Featured & New Tasting Notes


Another Surprise from my SosoriTEA Sister LiberTEAs!!! Thanks!

This smells neat prior and during the infusion. It reminds me of a Chocolate/Vanilla Wafer…remember those!?

This infuses to a Light to Light Medium Brown. Post infusion the scents blend together and aren’t as identifiable.

Taste-wise I can taste the Coconut upfront followed by floral and vanilla. The black tea taste is subtle. Any less would leave me wanting – any more by be unnecessary.

Whereas this is a different taste – I do like it. This is a nice change

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In search of a sheng pu’er to drink at work this morning, I combed through my catalogue and decided to weed out some of my least favorite lingering samples. This was at the bottom and became today’s tea.

I had not remembered how small the leaves were, tiny. I unleashed the remainder of my sample on my larger gaiwan and have now worked through about seven steeps. It isn’t as bad as I remember. It’s not good or great, just not atrocious. Less cigarette butt, less sourness. Still, fairly orange, fairly plain, and fairly ho-hum. It’s got some enjoyable campfire and moss on the frontend of the aroma, but it doesn’t have much complexity to give in the flavor. And while I think I’ve done a better job of brewing this time around, I have no intentions of revisiting this example from Xiaguan.

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Had this tea again last nigt and realized that I didn’t steep it long enough last time. I steeped it for about 4.5 minutes and the flavor came out fuller (with no bitterness) than when I steeped last time for 3 minutes. I also measured the temperature of the water before steeping and it was at around 167F, lower than last time. I think that steeping at a lower water temperature for longer time yielded better taste. I also noticed that it a had a sweet aroma, which must be the flowers. I think I am going to order the rest of Ego’s flowering teas. I’ll make comments as I drink them.

165 °F / 73 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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drank Malted ChocoMaté by 52teas
392 tasting notes

I won this in the 52 teas weekly news letter contest, on my birthday of all weeks to win! I have been wanting to try this tea since I first heard about it so I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to try it out!

Today it came in the mail and I was uber excited to try it plus I was really wanting a caffeine fix! Now I really am not a fan of chocolate teas I just don’t think the flavor can be replicated in a tea. I don’t think they taste bad but I just don’t think they taste like chocolate, but regardless I was very drawn to this tea.

I have never had yerba mate before so I don’t really know what to expect in terms of the base tea. The dry leaves smell mildly like the heath bar tea I have from 52 teas but with a little less of that protein bar scent. Also I swear… I know this is weird, but it smells like fig newtons.

Once the tea is steeped I am getting occasionally whiffs that really smell strongly of chocolate (like a chocolate syrup kind of chocolate). However it tastes again like figs. Which isn’t a bad flavor at all. In fact I throughly enjoyed this tea, but I am tasting more figs then chocolate. When I have milk in my fridge again I am definitely gonna try this both with a splash of milk and as a latte with a little bit of chocolate syrup for sweetener. I greatly look forward to experimenting with this tea.

Boiling 8 min or more

Forgot to rate this – whoops.

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drank Powdered Gen Mai Cha by Rishi Tea
865 tasting notes

Ok. So this one scares me the most. Especially cold. Gen Mai Chai is one of only 2 Japanese greens I do not like… I’ve only had it hot though.

The aroma of the powder is your basic toasted rice scent w/ quite a bit of sweetness.

Served as suggested.

The liquor is light like the powdered green oolong, but the scent is pretty strong. The Gen Mai is still strongly evident but the matcha like aroma from the green tea is there too.

Glug, glug.

Wow. Not my personal preference, but pretty dang good. Way better than hot. Like drinking rice cereal. But there’s also a stong sweetness and a nice smooth vegetal note from the green tea that pulls it together. Not gonna chance ruining it and making it hot.


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This tea is my new obsession – a few of the restaurants and delis by my job carry it and I buy a bottle whenever I see it. I do not normally purchase pre-made iced teas, it kind of goes against my nature – you lose some art and simplicity when buying a bottle, not to mention cost of one simple bottle and of course that I do not like to put damn-near-anything in my tea.

The tea is sweeter than I would usually drink, using pure organic cane sugar, so at least it is a sugar I approve of. The tea is like many bottled iced teas, but it has a uniqueness, a real oolong flavor with a smack of raspberry. The mouthfeel is crisp and clean, raspberry up front followed by the cool, refreshing, crisp and clean flavor of oolong. Absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend that if you happen to see this, or one of the other flavors from New Leaf to try it, you will not be disappointed!

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Having fallen in love with Upton’s other LS (Imperial), I had high hopes for this. Perhaps I haven’t perfected the steeping process, but I found that the lovely flavour of the raw tea leafs (which was better than the Imperial) did not translate to the steeped tea. It tasted rather unfinished and lacks depth, a little metallic and not quite smoky for my taste.

I agree that this is a great Intro to LS 101 tea and especially good if you want a light LS. But those who love the SMOKE! in their LS might be disappointed. Perhaps mixing this with other, more smoky LS varieties will do the trick.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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In the container, this has a recognizable and pronounced smell of bergamot, and something else that is… odd. It’s a sort of minerally, metallic smell that I haven’t noticed in tea before. I see a few cornflowers dotting the dark brown leaves.

The web site says the tea is from Sri Lanka, which is the only clue as to the type of tea base this is. It doesn’t have the color I’ve seen in most Ceylons, though. That reddish, russet color is only barely there. It brews lighter than other Ceylons I’ve had. The tea’s aroma strikes me as bakey on first sniff, like too much baking powder in the muffins. Not a good sign. As I sniff longer, I’m getting something else. Potato? At first I thought it was sweet potato, but it really isn’t. It’s the sharpish, earthy smell of raw potato. Oh, and some bergamot, too.

The flavor is strange as well. It’s got a mentholly feel to the after sip, which must be from the bergamot oil, and it tastes a little potato-y, with a tad of starchy sweetness at the finish. The feel of the tea is soft to the mouth. The metallic, minerally smell is consistent with the potato-y taste, at least for me. Raw potatoes smell like that to me. There is a citrus note, but it’s not strong.

It’s more Earl Grey-like than the Kusmi, but it’s such a strange flavor that I’m not sure what to make of it. From the fragrance of the dry leaves I wasn’t expecting to like this, and I’m not sure I do. I don’t have an active dislike for it, though. I’m going to give it a slightly higher rating than the Kusmi for being truer to the Earl Grey genre, but this is not likely to become a favorite.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Peach Oolong by Adagio Teas
62 tasting notes

I meant to drink this hot. I brewed it up, walked away and forgot. By the time I remembered, I was leaving the house, so I stuck it in the fridge to drink for later.

While I can’t comment how it was hot, this tea iced is really good! The smell of the dried leaves had a faint peach smell, but once brewed and then iced, the peach really comes out to have a very good peach taste, with some light floral-perfume sort of after taste. The actual oolong part of the tea tasted more like a black tea than what I considered to be oolong. The overall tea is excellent, and I’m tempted to just keep drinking it iced. It was most refreshing in the morning, and I can see this being a joy to drink during the summer. A really great flavored tea.

195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more

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drank Carnival by Sanctuary T
61 tasting notes

Hello Steepsterites.

Look at your tea, now back to mine, now back at your tea, now back to mine. Sadly, it isn’t mine, but if you stopped purchasing tea bags and switched to Sanctuary T’s Carnival blend, it could smell and taste like mine.

Sorry for that. I HAD to do it. I recently purchased a discounted sampler tea set from Sanctuary T via their July quizzes, and this was the first tea that I decided to brew. Now, let me tell you: The aroma is to DIE for. It’s buttery, caramel, and smooth with a hint of pepper. It’s a medium body black tea that is so perfectly blended, I completely forgot I was drinking anything since it goes down divinely smooth.

Imagine eating the most wonderful slightly salted popcorn without your fingers getting all greasy. Now imagine you can drink that happiness. That is this tea.

My only gripe is that the tea doesn’t do too well on consecutive brews. It smells and tastes great but it’s moderately weaker. Sadies. Wonderful tea nonetheless.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 45 sec

Nice one! and just think of how much tea Isaiah Mustafa could sell if he tried… I wish he would! No matter how clever the ads are, I’m never going to buy Old Spice for my husband, because I don’t want him to smell like my father and/or grandfather!

Sanctuary T

haha! the old spice ad is hilarious! we are so glad that you love our tea… sorry that it is on the weaker side, have you tried steeping it a bit longer?

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drank Spiderweb Oolong by Shanti Tea
243 tasting notes


I actually drank this tea all week and it took me most of the week to get the words just right about it. I used up the entire sample over the course of five infusions. So bear with me while I revisit my notes and describe each one.

To start, the leaves smell of faint oolong and a tiny bit of grape flavor. The grape is very difficult to detect, but I love grape and can find and look for it in a lot of things… The leaves are small, dark, curled very tightly, with the faint aroma.

The first infusion was five minutes, hot, no additives. The tea is sweet and malty, a delicious oolong with the slight wine taste finishing off the brew. I mustered two more infusions (5 minutes and 7 minutes respectively) with very similarly delicious results. This was day one.

Day two I added some sugar, hot infusion, five minutes. This was still good, but the natural sweetness of the tea itself and the added sweetness from the sugar made this infusion almost too sweet. Still good, but could be less sweet.

Day three, I put my tea in a travel mug and let it infuse with hot water, no additives the entire 45 minute car ride to work, taking little sips when there were stops along the route. The tea is much stronger now, not a gentle, definitely still oolong, but more malt then sweet when brewed this way. The wine aftertaste is completely gone. As an aesthetic note, this long of an infusion allowed the leaves to completely unfurl into long thick green oolong leaves…

Day four, attempting the 45 minute infusion again, but this time with 1/2 teaspoon of rock sugar. The sweetness is back, but I feel like it is kind of cheating, the natural sweetness is gone and overrun by malt, but the sugar brings some underlying flavor to life. Still no wine aftertaste.

Day five, my last bit of the tea, I decided to go back to basics and enjoy what it actually was, hot, no additives, five minute brew. After having experimented with the other ways I thought I could enjoy the tea, I now know, this was superior. An even balance of sweet and malty oolong, the slight hint of grape, with a crisp and clean flavor. Very well balanced, very delicious.


5 min, 0 sec

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Part IV: Halmari CTC BOP (TA 27) vs. Nahorhabi Estate BOP CTC Cl. (TA 18)

The long-delayed fourth round! This time it’s two single-estate teas going head-to-head. With their more impressive pedigrees than previous competitors, I imagine they’re donning elbow-length white gloves instead of boxing gloves.

Dry leaf: Both teas are CTC (crush-tear-curl) process, so they take the form of tiny rolled-up balls rather than leaves. The Halmari has more of the “Grape Nuts” appearance that many of us associate with CTC teas; the Nahorhabi tea balls are smaller and less perfectly round. The Halmari has a subtle aroma of lightly toasted bread. I did not discern any distinctive scent in the Nahorhabi.

When the two teas were brewed, the Halmari produced a liquor that was lighter and browner; the Nahorhabi liquor was deeper in color and had a more reddish tone. (Note: In this round, the teas were brewed with 8 oz. boiling water rather than the Showdown standard of 6 oz. I’d like to pretend there was a rationale for this, but the truth is that I just forgot to stop pouring. :)). Accordingly, I added a little less almond milk to the Halmari.

When tasted, the Halmari had a pronounced biscuity flavor that was quite pleasing. The Nahorhabi had a somewhat richer, maltier character. Interestingly, when I drank the longer-steeped dregs from the brewing vessels (Pyrex cups) after downing the “official” test cups, the Halmari tasted more bitter.

In this (highly subjective) decision, I give the edge to the Nahorhabi, for its deeper color (I’m a sucker for that reddish hue), more complex character and greater tolerance of oversteeping. I think it would be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a morning Assam that is full-bodied but not at all harsh. The Halmari would be my pick when I’m seeking that distinctive biscuity flavor; I can see it working well for afternoon tea. It might also be the better choice for someone who drinks Assam without milk (a concept I have trouble grasping :lol). Just be sure not to let it steep longer than the recommended three minutes.


You should pit the winner against 52teas Essence of Assam:)

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The smell of the loose leaf was very pleasant, sweet, and a little floral.
I brewed around 2 oz water to 1 rounded tsp (mabye a bit more) at near boiling for 30 seconds, increasing each steep by 15 seconds each time.

The first infusion was slightly vegetal (it did have a slight sencha-like vegetal taste), but this was quickly overpowered by the nutty, stir-fry-like chestnut flavor. It was quite a unique taste, and when I imagine how “Chinese” tastes (Chinese anything!), it is THIS flavor. It was really good, and if it ended at that it might have weirded me out, since it wasn’t like any tea I’ve had before.

However, the underlying flavor was such a pleasant, rounded sweetness. It wasn’t sharply sweet like the shinchas I’ve had (sugary), but smooth sweet, like a piece of fruit that is just barely ripe, or flowers. It was very pleasant.
This sweetness became more pronounced with each steeping as well.

Each time I poured the pot into the cup, a really pleasant aroma rose up from the tea as well. This was my first experience with Dragon Well (Long Jing), at least that I know of, and it was a good one. Glad I have more than a sample of this!

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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drank Himalayan Night by Jun Chiyabari
120 tasting notes

This oolong is reminiscent of both Taiwanese oolongs and Himalayan Tips teas. It’s light, aromatic and pleasant like a Himalayan tea, but smooth with lightly changing flavors over multiple steepings.

I noted apricot and stone fruit flavors and aromas and notes of woody or fired flavors and aromas as well.

The dried leaves are pleasant to smell and remind me of Himalayan Tips while their tightly curled (but not balled) leaves are white, brown and black.

I really enjoyed this tea and would recommend it to everyone.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I still have a hard time rating Darjeelings, and preparing them for that matter. I have pretty good luck treating them as oolongs, using more leaf and less time; prepared that way I find them more drinkable and less bitter (than steeping them like black teas).

This one is really pretty though, the dry leaves are all multicolored – a black base, with lots of rusty brown and occasional golden and green bits. I’m definitely getting the fruit/spicy flavor that I think is muscatel, and this is smooth enough to drink plain. I do like this better than the two Darjeelings I’ve had from Adagio, but I’m not sure I’d pick it over a well-liked black or oolong :( The second steep was a little weak, so for a third I think I’ll leave it for 5 minutes and just add milk if it’s too bitter.

ETA: And, I really like that last steep with milk. It doesn’t taste like black tea, but it’s not too weird, either. Sweeter, creamy, makes a good afternoon pick-me-up.

1.25g, 3.5oz water, steeps 1:30, 2:30

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Bouteaque Blue Mist by Eteaket
4641 tasting notes

This tea ALMOST reminds me of Dawn from The Simple Leaf – although it not quite as chocolate-y as Dawn. I found that reducing the brewing time to 2 minutes reduced the note of bitterness slightly. There is still a bitter note, but, it is not a “bad” bitterness.

There is also a sweetness – almost like honey – to it, and I think this is why the bitterness is a good thing, because without the bitter note, I think it would taste a little too sweet and it would overwhelm some of the savory notes in the cup.

A very delicious cup that is refreshing for the palate.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

Sounds cool!


It’s on its way to you… you should probably get it either tomorrow or Saturday. :)

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drank Milk Oolong by thepuriTea
31 tasting notes

This smells exactly like milk Pocky. Well, it might be closer to honey-and-milk Pocky, as it’s got a sweet scent to it. It’s very densely curled so I’m trying it with a bit less than a teaspoon to start, since the sample is enough for at least 2 cups if not 3. Steeping in a paper filter (my last tea-making device went kaput after I didn’t clean it good enough and it grew nasty slime mold) for about 4 minutes, I had to run get my timer so it’s definitely not exact. water temperature between 195-205 (someday I will get a thermometer).

Result…not bad, once I let it steep long enough. (I tasted it at about 4 minutes and it was too mild — 4:30 and it was GREAT.) It tastes a little more toasty than sweet when brewed, but I’ve learned that with other teas — overpowering sweet aromas often lead to pleasantly sweet brews. This wasn’t overpoweringly sweet-smelling in the slightest so I’m not surprised to see the sweetness go all subtle. I can definitely see where the milk name comes from but the flavor overall reminds me of toast — as in, bread. This would make a great breakfast tea! It has a lovely flavor. I wasn’t impressed at my first tasting but letting it steep longer did the trick. I think I may need a little more of this after I finish my sample… :)

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I really enjoyed the flavors in this unique, strong blend. First off, the aroma hits you the second you open the package. The aroma reminds me of fresh snickerdoodle cookies cooking in my grandmother’s oven. The taste is very similar – strong cinnamon and vanilla. This is a perfect heavy fall tea – and I can’t wait to try it blended with soy milk and honey. However, plain works just perfect.
I’m intrigued about Brandon’s gummy bear tea – ingenious! When can we expect that?!

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Thanks Rachel for sending me some of this!!

I had this tea with almond cake probably not as good as with coconut cake but it was still pretty darn delicious! This tea smells amazing like homemade whipped cream! It smells like cream and vanilla and just a touch like coconut. It tastes like that too only with black tea thrown in the mix. I think this tea would be great with milk or as a latte. I just may have to try that with what I have left. Anyway quiet a delicious tea!

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I have been wanting to try this one for a while!!!! Thanks LiberTEAS!

I have found I am getting bored with many Earl Greys so I am challenging myself to try the ones with a twist and the highest rated ones. This one doesn’t have a really high rating because of some scoring it REALLY low but it does have a twist and that is what made me wonder.

Here’s my take on it…

Dry Smell was black tea, a little peach, and what reminded me of Strawberries, actually…so much so that I thought it was supposed to have Strawberries in the blend but it doesn’t say so in the description.

Post infusion aroma is TO_DIE_FOR Peach!!! I LOVE Peach! It’s rare if I don’t like a reach flavored tea, now that I think of it.

It looks like a typical black tea

The taste is smoother than I thought it would be – almost creamy. The black tea flavor is present. There is a great deal of PEACH for your peach lovers! There is a hint of spice…which I am assuming is the ‘earl grey type hint’. This taste is gently hanging out in the background and could be missed for some.

The taste of this tea is wonderful! My palate really enjoys it. I suppose if you are looking for a stereotypical EG – this is not it. If you are looking for a twist and like peach – YOU WILL HAVE TO TRY THIS!!!!! If you are not into peach…you might not dig it…BUT…luck for me! I do and I am…I came, I saw, I sipped! I LOVED. I really REALLY like this!

I know this would ROCK iced, too! The more I drink the more I like! 2 thumbs up from me on this one!


That does sound good! Tempted to order some when we’re settled.
Your post makes me want to steep something now, despite how hot it has been! Thanks for the inspiration!

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Another of the Canton Tea Co sample packs to try out! Once I opened this up, I was immediately reminded of the Tie Guan Yin from Chicago Tea Garden – it has a similar look: glossy dark green chunklets, and scent: fresh and grassy. I’d say this particular tea has more in the way of vegetal in the scent however; it’s reminding me more of sencha in that way.

The first steep at one minute, 190 degrees: the leaves have started to expand, and I’m left with a clear, light golden liquor with just a hint of green in there. The aroma is very light, encompassing fresh mown grass and something just a little savory/buttery. The flavor is very nice; there’s some of the sweetness I associated with the Tie Guan Yin, though not to such an outstanding degree. There’s also a degree of rich mouth feel to it, which may be what others characterize as milkyness (that’s one descriptor I don’t think I would have come upon on my own).

2nd steep, 190 degrees and 1.5 minutes: The liquor comes out a little more greenish yellow this time, and the leaves have mostly all unfurled now. The aroma and flavor are more vegetal, but there is still some of the overall sweetness that I like so much. I’m also getting a little fruitiness in the background, which is quite yummy.

3rd steep, 190 degrees and 2 minutes: Still a strong golden/green color, but the flavor is markedly more subdued now. Still getting vegetal and small sweet tones. Pleasant enough, but it’s lost most of its shine by now.

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Look what I rediscovered!

Lemon-y fresh. Although for some reason the freshness is somewhat absent today. It’s just lemon oolong today. No pizzazz!

What the H happened to my pizzazz? Give it back!

I changed the steeping parameters around a bit. 25% more leaf, 25% shorter steep. And I think therein lies the problem. I’ll try the new steeping time again and then add some more leaf for the second steep.

What I’ve actually got coming through is the oolong first and foremost. A sweet oolong, rather grassy and very green tasting. Not as green as the Dong Ding which didn’t even taste oolong-y but something along those lines. i can’t get it any closer than that.

The lemon is more sort of hovering above everything, being there and giving freshness and flavour, but somehow keeping a little to itself. It’s a bit like there’s a middle layer of sharpness missing here.

Of course this is written towards the bottom of the cup and the tea has cooled off rather a lot by now. It may have been there when it was newly brewed, but I wasn’t really paying attention to it then, being busy with the archeological dig that was my lack of filing system. (Would you know! There were letter trays underneath all that paper!)

So did the leaf modification help with the second steep?

The answer here is yes.

This is the real good thing. The tea isn’t so tea-y and the lemon is much more sparkly fresh. And a sweet-y-sour-y sharpness on the tongue, all juicy and lemon-y fresh.

It makes me want to eat strawberries. Om nom nom nom!


Ooo… this one sounds interesting!

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I got this from Den’s sampler pack when I went to buy some green tea for my mom. I only chose Den’s because it happens to be a few blocks away from my house, so I can just go pick up my orders instead of waiting for shipping. I was really happy to find out that the tea is quite good!

I brewed this with only 3 oz of water, like Den suggests. Such a small cup of tea, but I like the strong taste. It’s just the right amount of bitter, with a bit of that sweet vegetal taste that green tea has. I find it very refreshing. A yummy way to start the day.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Green Spiral by Utopian Tea
190 tasting notes

had to up the score on this tea. i really like it more and more as I drink it more times. It is so interesting, and today I really really picked up on that smoky layer of the tea in the scent. It smells like smoke, which is very intense smell. That smoky layer of the smell is in the flavor a little, but not as intensely as in the aroma. This isn’t a grassy green tea, so I would say it would be good for newbies getting into better tea types, as well as tea lovers who just crave a good cuppa. :)

Stephen Wise

Thanks, and BTW, this is a top 5 featured comment on the front page of Steepster.com right now. Congrats, and thanks for spreading good word of Utopian Tea!


No problem! It is? That’s so cool! Thanks for letting me know :)

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