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Butiki Teas is having an awesome “Create-Your-Own-Blend” tea contest. I was honored to have one of my submissions nominated by her panel of judges.

You can view the teas and vote here: http://www.butikiteas.com/Contest.html

Here is my submission:

Grateful Castaway’s Chilipaya Sweet Tropical Heat
Autumn, 1645

You, an intrepid tea trader caught in a storm in the Atlantic and blown wildly off course. Your mast torn, you drift for days, surviving by eating dry tea leaves and drinking rainwater captured in your tiny yixing teapot. At sunset, you see a speck of land on the horizon. You feel elated that your journey of hardship is over. However, hunger, thirst, and delirium overtake you and you drift helplessly off to sleep dreaming of better days to come. Hours later, you awake to a hot sun beating down on you. You are on a sandy beach clutching your last tea chest, out of the corner of your eye you spot the remnants of your ship smashed against some nearby rocks. With no tools, and no strength, you cannot access your only source of nourishment-your Nilgiri Frost Oolong tea leaves. Too weak to stand, you contemplate the last hours of your life. Suddenly, a crash right next to your ear! Just missing your head, your tea chest has been smashed open by a falling coconut! Landing within arms reach, you see the coconut has been cracked open as well and you find some of your tea leaves steeping in the coconut shell. Your stomach is not ready for solid food, so you guzzle the coconut milk tea with all your remaining constitution. Invigorated from the unusual drink, you arise and survey your surroundings. The beach is deserted, save for the lone, sparse coconut tree. The island appears uninhabited. You grab the last two coconuts and decide to move inland to search the distant forest for fresh water. It is essential to keep hydrated until the inevitable rescue of the important tea trader occurs. Inside the forest, you find myriad types of ripened fruit within arms reach or on the ground-papayas, mangos, limes, sucking every last drop of juice before you devour their flesh. The sugar rush is intense and you begin to ramble through the dense forest somewhat recklessly, picking up various fruits as you go. You encounter an unusual bush with a pretty little orange-red fruit. You take a bite and experience so much fire down your throat that you drop the fruit and fall backwards, spilling all of your tropical comestibles. Could this be the “hellfire habanero” you had seen mentioned in Magellan’s journals? Uprighting yourself, you frantically grab your coconut milk tea to cool off, only to realize as you gulp that the dreaded firebomb along with your other fruits has fallen into the drink. Strangely, the other fruits seem to tame the “devil fruit” in your tea. Although your throat still feels a little bit of heat, the succulent papaya fuses wonderfully into this serendipitous concoction, soothing your throat and heartburn. You calm down and start to notice the unique flavors. The unusual combination of sweet tropical fruits with the devil heat is amazing! Mangos, limes, habanero peppers, papaya, coconut and tea blending together as one. Papaya, habanero, and coconut are most prominent, but all the fruits are also identifiable separately. You thank fate for bestowing upon you this nectar of the gods as you continue to imbibe. You savor the sweetness and spice without getting the sugar high or burning throat as when eating all those tropical delights whole. Feeling relaxed, a quiet alertness takes over, your senses finely tuned. You see a creek that leads to a lush waterfall. Huge butterflies of every color casually flutter around you. A rainbow of delicate flowers emerges in every direction. Birds and trees of such beauty and rarity abound. You meander down to the stream gathering some crystal-clear water to make a cup of proper Nilgiri Frost Oolong in your coconut shell. As it steeps, you cannot help yourself, you are compelled to start throwing pieces of papaya, mango, lime, and yes, even a piece of that devil habanero into the shell! You ponder your fate while you sip this magical elixir. Away from the frenetic world, alone in this tropical paradise, your fears of survival until rescue evaporate and instead you, the grateful castaway, wonder “Do I ever WANT to be rescued?”

Grateful Castaway’s Chilipaya Sweet Tropical Heat is concocted by a fortuitous melange of Nilgiri Frost Oolong tea from the Blue Mountains of South India, red habanero peppers, papaya chunks, coconut shreds, mango pieces, lime and minute amounts of ginger bits and freeze-dried garlic. Daydreams of tropical paradise included at no extra charge.

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Started drinking tea for health benefits maybe 5 years ago-exclusively bagged tea. Usually went for various Celestial Seasonings type of stuff. I bought a tea infuser at a gourmet shop once and then I realized there was almost no loose tea available. Eventually tiring of bags, I started ordering loose tea online and I have never gone back. Initially, I was exploring all the wild and exotic flavor combinations, but now I mostly drink straight teas. I still enjoy blended teas-but prefer those without “flavoring”. Hope to learn here and find some new teas I might not otherwise find. Am a vegan, so “milk” generally means “soymilk” to me. If it’s almond, rice, or coconut, I will mention that fact.

I am new here, and new to reviewing tea. Many of my initial reviews will be from memory and may not be very detailed at all. I hope to write more informative reviews on current and future teas.

I won’t let external factors affect my rating of the tea-such as slow shipping, too expensive, etc. I’ll mention any customer service problems in my reviews. I also won’t let my mistakes in not following the seller’s recommended parameters affect a rating. I can’t believe people who say “I forgot about it and oversteeped it” and then give it a rating. If I brew outside the parameters, I will wait until I brew it right before I give it a rating.

TEMPORARY RATING SYSTEM- Don’t hold me to these numbers and descriptions-like George Bluth, I like to tweak.

90+ It’s awesome, right?? I’ll probably try to keep it on hand.

80-89 – I really like this and will buy it again at some point, but there are so many teas to try!

70-79 – This is a pretty good tea and I may buy it again based on my mood, what tea store I am buying from, and what kind of deal I can get.

60-69 – This is okay. I finished the bag. I would drink it again if offered, but would not buy it again.

40-59 – IF I finished the bag, I recall this tea thinking “Why in the hell did I finish the bag?”

1-39 – Did not finish the bag. Maybe not even the cup. Tea was given away or discarded.

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