Happy National Pumpkin Day!

I know this pumpkin thing has seemed over-the-top too many.  I love it.   I am not big on the consumerism aspect of it but I am in love with this festive time of year. It’s a teaser for the month of November and all the fun that comes with it.

Unfortunately, I started seeing pumpkin stuff as early as mid-to-late August.  I understand companies want to get a jump on it but that’s where this becomes just business and less about the spiritual aspect of this time.

Now I love all the amazing foods and drinks that can come from this.  But we’re seeing it added to everything; bread, chips, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages and everything in between.  I used to just think it was in a pie on Thanksgiving and that was it.

A friend of mine recently sent me a photo of pumpkin spiced cat litter.  Seems a bit extreme?  But if it makes my cat happier I’d be tempted to buy it.  So the consumer bug has gotten to me too.   Speaking of which…


Need I say more?   The visual is beautiful and you can’t help but be mesmerized by the choices.  It could be a pumpkin-themed display or something on the opposite end of the spectrum and we’d still be enthralled.

I take it back to Trader Joe’s for this week’s tea assessment.  It’s the Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea and it’s an interesting one.


I like rooibos and the health benefits have been presented to you in these two respective links.  But if I wanted a regular rooibos I’d have purchased one.   I purchased this expecting more pumpkin and the autumn themed flavors.  I got none of that.  The flavor is fine if they didn’t mention the spice.  So this is not as advertised.

Maybe it’s my taste buds but I don’t think so.  I really gave this a shot.  I steeped this for the suggested amount of time and I didn’t get much.



However, the smell from the sachet was absolutely terrific.  But that scent did not translate when brewed. The aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg definitely hit me when I opened up the tin.   Why did it not permeate after steeping?  Could it be that it’s artificial?  That’s just my speculation.


The reddish-pumpkin color after steeping is also stunning which ordinarily correspond with a masterful tasting cup.

I really wanted to love this tea but it didn’t happen.  It’s ok otherwise but the promotion that this is a pumpkin spice tea I feel is misleading.


In the spirit of this day I did enjoy a bowl of pumpkin-themed pecan oatmeal that was really good but also not as powerful as maybe implied.


I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying this.   Many may prefer this tea exactly as it.  Hopefully you’ll be able to detect the flavors that I couldn’t.  I wasn’t even trying too hard which usually leads to positive results.   But they can’t all be masterpieces.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend this gem from Trader Joe’s that captures what this season is all about.  I hope to end the TJ’s posts on a high note, so I envision this is not the last time I write about them this year.

Happy Holidays!



Ye Olde Tea Party!

My first Maryland Renaissance Festival was in 2006. And I was thinking at the time what took me so long? This past Sunday while in attendance I was recanting the same thing.

A tradition for many years, this event brings thousands of people in droves and in costume to the event.  There’s so much to see, so much to drink in, and so much unhealthy food to eat.   And in the back of my mind I may have thought to write about tea if I came across one. And as happenstance would have it, here we go.   Huzzah!

My friends had souvenir drinking mugs from the 2013 event and it was suggested to me that I join the fray. The ye olde shoppes which carried mugs, goblets, and tankards were ubiquitous.  And the prices ranged anywhere from $8 to $700 for the hand-carved ones. If I had that kind of money maybe I’d go there.  But not today.

I saw a few that caught my eye that were on the much lower end, but I decided to wait.   I’d figure out later how nearly maladroit that decision was.

While my pals and I were looking around for some greasy food, I stumbled upon a line that had coffee, espresso, and yes herbal tea!   As I got to the line, I was just about to get a cup when a light bulb went off in my head.  If I ordered this is in a plain cup I would be doing myself, this blog, and my readers a disservice.  So I bee-lined back to the same stoneware shop where one mug stood out and I grabbed it!



I happily waited in the ever-so-growing line and the maiden poured my tea in my beautiful new mug!


How was the tea?  I didn’t like it at first, but it’s a grower. And it grew on me almost immediately.   I had a sore throat and one of licorice roots benefits is helping with thy throat.  It’s not a flavor I particularly like but this cup got better with time.  It’s the flavor that stood out the most. Lemon and mint do make their presence felt as well.   Marjoram is a sexy yet synonymous name for oregano.  If that was in my cup I wouldn’t have known it.


The most intriguing component in is the catnip.   I wish my taste buds could have picked on it.  Maybe they did and I jut didn’t know it.  Maybe I’ll ask my cat what she thinks of it?  I won’t take any of hers, that would be mean.


Nevertheless, my cup went great with our cheesy bread and macaroni & cheese on a stick.  Yes just like how it was in olden times.

I didn’t think to ask anyone if the team is local or made in-house; or if the herbs, leaves came from a nationally known brand.  I did an online search on what all it contains and nothing concrete came up.   I did one search and that’s that.  I rather keep the mystique and believe this is the same herbal remedy that the King drank with other fellow royalty hundreds of years ago.

There’s only one weekend to go from the date of this post.  I don’t need to sell this event to anyone that lives reasonably close to attend.  It sells itself and is so fun. I wish I had more time or I’d go every weekend! Maybe I’ll see you there this weekend.

And if you do wait in line for a hot or cold (it’s also served chilled) beverage, consider the tea!

For more RenFest fun click here.

I’ll leave with some pictures of this wonderful party.



Let the merriment continue!



Fall Fun


I did just type that out.  I always embrace the Summer with open arms.  The autumn months are full of positives too.  And I don’t have to look too hard to find them.  If it’s not a genuine feeling of joy and euphoria than it’s not going to be feel authentic.

This tea I will discuss today is authentic and so much more.  It’s that time of year which means the changing of the leaves, different flavors, scents, foods, and of course pumpkins.

There’s going to be a lot of pumpkin-style and related posts forthcoming and I hope you enjoy!

The Harvest Blend Herbal Tea from our pals at Trader Joe’s is the embodiment of what this season is all about. From the packaging, to the beautiful illustrations of animals, and to the scent and taste of the tea itself, this is perfection.


First off, when I visited the pumpkin display at my local store, it’s an in-your-face reminder of the time of year we’re in.  But I’ve been seeing it while we were technically still in Summer.  I understand the rush but I really don’t.  I could have written about this a month ago but I want this part to be authentic as well.  Lets all get into the season in a little more sensible fashion.


I took multiple angles of this package as I only feel it’s right.  And one on of the sides are all the ingredients listed.  And it’s a lot.  But it’s a who’s who of what makes this season great.   After smelling the bag upon opening, the most noticeable scent is cinnamon, one of my favorite things on this Earth.


After steeping, more aromas start to come alive.  I got a great whiff of apple, chamomile, ginger.  If my nose and taste buds got carried away I may detect everything included and then some.  Nevertheless, this is a winner.   As my tea became ready to sip the cinnamon and apple hit me the post.  This packs a punch suitable for the season.   And since there’s so much involved I think multiple cups can be made from this.


With all these incredible elements you think something would get lost in the shuffle.  This is not the case. There’s room for everything here.   However, I will say that chicory is not a plant I’ve had much exposure too. I’ll be curious to see if I can trace it in other teas that I come across.  I may have to do some further investigating but I don’t want to lose course here.


As I ended my first cup, the flavors were so strong, I had to add more boiling water.  And I mean that with highest of praise. This tea cannot go to waste.  I’m ecstatic thinking about it.  This will be a staple in my sipping repertoire for the reason of this season and beyond.   It just tastes and feels so good.   The words soothing and comforting come to mind.  I feel so happy sipping it, thinking about it, and putting it to words.

And with a price tag of only $1.99 how can you go wrong?  This is a bargain for that price and what you’re getting.

I included some wonderful items that reflect the season that has just commenced. I’m enjoying wonderful piece of golden raisin cinnamon bread to complement my cup.

This is just the beginning.  I am thrilled to get fall off on the right foot.

Thanks so much!



It Was Raining


Two weeks in a row I find myself in Virginia.  And changing up the locations means finding a new spot or two to write about one of my favorite subjects.    Last week was a gem.  So how did this one fare?  Not as good.

Through my local travels,  I found myself in Alexandria, VA.  To say I’m sentimental is an understatement.  It’s the town where I was born, so any time I pass through here or plan a visit I get a warm feeling inside.  I feel like it’s a badge of honor.  It was meant to be.


And Old Town is in the heart of it all.  It’s got it’s historic and authentic feel with its cobblestone streets, red brick sidewalks, cozy looking row homes, and small businesses.   It’s pure class that is worth visiting.  I prefer neighborhoods like this as opposed to the craziness of major downtown epicenters.

And there’s plenty of tea abound.   Unfortunately my visit here was not one to write home about.   I have visited Teaism in the past and never felt completely satisfied.   There has just been something off with my purchases, the energy of the establishment, or it could be my own goofiness.   But it’s a few visits and I’ve always felt a weird vibe.

It’s in a newer part of town that doesn’t feel historic.  It feels a bit more corporate.  That doesn’t make it a bad thing.  But it’s not necessitating the joy and fun I look for when I want a peaceful cup of tea.


It was pouring down rain on this particular visit.  And a soothing flavor was just what I had hoped to obtain.  I opted for the Berry Beauty and the Chai.  I’m not here much so I wanted to try a some I don’t often think to order.


The berry contained hibiscus which I usually enjoy.  This was not good at all.  I didn’t like the flavor whatsoever.  It tasted like the sweet and sour clashed, but then went off in another direction.  It just didn’t come as advertised.  I was disappointed.  I was hoping for something more delightful.


The chai was ok.  I’ve had them from other places (tea shops, coffee shops, grocery stores) that tasted much better.  It wasn’t bad.  It just didn’t wow me whatsoever.


The setup of the shop is puzzling to me.  I imagine some people like it.  It’s a restaurant, tea house, and contains a little tea store in the middle.   Additionally, when you order carry-out or in the restaurant, you have to walk to the back to pick it up.  I think it sound more complex in person.  Something about the dynamic doesn’t feel natural.  And the energy felt stuffy once again.


The shoppe items looked cool but I didn’t have time to stay too long and peruse.

Their menu is interesting and seems all over the map.  I didn’t feel it was approachable either.   The staff was friendly for the most part.  The gentleman who was working the front seemed to be going through the motions.  That’s just my interpretation.

But with all that being said, I would like to come back.   Maybe I’ll bring a friend or two with me and see how they feel.   And there’s so many flavors to try and hopefully I’ll find a nice meal to pair it with.


I think this place is much better than the experiences that I’ve had so I hope to be back within the next month or two.   They also have three locations in Washington, DC but that’ll come in time.  For now, any excuse to come to one of my favorite towns is good enough for me.

All the best,