With my home town of Leicester being snowed under it’s put many things on hold, including a new blog post. I have had a sample of Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) since Christmas time from Canton Tea Club but have not yet tried it. Oolongs vary so widely in taste that I feel I have to build myself up in order to drink any. Will it be Spinachy? Vegetal? Floral? Sweet? Dry? Nutty? Roasted? A lot of the time it’s a surprise as to what comes out in the taste but with Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) I know before hand what I will get as it’s not a new tea to me. Floral teas are either a hit or a miss with me as they come with that dreaded dry somewhat perfumey taste and this tea is an example of one that has both. Still I do enjoy this tea but I need to be in the right frame of mine to truly enjoy it. 


This sample of Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) is from the Wuyi mountain area on the borders of Jiangxi and Fujian provinces in China. Production of this tea has remain unchanged in many years and is considered to be one of the most popular Oolongs in the world to date. 


The quality of this sample is very nice overall with no stems or sticks to bulk it up. The leaves are dark brown with half having light brown tips, they are also curled and quite long and thin in shape. The characteristics are mostly down to the production, with this particular tea being highly oxidized and re roasted before being left to mature for years under specific conditions. 


In turn it gives Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) smoky yet floral and sweet characteristics that set it aside from many other Oolongs and teas in general. Plus this brews into the most wonderful orange colour that fills you with warmth whilst drinking. 

The tea whilst raw smells like musky autumn leaves with notable floral and sweet highlights.

Once the tea has been washed by a 2 second gaiwan infusion it smells much stronger. Almost like roasted flowers and fermented fruit.


Using my gaiwan I will be adding 6g of tea and starting my steeps with 20 second infusions before increasing by adding an extra 10 seconds per subsequent steep.  Water is at 95°C.


Steep One – 20 seconds 

Orange brown in appearance with a very roasted nutty smell. Floral on the pallet with a hint of sweetness and a little dry. Despite being roasty there is a lightness there which restores balance between strength and freshness. It reminds me of cooked pecans.

Steep Two – 30 seconds 

Golden brown in colour (a touch darker than previously). Smoky baked bread aroma and taste with more pecan/chestnut nuttiness but now with more sweetness. Also a little rice like. 

Steep Three – 40 seconds 

My favourite steep so far. It’s mellow and roasted with more smokiness and a lot more nuttiness.. Definitely roasted chestnuts in flavour with similarities to malted fruit cake. 

Steep Four – 50 seconds 

Colour has weakened to a light golden brown. Subtle now in taste and much more floral, so much so there is a slight dry perfumey tinge to it. 

Steep Five – 60 seconds 

My last steep. Only hints of bread and nuts now with no sweetness to speak of. 


Overall this tea had roasted charm, sweetness, floralness, nuttiness, dryness, smoothness, freshness and fruitiness. At it’s best it mimicked a malted fruit cake/loaf which I find agreeable with this snowy weather. 




This specific brand is different to my previous experiences of Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) in that this was limited in it’s floral and sweet peaks. Instead it was much heavily roasted and dryer than what I am used to. It’s something that I would recommend trying to those who have yet to sample it’s delight. I give an overall rating of 8/10.





I hope you all had a happy Christmas and New Year. I apologies for my lack of posts around the holidays, I had planned to spend as much time with my husband and family while we had the time off work. 

Over the holidays I have been contemplating which tea’s to save in order to review them here on my blog. While I did receive some tea as gifts over Christmas it was mostly bagged and not what I was looking for but one gift was a beautiful clear glass gongfu teapot suitable for blooming tea’s and other loose tea’s. While I love to use my gaiwan’s I have also been enjoying using the gongfu and have taken to using it each night before going to bed. It only seemed fitting that today the tea that I review should be suitable for the gongfu and also something that little bit different. Then it hit me, I have a Green Anemone sample from Nothing But Tea and it was just sitting there on my shelf doing nothing. 


Green Anemone (also known as a tea rose or Mu Dan – White Peony) are tea leaves that have been sewn together by hand and layered to resemble a flower. It’s similar to a blooming flower tea as this is said to grow and blossom once emerged into hot water. 


The Anemone is a mixture of light and dark green leaves that are dry and crisp to the touch. It smells sweet and floral with a slight fruity edge. Based on the smell I would say that this was Bai Mu Dan tea which is a Chinese white tea suitable for multiple infusions. 



Since this is a white tea we will need to use hot but not boiling water so around 85°C/185°F.   Steeping time will be 4 minutes for the first infusion. 

Two minutes after the water has been introduced the Anemone has doubled in size to become more of a ball shape with beautiful leafy detail. 


The tea is pale yellow in colour with a sweet and vegetal fragrance, almost like sweet pea. 


My first steep is very pleasing, it’s naturally sweet and fresh with vegetal yet somewhat fruity tones. It’s also a little floral but it’s sweetness is what makes this tea. Think of a mixture between melon, cucumber and very weak jasmine all together in your mouth and you will have a good idea of what this tea tastes like. 

My second steep will be for 6 minutes. During the second infusion it has picked up a perfumey and almost toasty effect but still remains sweet. The stronger it gets the more fruity it becomes also. As far as the quality goes this example is fair, not the freshest I have had the fortune of drinking but good enough quality to still be enjoyable and suitable for every day. 


It was a very nice novelty to have a blooming version of Bai Mu Dan and it would be something I would buy again in the future. My rating for this would be an 8/10. My sample was a very reasonable £1.75 (roughly $3 USD) and for that price this makes a wonderful surprise at the end of any day.:)


No matter what I get up to at the moment I am constantly reminded that Christmas is on the very near horizon hurtling directly towards me. With so much to do and such little time I always find that at this time of year along with many of you I get stressed and perhaps a little short tempered. It’s fair enough really, once you grow up and learn about Santa and that magic and innocence gets taken away from you there is not much left to look forward to  for Christmas. I’m not sure about how other people celebrate but my family would always wake early in the morning so they could open presents (most of which left them unhappy due to shoddy gifts) before putting on dinner and stuffing yourself with super heavy food so that you can sleep all afternoon before waking up in the mess you created and realising that you have to clean it up. Not my favourite way to spend a holiday. This year it’s just me, my husband and our four cats though so it should be easy…but I didn’t promise to make a huge extravaganza for dinner this year. Whoops! 

It’s gotten to the point that I need something to take away that Scrooge element and bring me back to my senses while trying to make me remember what Christmas was like as a child . Back when Christmas meant that Santa thought you have been well behaved and you hope he got your list safely and in one piece. Short of driving myself mad or turning to a glass of wine each night I instead turn to a mug of Christmas themed tea. It would seem that a lot of places try to cater for tea needs around the holidays and offer their own brands to relax and enjoy. 

So far this year I have been drinking: 

Canton Tea – Christmas Blend   

It looks like a nice mixture with large chunks dominating it of what look like cinnamon bark, cloves, and red fruit with a few other twiggy bits. It smells deliciously of spicy orange.

Once brewed the tea creates a mellow citrus fragrance. A few sips in and I can detect waxy orange, cooling clove, fruity berries and spicy cinnamon all in one mouthful. It’s not too heavy in flavour and the Assam gives this blend a lovely dark and rich fullness to balance the different flavours out.

52 Teas – 12 Days of Christmas surprise box

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a mug full of ….. cotton candy tea. 

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me a mug full of ….. honeybush breakfast smoothie.

Della Terra – Candy Cane

It smells like creamy vanilla peppermint with a chocolate base. Delicious! My husband saw me sniffing and came to see what the fuss was about and even he said he wants one.

Tasting without milk/creamer or sweetener. Wow it’s simply amazing! Just as it smells, smooth and refreshing peppermint with creamy and fresh. It tastes like a candy cane but with more layers, not just the peppermint. The chocolate is more in the fragrance than taste as is the black tea but it gives more depth in flavour without much of the flavour. It’s so delicious!

iHeartTeas – Winter Frost (Formally Christmas 2009)

This blend is a mixture of finely chopped black tea leaves with some sort of finely chopped green/brown leaf and red candy looking pieces. It smells sweet and creamy:)

Once brewed this tea forms a dark brown liquid that smells sweetly of cinnamon.

My first few sips reveal earthy cinnamon with a sweet vanilla flourish followed by a breeze of refreshing mint. It’s a rather subtle blend overall but the ingredients compliment each other well.

If I was to say anything negative about this blend it would be that there is not enough candy cane in there for me and I was hoping it would be a little mintier.


At least with a mug of tea things don’t seem so bad.:) I hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas. 

Firstly I want to thank Infussion Tea for this generous sample and the opportunity for me to review it. I’m always honoured to receive free samples in exchange for honest reviews. :) 


What do Infussion Tea say about their Bai Mudan? “One of the most characteristic Chinese white tea, known as the white peony. First infusion reveal surprisingly fresh notes with no bitterness and pleasant sweetness. Second and third shows that we’re having a white tea with developing floral notes. You won’t find better priced Bai Mudan of this quality”. 

I do have some experience with Bai Mudan (also sometimes spelt Bai Mu Dan) and have tried and enjoyed samples from other companies. I remember this tea (in general) being light and refreshing with a little sweetness. 


Back to this sample, the leaves are a mixture of brown and green with a few silver tips. It looks as though the leaves were whole which includes stalk but have now crumbled slightly and broken into smaller pieces. They have a slight sweet and floral fragrance. 

Leaves before rinse 


Gaiwan Instructions: Tea 5g      Water Temp: 90ºC / 194ºF

5 steeps: rinse, 25s,45s,1m10s,1m40s,2m30s

Leaves after rinse 


Steep one – 25 seconds – I note a wonderful sweet pea fragrance and golden coloured tea soup. The flavour is sweet and floral with no bitterness, very refreshing.

Colour of tea soup


Steep two – 45 seconds – As well as sweetpea this has increased it’s floral tones and has gained a slight green, perhaps vegetal tang.

Steep three – 1 minute 10 seconds –  Deliciously floral and refreshing with smooth sweetness with honeyed tones. 

Steep four 1 minute 40 seconds – Decreasing slightly in flavour but remaining sweet and floral. Still no harshness but slightly vegetal, almost like a sweet cabbage.

Steep five – 2 minutes 30 seconds –  Very subtle with slight sweet floral if not mellow honeyed tones. 

Tea after steeps


Overall – This was a nice example of Bai Mudan in quality and flavour, not the freshest I have had but great for the price with an added bonus of cheap shipping. I would recommend this to anyone that is looking for a Bai Mudan for daily use or for beginners.

The tea is sweet, vegetal, refreshing, floral and delicate. A winning combination. Rating 8/10. 

A few months back Pekko Teas were having a half price sale so I placed my first order with them, they were kind enough to send me a 12g sample of their Young Pu Erh.


From looking at the tea I can tell it’s a Ripe Pu Erh abd as stated it’s young meaning it’s fermentation and production time was short.

For more information on Pu Erh visit this website, it tells in great and easy detail the difference between Raw and Ripe Pu Erh along with an introduction. Great for beginners, they explain it much better than I could.

Gaiwan Instructions: Tea:12g      Water Temp: Boiling
9 steeps: rinse twice,20s,30s,40s,50s,1m10s,1m30s,2m,2m30s,3m30s

Rinse twice before consuming, this opens up the leaves and creates more flavour.


Whilst raw the tea is made of dark brown leaves that have been rolled into short and thin, squiggly straws that smell soft yet earthy.

Once rinsed the leaves smell much stronger and look much darker in colour.


First Steep – 20 seconds – Strong and slightly astringent with robust earthiness.


Second Steep – 30 seconds – Smoothing slightly with strength and astringency. Also picking up a slight muskness yet sweetness.

Third Steep – 40 seconds – Slightly bitter but still musky. Very dark, very earthy.

Fourth Steep – 50 seconds – More mellow and musky but sweet, almost fruity or floral.

Fifth Steep – 1m10seconds – Much more palatable, not harsh or as strong and remains earthy and sweet with a hint of dryness.

Sixth Steep – 1m30seconds – I’m liking this more and more, the first few steeps were harsh and strong but now it’s more like the Pu Erh I love. Considering it’s so earthy it still tastes clean and fresh but the heavily fermented fruit sweetness is becoming stronger.

Seventh Steep – 2 minutes – The yea is lightening in colour. Very musky that lingers in the mouth with sweet after tastes.

Eight Steep – 2m30seconds – It’s completely mellowed down from the first steep, almost a completely different tea. Earthy now and dry.

Ninth Steep – 3 minutes – My final steep and I’m rather sad to see it go. The last flavours are earthy yet fermented.




Overall – I adore Pu Erh and favour the Ripe and aged varieties the most but this was a nice break from my Pu Erh norm. It started off very harsh, dry and astringent which had me thinking it was not my cup of tea (ha ha) but it turned itself around and became very similar to what I was expecting. It’s dark, fermented, slightly fruity and very musky/earthy.

I find Pu Erh great to drink in the evening as it gives me a little well needed boost. Thank you to Pekko Tea’s for this generous sample. More information on this tea from the company themselves can be found here.

Rating this as 7/10.


More back logging (naughty me) from the Canton Tea Club. What a treat this will be, Tie Guan Yin which translates to Iron Buddha is an Oolong that originates from China. An Oolong is a form of tea that lies somewhere between green tea and black tea, it is lightly oxidised and the leaves are hand rolled to form little squiggly ball shapes. This particular type of Oolong (Tie Guan Yin) is picked four times a year from Gande town, Anxi county, Fujian province, China with Autumn and Spring considered to produce the best leaves. Since not as many plants are produced in Autumn it’s tea is the more expensive. 

Instructions for a gaiwan:        5g of leaves                               90°c fresh water

Rinse the leaves with a 3 second steep and discard the water. 

I’m starting with a 10 second infusion and shall continue each subsequent steep with an additional 10 seconds. I shall do 5 steeps each and shall do both tea’s at the same time, battling each steeping round head to head. Let the Battle commence! 

The Spring Oolong is dark green and mint green in colour with a gentle floral fragrance. Once rinsed it smells fresh, green and floral.


The Autumn Oolong is mint green in colour with dark tinges that have a stronger, toasty yet still floral fragrance. Once rinsed it smells much toastier and darkly green and fresh.


Steep one – 10 seconds 

Spring (left) – Light yellow in colour. This tastes gentle and fresh with a subtle floral greenness. 

Autumn (right) – Light yellow in colour (lighter than Spring). This tastes perfumey and more mature and thickly green.


Steep Two – 20 seconds 

Spring – Picking up a little in flavour this has floral somewhat sweet pea tones. 

Autumn – Darkening in colour slightly to equal the Spring. This is still dark with fermented fruity highlights. 

Steep 3 – 30 seconds 

Spring – Looking a little greener now in comparison. More floral with sweetness. 

Autumn – More toasty but still fresh and fruity. 

Steep 4 – 40 seconds 

Spring – Still floral and green but also with a buttery smoothness.

Autumn – Super fruity and dark, almost like a toasted raisin.

Steep 5 – 50 seconds 

Spring (left) – Even stronger and very green tea like, remaining sweet and perhaps citrus like. 

Autumn (right) – Dry on the throat and becoming perfumey once more. 



Spring after steeps. 



Autumn after steeps.


Conclusion – It’s amazing to think that simply picking tea leaves in a different month could create such a difference and contrast in flavours. The Spring tea was very much like spring in the fact that it’s light, green and floral whilst the Autumn tea was again very much like Autumn meaning bold, fruity and dry. I can see the why the Autumn pickings are more expensive as what I experienced was different to what I usually experience with Oolongs. For that reason since I am used to Spring type Oolongs the most it was the one that I preferred but it would be solely personal as to which type you would pick. While the Autumn was my second choice I still enjoyed drinking and experiencing what it had to offer and I would certainly drink it again but it’s something I would have to be in the right mood for. 

So there we have it, the winner was – SPRING! My tea adventure today inspired me to draw with oil pastels, I can’t paint/draw well at all but it’s something I do purely for the enjoyment of it. Here is what I created.

Randomly drawn. 





Drawn from my memory of the Las Vegas dessert. I visited earlier this year. 


I’m starting my morning by backlogging my Canton Tea Club tea’s on my lazy Sunday morning.

About this tea: Forest White is grown by well known husband and wife tea growers Eva lee and Chiu Leong in the forest around the Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. From each plant the top bud and first two leaves are picked, withered on a traditional bamboo mat and solar dried.


I will be using my gaiwan with the following steeping instructions: Wash the 5g of tea before the first infusion for 3 seconds and discard the liquid. Start with a 15 second infusion and add 5-10 seconds on for each subsequent steep.


The leaves before their rinse are dry and crisp in a multitude of brown, green and silver colours that smell slightly woody.

After the rinse the leaves smell sweetly green  and floral.



Steep 1 – 15 seconds

The liquid is pale honey coloured with a sweet woody fragrance. The first few sips are crisp and fresh with sweet floral tones. It’s light and delicate with an edge of earthiness.

Steep 2 – 25 seconds

Still nice and smooth with a sweet pea finish. Also becoming slightly perfumey.

Steep 3 – 35 seconds

The liquid has darkened in colour slightly to a toasty gold. Slightly woodsy with fermented fruit tones still with crisp freshness.

Steep 4 – 45 seconds

Picking up on the fruit tones but losing some of the sweetness and become woodier and stronger.

Steep 5 – 55 seconds

Now it’s almost vegetal and edging back to sweet pea toned sweetness.


Steep 6 – 65 seconds

Now the liquid is pale yellow/gold. I can’t detect much other than pure sweet pea tones with a smooth floral finish. Jasmine like but sweeter in taste.


Overall this is a very nice white tea and excellent quality. It was tasty, fresh, and fulfilled everything that it promises. I have tried a few different tea’s from Eva lee and Chiu Leong and each time I have been impressed, I would recommend this tea and any other tea from them. Thank you Canton Tea.



Late autumn always makes me crave Oolong tea and it just so happens that week 6 of the Canton Tea Club is 10g of Hawaiian Makua Oolong. In the 1990’s Dr Francis Zee began to research the possibility of growing tea in Hawaii and in short he found that not only does tea grow well in Hawaiian soil but that it also gives unique flavours to the tea grown there. Now a days there are many Hawaiian tea growers and companies but the tea I have here ‘Hawaiian Makua Oolong’ is produced on the Manua Loa Estate on the slopes of Kileauea Volcano by Mike Riley who is a leading Hawaiian Oolong tea grower. 

ImagePlease note that this picture was taken from Canton Tea’s website. This is mike in one of his tea fields. 


Instructions for a gaiwan: 5g of tea          80°C water

Rinse the tea for three seconds and discard the infused water. Oolong is suitable for a few steeps and I would suggest 6 steeps. Start with 10 seconds and increase each steep by 5-10 seconds depending on how strong you find the tea. 

The tea leaves whilst raw is dark green and brown in colour and curled into c shapes. They smell earthy yet sweetly floral. 


Once rinsed the tea leaves smell buttery and a little toasted. 


Steep 1 – 10 seconds 

Golden yellow in colour with an earthy and floral scent. The first few sips are toasty but fresh with a little sweetness. The notes state this tea to be ‘honey toned’ and I can understand why, it’s an earthy sort of honey. 


Steep 2 – 20 seconds 

Much toastier in smell and also picking up grassy freshness almost vegetal in flavour. Still very much buttery/honeyed but not as sweet. 

Steep 3 – 30 seconds 

Increasing again with the toasted flavour and earthy freshness. The tea leaves are also starting to unravel and become brighter in colour. 

Steep 4 – 40 seconds 

Now I’m noticing the buttery taste more and the sweetness has just about gone. Also the toasted tang is weakening. 

Steep 5 – 50 seconds 

The brew is weakening down now in colour and flavour. Very green tea like with buttery and gentle grassy tones. 

Steep 6 – 60 seconds 

Smell is very subtle but toasty. Buttery and slightly floral tones.

Overall this tea was very fresh and flavourful which makes a nice example of Hawaiian Oolong. It’s not sold on Canton Tea’s website but they do have some for sale, you just have to contact them.

This tea even comes approved by my kitty Ivory. :) 





I’m super excited about tomorrow as I will be off to London for the night for a music gig. An old favourite of mine (Hell Is For Heroes) is playing their first album in it’s entirety and I got tickets as a treat for my husband. It’s only an hour train ride from where I live and I hated London the first time I visited because it’s too busy for me but I am putting that aside. 

I was hoping to do an article about re using tea for other purposes such as scented tea cushions, scented tea candles etc but someone I know beat me to it so that is now on hold. To fill in the gaps I am doing another review. 


Wu Ling 武陵 Oolong Tea from Tea From Taiwan

6 steeps: rinse,25s,35s,45s,55s,65s,75s           7g tea (sample pack) 100ºC/212ºF




Pre rinse: The buds are average sized and have what look like brown stems. Not much smell but gentle flowers can be detected.

After rinse: The tea itself is dark green with a few brown tinges. It smells very floral and slightly buttery/milky and grassy but fresh. 

Steep one – 25 seconds 

The smell is slightly floral and the colour is pale yellow. Some lovely flavours with the first steep, slightly floral and grassy. It reminds me of a woods in the summer time. 

Steep two – 35 seconds 

The fragrance has increased slightly but still smells floral but with added grassy tones. The flavour is now also stronger but not by much, it’s refreshing and gentle overall. I am getting a new buttery perfume flavour. 

Steep three – 45 seconds 

Very similar to steep three in all aspects. Now though there is a very strong after taste of grass/seaweed. 

Steep four – 55 seconds 

The tea soup is now a little darker in colour and smells somewhat like floral perfume. Adding sweetness now to the flavour and still grassy. 

Steep five – 65 seconds 

The flavour is turning a little weaker now, much like my first two steeps. All I can taste now is  weak flowers and a little grass/seaweed. 

Steep 6 – 75 seconds 

Virtually no fragrance at all now. It’s gone back to the first steep, slightly floral but keeping it’s edge of grassy sweetness. 




Overall – This is my second sample from Tea From Taiwan and I must say that so far I am impressed with the quality. I did prefer the first sample I tried but this was still very nice and I am glad I had the opportunity to try it. In a nut shell this Oolong is green and tastes like flowers but with a sweet and grassy edge that get stronger during it’s peak steeps. 





Green tea is a huge part of everyday life in certain parts of the world such as China and Japan. There are many different varieties of green tea (such as Long Jin, Gunpowder, Matcha, Sencha, Mao Feng etc) and each type is unique in it’s own way. 

How is green tea made? 

Every type of tea (black, green, white etc) are made from the same type of plant which is called Camellia Sinensis. It’s the production of those plants leaves that change the tea’s type. Green tea is  takes very little oxidization during it’s development process which keep it green and fresh. In order to do this the leaves that have been picked must be either steamed/pan fried or rolled or dried. The fresh tea leaves get set aside and spread out for a few hours after picking to ensure the water reduces slowly during that time to help the drying process. This is also the process that all yellow and non perfect leaves get taken out and discarded. 


The next stage is the most crucial stage when you consider the quality and flavours of the tea. 

Pan frying/steaming – The tea is put inside a large, flat pan that can hold roughly 400g. From there the electric pan is heated and the leaves are moved around to make sure they do not burn. This slowly takes out most of the water and dries it enough to stop full oxidization, leaving them green and fresh. 

Rolling – Leaves are rolled into your basic pearl/ball styles to make the drying process easier. Pearls/balls are also easier for some people to brew and keep stored. 

Drying – This stage adds colour and flavour. The tea is put into a large bowl similar to the pan fryer and has hot, dry steam that washes over the leaves to finish the tea to perfection. 

Why do green tea’s vary so much in price?

 In most online tea shops you can compare the same type of tea with different qualities that reflect the price. Most of this is due to the type of leaves used and the location of the plant that they have been taken from. 
For example: If you imagine a stalk of natural green tea (as shown below in basic form) it will have leaves at the bottom which are usually larger and smaller newer leaves at the top. The top leaves for a lot of tea’s are considered to be the tastiest and freshest so they are picked separately for the finer quality tea. Then the middle leaves will be chosen for a good quality and it will continue in that way until you get to the bottom which are the oldest leaves. 


Some green tea’s you get are cheaply are purely due to the type of leaves used to make it. For the most part you get what you pay for. 

Why drink green tea? 

Aside from the flavour and large variety I would recommend green tea for anyone that struggles to drink enough water each day. I personally find it hard to drink the necessary 2-3litres of water a day that are required to regenerate our bodies cells. Although tea is not as pure as water for something like green tea it’s still natural enough to help towards your daily recommendation. It is also believed to be good for lowering cholesterol levels and contains anti oxidants. 

I hope that this information gives you a new insight towards green tea and a greater understanding of the making process. I’m happy to answer any questions that anyone may have. :) 


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