 tasting notes

Heavenly. I really do love this tea. Can’t screw it up; two delicious steepings. Mmmmmm.

Preparation
Boiling
Bonnie

I think this is delish!

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67

Thank you to LiberTEAS for today’s random sample!

The scent of the steeped cup is lightly “green” and perhaps there’s a hint of a vegetal aroma, but it’s very subtle.

Even though it was steeped for four minutes, the taste is very light and subtle, like a weak green tea. Good, but nothing remarkable. It’s my first yellow tea though, so perhaps I’ll find that they are generally too weak for me. Either way, I’ll try brewing this one with a bit more leaf/less water next time to bring out the flavour a bit more. Might try that with the re-steep as well (decreasing the water, that is).

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

enjoy and savor! So few yellow teas to be tried.

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78
drank Sheng Pu'erh by Currently Unknown
2245 tasting notes

So one of my roommates (not the aforementioned roommate I often share tea with) is Chinese, and I frequently see her drinking tea, but made nothing of it until one time I saw her breaking off a piece of a round brick of tea to steep. I thought it was kind of cool, but still didn’t think too much about it. She called it black tea; I didn’t question it. Until today. It occurred to me that what she was drinking was probably pu’erh – so I caught her and asked, and sure enough, it is! Apparently her family went into an asian grocery and found the dustiest-looking box of pu’erh they had to buy. To each their own; that wouldn’t scream buy me to me! She offered to let me try a piece and I happily accepted – I love trying new things! She tells me that the way she drinks it is to brew it in boiling water and leave it in the cup as she drinks it, so it gets quite strong. I opted to use half the amount she usually does, and stick it in a teaball so I could remove it after a few minutes.

As it was steeping, I noticed some mildly fishy smells coming from it, along with some rich earthiness. Not unpleasant. Either now that I’m aware that fishiness can be a characteristic of pu’erhs, it concerns me less, or I’ve just grown used to it (from my wealth of experience trying two flavoured pu’erhs from DavidsTea), I’m not sure.

Taste-wise, it’s quite pleasant. Definitely earthy, but nothing like the dirt that the bagged pu’erh I tried a couple days ago was. It’s kind of reminding me of the piece inside a pistachio shell, not part of the edible nut, but coating it and attaching it to the hard shell. Er, I should probably be able to figure out what that part is botanically, but I’m really tired right now. REALLY tired. You’d never know that I just drank a whack of caffeinated tea.

Anyways, that’s what it reminds me of. I’m not tasting fishiness, and that aroma has pretty much dissipated. This is definitely a different sort of tea, but it’s growing on me with every sip. A nice change from flavoured. I’m now looking even more forward to my Verdant order arriving!!

I still have the other half-chunk she gave me; I think I’ll try that one more gong-fu style, including one or two rinses to begin with, since that seems to be the norm with pu’erhs.

I took a picture of the little box; I will try to post it on here (maybe from my phone?!) and perhaps someone can tell me what it is! Or where it’s from! Or something!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

generally I don’t experience fishiness in sheng pu-erhs

Kittenna

Not even smell? Hmm, it definitely smelled mildly fishy to me. Like I said though, I have no idea of its origins; the box is pictured. It says ‘sheng’ on it, so I made the assumption that that was what it was.

TeaBrat

usually not…

Kittenna

Oh well, this is the first straight one I’ve tried so I really didn’t know what to expect! It was pleasant enough in flavour though, so I’ll try more and then perhaps bring my experiences back to this one.

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26
drank Tangerine Ginger by Rishi Tea
2245 tasting notes

So sorry for spamming your dashboards, everyone. I just looked, and the vast majority of tasting notes on mine, at least, are from me…. :D:D

This was today’s random selection from my box of teas from LiberTEAS! Thank you!

The dry tea smelled sharply of ginger, and unlike DavidsTea’s Strawberry Ginger, I wasn’t getting a weird artificial smell from it, which was good. I also smelled citrus, although can no longer remember how strong it was, nor exactly what citrus fruit it reminded me of, and there was only a 1-cup sample packet so I used it all (although it sure looked like there was enough for more than one, the packet instructions indicate to use the whole package for 8oz. of boiling water).

Watching the colour changes as this one steeped was interesting – started off green, then turned pinkish, before settling into a deep pinkish purple colour. Although the instructions indicated a 5-minute infusion, after 4 minutes I took out the teaball as I was fairly certain it was strong enough…

Holy doodles. Strong enough can’t accurately describe what I just tasted. Uh… I think I need to water it down :| Major hibiscus alert too – so tart!

Hmm, too lazy to get more water. Small sips it is!

I forgot to mention how it smells. The aroma is gingery, and strangely, if I poke my nose into the cup it’s almost a bit sour. We’re gonna blame the hibiscus here. I can definitely taste ginger, which is lovely, but there are a host of other weird, strong flavours in there, mixed with incredible tartness and a strange sweet lingering taste in the mouth. Silly girl, when will you learn to trust your instincts and remove the teaball according to smell/sight and not timer? I must say though, I don’t think that this one would be improved a great deal by decreasing the amount of dry tisane used or the infusion time. Definitely not a tea for me. We’ll see if I make it through the cup (doubtful, given the plethora of deliciousness surrounding me).

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Kittenna

Haha, after typing ‘too lazy to get more water’, I considered tacking it onto a bathroom trip (which are VERY frequent right now). Which reminded me of comments on (Ninavampi??)’s post where K S talked about combining trips to the kitchen and bathroom and minimizing footsteps… and I was amused at myself :P

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90

I’m surprised that nobody else has logged this one yet given that a whole bunch of Bulk Barn teas have been logged on here! Perhaps it’s new?

Either way, I picked it up on a whim today, partly because it smelled so delicious! A dark oolong mixed with yellow flower petals (marigold??), it smells deliciously like tropical fruit. Mmmmm. There are no coconut pieces nor mango chunks, though.

Brewed, this smells tropical and fruity. I think it was more fragrant when it was warmer; it’s rather cool now.

This tastes surprisingly delicious! The central flavour is a tropical fruitiness, followed by a coconutty creaminess, and then, yes, a lovely oolong flavour! Love when fruity teas containing actual tea actually feature its flavour!

I need to get over the fact that this is a tea from Bulk Barn, and consider keeping it as part of my permanent collection. Yes… it’s that good! I’m very shocked/surprised. If you haven’t tried this one and have a Bulk Barn nearby (and like fruity oolongs, of course), I strongly recommend you pick some up. I honestly didn’t pay attention to the price, but I got maybe 3-4 cups worth for $0.41? Sounds like a bargain to me!

ETA: Second infusion (94C/4min) is pretty much a weaker version of the first. Not as impressive, but still good. Lacking enough oolongy flavour to make me happy though; perhaps it could have used an additional minute or so.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

I’ve tried a few of their teas, not bad for BB eh!?
but this was not there last time I stopped in. Looks like I’ll be making my rounds sooner than I thought :P

Kittenna

I am very pleasantly surprised with this one, yes! I fear the coming of 10% student discount Wednesday and my self-control… :/

Indigobloom

Ahh discounts. Dangerous beasts!

Azzrian

What a steal! Wish we had one here!

Kittenna

They’re fabulous :D

Jessie

That sounds so good! The Bulk Barn prices are amazing, and the teas are surprisingly good too.

Amariel

This one was there when I got my two little baggies today, but I opted to just stick to what I had, and maybe try it another day.

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98

Thank you Amanda for this sample! I belatedly wanted to sample this after you had sent off the package – I was so pleased when it was a bonus sample you had sent along!

The dry tea smells fruity, creamy, and with a sour cherry tang. Steeped, it smells sweet and vaguely cherry-like… hope the fruity taste that I’m expecting is there!

Oh wow! THIS is what I wish Cherry Potion from DavidsTea tasted like! This is lovely! I can taste apple and cherry most prominently, but what I’m loving the most is the lack of strange artificial flavours, and the fact that this is caffeine-free. I really hope I can acquire some of this reasonably easily – I need this in my cupboard. NEED. This is seriously the perfect fruit tisane. I mean, I’ll have to try the rest of it in another cup, but I doubt it will change my mind.

I don’t know whether this is just a good night for me + teas, but I feel like I’m on a roll here :P (Good thing, I very literally have EIGHT full cups of tea sitting here to drink!)

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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98

Semi-impulse buy when I was at DavidsTea today… definitely didn’t need another tea, but I wanted to try a basic tie kwan yin to compare other green oolongs against (e.g. those from Teavivre). I intended to pick up their High Mountain Oolong too, but didn’t see it on the shelf. The wallet thanks the tea gods for small favours. Another reason I grabbed this tea is because although I like milk oolongs, sometimes the milky flavour can put me off a bit, or be a bit too rich, when all I want is that lovely green oolong flavour. Likewise with overly floral oolongs, so this is one in which neither attribute is prominently featured (I think).

Anyhow, I didn’t have the patience for short infusions today (also, cannot justify wasting MORE time), so western-style brewing it is. A generous amount of leaf: prob 2tsp. I kind of wish I hadn’t brewed so many teas at once – I can’t remember how long I steeped any of them! Should have written it down. Although now I remember – I set this one for two minutes, sniffed it, and decided to leave the basket in longer… and then forgot about it. My guess is that it was in there around 4-6 minutes, which is approximately the range suggested by DT, so hopefully I haven’t ruined it.

The dry tea just smells green and grassy. Maybe the slightest touch of floral, but I’m not sure. Steeped, it smells a bit buttery, a bit floral, and a lot OOLONG! Yes! This is what I want! Please please please taste like you smell.

The moment of truth….. and it’s exactly what I wanted! Oh man. This may only be a mediocre oolong for most people, but holy crap it is exactly what my taste buds were craving (I didn’t know this prior, but they’re currently immensely satisfied and pushing thoughts into my brain of brewing up a whole pot in spite of the row of tea-filled mugs crowding my nightstand). The taste is buttery and smooth, barely floral, and OOLONGINYOURFACE. Bahaha, “oolongin’”: a verb describing an intense desire to drink vast quanities of oolong tea, e.g. “I’m oolongin’ so hard today”. Nevermind me….

Anyhow, I’m not going to say that this is The Best Oolong In The World or anything, as I haven’t tried enough for that, but I’m definitely quite happy with it, and need to now compare it with my Teavivre samples… although I just realized that I only have the honey tieguanyin from them… And my Verdant samples. I think that while I may like the more expensive ones better, this will be fabulous for the cheap, western-style-frequent-drinking option, while I can save the others and truly experience them.

ETA: Second infusion, 94C/5min, definitely not as good, but starts off creamy and almost like more of a milk oolong, and finishes with oolong. A touch more astringency is perhaps the biggest difference. Perfectly good though, for cutting that oolongin’!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C
Azzrian

LOL that was fun to read and I too am a total oolong fan! I love the word Oolongin!

Missy

haha oolongin!

Indigobloom

oh hey I think I might steal that one. Oolongin! I do that allll the time…

Kittenna

Hahahaha, me too :P

Maxime-Daniel Friðrikson

One damn good Oolong! I miss it :)

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87
drank Chocolate Cake by DAVIDsTEA
2245 tasting notes

Just brewed up six different & new teas – I am taking procrastination to a whole new level!

First up is Chocolate Cake, cuz I felt SOO left out since everyone else is reviewing it! (Of course, now I’m seeing more reviews of Ice Cream cake and pouting because I ran out of tea balls to try that one too).

It definitely smells delicious and like chocolate ice cream. Yum. Not as sickly sweet as birthday cake; I’m ok with that. I used a generous amount of leaf (a generous tsp + a generous half tsp, so probably closer to two) since there have been comments as to it being weak.

Seriously… the aroma of this one brewed is FABULOUS. It took over my entire kitchen! (And trust me, it was difficult to smell the pu’erh I was steeping because the chocolate got in the way!) Taste-wise, it’s definitely a successful chocolatey ice creamy tea. Clearly you guys who are saying it isn’t great have not tasted my cup. Admittedly it’s a bit thin-tasting, but only because my tastebuds are convinced that it tastes like chocolate syrup and therefore should be thicker!

For whatever reason, I’m getting a touch of scratchiness in the back of my throat while drinking this… perhaps it’s stevia, perhaps it’s sugar in this tea (it happens when I drink or eat something overly sugary sometimes too). A bit bothersome, but I can get over it.

I like this a fair bit better than I was expecting to. I’ll have to keep a watch on whether or not this one’s kept on permanently, because I think I’d like to have a tiny bit of this on hand for those days when I truly want a chocolatey sweet tea. It’s definitely not an everyday tea, though.

ETA: Second infusion, 5 minutes and boiling water, is worthwhile but definitely weaker and kind of watery. I probably won’t try a third (if only because drinking 4L of water this evening might not be the greatest idea??)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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83

Ok! Giving this one another shot with better parameters this time. I used about 4g of leaf for 250ml of water in my basket infuser.

First infusion (30s/205F)
There’s a light, honey-like aroma to the cup. Delicious! There’s a sweet and malty sort of honey flavour, with an oolong aftertaste. Quite good (and a big change from last time!)

Second infusion (35s/205F)
There’s now a light, almost floral aroma. The brew is stronger, richer, and kind of woody with more astringency than I would like; I probably shouldn’t have increased the infusion time. My bad – I thought it smelled too much like hot water at 30s, and it was a split second decision! It’s definitely still drinkable though.

Third infusion (45s/205F)
There’s a similar aroma to the previous infusion. However, the flavour changes here – there’s less astringency, and I’m getting almost a fruity sort of flavour here. Actually, perhaps it’s wheaty. A flavour I would imagine that sweet dry hay might have (although I have no familiarity with it, just an impression of it in my mind). It’s hard to place exactly what it is. I prefer this infusion over the second, which is just too astringent for me.

Weird! There’s a bit of a lingering sweet aftertaste with this infusion too. Kind of like what fennel can leave behind, but more pleasant.

Fourth infusion (35s/205F)
This time, I cleverly(!) sipped from my cups prior to the next infusion to make sure things were tasting ok, so after tasting the third infusion I decided to drop the time back to cut the astringency (I missed taking a sip between the second and third though, otherwise I would have dropped the infusion time back down then!)

This one tastes much like the third to me, minus the astringency. Maybe I’ll be able to figure out the flavour now?? …nope.

Ok, so this time things were MUCH more successful, and I may have yet another go with the leaves I left downstairs. I realize I made a couple of judgment errors while infusing here, but I think that I need to stop with this tea until I acquire a gaiwan and learn how to use it. Also, I need to take some sort of palate-training course or something, so I can say more than “ok, so this steep is definitely different than the previous but uh, not exactly sure how…”

I’m going to hold off on officially rating this one again, because I still don’t think I’ve experienced all it has to offer. It would currently garner a rating in the low 70s according to my scale, but I believe it’s worth more than that! Looking forward to my future attempt(s).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Missy

Hah you always crack me up. I do enjoy reading your reviews. I feel much the same way when trying to explain what I am tasting.

smartkitty

Hehe I always struggle finding that perfect steep with new teas. But that feeling when I finally nail it? Swoooooon~

Geoffrey

I like your perseverance with this tea Krystaleyn. Dancong oolongs are kind of notorious for being demanding of careful preparation. But I figure, if you can nail the moody brewing needs of Dancong, brewing other teas well will seem easy. Dancong oolongs are among my top favorites of all teas, so learning the optimal brewing of them was something I was willing to work hard to gain. It took a number of mistakes for me to get consistently good at brewing them well, but sometimes I still fumble a steeping if I’m distracted.

I’m going to offer you a suggestion, which may seem like going out on a limb, but I think it might offer you the results you’re looking for with this tea, or at least get you closer. I did a lot of research to find out how the locals of Chou Zhou brew this tea, which is the main city near the Phoenix Mountain range. There are people who purport that gongfu brewing started in this area, and given the sensitive nature of the tea they had available to them, it seems to me a reasonable probability that such techniques in tea preparation could have come out of the necessity to get a good cup of the local tea…

So what I do with Dancong is use a small amount of water for each steeping. My gaiwan holds about 100ml, which is roughly 3 ounces of water. I typically use anywhere from 4-7 grams of leaf, which ranges from 1/3 to 2/3 the capacity of my gaiwan. It really depends on my mood wether I use more or less, but I would suggest starting with less like the 4 grams you mentioned using last time. The Chao Zhou natives go full-tilt and literally stuff their gaiwan with leaf until it’s coming out the top, but they’re going for a very bright and intense flavor that is appreciated more for the aftertaste it leaves than for the taste of the liquor. I imagine this would be experienced as bitter for people unaccustomed to it, much in the same way that very spicy food is too much for people who don’t eat it often.

Anyway, try 4 grams with half the water (around 120ml) for each steeping, and steep for only 15 seconds. I always do the first 8 or so infusions of dancong at around 15 seconds. And that’s counted from the moment the water starts to touch the leaf to the moment it all has poured into my serving pitcher. About 15 seconds is apparently the traditional guideline for dancong brewing in Chou Zhou. Here’s a great little youtube video of a guy preparing dancong at a Chou Zhou tea house. You can count on your fingers how long he does each of the two steeping shown, and each time it is about 15 seconds from the time water touches the leaf to the time it’s all poured out. Also, look at how much leaf he’s using. Crazy! I don’t recommend trying that, but it’s illustrative to see how they like it. His gaiwan is probably about the same size of mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqUFY6SpJZU

Now, I want to say another thing to help you here. You don’t really need a gaiwan, pitcher and small cups to brew tea this way. If you have a brew basket, all you would need to do is fill it with the 4 grams or so of leaf, and then fill the 250ml cup you brewing in to only about 1/3 – 1/2 of its capacity, then pull out the leaves after about 15 seconds. You could then probably do this at least 7 times without needing to add time, only when you start to taste the tea weakening a little, add another 5-10 seconds. When it weakens further, you can venture out into longer steep times without making it go bitter.

David and I just finished filming the next video for the Verdant TV series and it’s going to explain, much like I have here, how to simulate gongfu tea with whatever you have on hand. When the editing is finished it will go up on the website. We hope that it will help people feel more comfortable trying this traditional Chinese way of preparing tea without the barrier of not having all the paraphernalia. Really the main goal of gongfu has always been about making the best cup of tea possible, and we do believe that it does produce better tea as a rule. I hope you find this comment helpful, and I look forward to seeing how your future experiments go. Don’t give up! All the work to brew a great cup of tea is worth it. Happy drinking!

Bonnie

Proud of your perserverence!

Dylan Oxford

Very informative piece Geoffrey, thanks! Watching that video though… I have no idea how that guy doesn’t burn his fingers. Yowza, he just throws that hot water everywhere!

Geoffrey

@dylan – he’s got mad heat calluses for sure. that guy’s like a gongfu heavyweight. doesn’t even flinch. I’d be crying!

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70
drank Grey Duchess by Souvia
2245 tasting notes

In an attempt to get through all of the teas in the huge box I received from LiberTEAS, I decided to randomly select one tea to sample whenever I have time to brew up more than just a couple of teas. I think today would qualify :)

Obviously, this is the tea I picked out! I’m a fan of earl greys – they bring back happy memories of getting tea drunk with my best friend back in elementary school. Great fun :) And more recently, they remind me of my boyfriend and his mom, as they both like earl greys and earl grey cream teas; his mom always serves them after dinner. Lately I haven’t had too many though, as I’m interested in exploring other flavours of tea.

Anyways, onto the review! The dry tea, in spite of many lavender blossoms, just smells like an earl grey. However, the lavender comes out quite strongly when steeped. I used a slightly heaping tsp for about a cup of water and am hoping it doesn’t come out too strong!

Not surprisingly, the dominant flavour in this cup is lavender, with bergamot notes and a vanilla finish. At three minutes of steeping, the tea is definitely not overpowering, and quite pleasant to drink without additions, which makes me happy. I think I could use a bit more cream/vanilla, and perhaps a touch less lavender, but this is tasty! Thanks LiberTEAS!

ETA: I realized a bit belatedly that this reminds me a lot of DavidsTea’s Jessie’s Tea, likely mostly because of the strong lavender flavour and creaminess. I think I preferred this tea though. Can’t compare the two because I sent off the remainder of Jessie’s Tea with my boyfriend, but that’s ok.

Also, second infusion of this one the next day is pretty good! 3min infusion. Can still taste the lavender, and am not really perceiving it as an earl grey until maybe the aftertaste. Definitely worth the second infusion though. Not sure about a third as I threw out the leaves to use the teaball for another tea – but they did still have some aroma left, so there might be further potential!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

This sounds very pretty to watch let alone drink. I’m becoming a tea voyear.

Kittenna

Unfortunately lavender blossoms aren’t as pretty as they sound! But I wasn’t steeping in glass, so perhaps it looks nicer than my imagination thinks it would be :)

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Bio

I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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