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from Crimson Lotus Tea
This is a sheng pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea. For those of you who have been wondering about words like “sheng” and “shou”—or their translation, “raw” and “ripe”—pu-erh is a tea that ferments over time, much like cheese and wine. The color and the flavors deepen and become more distinct. 
Sheng, or raw, pu-erh, is the original form of pu-erh, like acoustic guitars. It’s prepared, fermented, pressed, and then set aside to age—months, years, even decades.
Shou pu-erh undergoes an additional step that simulates that aging process using added microbes, heat, and humidity. The result is a tea that is significantly darker, and earthier right off the bat.
I had purchased stuff that was called “pu-erh” before I started this current journey, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. It seemed bitter and kind of gross. But then I learned how to brew it properly, got some actual good teas, and discovered that I liked it. Initially, I also liked the shou pu-erhs better: with earthier, robust, less bitter flavor and dark chocolate colors, they definitely appealed to me.
Over the last months, sheng has grown on me. The flavors are more subtle. I’ve begun to recognize which of the bitter flavors will mellow with time, and so I’ve been running through samples of sheng to age for the future. Sunlicker is one of the samples I’ve tried.
This is an incredibly pleasant tea: sweet, subtle, and delightfully fragrant. It’s not the best tea I’ve ever had, but it layers sweetness from beginning to end. It’s at the stage of life (early) where you have to be very careful not to overbrew it lest it turn bitter, but I have high hopes for this tea in the future.

Tea budgets
There is a question I am sure some of you are wondering about: Courtney, how much money do you spend on tea?
The answer to this is very simple: As much money as I have in my account. It is also very simple in another way: Less than my husband spends on Starbucks. For the good of my finances, I have enacted a tea budget.
Me and budgets have not always gotten along. I am what you would call “demand resistant” meaning that I don’t like doing what I am told to do, even if the person telling me to do things is myself. (This is…immensely frustrating, I have to be cajoled into everything, argh.) I also have ADHD, so tracking how much money I spend on a regular basis is totally impossible. (This is not a request for you to suggest me your favorite tracking software: I love that it works for you but through experience, I know that it does not work for me.)
But I do have a fairly simple solution to budgeting, and ever since I hit on this 13 years ago, I’ve found that I’m actually very good at budgeting. It works like this: Have twenty bank accounts.
This number is not an exaggeration. I have twenty bank accounts. Things that I will unthinkingly spend a fortune on? I buy out of a specific bank account. Tea? Is purchased from the tea bank account. Books? Purchased from the book bank account. These accounts are automatically replenished every month. If I run out, I’m done. Ta da—no tracking, no thinking, automatic budget.
I also have accounts that I use for saving for separate purposes. For example, I get a break on car insurance if I pay it yearly instead of monthly, so I automatically deduct the amount of insurance divided by 12 from my account every month, so it “feels” monthly, and then just pay it out of the account where I’m saving it. 
I also have accounts where I save money that I don’t want to think of as “mine”—there’s one for taxes (as a freelance author, taxes aren’t deducted, so I have to religiously set aside money) and there’s also one to give away.

Tasty treats (again!)
Tasty Treats
raising emergency funds for trans kids and their families in Texas
I know I’ve already told you about this, but we are now in the final week of this ebook bundle. It is going away forever on October 3rd
This bundle of 13 books, including The Duke who Didn’t by yours truly, is available anytime you donate at least $25 to the HEA for Trans Kids’ page for the Campaign for Southern Equality. Within 24 hours after you donate, volunteers will go through and send you instructions about how you can download this bundle.

Iron widow by xiran jay zhao
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I have had this book on my TBR since it came out, and this is the day it floated to the top of the list. The premise: Pacific-Rim like humans piloting mecha in pairs, but with multiple added twists. One of those twists is this: the mecha are piloted by women and men, who each contribute qi to the piloting endeavor. But everyone knows that women are weaker in qi than men, and the inevitable result of most of these piloting endeavors is that the women expend all their qi and die and then men are the celebrated pilots who survive.
Wu Zetian, our main character, is on a quest to avenge her older sister who was murdered by one of the pilots, so she signs up to be one of the expendable women (called “pilot concubines”) who co-pilot the mecha, and ends up murdering him in an unexpected way.
From there, the story sprawls out in delightful fashion. The world building is intense and angry and intricate, taking shots at how patriarchy builds systems that chew up women and make vital people into expendable pawns. There’s a true threesome (not a love triangle), immense battles both with the creatures called Hunduns that are attacking and must be fought off, and internally, with world building that slowly unfolds so that accepted truths are uncovered and turned into myth.
The book ends on a cliffhanger and the second one isn’t out yet, so I’m just going to look starry eyed and hope for the best.
Get Iron Widow from:

SEE YOU next week.
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