Hugo Tea Company

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drank Zi Ran Smoke by Hugo Tea Company
2155 tasting notes

TeaTiff Traveling Tea Box | No. 15

I have to say, I was disappointed by this one. It was very, very light. Barely anything more than hot, lightly smoky water really. I’m sure it must have something to do with the way I steeped it. There aren’t any other tasting notes, so I’m curious to see how others enjoy it later on.

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the notes on the bag are “sports drink, ash, bubbly” which is very… vague but this tea really is that interesting. every time i drink it i have to eat some plain rice or something to balance it out, because it really is an overwhelming flavor… a delicious, interesting flavor, but overwhelming. idk how to describe it!

Flavors: Campfire, Mineral

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it really does taste like apples… so yummy and springlike to me.

Flavors: Apple, Sweet, Warm Grass

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Gao Wen by Hugo Tea Company
2833 tasting notes

Well, whaddya know…after all my trash talk about my hometown’s lack of tea sophistication, we stumbled on to a lovely pot of this Gao Wen at a coffee shop nestled inside a local nursery and greenhouse, of all places!

The cup smells toasty and malty—-the scent that makes me all gooey and goofy, and that’s what I noticed first, but there’s a little floral happy dance at the end. Hugo’s description mentions roses; I’ll go with orchids or something a little less cloying. Very, very good, and the fun setting made it even more tasty.

So far, every Hugo tea I’ve sampled has been excellent—now that I know where to find some locally, I’m looking forward to trying more.


What a nice surprise!


It’s always nice to find a local source for good tea!


The little shop bags of its coffee for sale, but alas, I saw no tins of tea.


This one had a sweet/floral finish as it cooled, a bit like an oolong.


I was so excited when I zeroed in on this one, I have completely spaced off the other varieties they offered…all the more reason to visit again :)

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Backlog from an old note:

Rebranded as Hugo Grey. Opening the back was a little overwhelming-bergamot bambed in my face. I opened it again a day later, and the peppery yunnan black base came through. Here are there notes:“grapefruit peel | applewood smoke | lemon zest” and that is more accurate in tems smell. In terms of taste, it’s doubtless Earl Grey, but with a scotch caramel body accented by cocoa, caraway, and pepper notes amidst a malty body. It could be a little drying like biscuit, but also pleasantly bitter sweet.

My only criticism is that the bergamot is a hair too strong. Otherwise, this tea does resemble some higher rated teas like Whispering Pines Earl Gold, which is impressive to say the least. This one is good western or gong fu. I’d love to see it in sachet form for the convenience of having an affordable high grade leaf.
And to the now. It’s good in sachet form. The recent sachets have higher quality leaves than before. The bergamot bleeds through anything, so if you want easy cologne, just get a few bags and put them in your jacket pocket. The sachets used to be so much cheaper. I used to get it for 42 bucks for 100 sachets, but now it’s 48. Gottta love inflation

I still like this one. It’s great in a tumbler, and it actually cuts some of the harshness out of the way with more water.

Cold brewing it works super well too. The bergamot, malt, caraway and cocoa are very pronounced, and it doesn’t use it’s pithiness. Mind you, I use two teabags worth and use cold water straight to let it sit in my bamboo tumbler, getting strong quicker than leaving it in the fridge. I still easily reuse them, and gets more drying after a few hours instead of a few minutes.

The pithy and earthy qualities would divide some people and detract them. The bergamot is also overwhelming for some. Most of my student really like this one’s profile, but others think it tastes too woody or grassy. That can be avoided with shorter steeps, yet I like it’s got more roast and character than some Ceylons. I also am preferential to Chinese blacks, so I keep coming back to it. Personally, it’s my slightly higher end work/breakfast tea for sustaining, mild energy and grounding. I personally like this one more than the Chai so far, but I still go back to the Jasmine Bai Hao they sell despite that tea being more astringent.

I recommend this tea for people who like Earl Grey and earthier/chocolatier tea.

Flavors: Bergamot, Caramel, Caraway, Citrus, Cocoa, Drying, Earth, Grapefruit, Malt, Oily, Pepper, Roasted, Scotch, Wood

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I liked this one a little bit more than the Big Leaf. Like most Yashi’s, it’s very smooth, floral, and creamy. Hugo got really fancy into their foodie-esque tasting notes drawing comparisons to Pet-Nat and Rambutan amidst a dry profile. It’s a dryer tea for sure and doesn’t lean into a honey taste like a lot of Dancongs, but it was very balanced. I personally got the rambutan clearly with florals and an almond “essence” like flavoring, and I get a rose dry wine profile in taste in color. There’s almost a blushy peach or pinkish hue to it.

This one didn’t last beyond five cups gong fu in 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 with 180 F before getting bitter. Earlier steeps lacked any astringency or bitterness, but later steeps got some with a rising woody profile.

I like this one and recommend it, though I’m not gaga over it. It’s balance does impress me highly, and I think people who are into Yashi’s or regular tea nerds would enjoy it.

Flavors: Almond, Champagne, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Red Wine, White Wine, Wood

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Backlog. I didn’t have too much of this sample, and I liked the idea of it, though was a little underwhelmed. This tea is greener than the usual big leaf and resembled the recent greener styles of Dancong. Yes, the tea was viscous and prominently floral, but a little bit underwhelming. I alternated between 15 sec to 30 sec increments until longer steeps hovering around 2 minutes at the end.

Here’s my impression: I didn’t really get aromatic Nag Champa vibes, though I got creamy, spicy, flower stems, grass, vanilla, soybean, almond, and that’s about it with some floral astringency and bitterness.

Maybe I didn’t brew it right-who knows. I personally recommend their Wuyi collection like their version of Panlan Robe or Qilan if you are getting into their oolong teas over this one. I highly enjoyed Lin’s Red more, and liked Lin’s Duck more, which surprised me because I usually prefer lighter teas. I still recommend Hugo because they have gotten some impressive experimental teas from their collaboration work, and this one is good if you are looking into what a greener dancong can taste like. Reading their description, this really is more of an experts tea. Their warning for people who like fresh spring tea is a good one, and I definitely get a scented salt or saline quality overall.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Green, Green Beans, Plant Stems, Salt, Snow Peas, Soap, Soybean, Spices, Thick, Vanilla

0 min, 15 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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Chai Tourney continued… Battle of the Vanilla Chais (The tea girl v

Realized that it is actually pretty difficult for me to not switch up the tea I am drinking during the week so my chai tourney went wayside pretty quickly a few weeks ago. But I am finally back! Reminder this match was between The tea girl’s Vanilla Chai and Hugo’s Vanilla Chai.

Preparation: Western, Oatmilk and Honey
Tasting note: Wow. This tea is on another level from the vanilla chai from the tea girl. All the flavors mingle very well and it has this Vanilla smokiness that reminds me of a fancy perfume or cocktail both in taste and aroma. It has a little star anise to sweet it slightly but not overpower, the ginger, pepper and cinnamon again mingle very well to create a very nice balance of spice. The tea is still really good with oatmilk and honey but I think could be served straight as well and not be too much.

I think we have a winner for the first round of vanilla chais: The Hugo Tea Co’s Vanilla Chai. This tea was much stronger than the tea girl and the flavor was distinct, not-overpowering and delicious.

PS. Hopefully I can pick up more of this before they discontinue it, to replace with a masala chai. :o

Flavors: Smoke, Smooth, Spices, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I’ve felt bad because I kept spending on tea samples, nevermind there’s going to be a swap soon. All the money I could have spent on the suggested teas I’ve spent on new ones, nevermind I do not regret any decisions for a minute so far. Avarice salivates my curiosity, and I will continue to explore the world in my cup, one or thirty at a time.

Hugo Tea has shifted more into tea snob territory lately with some exclusively cultivated teas. Lin’s black is actually from a mi lan xiang bush processed as a black. I’m always up for experimentation in varietals, and the pistachio description was a signal to try it out. I got the other Dancongs from the same producer, and splurged on samples.

Trying it out, it’s not as fruity as other Dan Cong Blacks I’ve had. The tea doesn’t lack sweetness at all, but it’s got texture in mouthfeel and flavor. I am definitely tasting a nutty profile, and I may have gotten pistachio clearly, but it leans heavily into the medium roasted heavy salt direction with hints of sweet honey depending on how I brewed steeping to steeping.

As I have been drinking tea lately, I’ve slopped it up between western and gong fu for my first sample, which I’d guess was closer to 5 or 6 grams. I brewed it, sipped a little after 20 seconds, really liked it, then let it steep for what I thought was 20 seconds that actually was likely over a minute. The shorter steep was heavy with honeyed pistachio, salt, mineral, roast, and fructose, but the heavier one was dominated by a sweet dense malt and tannin. The shorter steep was better, but the longer one was interesting because it kept the flavors.

Aroma and taste reminded me of Turkish delight I got near the border of Egypt and Sudan near Abu Simbel from a gas station, specifically used honey and lemon for the base while the surface was covered in pistachios and powdered sugar. There are times where I want to say rose for the tea, but I’ve used that word at least four times for the past four black teas and oolongs. It’s spring after all, so it’s on my mind concurrently with the other memory of Turkish delight that was rose flavored.

Later steeps lose some sweetness and lustre, but not layers. Tannin, some wood, more roasted nuttiness, and thinning body viscosity. I pushed it for four more steeps, and I got a little bit of lychee slurping the leaves sitting water.

Obviously, I like this one. I got two samples, but wish I got three. It is a weaker more floral black with enough body and umph to balance itself out. I am not quite sure about the allspice notes other than texture, though the tea tastes like a cross between Hugo’s staple black tea in roast and their nutty Qilan. I enjoy this one more than the Hugo mainstay black so far, but it’s more of a purist tea may or may not stand up to cream and sugar. If only I had more for certainty.

My next note will be shorter, though it will probably be some time before I decide how I want to brew the next sample. Tumblering it could bring out too much tannin, it’s good western or gong fu, though probably better for gong fu. Either way, I recommend this one. I also realise I tend to like grassier blacks, and this one is a bit more in that category than others. The intention to make it more like a Fujian black is also another quality I’d check off in what I like, so of course I’m into it and would recommend it if that’s what you’re looking for.

I also have way more notes to do….and way more tea I didn’t need to buy.

Flavors: Allspice, Honey, Malt, Nuts, Powdered Sugar, Roast Nuts, Roasty, Smooth, Sweet, Tannin, Toffee


Yes, those swap samples will be on the way soon. Sorry for the wait! I’m the same way with drooling over new tea companies and buying tea I don’t strictly need and won’t get to for a while. Sounds like this black Dancong was worth the splurge.

Daylon R Thomas

For a sample, yes!

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drank CHRYS by Hugo Tea Company
150 tasting notes

At this point, I have tasted 5 different chrysanthemum teas out of the 7 total straight Chrysanthemum flower teas I own. Not an expert and still need to try Yunnan Sourcing’s two chrysanthemums but Hugo’s is almost tying for second place with another tea. I think based on the fact this tea company is in the US might help me in the longer run.

Preparation: Western (Tea pot)
Tasting Notes:
First Brew (about 4 mins): Lingering soft sweetness, and honey notes. No light hay-like qualities in this infusion. It has a freshness like spring water. It is a very soothing, relaxing blend. I may not get past this brew since I made a whole pot but we will see.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 6 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Hugo Grey by Hugo Tea Company
150 tasting notes

First tea of the day. This is a smooth earl grey. Like the website description, I am getting a grapefruit pith sort of taste from the bergamot. This tea doesn’t not have that angry earl grey bite, or astrigency. It is grapefruit pithy and what I assume is peatiness. I haven’t had a whole lot of scotch but it is smooth. The pithiness does dry the mouth after awhile but that doesn’t bother me too much.

Overall, a really nice tea. Probably something I would restock for my family of whiskey-scotch drinkers and earl grey drinkers for something nice in the morning. Don’t think it is something I would drink everyday though so probably I wouldn’t buy the 500g bulk size.

Flavors: Grapefruit, Peat

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Impulse buy when this was released. I got two samples of it, and I likely this one intensely more than the Candy Leaf Houjicha. I was able to coax out some caramel of that one in really short steeps, but it mostly tasted like nori and burnt seaweed. This twiggy specimen, however, didn’t fail to disappoint with an extremely balanced roast making it toasty and buttery by green tea standards. Butterscotch was on point, and my brain kept on forming associations with alfalfa, toasted buckwheat, wheatgrass, almond, and more savory, nutty, and buttery things. It still has some green characteristics of grassiness, but it’s subdued.

This tea is actually what I hoped what Candy Leaf tasted like, and I recommend it for people just getting into Houjicha. The houjicha possesses enough dessert qualities for a sweet craving western audience, and this one is almost in a coffee convert category in terms of taste. There were certain qualities that actually reminded me of their Dahongpao in terms of roast and savoriness I deeply enjoyed.

So far, I’ve only brewed it once beginning with 30 seconds, 40, 45, and then whatever the heck I felt like. Earlier steeps are denser in flavor and texture, but the tea smoothen and thins out pretty quickly while having enough flavor to make up for the loss in mouthfeel. I could easily see this tea in a chocolate or very mild chai blend with nuts, though overall, this is great on its own. I’ve written up a few more tasting notes at the bottom, and I look forward to gradually finishing it off.

Flavors: Alfalfa, Almond, Butterscotch, Caramel, Malt, Nutty, Peanut, Savory, Sweet, Toast, Toasty, Wheat, Wheatgrass, Woody

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I’ve had this one before, though a previous harvest. I was not precise with it, and instead brewed it based on color and aroma each time, making adjustments as I went. I’d guestimate a 30 second threshold with 15, 30, and so on additional seconds using 5 oz of water at 195.

This oolong stands out for its sugar mineral and lavender notes. Every once in a while, it will get nutty or lean in a more oxidized jasmine direction. Unlike the one I had, this had a bit more roast. I will be honest-I actually liked the previous one I had more than this one since I think the roast overpowers some of the more nuanced aspects of the tea. I got more of a gingery note last time, whereas today, it was more white pepper and charcoal under the woody tea profile. Luckily, there’s a green grape quality I got from steep 3 that I usually don’t get from Wuyi teas after I kept the timing between 3—45 seconds. It’s still greener than other Yanchas, and if you like more floral ones, this is a safe bet. I am glad that it’s being sold now, anyway.

Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Lavender, Mineral, Peppercorn, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sweet, Wet Rocks, White Grapes

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

The first Qilan I had – Qilan Trees from White2Tea – gave me a fond tasting memory of champagne grapes :)

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Excited about this one as I got my order. Sparrow’s Tongue are harder to find, and based on my reception of their Red Robe and Qilan, I had a feeling I’d like this one too.

I only got about 5 grams in my Manual Teamaker, so I only had one session using roughly 190 F water in 120-150 ml. Mineral and roast are very prominent, but it’s layered as expected. First steep is the most intense and heavy with stone and ore, but some peatiness shows through. Second steep was the most complex, starting off with smoke, earth, peat, plum, sugar, mineral and peat again in the finish. Extremely smooth and well rounded. The later steeps yielded much the same thing with salt and raisin, but got more woodsy and more prominent in floral “water char”.

I was really pleased with it, but wish I got more than 6 brews. The fruit notes are what I want in my rock oolong and actually prefer in conjunction with healthy peatiness, though the Red Robe and Qilans are a little bit more durable. Overall, a good rock oolong that can go toe to toe with more expensive ones in terms of flavor, not necessarily longevity.

Flavors: Char, Metallic, Mineral, Peat, Plum, Raisins, Red Fruits, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Salt, Smoke, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g

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I hesitated when this one was initially released because “sourdough”=something probably heady and astringent or drying by dancong standards. I still wanted to try it though, and decided to take the sample. The Hu Zai duck was immense with crystalized minerals and sweet, ripe longan in a fruity and intensive liquor. This one, on the other hand, was a lot more toned down and creamy.

I should have expected that since Ba Xians usually are more mellowed out anyway. Brewing it up no rinse, the aroma was really nice and was on the milky floral spectrum, bordering between iris, maybe orchid, and lily. I poured a little sip after 20 ish seconds, and sugar floral cream was in my cup, no drying qualities yet. After I settled for the full 2 minutes, the cup produced the sourdough buttery bread quality with only a hint astringency. I can kinda see graham cracker, but maybe in the bready aftertaste. The tannin pops through more too in a drying way.

It only lasted three next steeps, with the short ones being more floral and creamy, while the last longer one was thin, bready, tannic, and somewhat bitter. I like the Duck more, but I like this one is not as abrasive. I think this one is better gong fu based on this session. We’ll see what I get in the future. I like it and I’m going to rate it in the future.

Flavors: Bitter, Bread, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Graham Cracker, Milk, Orchid, Tannic, Yeast

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Sip down. It works better for tumbler/grandpa style than the Panlan Robe did, though gong fu is best to prevent it being overpowered. I like this one because it’s typical yancha in it’s characteristics, but the mineral, ash, honeysuckle, fruit combo make it stand out a little more and you can still get them brewing it thermo. I might rate it higher, but it’s at least an 85 for me.

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So, pretty much every yancha I’ve had from Hugo has been really good, including the Qilan. This one is kinda hard to describe, and the notes the site has kinda confused me. Sports drink? Bubbly?

So I did this one in a weird in-approximate conglomerate of western and gong fu-20 sec, 2 min, 45 sec, 4 min, 5 min. The minerals, salt, rockiness, roast, and huigan sweetness are all there in spades. There a little bit of orange fruit in the background in later steeps bordering on mango-ish, some honeysuckle florals throughout the session. I’m not sure if again on the sports drink-maybe Gatorade or Red Bull…though this tastes wings better than red bull. It’s got some gaba or L-Theanine in it because it does give me a good driving focus that doesn’t give me jitters.

Still not rating it yet since I need to experiment, but it’s a prototypical yancha with good flavor and energy. I like the coffee vibes of the robe more, yet this one does stand out for its good qi-#Panlan Positive Vibes.

Flavors: Ash, Charcoal, Floral, Fruity, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet, Wet Rocks

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Sample Sipdown!

Not quite as good in the tumbler. I probably needed more leaf, maybe more time. Sipped it, and mostly floral, toast, osmanthus, wood, mineral. It needed to air out, so I dumped it into a large mug. It was much the same, but the sweeter cocoa notes slipped it in as the liquid cooled down. Airing out and cooling it down worked, and while it’s decent tumbler style, this one works way better Gong Fu or Western.

It’s still easily one of the better Da Hong Pao style oolongs I’ve had, and it’s pretty close to the 90’s. I might have to pick up an oz next time I restock on my Jasmine Green and Hugo Grey Teas.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Mineral, Osmanthus, Roasted, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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Surprising new favorite from Hugo. I’ve wanted to try this tea for a few years, but it was sold out frequently or difficult to restock. I already had some high hopes-coffee notes are usually a sign of interest, and I wanted to see if it lived up to the tasting notes.

I am really picky about Yancha, especially any form of Red Robe style kind of tea. I like minerality and rock tea, but I want something more than licking rocks, char, and ash. It was also the kind of tea I tried while I went through a coffee convert stage, even going through one where I was trying more Shu Pu-Erh, but never really stuck. Most of the Red Robes I liked were too expensive for me to buy in more considerable amounts.

This one, however, stands out as being really freaking close to coffee and dessert. It’s heaping with mountainous rock, salt, and roast, but it’s combined with developing and prominent flavor, beginning with the roast, then transitioning into coffee, chocolaty toffee, and then caramel in the finish with some roast sprinkled it. The chocolate notes are bit of an exaggeration, but it’s there in taste in aroma. I brewed it 4 times western. It thinned out by cup five, and the first and second cups were incredibly after 2 and 3 minutes.

I kinda wish I got a little bit more of it. I’m not settled on a rating and need to test it tumbler and gong fu. I am extremely impressed so far, and wish Hugo Tea would have more pictures of what the leaves actually look like because they are artfully made for what yancha can be.

Flavors: Campfire, Caramel, Char, Charcoal, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Toast, Toffee, Wet Rocks

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I highly looked forward to having a fresh green after a disappointing experience with a roasty one on Friday. It’s been years since I’ve had this varietal and a pure green that was something other than a scented jasmine, so this sample was a nice break from the usual black and oolong from my stash.

This one was extremely fresh, delicate, energizing, healthy and relaxing. It tastes like green tea, but with some added sweetness to its hints, maybe some grassy sourness like apple. Sometimes, it reminded me of fresh green soy and edamame. However, it was not overly vegetal, but still grassy green enough to make you think-“hey this is good for me.” It’s got that morning dew kind of feeling you never get tired of.

Brewed consistently 5 times western with some slight astringency, though I easily see this being a tumbler or gong fu kind of green tea. Serving in glass is the way to go because the leaves are very pretty.

Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Green, Green Apple, Pleasantly Sour, Soybean, Sugar, White Grapes

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Okay, I’ve decided. I don’t like this one. I know Hojicha’s are naturally roasty, but I don’t feel like it lives up to others I’ve had. There’s a seaweed/fishy soysuace fire wood quality I really don’t like about it.

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So, it’s been a while, and I’ve got some new notes coming on the way. I needed to take some time for myself, so here’s how I’m doing it.

I opted to try out some new samples from Hugo Tea, and 4 of them were recently released. I really looked forward to this tea since I’ve not had Hojicha since my birthday, and was deeply excited for a new varietal called candy leaf for the tea.

I expected something roasty, and nutty, but I did not get the caramel described. I definitely got savory soba soy sauce notes, and a huge dollop of fishy seaweed and umami. I used 4 grams, rinsed 5 sec, brewed it 20, then did it again for 3 minutes. The 20 seconds was the fishiest, and the 3 minutes was more subdued, but I wasn’t a fan.

I’ll try this one again, but I was not as impressed with this one as the other teas I sampled.

Flavors: Char, Roasted, Savory, Seaweed, Soy Sauce, Umami

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