Camellia Sinensis

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Recent Tasting Notes

Made this one in a tea press.

I swear I’ve had this one before; maybe it’s just one of those very rare teas that seems to slip through the cracks that I forget to review…

Regardless; this was nice. I always sort of prefer to steep Rou Gui gongfu because I really love the typical evolution of flavour that this tea has, but I was craving a roasted oolong on this particular morning and this was the first when I saw when browsing my cupboards, and I’ve got enough of it on hand that making a travel mug of it certainly wasn’t going to tap out my stash. It has a very nice roasted barley and char sort of initial sip with more of those expected cinnamon notes coming through immediately following the initial roastyness. In addition to cinnamon, I feel like this tea also had some other spice notes such as cumin and clove. The body then rounds out to more of a sweet and malty note, with undertones of raisins and plums. Also quite woody. I feel like because I didn’t do multiple infusions I didn’t really get to tap into the floral elements or more robustly sweet fruity qualities that I generally do with a Rou Gui but the overall profile was really comforting, and I think that’s why I was craving something like this on such a drizzly, rainy day.

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yLQL5m4Niw&list=PUa8Zt6zg9KNOCg41_TkX29g&index=10

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drank Hualien 1980 by Camellia Sinensis
146 tasting notes

This is a great experience. Jam-packed with interesting flavors that develop smoothly and cohesively. It is an incredible combination of deep, earthy flavors and light, floral flavors.

It isn’t cheap (currently $38/50g), but given its quality and age, it’s worth a splurge. Split and share with your friends.
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Dry leaf – pond flora, decomposing wood, hints of vanilla. In preheated vessel – cream of wheat, dried hardwood, dates, some light charcoal notes

Smell – cream of wheat, floral, flower pollen, date, spicy woodiness

Taste – cream of wheat, walnut, pollen, hardwood, hints of date. Aftertaste is floral, lemongrass, berry-like tartness and sweetness

https://www.instagram.com/p/BgmihRqH6cU/?taken-by=apefuzz

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87

Sipdown (514)!

Whipped this one up as a cold brew, and then kind of forgot about it for a few days. Even still it wound up being very tasty – essentially the mirror image of the sweet, smooth and juicy raspberry and orange flavour notes I got to experience with my hot cup of it only cooled down. Arguably less grassy, too? This is totally something I’d reorder in the summer; it’s one of the better chilled natural raspberry flavoured teas I’ve had in what feels like ages.

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87

So I bought this one for a Secret Santa gift exchange at work over Christmas; my ‘giftee’ is/was a huge fan of raspberry teas and green tea and this seemed like a good mash up of both those things while also being a tea I was positive she’d have never tried.

Of course, I hadn’t tried it either so I may have stolen a couple teaspoons out of the bag of it so I could give it a whirl too. Oops…

It’s actually surprisingly good though; I’m always apprehensive towards blends with a green tea base but I found the base quite light/mild with only the slightest touch of grassy quality to it. On the flip side, the fruit notes were anything but light. Instead they were vibrant and rich, with very, very juicy flavours that popped from the moment you took a sip all the way up until the last few seconds after you swallowed. It was like the orange was just perfectly ripe, and the raspberries just a bit overripe. You know the type; so soft and juicy that they literally fall apart in your hands and practically melt in your mouth. That’s perfection right there!

I just… I get the name/inspiration and I enjoyed the flavours. A lot. I would maybe, potentially, buy some of this in the summer – I’m sure it would make a WICKED good iced tea! Or, taking it a step further, a tea pop as well?

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This is a sample size I got at last year’s NYC Coffee and Tea Expo. It’s been on my mind and I finally had a little time to brew this up. I have a lot of respect for Camellia Sinensis, having gone to their shop in Montreal a couple of times and purchasing different kinds of teas from them (and begging them to open up shop in NYC). They’re completely serious about tea, so I take their recommendations to heart.

I brewed this up gong fu, with the new tea tray (yay!). A rinse, and four infusions. The liquor is pale, the flavors are on the subtle side. As others have noted, this tea is very floral. Buttery, creamy floral, actually. An aftertaste of candy sweetness that lingers. Kind of pleasant, but I don’t usually enjoy floral notes, and this one does get a little cloying after awhile. So, if I don’t like floral teas then why do I have this one? Because “trying new things.” All in all, pleasant enough, but I’m not in love. The quality is there, but the flavor profile just isn’t my thing.

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62

Cuppa from earlier in the week.

At this point it’s somewhat hard to keep track, but I think this is the first green tea I’ve ever had from Vietnam? Definitely not the first in general though; I think I’ve had a good handful of Vietnamese oolong and black teas.

This one wasn’t overly for me; nothing particularly bad about it but just not flavours suited to my palate either. Mostly a smoked vegetal sort of profile; kind of asparagus and snap pea like? Not a ton of overall sweetness to this one. I bet it’s perfect for some people, it’s just that I’m not one of them. At least it was a freebie though, given to me by Camellia Sinensis with a previous order.

Kittenna

I also find Vietnamese greens kind of smoky (they are also not my favourite type of green).

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75

I think I bought this Da Hong Pao in the spring of 2016 when I was just starting to explore Wuyi oolongs. I steeped about 4 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds. However, this pot has a slow pour, which tended to add a few unwanted seconds onto the first few steeps.

The first steep has notes of wood, char, black walnuts, and caramel. The underlying sweetness is overpowered by the roast. The second steep is even woodier. This tea is smooth, but less complex than I remember it being.

As the session goes on, it’s clear that wood, char, and caramel are the dominant notes. I get hints of tobacco, cream, and minerals in later infusions, but no fruit or florals.

This tea tastes like a high-end furniture store smells. It’s surprisingly good, but not something I’d drink regularly.

Flavors: Caramel, Char, Cream, Dark Wood, Grain, Mineral, Smooth, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

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86

Tea Press.

I don’t normally do straight teas in travel mugs, but something just told me that this one would work just fine – and that gut feeling didn’t let me down. This was smooth, and full bodied with great, distinct caramel, honey, buckwheat, french bread deliciousness and undertones that were more like sweet potato, and raisin.

Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

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86

Gong Fu session from last Sunday!

I enjoyed this one immensely, but what made it even better was brewing out the whole session over some great conversation with a whole bunch of the Slack tea chat people on Hangouts! It made for really casual, fun tea drinking where I felt like I was enjoying the tea with friends even though I was drinking solo and they didn’t actually get to experience the tea I was drinking.

It doesn’t hurt that in general Sun Moon Lake teas tend to be something that hits all of my sweet spots when it comes to black tea. This one wasn’t an exception, after the first two or three steeps I really got that lovely sweet spot where the profile was smooth, and full bodied with sweet notes of freshly baked bread, honey, malt, cocoa, sweet potato, and raisins. It’s a lovely pairing, and coats the mouth in a way that leaves you so thirty for more.

I didn’t actually track the amount of infusions I did, but it was easily over a dozen – possibly closer to twenty. I pushed this one right up until the liquor was just coming out colourless and there was NO flavour left. I mean, I really made those leaves give me all that they possibly could. It was a delicious tea, and one I’m eager to revisit!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdqNHN7FtZk/?taken-by=ros_strange

Evol Ving Ness

Nice photograph!

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78

Made a hot travel mug of this at work a little while ago, though I didn’t actually get around to drinking it late, late into the evening after I’d left work and already gotten home. Temp wise, it was just a little bit above room temperature – so the perfect slurping temperature. I finished it off really quickly. I enjoyed it a lot because it rode the line between medium and full bodied really closely and had a sweet and VERY woody flavour overall. Woody notes in shou might be, like, the flavour aspect of shou that I’m MOST into right now so this was something I found deeply enjoyable, and very relaxing.

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78

Late night Western mug of tea.

Mostly found this one to taste incredibly woody. It actually strongly reminded me of the smell of my Grandpa’s workshop back when I was still a small kid and he still actively used it. My grandma didn’t like me going near the shop unattended because of all the sharp things in it like the bandsaws, various chainsaws, and nails and things strewn about, but during the summer when we went to visit I used to sneak into it when she’d take her afternoon nap. I never messed with the tools or anything; I just wanted to smell it. It smelled so good.

Apart from that intense woody quality, there’s obviously some earthiness to this but also a slightly nutty finish and an almost oat-like quality. It’s very, very smooth and mellow overall and I think it’ll make a nice daily drinker sort of tea where I can just sip away at it pretty mindlessly and still enjoy the overall profile.

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85

I unapolegetically love perfumey teas, and this dan cong is one of them. According to the Camellia Sinensis website, the leaves were frozen during processing. I’m not sure if this is the same production method as is used for Yunnan Sourcing’s Wudong Chou Shi Dan Cong, but both teas are very floral and aromatic.

I’m reviewing the 2016 harvest, which has stood up well to the year and a half I’ve owned it. I steeped 4 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot at 195F for 15, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The aroma of the first steep jumps out of my teapot as soon as the water hits the leaves. I get notes of jasmine and other flowers, grapefruit, guava, mandarin oranges, and an undertone of squash and other vegetables. There’s a bit of astringency and the mouthfeel is oily. I can also see how people could describe this as soapy or perfumey. The second steep is more astringent as the leaves open up.

The heady floral and fruity aroma persists through the next few steeps. This teapot pours really slowly, so some steeps are more astringent than others. The jasmine and grapefruit flavours are the most prevalent throughout the session, which keeps going for an impressive twelve steeps without diminishing too much.

I wouldn’t want to drink this tea every day, but for those who love floral, perfumey dan congs, it’s an excellent option. It also has a surprising amount of caffeine.

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Floral, Gardenias, Grapefruit, Guava, Jasmine, Orange, Perfume, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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76
drank Huiming by Camellia Sinensis
84 tasting notes

I bought this in 2016 in a vain attempt to make myself drink more green tea. The funny thing is that even after almost ignoring it for two years in my cupboard, this is pretty enjoyable. I steeped 4 g of tea in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 20, 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 240 seconds.

The first two steeps are mild, with notes of flowers and buttered greens. The third steep adds some peach skin, asparagus, and a slightly bitter aftertaste to the profile for a much more interesting cup. The next 45-second steep brings the tea into sencha territory, with asparagus, lettuce, broccoli, and astringent flavours and much less fruit and florals. The tea fades gradually after this, becoming grassy and vegetal.

This was a refreshing tea, especially the first few steeps. Longer steeps tend to bring out the veggies, so I might try keeping them shorter during my next attempt.

Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Peach, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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96
drank Bai Hao by Camellia Sinensis
84 tasting notes

This is the 2016 harvest. In the bag, it has an aroma of muscatel, florals, and grass, kind of like a first flush Darjeeling. I steeped 5 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot at 195F for 30, 20, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

I love this tea! The first steep has notes of muscatel, raisin, green grapes, grain, orange blossom, dried flowers, caramel, honey, and wood. It’s like a cross between a really muscatel-heavy first flush and a full-bodied Taiwanese oolong. Even though I used a fair amount of leaf for the size of my vessel, there’s no bitterness; instead, there’s a lovely mouthfeel and a long aftertaste. The subsequent steeps are pretty consistent, which is more than okay in my book. As the session goes on, however, the raisin note grows more prominent, and since I’m not a big raisin fan, this is my only tiny gripe with this tea.

This fascinating bai hao was a pleasure to drink. I loved its similarity to a Darjeeling, though I might be the only one to compare such dissimilar tea types. At $35 for 50 g, it’s certainly not a daily tea for me, but it’s a wonderful occasional indulgence.

Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Grain, Grapes, Honey, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Raisins, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

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71

This is a nice, toasty dong ding for fall. I loved the batch I bought last year, and decided to get the spring 2017 version as part of a Taiwanese oolong sampler. This is what I’m reviewing here.

I steeped 6 g of leaf at 195F in a 120 ml teapot for 30, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry leaf smells like cereal, char, and a hint of pineapple, all of which carry over to the first steep. This dong ding is almost too sweet, and the aroma at the bottom of the cup is fruitier than the tea itself. The second steep brings more pineapple and even some berries as the Camellia Sinensis website promises, but I don’t like the level of roast. It kind of tastes like charred corn, which is a weird juxtaposition with the fruity flavours. The liquor is also very drying.

The third steep, which I brewed at a slightly lower temperature, is more integrated, with less pronounced char and more grilled pineapple. The tea, however, still smells better than it tastes, and there’s already some grassiness creeping in. The next few steeps follow this pattern, both the good and not-so-good elements fading concurrently.

While this dong ding had some decent moments when steeped gongfu, I think it does better Western style, or perhaps this batch is just not as good as the spring 2016. This is too bad, as it smells like it has a lot of potential.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Char, Corn Husk, Grain, Pineapple, Sweet, Toasty

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Gong Fu!

So recently I decided to treat myself a get a few new Gaiwans from Camellia Sinensis, as well as some other teaware from both Bitterleaf and Teaware House. I’ve bought a lot of Western style teaware this year from DAVIDsTEA but not a lot of traditional stuff for Gong Fu, and I think getting some shiny new pieces could really help me get back into Gong Fu brewing on a more regular basis…

Along with my two Gaiwans, CS also sent along a sample of this tea! Jin Die is completely new to me altogether, so I thought it’d be something nice to explore today. Besides, it’s almost as if CS is going “New Gaiwan? Break it in with this tea”. I can’t argue with that, right? So here are my stream of consciousness notes from the session:

Dry aroma of the leave is very sweet; coming off as notes of caramel/cocoa and lots of fruity undertones. Stonefruit in particular, but orange/fresh citrus too. Really inviting and aromatic! Leaf if visually stunning as well; very golden, and delightfully pretty little curls.

Steep 1/Five Seconds:
- Really sweet right off the bat!
- Top notes of caramel/malt/sweet potato
- Body and finish are fruitier: strong orange notes, hints of stonefruit in a generic way
- Actually almost a candied orange peel kind of flavour?
- Orange zest/candied orange lingers well after the swallow

Steep 2/Seven Seconds:
- Aroma of the dry leaf is INSANE! Very sweet, fragrant with tons of citrus/orange
- Top notes still largely malt dominated
- Also notes of sweet rolls, honey, caramel, sweet potato
- Body is SUPER fruit heavy: a mix of full bodied orange, raisin, dates
- Also Grand Marnier liquor (which I know is orange too, but still…)
- SMOOOOTTTHHHHH

Steep 3/Ten Seconds
- I’ve started snacking on plain, unsalted/flavoured pecans in between infusions
- This adds a different sort of sweetness to the top of the sips; pleasantly nutty addition
- And almost a “maple” quality
- LOTS of malt to the top of this infusion, sort of ‘spilling’ out into the body too
- Less of the honey/caramel sweetness of the first two infusions
- Body of the sip is equal parts malt/raisin/stonefruit
- And then TONS of orange that coats the whole surface of my mouth
- And lingers for such a beautifully long time

Steep 4/Fifteen Seconds
- A little bit tannic at the start of the sip
- This small degree of bite/astringency is the first I’ve experienced thus far
- Otherwise the flavour profile remains the same from last infusion
- Though perhaps a hint more raisin-like taste in the finish

Steep 5/Fifteen Seconds
- Less tannic/astringent, and less malt notes as well
- In fact, this is pretty much only the fruitier notes I’ve experienced
- In the same proportions as the last infusion, though
- And then a hint of complimentary nuttiness from the pecans I’m snacking on

Steep 6/Eighteen Seconds
- Steeped leaf smells like orange, honey, sweet potato, bread, and cinnamon
- In that order
- Infusion is less pleasant; very astringent/bitter which is disappointing
- And feels like it’s coming out of nowhere?
- Almost has a finish that tastes like the pithy part of an orange – bitter!
- Also a little peppery in the body and finish

Steep 7/Twenty Seconds
- Even more bitter/pithy tasting than the last infusion!
- Literally took a sip for my cup and did that kind of choking/gagging thing
- The one people in sitcoms do when they eat/drink something gross
- Only nice thing is that the finish is a little sweeter with floral orange notes
- The rest is TRASH
- Dumped it…

Steep 8/Twenty Seconds
- Still a little bitter/peppery but better; didn’t feel the need to dump this one
- Otherwise the same as last

Steep 9/Twenty-Five Seconds
- It’s not bad, but it’s kind of boring now?
- Not really bitter/astringent though but the present flavours are dull/flat
- Orange, malt, cinnamon, black pepper, raisin
- Yeah, calling this one as my last steep even though it’s not totally brewed out yet

Honestly, I’m probably never going to be a twenty steep kind of person. I just hit a point during my session where I either don’t like enough of the infusions back to back that I don’t want to continue brewing or I simply get bored. Today, it’s a little bit of both?

I also skimmed CS’s website description of this one and I found it very interesting they described it as vegetal ’cause at no point during this session did I really associate the flavour profile with those sort of notes. The closest I think you could get would be the peppery quality I experienced late into the session, but for me I was definitely thinking something more inline with like black pepper…

I don’t know where I want to rate this one overall; I greatly enjoyed the start of the session but the end of it wasn’t so great. I think that probably averages out to a just sort of mediocre session? I’m gonna hold off on rating though until I get a chance to revisit this one either Gong Fu again or just Western style. This session was a pretty nice way to kill a few hours of the afternoon though! Just very relaxing overall.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Black Pepper, Caramel, Cinnamon, Dates, Floral, Honey, Malt, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pepper, Peppercorn, Raisins, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes

Sakura Sushi

Thanks for this! I still haven’t opened mine up yet, so I’ll be referring to your review when I do!

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100

This tea is one of my absolute, all time favorites. First of all, the price for am organic tes of this quality is amazing. But mostly… the taste. This tea is perfect.
I like to drink green tea and white above all others. The subtle flavors mixed with the strong antioxidants properties have really got me hooked but whenever I feel like having a more flavorful afternoon tea, I turn to this little gem. Its taste is an acquired one I think: it’s very deep, much more intense than your typical sencha, yet it has none of the matcha bitterness to it. It hits you with a burst of spinach-like flavor and at the same time, has a sort of sweetness to it. The ending note is kind of wet (this is very hard to explain!), like seaweed perhaps, but without the saltiness.
The taste really lingers in the mouth. I especially like to use my senchado for this. It gives a much stronger liquor, of a beautiful, dark green color.
I assure you, you cannot regret this tea. It will leave you wanting more!

Flavors: Seaweed, Spinach, Vegetables, Wet Moss

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74
drank Gaba Cha by Camellia Sinensis
84 tasting notes

I bought 25g of this tea at the end of 2015, and this is my last session with it. In the past, I steeped it Western style, with infusions of around 2, 4, and 6 minutes, and got tangy apple cider notes that made it perfect for colder weather. This time, I steeped my remaining 4g in a 120 ml teapot for 30, 25, 30, 50, 90, and 240 seconds.

Gongfu’ed, this seems more like a black tea than it did Western style. I get apple, sourness, tangy sweetness, and black-tea-like tannens on the first steep. It also has that gaba flavour I’m still not sure I enjoy. The second steep intensifies the apple and reduces the sourness, adding some floral and nutmeg touches.

Nothing much changes in the third and fourth steeps, though the spice note gets slightly stronger. It fades in the fifth steep, and by the sixth, the tannens are the dominant flavour. It’s worth noting that I don’t feel any effects from the GABA.

I think this tea works better Western style. Although it’s been compared to Bai Hao, possibly because they both have fruity flavours, the sourness makes it less appealing. I’ll probably go with Guei Fei instead if I want a less expensive alternative. Still, this was better than some other gaba teas I’ve had and it’s a decent easy drinker.

Flavors: Apple, Apple Skins, Floral, Nutmeg, Sour, Sweet, Tangy, Tannin

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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drank Hualien 1995 by Camellia Sinensis
456 tasting notes

Received a sample of this one from a teafriend in a swap! I failed to take particularly detailed notes, but the tea displayed nutty, coco flavors and sweetness, with very light fruity flavors in some steeps. It was a nice tea, but not my favorite aged oolong I’ve had. Nice stuff and a sample I definitely appreciate – always cool to have a birth-year tea.

Flavors: Cocoa, Nutty, Roasted, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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80

I received this tea as a free sample in my last Camellia Sinensis order. I followed the instructions on their website, steeping 4 teaspoons of leaf in 120 ml of 175F water for 30, 20, 40, 70, 120, 160, and 300 seconds.

These downy white buds are unique. The first steep is herbaceous, with notes of sage, basil, and other cooking-type herbs. There’s an underlying earthiness and sweetness that sort of balances it out, but the herbs are the dominant flavour. The second 20-second steep is quite like the first, but the third introduces more complexity as the sweetness increases. As a previous reviewer mentioned, the creaminess and sweetness make it taste kind of like marshmallows.

By the fourth steep, I can understand why the website states that this tea is spicy. The sage and other herbaceous notes, however, are still pretty overpowering. The tea peters out by the seventh steep, though I suspect I could pull a couple more out of it.

While I won’t be reaching for this tea regularly, it was fun to try. It has a much different taste profile than other white teas.

Flavors: Creamy, Earth, Herbaceous, Marshmallow, Sage, Spicy, Sweet, Thyme

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 4 OZ / 120 ML

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71

I’ve been working a lot lately; and I’ll be honest putting in such long hours without days off has been really taxing on me physically. The worst has just been getting constant headaches and not really knowing what to do to make them feel better.

Aspirin, water, caffeine… I’ve tried all of them but none really do the trick or provide relief.

The only thing I’ve really found that makes me feel more comfortable is drinking very, very strongly steeped mint teas like this one. This one’s sweeter than a typical mint tea because it is Wintergreen and that’s just a sweeter kind of mint. Really though, anything with that menthol punch has been a relief to me as of late. Definitely makes a HUGE difference to my overall day.

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