Sipping Joyfully

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I love fall.  I also love that I have all this time between now until the holidays to revel in all of these wonderful teas.  And believe the best is here and the best will still be coming.  It’s going to be a perpetual thing.  Well unless I find a stinker.

And this week is anything but a stinker.   But while I tend to do a decent amount of repeats from some of my favorite teas and companies, I’ve forgotten about my go to’s and my old reliable’s.  Old reliable’s sounds like such a demeaning term.  But that’s not what I’m intending at all.  But how on earth that the last time and only time I talked about Tazo was in January of 2015.

Just become something is so accessible and available doesn’t mean we should take it for granted.  As we know, Tazo is most likely in a store or shoppe minutes from you, and that’s something to be celebrated and appreciated.   I’m going to show my appreciation for two beautiful teas that I just discovered over the weekend, the Organic Baked Cinnamon Apple and the Sweet Cinnamon Spice. Yes these two gems not express what’s good about fall, but what’s good and beautiful about life.

First up, the Cinnamon Apple, once again demonstrates how good rooibos is as a tea.  My ever growing of rooibos teas posts can be found here, but before I digress, I want to explain just how amazing this tea is.   Not only is there rooibos but that other charming taste is chamomile.  To blend these two teas together to create something so delightful is a work of art.

But of course you can’t forget the two featured flavors, apple and cinnnamon.  If you’re into these flavors as a part of your daily breakfast, say via oatmeal, an apple on its own, or throwing cinnamon on top of anything (I absolutely adore cinnamon and try to add it to whatever I possibly can within reason), this is another reason to celebrate.

I enjoyed this in the comfort of my friends’ house, with no added treats necessary at all.  I’m all for pairing a tasty snack, pastry, or yummy piece of food with my tea, but sometimes a tea is best had alone.   I let the bag steep for a while, and kept in my cup, while drinking,  The chamomile and rooibos are the perfect counterbalance for the apple and cinnamon.  This tea is magical.

Not to be outdone is the Cinnamon Spice.  This one I liked but it had a little more kick to it, where it was one of those semi-rare instances where I had take the bag out of my cup because it was a little sweeter than I expected.  And don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this for different reasons.  This is perfect for the colder weather months as well.  And I suspect I will have a newer found appreciation for it then.   But it still warmed my heart, my stomach, and my soul.  There’s rooibos in here too, along with a whole bunch of other goodness such as licorice root, orange peel, almond extract, and of course, the cinnamon.

I think I would give the edge to the Cinnamon Apple just for the simplicity of it.  But I would highly recommend either for your peaceful, change of temperature, or any other celebration that makes you feel good, and makes you feel at peace.  Both of these teas did just that.  And being in the friendly confines of a pals house with some lovely company of dogs will make any tea that much better.   No dog pictures here.  I’ll save that for a Pet Blog, if I feel inspired to do so.

Tazo has so many incredible teas that there’s no time to get them all.  Well maybe there is.  But it won’t be that long before I get to them again.  If I discover some more gems that fit with whatever time of year it is, I’ll be sure to give them their proper due.

Here is more about Tazo, all the good that they do, and their contact information.

I adore fall, and I can’t wait to see what I get into next week.  I look forward to sharing it with you.

And never mind what I said earlier, here’s some fun dog pics!

Take good care and have a blessed one.

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Autumn In Annapolis 2.0

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Time just keeps on moving.  It’s really starting to feel like fall, with a few days feeling bright and sunny.  That sounds like Maryland weather.  That sounds like a return engagement to Annapolis.  Well it’s actually just part two of what I started last week…

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I wish I could write about Spice & Tea Exchange every week.  I’ve written about them quite a bit (those stories can be found here), and it never gets old, and their seasonal teas, along with all their teas, continue to amaze, dazzle, inspire, and inspire some more.

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This week I change up the infusers and this one seems a little more light hearted, less serious, and will make anyone feel good.   The Duck Infuser is one you want to put in your pocket for safe keeping, because it’s just so adorable and so worthy of protection.  And it’s adorable resting spot is fit for a king, or a duckie!  Yay!

But it also provided one of the most effortless and enjoyable steeping and sipping experiences I can recall.  They’re all fun but this one seemed to flow just all the more organically.

First up is the Caramel Apple Tea.  This once again first presents itself as a tea loaded with fruits and spice that you might think would take away from what a tea is all about.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  When I initially smelled this tea I smelled loads of cinnamon and apple, but didn’t take into account this is a black tea from China and India combined.

This was absolutely stunning, visually and on sipping.    How pretty is that color?  I got more of the black tea then any of all the fall flavors.  And that’s just fine with me.  It makes sense, since there’s loads of caffeine, which is helping the thoughts and ideas flow a little quicker and with more alertness.  And it’s all natural my friends.

This was appropriately served with an apple round danish.  More for display but it tasted great too, and fits perfectly with the fall theme.

Next up, is the one that intrigued me the most.  But not in a way that outshines the other three limited time teas.  It’s just that the Custard Tart Herbal Tea is a melange of fall and those colors that you would hope would match the picture.  This is quite yellow.   That would be the butternut squash pieces along with maybe a few other things.   I dig that there are pecans in it.   This is creativity at its finest.

And no my tea did not brew as yellow as a butternut squash soup.  It didn’t actually smell as bold as when I first smelled the jar at their Annapolis store.  But when you’ve gotten so many scents from not just the teas, but getting a whiff of their sugars, the spices, and seasonings, can cause your mind may go delirious, it may think you’re getting something you’re not.  This is not a knock, this is just my observation and experience.

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Nevertheless, this was another enjoyable one.  There’s a lot going on here, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger.  persimmon, orange, allspice, among so much more.  Everything brings value, even if you or I aren’t able to taste anything and everything at once or after reach respective and upcoming sip.   With all this goodness, it would make me sad for anything to get lost in the shuffle.

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A coconut custard danish was served for this round.

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With that being said, I felt inspired to add a little Pumpkin Pie Sugar I talked about last week, to my cup.  And it blended perfectly.  Fall and life is all about adding fun stuff to the equation.  I wouldn’t ordinarily add anything on top of my tea, but I wanted to experiment, and the Spice & Tea Exchange is so good with ideas and suggestions.  This one fell in my lap.  And I’m grateful for that.

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But what I’m most grateful is my friends helping out with the accessories.  Once again thanks so much to my dear friend Rebecca for providing the Annapolis based mug, and my new friend Sara who works at one of the coolest stores in town, Local By Design, for suggesting the Blue Crab Mug.  They’re pictured this week as well as featured in the other two seasonal teas I reviewed from last week.

To learn more about  Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you. Thankfully, you can order everything online, if there isn’t  a shoppe near you.

And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  If you get a chance to visit, either if you’re local or on vacation, I think this is well worth a visit.  You can get lost easily, as I did, as there’s so many levels and rooms to this place.  It’s loaded with substance on the surface and in a spiritual sense.   As promised I’ve added more picture for your visual pleasure.

It’s so early in the season.  I have some idea of where we go from here, and got lots of time and lots of teas to figure out what’s next.  This was so fun, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from the gems of Annapolis.

I sincerely hope you’re enjoying your fall, your day, your week, and everything in general.  This is that warm and fuzzy time of year, that might make you feel, well…

Have a blessed one, and take good care.

CustardTartXOXO

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Autumn In Annapolis

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This is where we get to my favorite time of year when talking about teas.   With the iced teas somewhat behind us, it’s time to focus on fall and all the adorable flavors, aromas, spices, and the other glorious entities that come with the change of the seasons.

I’ve stated countless times my love for Annapolis, and it’s not something I will grow tired of.   Walking around Main Street makes me so happy.  It’s been like this since I was a kid, and as I’ve gotten older, I still feel like one at times  It has that colonial, European, and authentic feel that is slipping away in many other parts of the area.  But thankfully the heart and character remains.  And I hope that integrity remains forever, or close to it.  Whichever comes first!

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The Spice & Tea Exchange has a centrally located and charming location in Downtown Annapolis.  They’ve been so good to me over the course of my blogging.  My past stories can be found here.

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I always look forward to the changing of the seasons, because they always have a few limited time teas that embody all that’s good about the time of year and where we are.

I’m going to split this into two parts.  If I really wanted to milk this, I would cut it into fourths, but that would be serious overkill, and before you now it, it’s…. Nah Not yet.

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There’s no sequential order or preferential treatment being given to one tea over the other.  But the two I’m going with this week, will be the more conventional teas (on paper).  Heck they’re all unique, and if this week is any indication, they’re all going to be tremendous.

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But I will get to all the teas and the infusers, this week and next.  I promise it’ll be worth it!

First up is the Spice Orchard Oolong.  All the ingredients are shown above.  What really stands out for me is how understated this tea is.   I’m willing to bet this will be one of the more simple fall-like teas I’ll sip this season.  And with all the creative flavors out there, this will be ironically refreshing in hindsight.

But in foresight it’s fantastic.  Yes I had a feeling this and all these teas would be glorious.  Yes there’s a bias but there’s so much more to Spice & Tea Exchange than the tea itself.  It’s become a part of me and something I look forward to when the seasons change.

Plus, I just adore Oolong tea.  With the flavors of cinnamon, pear, and ginger, along with apple pieces, this is a charming segue of the change of seasons.  Those apple pieces are charming in itself.  Yes I had a dry piece of two and got a guilty pleasure out of it  No need to feel guilty.  It’s beautiful.  This tea is beautiful.

And it was brewed beautifully too.   In my love of affair with this place, I can’t help but get more infusers.   The Tuffy Steeper expands and contracts to your liking and brewing purposes.   I wonder if it had any bearing on how great this tea tasted.  Every element of the universe helps.

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So what about this endearing blue crab mug?  I want to thank Sara from Local By Design for suggesting something so wonderful.  It may not fit in with the season, but it fits with the Annapolis theme.  Both stores are footsteps of each other on Main Street.

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Local By Design is just its own universe of a store.  I can’t describe it.  I mean I can but I wouldn’t do it justice.   I added some photos this week, and more will come next week.  A little teaser now… Seriously, this place makes me so happy.

I also want to thank my dear friend Rebecca who provided this magnificent Annapolis themed mug and this adorable spoon, also from Local By Design, to add some pizzazz to this next tea.

Well here we are. I’m embracing all the pumpkin stuff.  I swear it start earlier every year.  Before you know it, pumpkin season will start as soon as pumpkin season ends.  And with all that’s going on, I’m happy with that right now.

The Pumpkin Chai Latte is not as overpowering as I thought it would be.  When you think chai latte, you might thing too much flavor.  No.  This had just enough.   And having a tea with cinnamon back-to-back seemed like the only way to go.  It’s glorious, gorgeous, and full of pumpkin fun.  This simple black tea with all its additions is a winner from now until this tea goes out of circulation.  Yes these are limited time offer teas.

I thought I tasted a little whip cream too.

When I saw four teas were being sold, I knew that buying three would mean I get a free sugar.  And in serendipitous fashion I grabbed the Pumpkin Pie Sugar. To add a little kick, I added some to this tea, and what a difference it made.  It’s a concoction of pumpkin on pumpkin that once again might not be put into words.  I loved it and I’m pretty sure you will too.   And surprise, suprise it has cinnamon as well.  Add in some nutmeg and ginger and welcome to Autumn.

I’m embracing it and I can’t wait to see where next week takes us.

I want to give a huge thank you to Jessica at Spice & Tea Exchange for being so courteous during my most recent visit.

The cookies that you see are just another way of celebrating the change of seasons.  Happy Fall Everyone!

To purchase these teas click here.   And to purchase any of the fine teas click here.   Yes, shopping online is a beautiful thing sometimes.

For more on Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you.

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And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  But if you’re local to the area, I highly suggest a visit. It’s one I’ll always remember and look forward to visiting again.

It’s early October and we’re just getting started.  I got two more teas and more local stuff to embrace and celebrate.

I look forward to it.

XOXOXSpoon4

Peace Be With You.

XOXOXSpoon5

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Sunday In The Summer Tea Party

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The calendar still reads September.  My love affair with Infused Tea Company concludes (for now) with what have been my favorite of the three.  Actually I can’t say that for sure. Each visit over the weekend told a different story, yet it also told something similar.

After knowing what to expect, my third visit was anything but ordinary and predictable. I just love not knowing what I’m going to order ahead of time.  A large menu with so many options helps.  It helps with expanding my palate, my horizons, and ultimately making this another endearing and perhaps out-of-body experience.

Saying I love tea is an understatement.   It’s been a part of my life since the beginning.  It will always be a part of me.  Whoever invented tea and the whole experience has created a way of life, that is way past the point of cultural.  It’s just a part of so many of us.  It’s become commonplace that I’m hoping the majority of us appreciate how beautiful the ritual is.  Because tea with friends, with family, with snacks, or with nothing at all is something so genuine that words will not always paint a picture of this joyous thing.

What also brings me joy is Matcha.   And over the past couple of years, via this blog, and other wonderful situations, it’s also become a staple of my life.

And this leads me to the conclusion of what has been a Summer to remember.  This was back in June, but the Infused Tea Company of my other adopted city St. Petersburg, FL.

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I didn’t even need to look at the menu this time.  On display for everyone to see (well it was kind of understated all the same) was a sign for Matcha Lemonade. I may have seen it the day before and kept it in on file, or this was a spontaneous and welcome surprise.

What a surprise this was.

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You might think that the dichotomy of flavors with how the powdery green the matcha tastes against the sweetness of the lemonade would be a disaster.  Not even close.  This blend worked perfectly.  And it worked that at least for me, it’s not something you’re going to drink quickly.  I took enough sips and enjoyed my time outside, that it felt like time stood still, I could do this all day, and I think I did do this all day.  Timeless..

I got another pastry to for display, and to complement my enchanting beverage. Seriously, how photogenic does this all look?

And once again the views and the weather could not have been better.  We’re in the 80’s to 90’s on this June day, which ironically wasn’t technically in the Summer.  Not that big of a detail but now that we’re in Autumn, the temperatures are basically the same, and will be like this for a while.  So while here in Maryland, lemonade and iced tea may begin to phase out, in beautiful Florida, you can have everything.  And everything is everything.

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But this Matcha Lemonade was one of those spiritually healing and invigorating kinds of drinks.  Again, I don’t know the exact words to give it, but this was special.  I can imagine having this at home, or somewhere local, still finding it special but maybe not having the same memorable experience.  Not everything is nor should it be.

This was my last day of vacation.  It was bittersweet (and I don’t mean the lemonade) but also a feeling of calmness came over me.  It was time to go home.  I saw some great friends, did some great things, ate some yummy food, and have some of the best tea experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

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The bikers I mentioned from last week were back and the crew looked bigger.  That’s a great life and that’s how I’m told the Gulf Coast does.  It’s all about outdoor activities and living a healthy lifestyle.  I was living vicariously through them, but in a way I was living vicariously through myself.   Oh man… I miss this city so much.

That’s it for now.  If there’s time I’ll throw in another post from this amazing place.  I love St. Petersburg so much.  I love Infused Tea Company so much.  I’m so glad I was invited to visit, and so grateful I got to experience such an amazing tea scene.

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I’ll be back and can only hope the experiences I’ve had thus far (my Florida experiences can be found here and here), can come close or maybe even exceed what I’ve seen thus far.

Here is the link to purchase their awesome teas, their accesories, and their location for those local or visiting.

Thank you so much Infused Tea Company, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.   It’s been a glorious time.

Fall and pumpkin themed teas as we head towards October, begin next week.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Saturday Afternoon Tea Party

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This is not quite the go home post for summer and my (and perhaps yours) summer vacation.   We’re not seeing displays for autumn and the teas, snacks, and everything else that fits that mold.   But one thing at a time, and I’ve still got some sunshine and those happy things to talk about.

This is part two of what looks like another trilogy, that will either be completed next week or right before.

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When I fall in love with a place, I tend to overstay my welcome.  At least in my head I think so.  I’m sure any business appreciates repeats business, and the Infused Tea Company can have take all my money and all my patronage it wants.  And especially if it keeps the amazing teas and just as important, the amazing energy going.

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Last week I wrote about the night time scene in St. Pete, and how Infused Tea sits right in the heart of all the action, and all the atmosphere on Beach Drive.   Beach Drive and the charming streets nearby are just that, so charming.

Now my Saturday morning visit was self fulfilling and intentional.  I went for a run and I knew would stop over here, along with a few other places.  In what matter, in what route, or any other details would be presented to me as I drew closer.   Needless to say, I did get to visit some other shoppes, but I found a cozy, scenic, and spectacular view of Beach Drive.

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Even though the city is growing, there’s still plenty of parks, trees, green, and all the other good stuff that makes this planet great.  I felt so happy and felt as content as I’ve been in some time.

I said all this without actually talking about the tea, and pastry.  Yes, pastry!

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I’m going solely on memory and romanticism.  The Strawberry Pear which can be found in the Fruit Blends category, is an all year tea, heated or iced.  The strawberry and pear is a beautiful blend of summer fruits.  I love pear and don’t have enough of it in general. The apple makes it perfect for the fall.  But in St. Pete, in Florida, this is fortunately a tea you can have year round, hot or iced.   As someone who can appreciate the changing of the seasons here in Maryland, I can also appreciate having a consistently warm temperature that allows you to eat and drink the same (or different) meals without having to adapt to much to the change in temperature.   But to each is own!

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This was another awesome tea.  And being in a place of peace and harmony only made this that much better.   There were lots of people walking, running, and cycling in the area.  And many stopped over to enjoy some tea and hang out with their friends.  It doesn’t get any better than that.    The cyclists in particular had quite a large crew, and made me think about wanting to join a club like this.   Ah this is so fun.

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I’m recalling so many cool things, details, and experiences within this hour plus span, that I nearly forgot if I hadn’t written this out.  And surely more things will come to mind, but some things are best to remain with me, with you, and within this thing called life that we can recall later and hopefully smile.

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This was one of those uniquely positive experiences that words are not going to do justice.  This was a different Saturday morning for me than I’m used to.  Well of course, its vacation.  I’m sure that magnified the intensity of what I was thinking and feeling, but I always want to think something bigger and magical is going on here.

I like that.

For my running history of this most inspirational of tea scenes in Florida and St. Pete, they’re all here.

As always, for more on Infused Tea, here is their story, their location if you’re local and/or visiting, and a link to purchase to purchase all their awesome teas online.

One more story in this trilogy is coming.   This will either be next week, or maybe even sooner.

Take good care.

Ideen

Friday Night Tea Party

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I think I said last week (and throughout the past few months) that my admiration for the tea scene on the Gulf Coast of Florida (my growing fondness can be found here and here) can not be expressed enough in words, in thoughts, and in anything else.  It’s a time of my life I will always remember, and will find it hard to forget.  I will always appreciate this five days of my life that has brought on a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of joy.

And yes, it all revolves around tea.

Friday Night means different things to a lot of people.  For some it’s a night of rest before getting ready for a fun weekend of doing fun things, for some it’s happy hour. a night out, and in this instance it was one of the great tea drinking experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

It was my first time going with my friend to Downtown St. Petersburg.   Now St. Pete has a lot of charming places to check out, away from the small but growing downtown area. And after a couple of days me and my friend made the short and scenically awesome trek to Beach Drive.

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The intent was to check out a nice bar or two, or three, if you catch what I’m saying. Maybe a glass of wine, or a nice dinner.  I think my indecisive, restless, and adventurous spirit was thinking something else more organic on this night.

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After doing a lap or two, my eyes were wide open and my excitement hit a whole different level when we discovered the Infused Tea Company.  This place made me so happy.

If I recall correctly, we made it with minutes to spare.  At this point I’m thinking it’s nearly 9 pm.  But I had enough time to take pictures, smell some loose teas, and appreciate all the teas, pots, kettles, infusers, pastries, and everything else I could absorb and revel in these few moments.

I want to thank our teaologist, Ang, for being so kind of patient with us.   I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for in terms of a tea.   In mid-June I was actually contemplating something warm.  What on Earth was I thinking?  It wouldn’t have been the worst thing. I would just have to have saved this post for later in the year.   But time is of the essence, as it was on this night.

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Ang, per his suggestion mixed the Mango Tango and the Tahitian Dream for me, to make the most exquisite, refreshing, and enlightening blend of flavors, inspiration, and soul in this gem of an iced tea.   My friend agreed, the universe agreed, as did I.  Two thumbs up, five stars, and all the other superlatives you can throw at it.  Honestly, the tea could have been mediocre and probably would have tasted much better simply because of the service, the decor, the positive energy, and simply being a harmonious place I hadn’t experienced before.

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The Mango Tango with its pineapple, mango, and orange pieces are perfect not just for the Summer but I believe any time of year.  And in Florida, all the time is an understatement.  The Tahitian Dream adds not only more pineapple, but passion fruit, and strawberry as well.  Does it get any better?  Maybe, but not on this night.

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This is why I made two more visits to this amazing place during the course of my holiday. And if time allows, I will get to them in the following two weeks, or in a rare instance I may break tradition and post them on different days.  I’m preparing for the changing of the seasons while still wanting to honor how amazing all three experience were.  I’m so happy just thinking and writing about it.

This was at night, the day experiences are a surreal enjoyment all its own.

And I look forward to sharing those fun times with you soon.  But I can’t stress this enough, this was amazing, and I’m grateful I got to share with a close friend.  And I fondly remember my friend was happy for me as well.

For more on Infused Tea Company, here is their story. and their location for those close to the area, or will be visiting.

The good news is you can order their fantastic teas and accessories online.  Many of those accessories are displayed in this post.

I could go on all day, or I could just go on to the next post.   How about both?

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To be continued…

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Peace Be With You,

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What A Great Summer

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I write that not saying that Summer is at its end (because we’re not even close), but it’s appropriate to get to the best of now.  And it’s one of those rare instances where I keep thinking a bonus post will come up, either on a Tuesday or another day.

The tea culture and the tea scene (I’ve said it before) in the Gulf Coast of Florida is just something so spectacular.  I’ve written about a few here and here, and honestly could write about a half dozen more stories if time, the season, the universe, and more importantly, myself allows.  I’m going to allow that.

My trip to St. Petersburg, FL and the surrounding areas in June just gives me more of a smile and more of an appreciation for an organic and just memorable experience.  Just for the tea alone, I’m so grateful for my time there.  It’s as simple of a cup of tea to make me smile and sometimes even give me more of a sly grin, then those warm and fuzzies, and as I write this, goose bumps.

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And the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park makes me so happy.  I say make because I’m coming back.  It’s over for the year but just means I have to come back.  I must come back.   Let me not get ahead of myself.

I promised to write about the three tea experiences I had at the market, and this is number two (number one can be found here), and they all stand out for their own blessed and harmonious reasons.

For this one I’ll write about the vendor I saw seconds from within walking in.

The Bay Coffee & Tea Company embodies what a market, supporting farmers, and supporting local is all about.   After I purchased my Mango Berry Iced Tea I did some research about this company, and took some mental notes, but when you’re on vacation you’re not going to remember everything and not going to experience everything you either planned or intended.  I didn’t plan for this but the universe brought me here with all the good intentions.  This makes me feel so good

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And the Mango Berry Iced Tea was truly refreshing.   With this climate, in mid June, this is exactly the kind of beverage that checks all the boxes for this kind of moment.  Well that might not be that kind of boxes but I think you know what I mean.  It’s a great iced tea and I should leave it at that.

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For a company known for their coffee (and I bet their coffee is excellent), they did right with the tea.  So the next time (yes…) this is revisited I will incorporate some coffee and hopefully another inspirational story to accompany that.  Here is their story and it’s so positive, that I want to be a part of something so beautiful and so heartwarming.

What’s also so beautiful is the Williams Park Market in general.   I got some of my best pictures on this visit.  I’ve had a renewed love for plants, flowers, and horticulture in general.  It’s something my dad got me into but has since been re-energized my taking care of my plants at home, and helping taking care of friends plants whenever I can.  It’s all about nourishing, taking care of our friends, and taking care of each other in general.

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The vibe at the Market seemed to tell that same story.   This is one of those little things that is anything but.  I’m grateful to be part of it, and I know I’ll be back again.  And as I promised, one more story is coming, but I’ll save it for Autumn.  Yes I just said that.  Oh man…

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For those in the Tampa and St. Pete area, you can find their coffees and teas here.    Here is their story, their blog, their contact information,  and their shop.

Until next time, thank you so much.

Ideen