2661 Tasting Notes


Ok…. the sample I have of this is clearly too old to fairly be rating, but I’ll write a tasting note anyhow. My guess as to its age is perhaps 3+ years, and although it was in an sealed, unopened packet, green teas do not have that sort of longevity. Shame on me.

Anyways, it’s worth a shot! I used 2 tsp of leaf to coax at least some flavour out (since I have a sample bag that’s maybe about 6-8 tsp worth, I can try again if that’s too little/too much). The leaf looks like that of a dragonwell, but unlike the picture here, it simply looks old and tired. Somewhat like the Rishi leaf from yesterday, although that turned out to be just fine.

Although the instructions indicated a 25-30s infusion, I gave it a whole minute because I really didn’t think that would be long enough.

The resulting brew is light in colour (darkening a bit as it sits), and the aroma is really strange. I want to call is a brothy sort of umami (I learned about umami in my cheese tasting panel, which sadly ended today, but it was a fun experience!). I haven’t really had teas with this sort of brothy aroma… it’s kind of throwing me. There is a hint of “tea” in there though, but I have to wonder if there wasn’t some contamination going on. Which brings me to a story of a different packet of tea I had that I brewed up, and it tasted like smoked salmon! My cousin informed me that it was probably stored to close to… my smoked salmon… (legit, my aunt sent smoked salmon with the tea), but I really wasn’t sure. Fast forward to now, and I think I may have been unwittingly tasting a pu’erh or lapsang souchong :D The things you learn! I still have the packet, but can’t read the writing on it quite, but you can be sure I’ll be sampling it again, although it’s another 1.5 years older now, hahahaha.

Ummm, but I digress. I’m sorry, apparently I’m “chatty” today, which is probably a procrastination technique to get out of inputting the sheets of data sitting accusingly next to me (I was supposed to do it yesterday). (See, here I go again! Shut up, girl!)

So the tea! The strangely umami/broth-y scented tea! Actually tastes better than I would have expected, given its age. I can believe that in its day, it was a fine tasting dragonwell. It actually does taste like one, just not with any particular strength. There’s a hint of the characteristic rock sugar flavour, and the crisp-cooked veggie flavour, but they aren’t terribly strong. Yet that said, it does taste like green tea, and it is enjoyable! In fact, in a pinch I could probably drink it to satisfy a craving for Verdant’s dragonwell, although I wouldn’t be nearly as satisfied.

I expect one of the places I’ll really notice a difference is in re-steeping; while I can get 3 good infusions from Verdant’s leaves, the Rishi version from yesterday gave me one for sure and a potentially good second infusion (I probably just let it sit too long), and I’m not sure these leaves have anything left in them now, although I will give it a shot for curiousity’s sake.

Anyhow, I’m glad this one wasn’t a complete failure. I decided last night that I really need to get going on my oldest tea samples, so this was a start on that :)

ETA: Er… whoops. The re-steep got 13 minutes, and tastes seaweedy and astringent. Ah well!

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Ali San by Harney & Sons
2661 tasting notes

Starting into the spoils of my recent swap with Mercuryhime! My package was filled with oolongs (ok, there was other stuff, but I guess the oolongs really caught my eye), so I’m going to start off with two of them! Perfect evening tea.

The dry tea has a delicious milky scent to it, not as strong as DavidsTea’s milk oolong, but very much along the same lines, so I’m excited for what I’m expecting to be a milky oolong! The flavour is maintained during/after steeping as well.

I don’t know if it’s because I just ate a bunch of salad and have some lingering flavours (bitterness?) in my mouth or something, but I’m getting quite a bit of rock sugary sweetness from the tea. Very much reminiscent of the dragonwell I just had. The aroma is more along the lines of an oolong though, and the taste is a bit…. richer, almost. This isn’t quite what I was expecting, to be honest, but I do still like it! The more I drink, the more I’m getting the classic oolong aftertaste that I love, so I clearly didn’t accidently switch my cups around (sometimes I really start to wonder!) I’m also starting to get just a hint of a floral taste.

This tea is definitely one I would drink again if offered, but I’ve sampled other green oolongs that I prefer, so wouldn’t bother picking this one out specifically.

Thanks for passing some of this one along, Mercuryhime! :D

ETA: Second infusion the next day, 94C/4min, is definitely oolongy and yum. It may actually be a touch oversteeped, but I can live with that. I’ll try for an additional infusion later this evening. Apologies about continually bumping my note to the top of everyone’s dashboard feed… :(

ETA again: Apparently I don’t learn. Accidently left the third infusion for 6 minutes. Definitely oversteeped. Bleh.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I think my permanent collection consists mostly of oolongs so it is no surprise that the proportion shows in my swaps. :D


No complaints here! :D

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… if this isn’t an oolong, and a milk oolong at that, I’d be shocked. But, what it is or isn’t is really not important… the important part is the flavour!!

This one’s another one from Mercuryhime, so thanks again for gifting me with all these oolongs! I looked and it was technically only five oolong samples, but… mmmmm :D :D

The aroma here is classic milk oolong, to me. And the flavour is spot on for being a milk oolong. Not as intense as DavidsTea’s version, but definitely the same sort of flavour. Oh man…. this is fabulous. I wonder what the pricing on this one is… if they think it’s a green, perhaps it’s cheaper than a milk oolong…. Anyhow, the delicious milkiness melds wonderfully with a bit of rock sugary sweetness and a fabulous oolong flavour.

Mercuryhime – your swap package couldn’t have arrived at a better time, as I’m pretty sure I finished the last of my Quangzhou Milk Oolong from DavidsTea off with the cup of it I had a week or so ago. How nice is it not to have to go purchase something to satisfy a craving! And it looks like I have enough left for at least two more cups, if not a third if I’m stingy :D I do prefer a stronger milky flavour, but I’d pick this one up again to satisfy a milk oolong craving. Yum.

ETA: Oh man, this is heavenly. HEAVENLY. Second infusion (next day), 94C/4min is absolutely wonderful. Not only is it creamy milk oolong goodness, I am getting a sort of caramelly flavour as well. Seriously…. I am going to have to acquire some of this. Maybe there will be a Steepster out there who makes a mass order of this one and spreads it around. I didn’t look closely at their shipping policy/costs, but ordering one tea to ship to Canada is not likely worthwhile in the slightest.

ETA again: Third infusion, same parameters, same yum, although maybe a bit weaker. Reminiscent of sweetened condensed milk, without the sweet.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I just got some of this from Mercuryhime too. I’ll be tryin’ it soon!


If you like milk oolongs, you’ll like it :D


Somehow I ended up with some both from Mercuryhime AND ashmara! I have no idea how this happened – I need to go back and look at my PMs lol but an advance THANK YOU to both lovely people for the samples! I want to try this when I can sit with it and really relax! It sounds wonderful! I have not had too many milk oolongs YET.


Yep. I’ve been sending this out left and right since I got it. It’s so tasty and I have so much of it! Gotta share the love! I believe the price is $15 per 4 oz. not a bad price of you ask me! I’m really glad you’re enjoying the samples so far!


I love it! I buy two pouches at a time for me because I go through it so fast. I usually have to order extra for friends. I called the store and they swore it was a green but then wavered when I asked some questions and said they would look into it more and see if it might be a green oolong, but like you said….who cares what it is! It is DELICIOUS!


Hmmm, interesting…the picture looks like an oolong. I’m going to have to try this one too!


WHOA…this is some green tea!! buttery flavor? i am lately all about butter notes in tea…i just love them! Milk Oolong was the first tea i wanted to purchase after joining this site, it just sounded delicious. i look forward to trying my first milk oolong, and certainly a buttery (even caramel-y) green!


It’s delicious. :D

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Third sample from LiberTEAS… at which point I will now be switching to my new samples from Mercuryhime! Canada Post has been giving me lots of love these past couple months… it’s great! And luckily the rain stopped long enough for me to go out and retrieve the soggy newspaper and the non-soggy box of tea, otherwise I wouldn’t have had it until tomorrow! The horror!

Anyhow, this is the tea of today’s three that I’m least excited about. Straight blacks still aren’t really my thing, other than a couple amazing ones from Verdant, so I’m a little apprehensive.

The aroma is… fruitily pungent? I don’t know how one would describe the flavour of a fairly standard black tea, which is how this smells to me. (Really, I should try a bunch of straight teas so I can associate flavours with say, yunnan, fujian, assam like Angrboda and other people do, but I have yet to bother with something like that).

The flavour follows, although is actually better than I had expected. There’s that round sort of fruitiness and only the slightest bit of astringency (which I’m finding is expected in black teas to some degree, so I’ll deal with it as long as it’s bearable). Really not bad at all. Not something I would choose to drink as I need more interesting flavours to drink a black tea straight, but I suspect those who like black tea would quite enjoy this, with breakfast or otherwise. I imagine it takes milk and sugar well too, although I don’t feel the need to try that.

Thanks for the sample of this one, LiberTEAS!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Feliz Cumpleaños by BourgeaTEA
2661 tasting notes

Ok! Another sample from LiberTEAS! I’m doing this review “blind”, meaning that I have no idea what the flavouring is supposed to be here, if the tea is flavoured beyond the smattering of sprinkles that are obvious. I think it’s kind of fun to try and figure things out before looking at what it’s actually supposed to be.

The aroma of this tea reminds me a great deal of DavidsTea’s Birthday Cake, although that one is a rooibos and this is a black. It’s an almost sickly sweet sort of aroma (which I find appealing, haha), and I can just barely catch a hint of the black base. I don’t know whether it’s the sprinkles that give the tea the sweet aroma, or flavouring.

Even at only three minutes of steeping (ok, 3:07, but who’s counting!), I’m getting a bitter flavour at the end of the sip. I can taste some sweetness, but it’s quite mild, and a bit overshadowed by this strange bitterness. Blech. This tea definitely has nothing on DT’s cake teas. They’re not even in the same league. I might add some milk and sugar here just to make it palatable, but this definitely is one flavoured black I don’t feel the need to have again.

Ok, cheating now and reading some notes… of course I would read that LiberTEAS found it to be verging on bitter with a 2.5 minute infusion! Haha. Maybe next time I try it it will be better. I am definitely getting vanilla-y and possible maple-y notes; as I said, it is reminiscent of Birthday Cake, which has those same flavours, but the change in base tea alters the flavours a bit, which are then further overshadowed by bitterness. Ah well. Not bad, but not a tea I’d choose for myself :)

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Inspired by TeaEqualsBliss, I decided it was time to randomly choose some more teas from my box from LiberTeas! So this is the first of three teas… which I’m drinking while sitting through a series of wicked thunderstorms. (While I was on the bus home, there was a simultaneous crack of thunder/flash of lightning so loud that I thought perhaps we had been hit. It wasn’t us, but must have been extremely close. Scary. As I write this, downpour #3 is occurring. #1 had pea-sized hail; hoping that was all we’ll see of that…)

The only dragonwell I really remember having is Verdant’s, and I’m sure I’ve been spoiled by it, so I have to say that by contrast, the leaves of this tea look a little dull and broken. Luckily, as soon as they were in the water, I was getting a delicious fresh green, rock sugary scent that did make me think of the teas from Verdant, so all hope is not lost!

The flavour appears to be much the same as well, although perhaps not quite as strong. I’m pleased about this similarity in flavour, because that means that I Like Dragonwell. And now I want to run upstairs and grab any dragonwell samples I can find and see if they taste similar! I did just get one from Teavivre….

Anyways, to specifically describe the flavour, it is a little bit vegetal, with some rock sugar sweetness poking through. The sort of vegetal here (and in Verdant’s dragonwells) is almost a sort of crisp-cooked veggie, where some of the raw flavour has been cooked away, but it’s still crunchy. Snow peas or asparagus come to mind here, but it’s probably more the former as there isn’t a sulfury flavour or aroma. There’s only the barest hint of astringency here, and I’m only noticing it as I’m finishing the cup, so perhaps it’s because some little leafy pieces snuck through my brewing basket(?)

Mmmm, either way this is a good cup. I prefer Verdant’s version probably because it’s a little greener and sweeter, but this one is likely a good bit cheaper. Doesn’t matter for a while anyhow, because I have quite a bit from various sources to drink up before I even contemplate another purchase!

ETA: Second infusion (I have no idea of the parameters, whoops) was only consumed once cold, so it’s unfair to judge it (it wasn’t great). The leaves seemed pretty aromaless and spent afterward, so that’s as far as I went. I suspect the second infusion, drank in a more timely manner, would have been just fine, so I’d take this tea to two again next time.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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So the last 1.5 tsp of this one from Azzrian got the cold-brewing treatment today, since I happened to encounter it while poking around for teas to brew up and wasn’t the biggest fan of it hot. This one got the same treatment as Strawberry Pancake; 30 seconds in 82C water followed by dilution with cold water and being stuck in the fridge for about 7 hours. Half the water, though.

This one’s actually better than I expected! A nice refreshing, fruity green. I’m primarily picking up on mango flavours and maybe a bit of citrus (apparently neither flavour is in this blend… I could be convinced that I’m tasting peach, but have difficulty believing there’s watermelon or kiwi here). One plus is that the flavouring doesn’t taste so artificial as it does in some blends. Similar to Strawberry Pancake, there’s a bit of astringency here, but it’s not quite as bothersome. I wonder if the fact that it got 30s at 180F instead of the recommended 167F influenced that. The green tea here is coming off slightly seaweedy as well, but it’s pretty mild.

Anyhow, not too sad to see this one go, and I think cold-brewing it made it a bit tastier than I remember it being hot.

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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So today was another disgustingly hot day (although not as hot in Guelph as Toronto, lucky me!), and the brief time I spent outside spurred me to attempt seven…. yes, seven cold-brewing experiments today! Clearly I’m not going to drink them all now (especially since most are in two-cup volumes), but I’m thirsty and felt like getting started.

First up is this one (all but one are 52teas… I was just in that kinda mood, and if I drink them down, I can buy more!! Right?)

Hot-brewed 1 slightly heaped tbsp of this in about 1/2 cup of ~82C water for 30 seconds, then topped up two cups with cold water and stuck it in the fridge for about 7(?) hours. I’m getting the lovely aroma even from the cold brew, so am pretty excited!

Ok, the flavour is not bad, but I don’t think my brewing method was great. I’m picking up on more astringency/bitterness than I’d really like (it’s not horrible, just tastes oversteeped), alongside the delicious strawberry flavour (which is more in the aftertaste, and definitely screams ‘added flavouring’ to me, not that I really care). The green tea is kind of masked by the astringency, but is somewhat seaweedy and nutty. Overall, it’s quite drinkable, but not a “success” in my books. No worries though, because this is one I enjoy hot anyhow! I just opted to cold-brew every 52teas packet I’d purchased that I thought appropriate (e.g. not Malted ChocoMate or Mayan Chocolate Chai), and so this one got it’s turn too. I’ll probably try this one again either with a straight cold brew or by cooling off a hot-brewed cup.

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

I was waffling on this one, and glad that I did, because your review sort of verifies why I was so unsure about it. I’m crazy and actually cold-brewed Malted Chocomate even though I figured it would be weird. It was… interesting!


Waffling on cold-brewing it? Yeah, I think it’s best as a hot tea, although it’s not the worst cold-brew I’ve had. Both 52teas Coconut Cream Pie and DavidsTea’s Buttered Rum were definitely harder to get down, the former because it just tasted like flavouring and the latter because it tasted really off.


Actually, I was waffling on buying this one. I had a feeling it would have an odd aftertaste. As for the CCP and BR, I definitely prefer the former iced. BR is much better hot. Actually, I love CCP cold-brewed, and luckily didn’t have any problems with it.


Ahhh, gotcha :) Wasn’t sure what you meant! It definitely tastes of artificial flavouring, which I tolerate only because I like artificial strawberry looks guilty.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to try CCP just straight cold-brewed, and perhaps for longer. It wasn’t bad, while Buttered Rum tasted gross, which made me sad :(

Daniel Scott

You iced Buttered Rum? Hmm. It’s a good thing we have a word in the English language like “experiment” for choices like that. :P

Kidding around of course, but that’s interesting. I don’t think it would EVER have occurred to me to ice that one. Certain ones are just hot-only or cold-only in my head.


Haha some artificial strawberry flavourings taste good to me too. While I like the idea of strawberry teas, I find it hard to find one that I like? I’ve even been hesitating to try the Strawberry Zabaglione. There’s a little chain here in Alberta called Steeps which makes a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry black, and it’s goooood, though.

Yeah I leave the CCP in the fridge for anywhere between 6-10 hours, and it’s been great every time. Iced, Buttered Rum was a disappointment for me too. So much weaker and flatter, somehow. Oh well, now we know!


@Daniel Scott – Hey, I wouldn’t have tried it if I hadn’t seen others doing it! I am a sheep, after all :P It really didn’t work for me though, so I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll notice I did feel that Malted ChocoMate and Mayan Choco Chai are meant to only be only hot teas. :D I can’t even envision them cold! I don’t think it would work.

@Incendiare – I was sent a small sample of Strawberry Zabaglione and at least my first attempt with it wasn’t as good as everyone else seems to say it is. No real loss for me though, because I’m not married to the idea of finding a good strawberry black. As for other good strawberry teas, Butiki’s Strawberry Oolong is good, although I personally don’t think that “strawberry” was the flavour I was getting. I feel like I have had good strawberry teas though… hmmm….

Also, I’ll try your CCP suggestion :D


About the iced Malted Chocomate that I bravely tried. You know how you find many mates to have that banana flavour (I think it is you who experiences that)? For the first time, the Malted Chocomate took on a banana-y flavour for me when cold-steeped. It was weird. So you’re definitely not missing out haha.

Thanks for the Butiki suggestion! Strawberry Oolong sounds good.


Yeppers, it’s me who gets that banana flavour, with roasted mates at least! (Eeee, someone reads my tasting notes and actually remembers something?!) I think I will steer clear of icing that one, haha. Not that I mind that flavour, but if other people are getting it too, perhaps it ends up being quite a bit stronger, and that’s unnecessary!

I feel like I’ve had some other good strawberry teas too. I did like DavidsTea’s Strawberry White, although I’m not sure it was terribly strawberry-y… It’s funny, I’m completely blanking! If I think of others I’ll try to remember to mention them :P


I like this one best steeped at 175 degrees for 2.5 minutes. Haven’t tried cold brewing it, but I suspect I wouldn’t like it based on your experience.


The parameters above were just for the hot-steeping pre-treatment; I can’t recall what I normally use, but I should try with the above :)

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drank SoHo Blend by Harney & Sons
2661 tasting notes

Couldn’t play the guessing game for this one since the name kind of gives it away…. I think this is the last of my six Harney & Sons samples from Alphakitty – thanks!

Anyways, I brewed this one up prior to realize quite how much my cold was affecting me. I could smell a delicious chocolatey flavour in the brewed tea though, so hopefully I can at least taste a bit of it so it’s not a waste!

A further sniffing of my cup is giving me a strong association to Bounty bars! Yum! And by some sort of miracle, I can actually taste this flavour, too! This is fabulous! Seriously…. this is probably the first chocolate coconut tea I’ve had, and this is way better than I could have imagined! It’s like drinking a Bounty bar without the huge overdose of sugar! And I’m so thrilled that for whatever reason, I can actually taste it!!

Off-topic – I just received my second sample pack from Teavivre!!! It is absolutely jammed full! Crossing my fingers to get better soon more than ever (although I might cave and try something anyhow).

Back to the tea… with a four minute infusion, the black base here is not producing any astringency or bitterness, so I’d be tempted to increase the infusion time a touch to see if I can intensify the flavours at all, although this is pretty darn good as is. I’ll have to try a second infusion with the leaves – based on the success I had with the other three H&S flavoured blacks I’ve tried, I’m expecting at least one good additional infusion.

Soooo based on the success I’ve been having with H&S blends, I think my next swap(s) are going to be aimed at trying more of them! Out of the six I’ve tried, all were good, and I would probably purchase four of them… and that’s saying something! Thanks so much for passing along so many, Alphakitty! Next up are the rest of the samples you and everyone else has sent (and the new ones from Teavivre! Woooo!!)

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

This does taste like a candy bar, but without all the calories!

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I’ve had this sitting around for ages, so figured the “morning” would be a good time to try it. Still sick though, so this is probably not the best time to be drinking new teas…. oh well. Although my friend/office-mate raves about this tea and tells me that she absolutely loves to mix it with otherwise non-caffeinated herbals, I’ve been wary to try it as citrus flavoured blends and unroasted mates have not been appealing to me lately.

Anyhow! I got a nice refreshing lemony citrus aroma when removing the infuser basket from my mug, which smelled better than I was expecting.

Unfortunately, this cold is obviously influencing my ability to taste things right now. I can kind of taste the lemony flavour if I try, and I can tell that the mate has a flavour, but I can’t quite taste it, although I can perceive that the tea is pretty strong. This clearly isn’t a case of poor flavouring, but a case of stuffy nose. Sigh.

Oh well, a dud of a tasting note. I think I can see how this would work well with herbals though. Interested to try it when I can actually taste properly again!

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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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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