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Recent Tasting Notes

March Sipdown Prompt – a single origin tea

I discovered this pouch in my “finer teas” box – a box of teas I will only drink when I have time to pay attention to them. I am sure this must be a gift from derk, and I am sorry it didn’t get sampled much sooner, because it deserved better treatment than this.

I think I have enjoyed every tea from What-Cha I have tried, and the teas from Nepal have pretty predictably been winners. No exception here.

First impression was that this tea has that taste I find hard to describe, but that was prominent in Wild Forest Oolong. It is giving me the same vibe on the swallow – a lovely, rising sweetness and then a mineral aftertaste.

Although this is a fairly light tea, it packs a lot of complexity and flavor. The medium gold color of the liquor doesn’t foretell what you will taste.

I could have kicked myself for taking a bite of food before sipping, but this is where the tea surprised me. It was just brisk enough to say, “Look at me!” despite the heavy breakfast fare. I made sure to leave enough to get a thorough taste after the meal.

I agree with derk entirely on the notes for this one. When my cupboard gets lower I would definitely be in the market for some Nepalese oolongs.

Thank you, derk! I am sorry it took so long to get to this one!

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TTB Review #34: Pretty standard green tea, more potent than most, but also more astringent. It feels somewhat incomplete, like it’s missing the finishing touches of a strong green tea, leaving behind only the bitterness and none of the flavor.

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I take back every mean thing I’ve said about linalool oxide. It’s delicious here, because it has fantastic supporting players. Notes coming out of the warmed pot were toasty with some lemon zest. Potatoes and umami in the first steep. The linalool/ecualyptus flavor is present but is not the star.

I didn’t take notes, so this feels like a paltry offering to these leaves. They are the fluffiest of fluffies, and only 5g filled my 5oz ceramic pot. That first steep was an unexpected delight; I got typing to Daylon and oversteeped the second, cursing myself as I poured… annnnd it was amazing. No bitterness, big flavors. Hay, mushroom, sweetness like a Maillard reaction… caramelized starch? It makes me want to brew this western and see what bouquet materializes, though these fat flavors may take a LOT of leaf to accomplish… and losing a gong fu session also seems a little sad.

It tasted cool, but I just had to lose my sweatshirt and feel a little shvitzy.

The first white (aside from a long-ago dither with a coconut-something from Art of Tea) that I will almost definitely repurchase. I really like this.

Flavors: Eucalyptus, Hay, Lemon Zest, Mushrooms, Potato, Umami


Stealing shvitzy

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Derk kindly sent a morning’s worth of this Assam for me to experience. I confess, I didn’t give the first steep a great deal of attention…the only mental notes I made were ooh, nice! and smooooth, which isn’t very helpful to the rest of you.

Did a longer steep the second time around, and it’s delightful. Still thick and satiny on the tongue, and what some people might consider malty is coming through to me as graham cracker. I peeked at What-cha’s write-up and it mentions a little fig hiding in there…I get that now that I’ve read it; probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own..

Perfect for a damp, broody afternoon while I’m waiting to vacuum. Somebody (human or feline) in the house is always asleep when I need to do noisy housework and somebody is always snoozing on the bed when I need to change the sheets; and we’re tippy-toeing around extra to accommodate a sick fur baby. Toothache, we think. Calling the vet first thing Monday.


Love to your kitty


Graham cracker and fig sound lovely.

I hope it’s an easy fix-up for the puddin’… breaks my heart when they don’t feel well.

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Steaming leaves are full-on warm potato chips. Yowza.

As I started pouring I realized my water was probably way too hot — I’d forgotten to cut it with cooler water for the green tea. Daggit! My fingers smelled like seaweed after I poured it, and it was indeed too hot and bitter, but the umami seaweed still came through.

Rejiggered my water and apologized to my little green friends… low and behold some purple florals actually came through in the second steep. Cotton candy at the bottom of the cup… this tea is weird as hell, but I’m enjoying it.

Backed off on steep time for the third, and it was a good call. I also think I might leaf this a little lighter next time (7g:5oz for this go).

The purple flower/cotton candy is reminding me of something else. Dark berries maybe, or like a thick jungle fruit… I want to say the smell is how durian tastes. Not the other way around, hahaha. Classic green tea grass holding up this whole profile.

A fun tester session; I look forward to giving this a few more goes.

Flavors: Cotton Candy, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Potato, Salt, Seaweed, Umami


I have yet to try a tea with a potato personality, but it sounds interesting!

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I feel I may have underleafed this beauty at 7g:5oz, as I picked up on a lot but it persisted in a watery, first-steep sorta way. Steaming leaves gave up spinach, toast, cream, and corn, with very subtle florals that I couldn’t put my finger on.

The steeps were pleasant — cream, vanilla, light florals. Just so subtle… and not as much in a “delicate tea” sort of way as in “please feed dis teapot moar.”

Rather than mess with adding leaf, I just steeped later steeps longer — quite long — and found some really lovely florals. The trade-off was substantial astringency, but What-Cha gonna do? I found a bit of mild honey (honeycomb candy, really, as my palate is pretty out of touch with actual honey). The florals were really nice, and I’m a sucker for them.

I think I’ll put a note right on my label to up the leaf next time… maybe up arrows and down arrows will start a whole cupboard code over here.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Honey, Spinach, Sweet Corn, Toast

0 OZ / 0 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I just bought some more because I wanted to try it again for a second opinion. I liked it more than the Shanlinxi, but thought it was super delicate. I’ve changed my parameters a little bit with my Eclipse brewer, and I’m pretty hopeful for it. I tend to drink oolong quicker anyway even if it’s light.


I’ll be interested to see what you find. And ha — I ordered double of the Shan Lin Xi because it sounded so amazing. Haven’t tried it yet… now you have me curious.

Daylon R Thomas

I’ve had it before too. It was on the greener side, and a lot of people on here tend to snuff it a little bit because What-Cha delivers amazing tea for the cost. I preferred the Lishan the most, but that’s me. I still love green oolong.


I’m finding What-Cha to be the place to beat, honestly. Alistair stocks such amazing stuff.

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This tea is joy. Steaming leaves boofed right up my nose with nougat, caramel, condensed milk. Alistair assured me the flavoring was all plant-based or I’d be side-eyeing this scrumpkin.

Slow open with caramel and minerality on the nose. Mouthfeel is smooth with mineral water, rock sugar… no cream yet, actually.

Second steep boofs up my nose again — condensed milk, nougat. Taste opens up to lilac, maybe lavender… thicker now, and creamy. Butterscotch! Mild astringency and vegetals.

Nougat is persistent on the nose. I love it. Third steep keeps astringency, sweets are moving down from the nose onto the palate now. Some raw vegetal notes, like broccoli stems. Grandma is slipping me a Werther’s Original while the other adults eat crudite.

Nice full mouth in the fourth steep; this keeps steeping like a champ. Astringent, creamy, cucumber, fleeting anise… seems like the oolong is really coming through the flavoring now. Shining. Lily in the next steep, with sugar and caramel sweetness lingering.

I poured a few more steeps. The base is so nice, delicate and wispy here at the end. Clean baby (sorry not sorry), honey, medium mouthfeel.

I adore this layering of punch and subtlety, both. There’s so much to find if you feel like poking around here, but it’s also a very comforting and easy friend (who brought cake) if that’s what you’re in the mood for.

Flavors: Anise, Astringent, Broccoli, Butterscotch, Caramel, Creamy, Cucumber, Honey, Lavender, Lilac, Lily, Milk, Mineral, Spring Water, Sugar, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla, Vegetal

Daylon R Thomas

IS this the flavored one, or the regular one?

Daylon R Thomas

Nevermind, I wrote 5 notes on this one. It’s the flavored one, and one of the better ones.


This sounds delightful. I am eyeing a What-Cha order when I drink down a few more things.


Yeah, I half expected it to be a fun flavored romp and move on, but it rather hooked me. I’ll probably keep some around.

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Got a baby bag of this and burned right through it. Gong fu’d it once or twice. It was good, but — given the teaser notes of flowers and green and butter and cream here — I found myself craving complexity and roundness that it didn’t quite deliver. I’m at a point in my life where I’ll happily fork over my cashmoney for that thrilling feeling of bouncing around in a profile that tempts a smile before the swallow and dares me to lose all my tea out my teeth.

But. But! I took the remainder to work and grandpa-styled the last couple servings of it in my Yeti tumbler. What a delight, really, and those sips were like angels singing compared to the trash I normally grab and throw water on all day long. I think this will be my plan moving forward with teas that I find so-so — take them to work, where I‘ll appreciate them SO much more, and feel excited rather than beholden to empty their shiny little bags.

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Vegetal

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As I get ready for work —

Beautiful aromatic mix of sweet chocolate and rose, tangy lemon-malt and sweet potato with fruity and sweet red grape overtone, herbaceous tobacco undertone. Light and buoyant, sparkling, juicy swallow. Fruity red grape aftertaste. Not a heavy tea but subtly fortifying and also spicy-drying-warming. Lots of tongue tingling and mouthwatering give way to a cooling sensation in mouth that has eventually made its way into my ears. The aroma of the tea sticks to the empty mason jar, reminding me of the sips I just experienced.

Thanks for letting me dip into this bag, Leafhopper! This is a really good tea. The wonderful thing about What-Cha is they have many teas I want to keep as staples and this one has made it to the list.

Flavors: Chocolate, Clean, Drying, Fruity, Grapes, Herbaceous, Juicy, Lemon, Malt, Malty, Menthol, Mineral, Rose, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy, Tobacco

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

That is a beautiful tea experience to have before work!




Thanks for the preview of the 2022 Jin Jun Mei! I’m glad you got roses in this batch, as I did in the last one I tried from Daylon. The red grapes might be new; I’d have to check my tasting note to see if I detected them before.

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Just a sample from Alistair, so a sip down of sorts. Nepal had me doubtful, but oolong got me excited… and meh. A fine example of the cultivar, but the leading flavor of linalool oxide in Darjeeling just doesn’t really do it for me. Oolong processing didn’t add anything substantial that I could pick out. I should maybe start trying to pair teas from this region with food, as I find them kind of tiresome standing alone.

Flavors: Camphor, Menthol, Mint

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Started with 25g of this and plowed through 15g in two gong fu sessions today, chasing roses.

First go was 1g/oz, second was 2g/oz. The second did suffer some bitterness, but both were good. I discovered bran flakes, malt loaf, and the 82 ways I can hold, sniff, and slurp a cup in search of roses. I did not find roses — did not find florals at all — and am a little sad about it. I would not be surprised if this was a failure of my palate, but also know variations year to year can leave a tea full of extra-special-somethings or lacking some character it once had. I imagine pandemic-era tea has even more potential for same. So it goes.

Light to medium mouthfeel. It’s pleasant and comforting. Blacks have a tendency to burn out my palate and leave me a little up-strung, though, so I’m not convinced this is where I’ll choose to cash my chips in very often.

Flavors: Bread, Grain, Malt


I appreciate your style :)


What a kind note. I appreciate yours, as it turns out.

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Had the most curious experience with this tea yesterday. I brewed it twice in a row, because although the first steep was lovely, I really didn’t pick up on any of the berry scent/flavors that most reviews seem to find unmistakable. The leaves are pretty light and fluffy, and I put about a tablespoon and a half (but didn’t weigh them) into my 5oz gong fu pot.

Notes coming off the leaves, both dry and steaming, were super exciting even without much berry: nuts, roast — like someone was cooking supper — and just a hint of floral around the edges. Smell off the first cup was wet dog — which sounds gross, but honestly reminds me of Thai food, when funk-smell usually means great taste (I’m vegan and avoid fermented aquatic creatures, but the point stands). Tasted of toast, nuts, leather. Second steep brought in those florals that were on the nose — lightly, though, with roasted hazelnuts mostly taking the palate.

For my second session, I added maybe 2.5 tablespoons of leaves, which seemed like a LOT… and there it was! BAM — elderberry jam punched me in the face, nearly overtaking every other flavor I’d picked out in the first session. It was like a completely different tea. So interesting. Berries and berries and berries after that. I grew up eating elderberry pie, had mulberry bushes in my backyard, and currently eat shit-tons of blackberries… and I’m going with elderberry here. Cream, honey. The berry scent and taste was jammy, cooked, pie-like — not the acidic, light, flitting flavor that a lot of “berry” teas and tisanes have. I don’t much care for those. All of the umami and nuts (I’m actually glad I under-leafed that first go, as I was able to pick these out separately) underpinning the big jam flavor was really nice. Fairly light mouthfeel despite the big flavors.

This kept being tasty for quite a few steeps, in both sessions, though not as heady as the first sniffs and sips. I’ve had several so-so blacks in the past few days, so this was a lovely surprise. I find I am gravitating hard toward Taiwanese teas — mostly oolongs, admittedly, but all the flavors here made for a black I’ll likely come back to.

Flavors: Elderberry, Hazelnut, Jam, Leather, Roasted Nuts, Toast, Umami


Wow! Awesome flavors hiding in there, and that was a lot of leaf. Wonderful that it didn’t become sour with so much leaf!


I hope I remember to weigh it next time — it is so fluffy and lacking density that I don’t think it was actually more leaf than I’d use any other tea. Didn’t wanna smash it, though!


I’m glad you got all the berries to emerge! I remember basically filling my 120 ml pot with the fluffy leaves and the tea didn’t become bitter.

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Apologies in advance to anyone reading, as I’m about to copy-paste this note onto two teas…

I drank two Shandong Laoshans yesterday, one from What-Cha and one from Yunnan Sourcing, within an hour or so of each other. I had mild intentions of noting some differences between them, but the reality is I just wasn’t focused enough while doing some studying. I’m sure I’ll make more in-depth and fussy reviews for each later, but overall impressions remind me a lot of What-Cha‘s Vietnam Fish Hook Green. Umami, asparagus, crockpot white beans, salty, savory. Very approachable, smooth, and delicious. I will probably always keep a tea of this character in my cupboard, though I look forward to getting to know the intricacies and contrasts between all of the ones I have right now. I brewed both around 167-170°, which I think is perfect. Some astringency showed up toward the end of each session, but I think that was more a function of steep length than temperature. I really like this style of green.

Flavors: Asparagus, Salty, Savory, Soybean, Umami

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Many thanks to Alistair for this free sample! Loved this tea and definitely want to get some more eventually. I feel like this tea’s flavor evolved for me more than most others I’ve tried over the course of the infusions. First infusion was spinach, cream and cucumber. Second infusion lost most of the spinach flavor. Third infusion introduced honey. Fourth and fifth infusions had a back note of peach.

Dry leaf: vegetal.
Wet leaf: spinach.
Flavor: spinach, cream, cucumber, peach, honey.

Flavors: Cream, Cucumber, Honey, Peach, Spinach, Vegetal

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I have tried so many new teas over the past few days, but have been overwhelmed with classwork (I took a Chemistry class for kicks, and am indeed enjoying it — but it’s so accelerated time-wise that it’s managed to take over my life). Three more weeks in survival mode!

I did want to pop on and put a note here, though. I did a bit of googling, because this flavor that runs through soooo many of the teas I’ve had lately was haunting me. Linalool oxide! It’s in this Nepalese black, it’s in Darjeelings, it’s in White Antlers, it’s in Wild Tree Purple Moonlight White from YS… and it turns out I don’t love it. I mean it’s okay, it’s drinkable… and I can see why some people would enjoy it… but it’s not a scent or flavor I want to seek out any more often than I accidentally stumble on it. I kept calling it camphor/menthol, but it’s more than that — I needed answers!

“It occurs naturally in green and black teas. Linalool oxide can be described as camphorous, floral, fruity, spicy, tea-like, woody and even minty. It is well known for adding depth and sweetness to tea and lemon flavors as well as enhancing woody notes in red wines. Natural linalool oxide can also be used for mint top notes due to the fact that it has nice cooling sensations at certain levels.” (perfumerflavorist.com)

Flavors: Camphor, Herbs, Menthol, Mint, Wood


I appreciate your inquisitiveness :) Thanks for sharing, and I hope you’re enjoying the chemistry class!


Thanks, derk!

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drank Jersey Premium Green Tea by What-Cha
1367 tasting notes

A tea from Jersey in the Channel Islands, produced at the fledgling Peacock Farm!

Brewing directions say 165F but I’ve had wonderful results at 175F and even with hot water from the work dispenser, which is certainly much hotter.

The dry leaf smells like sweet, wet grass now dry, kind of earthy-musty with maybe a sugarcane-cocoa sweetness; a hint of blanched nettle.

When brewed grandpa style in a glass, the leaves sink within a few minutes to the bottom and produce a green-gold brew with glinting hairs suspended. I smell marshamallo and sugar cookie, young grass.

The tea is viscous and sweet with a refined astringency. Left to sit, the flavor develops from something like sugarcane and minerals with a touch of toasted green bean into something even sweeter with smooth, rounded and oh-so-slightly savory tones of marshmallow, toasted rice and chrysanthemum along with that hint of blanched nettle found in the dry leaf. A sticky sweetness clings to the entire mouth in the aftertaste. By the third fill, I’m noticing more acidity — a gentle lemon and grassy-toasted green bean taste with fleeting honeysuckle. A fourth fill leaves my mouth feeling raw and sore, like there’s enzymatic action.

An absolute pleasure to drink despite being a 2021 pick and the raw mouthfeel after pushing the leaf too much. I would consider ordering future harvests of this green tea and the black tea. Just have to practice a little denial knowing the cost of the fresh leaf :P Leafhopper and I split this one while on sale.

Feeling: undecided

Flavors: Chrysanthemum, Cocoa, Cookie, Grass, Green Beans, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Marshmallow, Mineral, Rich, Round, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Toasty, Viscous

Daylon R Thomas

I loved the black tea version. I can only imagine how good the green one is, and I’ve been drinking green a lot more lately as I’ve been a little bit more health conscious of caffeine consumption.


A Channel Islands tea! I didn’t realize its climate would support a farm.
Now I want to binge-read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”


Derk, I’m looking forward to this tea! Sounds like gongfu steeping might not be the way to go if I don’t want astringency.

Gmathis, I liked that book as well! :)

Martin Bednář

Well, that’s place I never thought it will be tea producing :)


Leafhopper, another one that’s very similar is “Letters from Skye” by Jessica Brockmole. At first, I thought it similar to the point of plot plagiarism, but after a few chapters, I was so into it, it didn’t matter any more.

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When you take a first whiff of the brewed tea you instantly know that its gonna be good: it is strong and complex, with honeyed sweetness, floral notes, and the forest floor aroma reminiscent of a good red wine.

The taste is powerful and multi-faceted, with sweetness, dark berries and stone fruit dominating. You can spend some time getting new and new notes out of it by alternating brewing times.

It is a remarkable black tea and I will stock up on that for sure. Looking at other reviews, pretty much everyone who tried it was taken by this Shan Cha and rated it extremely high.


Yeah, I don’t know how this tea is still in stock! I hope Alistair can source his Yu Chi Assam and Red Jade this year as well.

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Sipdown. Onto the wishlist it goes. This is cinnamon biscotti in a cup and I really enjoy it.

Flavors: Astringent, Biscuit, Butter, Cedar, Cinnamon, Floral, Vanilla

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I… is this what Dong Ding is supposed to be? I had just about written off the style, but figured if anyone could get it right, it’d be Alistair.

Color me impressed and humbled… cinnamon shortbread, florals… astringency that makes me want to try this at a slightly cooler temperature. It’s delicious.

I ran out of water before the leaves ran out of life. I feel like I finally understand the love for this cultivar.

Flavors: Banana, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cookie, Floral


Yaaaaaaaay! I love a good Tung Ting/Dong Ding!

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After last nights debacle with the pomegranate stuff, I decided to whip myself into shape this morning and follow some directions!

But as I write this, and look on the bag, I realize I only partially followed the directions. I did brew this tea at 194 as directed. I brewed gong fu cha style with about 7g of tea to about 6 oz. Water. I steeped 30 second steeps after a 5 sec rinse.

I don’t think this is a complicated tea. It’s very light and buttery with a sugarcane note in the finish. I’m picking up subtle florals with a hint of grassy ness. Very pleasant but not particularly mind blowing. I will gladly drink the rest of this tea but probably won’t restock it.

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I was inspired by beerandbeancurd’s tasting note to try this tea with pineapple upside down cake tonight but got so excited to brew the tea, I couldn’t wait until cake time!

I brewed it about 5g to 5 oz. Water at 194 degrees. 5 sec. Rinse.
The dry leaves smelled like cinnamon and dark chocolate. Wet leaves netted stronger cinnamon and vanilla.
Steeped at 30 second intervals for 4 steeps then 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1:30, 2 minutes.
Dark chocolate was prominent throughout followed by sugarcane, hay, malt, and spice. Did I mention the dark chocolate? A lovely light, slightly sweet finish ended each cup.

I kept my leftovers to cool and threw it over ice and yes, you guessed it, dark chocolate with a crystal clear, slightly sweet, finish.

This is a delicious tea that I have no hesitation recommending.

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I decided to take a break from gong fu brewing this morning an opted for a cuppa Earl Grey instead.
My only other exposure to earl grey has been grocery store bags, so this tastes and smells quite good in comparison. I steeped it as directed, 2 tsp. To about 8 oz. Water at 203 degrees for 4 minutes.
I’m having trouble identifying notes this morning but do get orange and lemon which I think, is the bergamot? I’ve never had bergamot so am guessing. A rather short, polite finish, and overall very satisfying cup of tea.

Cameron B.

Bergamot is a type of citrus, so it can be quite lemony in flavor. But I also find it can be more on the floral side, it just depends on the tea for me!


Ah yes, that makes sense! I almost noted a floral note but I can’t quite taste it even though I “know” it’s there.


Bergamot, to me, smells like Fruity Pebbles cereal. As unsophisticated as that sounds!


Interesting how differently people perceive the same flavoring! To me, bergamot in earl grey tastes like a floral perfume. In green tea though, it tastes like cardamom.


I don’t care much for bergamot on Ceylon because it is lemony plus sour orange which is too much for me, but I like bergamot on Keemun or other roasty black teas or even smoky ones. Quite a bit, in fact.


I didn’t realize the Ceylon was citrusy too. I could have just been tasting that, doh!


Thanks Shae, I know what fruity pebbles smells like, that helps! Lol
Luckyme, I wondered if I was picking up a floral note. I’ll have to try again and really pay attention.

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