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Muskoka Chai from Pluck Teas. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 17:00
It’s a gloomy day in the city. Rain all day keeping everything wet. High winds keeping everyone cold. The threat of snow looming. Perfect day for snuggling up in bed with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Alas, I had to get my butt to work so I sat in traffic and and then under the florescent lights of the office for what felt like forever. When I finally returned home, I wanted something special and a chai latte just seemed right. I mean, when done properly, a good tea latte is like a nice hug for Read More

How to De-stress in 5 Effective Ways

T Ching - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 12:49

Stress has become a new epidemic, and according to the American Psychological Association it contributes to the six leading causes of death: cancer, heart disease, suicide, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver, and accidents. It can be hard to relax and de-stress when one of the main requirements for any job says “Must be able to work under pressure”. Fortunately, there are efficient and simple methods that can help you reduce stress and achieve inner calm. Sometimes even little things such as a good book, or a stroll through the park can be exactly what you need in order to restore your peace of mind.


This ancient practice is one of the best ways to de-stress. Its benefits are numerous, and they include lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can wreak havoc on your body. You don’t need any special conditions to start practicing meditation, as you can simply find a quiet spot, sit down, close your eyes, and focus on one thing, no matter what that is. If you want to keep calm, do this for at least 10 minutes a day. Yes, that’s all it takes to do something for your well-being.  

Drink tea

A cup of tea has a soothing effect on your mind, so when you’re under a great deal of stress stay away from coffee and stick to this relaxing beverage. Chamomile is a mild tranquilizer and can help you have restful and uninterrupted sleep. There’s a long list of green tea health benefits. It’s packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, and it’s known for reducing the risk of cancer, improving cognitive functions, and helping with weight loss, among many other things. Theanine, an ingredient that gives flavor to this refreshing beverage, is responsible for the relaxing effect.

Get a massage

When you’re stressed, it’s not just your mind that suffers, but your body, too. That’s why a massage is an excellent way of helping your body relax and de-stress. It can improve your circulation, reduce pain, and relieve muscle tension. Aromatherapy oils and soothing music can be added to your massage session for even better results. If you don’t feel comfortable with the idea of getting a solo massage, you can go for a couples massage. This amazing concept allows you to enjoy this relaxing experience together with your partner in a personal and intimate atmosphere that will remove any potential discomfort.

Avoid processed foods

Comfort food that people usually turn to when they’re stressed or anxious is full of sugar, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients. Processed foods provide a short-term relief, but in the long run they make you even more tense and anxious because they’re bad for your digestive system. Fast food, fried food, and soft drinks are the main culprits behind sugar imbalances which are very bad for your mood. Chronic stress makes it hard to control the temptation to gorge yourself on a burger with fries, but by doing so you get yourself trapped in a vicious circle. So, instead of grabbing a glazed doughnut or a candy bar, have a piece of fruit, some dark chocolate, or a handful of berries.

Listen to soothing music

Even if you enjoy listening to up-tempo music, and if you believe that it boosts your mood, opt for something more soothing when you’re stressed. This kind of stimulation will only make you more nervous and irritated. Slow, quiet music can reduce your heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of cortisol. If you want to fully enjoy the benefits of therapeutic music, light a scented candle, brew some tea, and make yourself comfortable. Calming music will let you fully engage in mindfulness of tea and make the most of this synergistic experience.

Fighting stress can be tricky, but these simple methods can help you establish healthy habits and gradually help to eliminate stress from your life.

The post How to De-stress in 5 Effective Ways appeared first on T Ching.

Atlantis Found. . .An Adagio Teas Custom Blend From Our Own TeaEqualsBliss. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 11:00
My television often displays shows about Earth’s mysterious past. Ancient Aliens, Curse of Oak Island, What On Earth, Mythbusters, Finding Bigfoot, and Hunting Hitler have all graced our screen. My husband cannot get enough of unsolved peculiarities. We’ll be eating a meal and he’ll be like “did you know that the skull fragment the KGB presented as evidence of Hitler’s death was tested? And it’s FEMALE?” or “have you ever seen pictures of the circles in South America where nothing grows — and NO ONE KNOWS WHY? THE SOIL IS FINE” or “did you know the sphinx was probably a Read More

Oriental Beauty from Dachi Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 23:00
These long twists, amber and brown with white tips, are stunning. They are also sort of difficult to measure out with my “perfect teaspoon.” So what you’re getting with this review is a BEST GUESS at how this should have been made. Regardless, this is a sweet little number tastes like white grape juice. It tastes like sugar, and flowers, and grapes, and candy, and ribbon-dancing. Do you remember ribbon-dancing? There was a product called Ribbon Dancer.   My mom wouldn’t let me have it, so I took a stick, tied some braided-up yarn to it, and made do. This Read More

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 16:00

I had heard about this book quite a long time ago and I was so excited by very the idea of it. A fiction novel based in Yunnan is right up my alley, especially if tea is involved. The author, Lisa See, did a ton of research and incorporated many real life aspects of the tea industry into her story. She even went so far as to travel there with Linda Louie of Bana Tea Company in 2014. Her efforts paid off because everything that the main character experienced felt very authentic.

I hate when there are spoilers in book reviews so I'll try my best not to do that. This book follows the life a young girl named Li-Yan. She is a member of Akha ethnic minority living on Nannuo Mountain. The reader is given a lot of background information on the beliefs and customs of the Akha as well as insight into daily village life. Some of the rituals are harsh to read about, particularly those involving newborn babies. Those sections left me a bit weepy on my morning commute.

We follow Li-Yan throughout her life as she struggles to find happiness as well as the life of the daughter that she was forced to give up. These are themes that I think are relatable to anyone, even if you know nothing about tea. There are nuggets that will make any puerh lover happy throughout the storyline, though. The tea market crash of 2007 and the modernization of Yunnan are both major occurrences in Li-Yan's life. Even our beloved World Tea Expo gets a mention along with familiar names like Dr. Selena Ahmed.

I was dismayed to see some negative reviews on Amazon but the vast majority of them complained about having to learn so much about tea. Can you imagine not being interested in the crazy and complex world of tea? Don't let them sway you from diving into the world of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I've heard rave reviews from several tea friends, even before I finished reading it myself.

Bana Tea Company offers a special book club tasting package for this book. It sounds like the perfect way to share this story (and puerh tea) with friends.


Tricera-Tips Assam from Tea Historic. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 15:00
I LOVE DINOSAURS! Seriously, I am obsessed! Land Before Time, Jurassic Park, Dinosaur…doesn’t matter…if it has dinosaurs in it, I am likely to read it, watch it, listen to it, etc. Between dinosaurs and Chris Pratt, I think Jurassic World might have been the highlight of my 2015. I blame my generation…actually my sibling’s generation and their influence on me. Some people had vampires, some people had zombies, and some people had dinosaurs. I fit into all those groups actually but dinosaurs have a special place in my heart. So, now that I established my love of dinosaurs, and I Read More

Is This The Best We Can Do?

T Ching - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:43

Tea service in North America is almost a shame! We are serving tea the same way we did forty or more years ago. We are long overdue for an upgrade!

When I was presented with an institutional mug along with the small metal teapot yesterday, it was as if I was transported back to high school in the 70’s. On the occasions when a teacher was sick, or we felt like ditching, several of us would walk to the nearest cafe and have tea. This was in Canada, and this was not unusual for us, but most definitely would have been for American teenagers in the 1970’s.

A pot of tea was about all we could afford! It was thirty-five cents, and you could always get a free refill on the hot water. That’s how we would kill an hour or more in between classes. Tea service back then consisted of an institutional teacup and saucer, a metal teapot on a matching dessert plate, and an assortment of accoutrements; which included honey in little square packages, lemon slices, and a sugar bowl (which often contained sugar cubes) along with a matching creamer. The teabag was Red Rose Tea, and it was always in the teapot when it arrived unless you asked for it on the side. That was my preference because I always drank mine clear. That’s what we called it. For those that used any or most of the accoutrements, it didn’t seem to matter to them how strong the tea was. In most restaurants, you just never knew how long your tea had been steeping before it was brought to you, but I didn’t like strong tea, and I still don’t.

What was served to me yesterday was much less than what was served in back then, as you can see in the photo. At least everything was presented on a plate. I haven’t often seen that here in America. Yesterday was a test.

When I inquired as to the choices of tea, the waitress returned with a handful of Stash teabags in foil pouches. Yes, she brought a handful! This is not about the brand of tea; it is about the lackluster quality of the tea service in most food service establishments. It is not the server’s fault; it is not the restaurant’s fault; it’s our fault! Those of us in the tea industry are responsible for this.

Most of us just do not order tea in cafes and restaurants. Many of us seldom even check the hot beverage section on the menu in certain restaurants. If it’s an upscale restaurant, I do, I check. I ask, and then I usually decline.

How many more decades are we going to let slip by before we stop this lousy tea service? Who is taking steps to upgrade the service of tea in America? What is it going to take to have every restaurant consider tea as a legitimate item on their menu? When are we going to say “enough is enough!”?

Imagine that you are seated at a table in an ordinary restaurant with three other people; everyone has ordered their beverage, and you have ordered tea. Yes, you’ve had to stipulate that it is HOT tea you are ordering and not iced. Their beverages arrive and are set down in the usual manner. A few moments later, the server arrives with a small decorative tray that holds a lovely porcelain or clear glass teapot filled with hot water, a matching teacup in an unusual style, a coordinating plate of accoutrements, along with an assortment of teabags in colorful sachets all tucked into a lovely presentation box.

Everyone’s mouth drops. Eyeballs from other tables are all focused on what has been set down in front of you, you just happily go about selecting your tea, making it the way you like it, and adding whatever you desire.

How hard can this simple upgrade be? Every restaurant can do this, and much more!

What have we upgraded in the vision above? We’re still using teabags, which is acceptable, and with a name brand that isn’t on every grocery store shelf in the country. What we’ve done is upgrade the service of tea. We’ve actually turned it into something! Someone cared enough to order teaware that is befitting of the beverage! It was presented with some style and everything was kept simple.

For the savvy tea customer, this should be a good start. If we continue whining for loose-leaf tea selections and water at precisely at 180 degrees, we’ve lost most restaurants right from the get-go. I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t expect this at some point but let’s first graduate from the horrible cafeteria metal teapot and clunky mug. Clearly, in four decades, while tea sales and tea consumption have skyrocketed in this country — tea service lags behind dramatically.


The post Is This The Best We Can Do? appeared first on T Ching.

Great Gatsby from First Edition Tea Co. #greatgatsby #tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 11:00
So this may be an unpopular opinion but I actually hated The Great Gatsby. I read it. I analyzed it. I studied it. I get it. Doesn’t mean I need to like it. I found it boring and after reading it a few times and not enjoying it anymore than I had previously, I think it is safe to say that I am not a fan. Even the movie didn’t appeal to me, except for the soundtrack which was pretty amazing but I digress. Now that I have that out of the way, I can focus on this tea, which Read More

Hobo Lil

The Devotea - Sat, 05/13/2017 - 21:24

The cat you see pictured here was named Lily, AKA Mr Lil, and he recently passed away. You might, immediately, find the name confusing, but when he was born in the middle of the night on our bed, Lady Devotea may have been mistaken about his gender, and by the time we worked it out, […]

The post Hobo Lil appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Caffeine detox

A Tea Addict's Journal - Sat, 05/13/2017 - 15:37

Once in a while, I’ll go through what is essentially a caffeine detox, or really, just a period of drinking less tea. What I notice is that consumption of tea over time trends up. This also means that I generally consume more and more tea over time. It’s sort of natural – you fill up the pot, and before you close it and start the process of brewing, you add a little more. This “little more” gets normalized and next time you add a little more again… and it goes up.

I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to personal tea consumption. Unless I’m drinking with people, which is rare these days, I usually just drink one tea a day – which means that I only drink one session of tea a day. Now, I will re-brew this tea many times over, so in effect I’m extracting all the caffeine there is out of them, usually, but it’s still just one tea a day. I think among my readers many are multi-session-per-day type. That’s not me.

Still, drinking a lot of tea has its effects on the body. There’s a balance to everything and it’s probably not a good idea to consume too much of anything, so after a while of drinking a lot of tea, I often will consciously go through a period of lower consumption to re-adjust myself to a lower caffeine intake. I find this is good – good for my palate, and good for my body. Caffeine overdose  is a very uncomfortable thing. While I haven’t gotten there in many years, it’s still something I want to avoid. There are also times where I’m not exactly in OD territory, but I can feel my heart pumping faster and my body reacting to a bit too much caffeine. That’s usually a sign I need to tone it down if it happens too often.

Some people I know quit cold turkey trying to re-adjust to lower caffeine. I find that painful – literally, because you get massive headaches, but also not having any tea makes me really cranky because, let’s face it, it’s an addictive drug. So, instead, I usually opt for aged oolongs – the tea that is clearly the lowest in caffeine among my regular rotation of stuff. I also very consciously measure out the amount of leaves I use and make sure I’m not putting in too much tea leaves.

The end result is usually pretty immediate and obvious – I get a bit sleepy earlier in the day, I don’t get jittery, and also I have a little bit of craving sometimes for more tea, which I have to resist. There’s always that temptation to drink more tea – which must be resisted. Which is another reason why aged oolong is great – a good aged oolong will keep giving if you keep rebrewing grandpa style, without really much in the way of additional caffeine. It’s the perfect tea for this sort of thing.

I usually do this for a couple weeks – at which point tea consumption will stay low for much longer but it’s no longer such an obvious thing to fight. Then, well, the cycle begins anew….

For Lemon-Lovers – #Limoncello from #TheNecessiTeas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 05/13/2017 - 11:00
Heads up for you lemon-lovers out there, this tea is definitely for you! The namesake of this tea, Limoncello, is an Italian liqueur made from the zest of lemons.  It’s known to be a sweet drink, despite the yellow citrus fruit’s sour reputation.  This tea definitely tastes like distilled lemons and keeps the perfect sweet-tart flavor balance of citrus and cream, very much like tart lemon dessert bars with powdered sugar. In the dry leaf, this tea smells strongly of citrus, but the lemon myrtle in the blend keeps the flavors natural and herbal, rather than smelling too much like Read More

#PeruvianSpiceBerry from #IncaTea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 23:00
The dry leaf smells like mulled wine, with fragrant elderberry, cinnamon, and cloves. Pour a bit of water on these leaves and they brew up fast!  Wow, what a dark red berry brew after only a few seconds! Brewed, this tea gets much more tart, thanks to the powerhouse of hibiscus flowers.  The ingredients list also include purple corn.  I’m not sure how it adds to the flavor, but the brewed tea is a vibrant purple-pink color. This tea is best served warm, though the fruitiness might be suited for an iced tea, I’m not sure all the spice is Read More

Friday Round Up: May 7th - May 13th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 16:00
The Correlation Between Puer and Cat People
Cody at The Oolong Drunk conducted an informal study that confirmed my own suspicions. A lot of tea people are also cat people! That makes them doubly awesome.

August Peach Green Tea from Simpson and Vail. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 15:00
Apparently peaches in august are sweeter than other times of the year. I didn’t know this until now. Learn something new everyday, right? I really enjoy the mix of peach flavor and green tea. Theres something really crisp and refreshing about them together that reminds me of springtime air. This tea in particular tastes just like spring, to me. There are two peach teas that are my favorite right now, both of them come from Anne’s brilliant blends over at 52 Teas- Peach Cardamom Green Tea and Peach Cheesecake Honeybush. Both of them are just sensational. Unfortunately all of 52 Read More

Blast from the past: a brief history of boba

T Ching - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 13:00

This article was originally published on T Ching in August of 2014.

Two tea establishments in Taiwan claim to have invented tapioca milk tea the drink, not tapioca balls the ingredient.   In 1983, an employee at Taichung City’s Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House concocted the first cup of bubble tea – so called because of the bubbles in the shaken mix of tea and syrup; tapioca, or boba, was not added until 1987 at this premises.  Hanlin Tea House in Tainan City began to serve a similar drink with white-colored tapioca balls – also in 1987.   If this novel, non-obvious beverage recipe were patented, or unimaginably kept a trade secret, then we would be enjoying it in a very different way today.

At Thai restaurants nowadays, I make sure to call my favorite dessert by its correct name sago pudding instead of tapioca pudding.  Sago is extracted from palm stem pith, while tapioca from cassava root.  The infamous Empress Dowager Cixi (1835 – 1908) was said to have once enjoyed an all-natural tapioca dessert prepared by the Taiwanese envoy.  Both Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House and Hanlin Tea House should be credited for re-sizing the tapioca balls; they might have invented the fat straws too.

So when did tapioca balls stop being all-natural?  Do McDonald’s McCafe locations in Germany still serve boba tea?   Some tea shops offer a substitute known as healthy boba, which is not boba at all but konjac.

Popping boba seems a popular topping choice at self-serve yogurt parlors. On the other hand, Heart boba – a red bean in the middle – can only be savored during a visit to Taiwan.

The post Blast from the past: a brief history of boba appeared first on T Ching.

Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha from 52Teas. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:00
There are teas in my collection I know I can rely on and this is one of them. I come back to this tea when I want something a little bit sweet and a little bit toasty. I’m typically not someone who loves green teas, but this one I can always enjoy. The dry leaf smells like green tea ice cream and after water has been added, I smell more roasted caramel popcorn. Mmmm… Sipping.. definitely a bit more roasty than expected. The marshmallow pops up in the background, but it’s actually more of a sweetness and not that specific Read More

Vanilla Bean from Storehouse Teas. . . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 23:00
I love vanilla in teas. I feel like if I was a tea-blender, i’d probably add a dash of vanilla to just about everything. I feel like it just gives this yummy warmth and sweetness to the blends and it also goes well with just about everything else! There is a difference between regular old “vanilla” and “vanilla bean”. Vanilla bean, in my experience, tends to be just a tad bit stronger and richer. When I saw this one in my little sample box I immediately scanned the ingredient list. I was wondering whether this would just be plain vanilla Read More

Fairy Dust from Tealish. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 15:00
I really love this tea. It is one of my favorite rooibos offerings and I was heartbroken when I ran out, especially because I accidentally forgot to boil the water and wasted the remainder of the leaf by steeping it in cold water. Granted this tea is sold by a Toronto company with a website and a storefront so I had access but I never made it to the store and didn’t have interest in enough teas to hit free shipping. I lucked out though because I came across the Tealish booth at the One of a Kind show which Read More

Not So Green Anymore?

T Ching - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 12:00

by GV Shashidhar

  • Middle Eastern imports at 218,470  metric tons of tea in 2015 compared to 226,930 in 2014. In 2010, it was 250,000 metric tons of tea annually.
  •  The Russian Federation imported 3,000 fewer metric tons in 2015 than the previous year.
  •  The value of global  tea imports from all importing countries in 2015 was        down by an average of 8.6% since 2011. This translates to $6.5 billion in 2011, down to $5.9 billion in 2015.

They say numbers don’t lie. As you look at these numbers, they seem to defy logic or practice. The average consumer would think the consumption of tea has only gone up with more varieties of tea on supermarket shelves and with more marketers and producers vying for consumer attention. Apart from being a regular beverage, tea has come to the forefront of the health bandwagon. Historically, tea was consumed In China and other parts of Asia for centuries before the British discovered it. They took it, patronized it and consumed it in copious quantities.

Over time, tea became an important part of local culture and cuisine of much of non-Christendom. It developed into specific rituals and practices based on local culture and custom. The south Asian version of steeping tea, the central European version of using elaborate customs including a samovar that migrated to Central Asia ( or maybe vice versa) to Africa where countries like Turkey and Egypt developed their own method of brewing and built a strong social culture around it.

Over decades, this beverage found its way into many homes across the globe. Industrialization and technology led to better farming methods and a freer trade meant consumers had options in choosing the source of their teas. This whole process became so sophisticated that it involved big bucks, which led to rampant commercialization. Commerce and politics are two sides of the same coin. Over time, as consumers developed their tea culture and concentrated on consumption, countries included tea in their trade and bilateral discussions. Countries and corporations began investing in tea gardens outside their own boundaries. Most of the tea in Egypt is imported from Kenya and Sri Lanka and it is unlikely that the average consumer is aware of this. Similarly, most of the tea imported in CIS countries are imported from India and China.

Green tea became popular as a great source of antioxidants and stimulants. Since green tea has less caffeine content than coffee, it was considered safe for all adults including those convalescing and nursing mothers. All of the above seems like a fairy tale that would last forever with the consumer, traders and countries balancing each other out perfectly for mutual benefit and a cup of health.

The above statistics however, seem to belie the climax of the fairy tale. Maybe it’s just a technical correction which should sort itself out in a few years. However, it could also be a result of strong competition from another beverage that, until recently, wasn’t considered healthy because of its high caffeine content – Coffee. And thus opens a new chapter in the annals of beverages. Just like that.

The benefits of coffee are now being discovered. It is entirely unclear whether this changing status of coffee is a result of a campaign by marketers, exporters or the medical fraternity, but one thing is very clear. Coffee is gaining a lot of ground as a stimulant, as anti-carcinogenic and simply as a great beverage. While the tea culture developed into elaborate rituals where people came together socially, coffee has become a personal choice.

Moreover, the whole process of extraction of the coffee from the beans roasted to one’s liking ( medium, rare or premium) , the grade of coffee ( Plantation, Peaberry, Arabica, Blends)  and the paraphernalia needed to extract it, is encouraging people to become connoisseurs. It is becoming fashionable to own all the equipment and develop an expertise similar to a barista, much the same way photography became a passion where amateurs went to great lengths putting together the ‘ dark room’  before the advent of digital technology.  Add to this the now accepted belief that green coffee is a great metabolism booster, some consider even more so than green tea, it’s no wonder that the tides are turning. Thus sparks the demand for green coffee from non-drinkers of coffee. IF you put this scenario into the mix and throw in the might of a global corporation like Starbucks, you realize it’s no longer an even match.

As people discovered various exotic flavors and options, coffee did not remain espresso or cappuccino. Consumers and countries developed their own version of coffee from the Americano to the Flat white. Countries began to get divided based on their consumption of tea or coffee. If England was a tea country, the U.S. became a coffee country. If most of western Europe reveled in their bistros and cafes, all of Asia took to tea with a vengeance. Corporations like Nestle added new technology in products like Nespresso, making the whole process of extraction simple, yet retaining the allure of coffee extraction.

As we look at some of this information, it is becoming evident that coffee is slowly gaining lost ground. A coffee house is no longer a shack for the blue collared but a place for a family to sit and sip. It is, of course, going to be very interesting to see how the overall numbers add up, but the consumer has never had it so good. Spoilt for choices, many are turning to coffee before noon for the additional ‘pick me up’ and tea in the afternoon for the calming, relaxing end to the day.

Whichever way the cookie crumbles, it surely tastes good with a cuppa. Tea or coffee.

The post Not So Green Anymore? appeared first on T Ching.

Super Fancy Oolong from Solstice Tea Traders. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 11:00
The outside of the tin for this says “Super Fancy Oolong,” which meant I had to show it to everyone in my office AND put it on my Snapchat. I curse like a pirate, dress like a goth, and look like a Muppet, so no one really bought the act. For a moment, though, I felt like maybe classiness was within reach. The dry leaves are long and curled. They are brown and amber, and some ends have white bits. While you’re steeping them, they don’t uncurl as much as you’d expect, but don’t worry: the tea taste is definitely Read More
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