Ten Times The Cozy

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The last time I wrote about a tea sipping experience in Ellicott City, it was one of those transforming events that can’t ever be replicated.  It was almost too good for words. Actually it was and I went ahead and wrote about it anyways.

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You can’t compare one over the other, and it looks like I just did before I even began, but, the Bean Hollow nestled in perfectly in Old Ellicott City has the charm and panache of what makes this neighborhood so great.

I’ve been here several times before but under different circumstances and right before I started doing this Tea thing that I do.  If I had known now what I knew then, this would become a fixture.  And it just might be.

The place is so inviting, so cozy, and will charm even the most grouchy and dopey of patrons.  Well maybe not, but I think so.    There’s nothing that’s going to jump out and scream overly pretentious at you, and this is what most of us want.  We want a local shoppe that makes you feel at home even when you don’t know anybody.

You don’t have to now anybody.  But in this community, at least for this moment, it seemed like friendly folks knew each other or knew of each other.  And in the most positive and warm of ways.  As an outsider, I want to believe that.  There were several random smiles and hellos from people I’ve never seen before (maybe I have hmm..) and it’s still always a pleasant surprise to me.  It should be the rule and not the exception.  I think that made sense.

All I intended to do was to come in here for breakfast and maybe grab a coffee or tea (yes tea!!) to go, and keep on doing whatever I was doing.  I’m not sure what that was, but unless it’s something dire, was there really a rush?

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I was set on what turned out to be a delicious breakfast sandwich and noticed a bunch of teas on the counter from Montana Tea & Spice Trading llc.

Never heard of them.  Not sure how else I would discover them but I’m happy it happened here.

There were packages for sale but I kindly asked the staff if they sell these teas individually for sipping.  And they kindly said yes.  Yay!   I went with the Cherry Almond Green, and honestly it likely tasted better because of the setting.

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What I mean by that is if I drank this at home or on the road it may have just felt like any standard tea.  Not that there would be anything wrong with it, but I’d likely forget about it as soon as it over over.    But because I sat down, had a lovely breakfast, and my tea was presented in quite the charming cup, the results were likely so much different.

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Otherwise it tasted like a standard green tea with some cherry flavoring added to it.

And I took my time too.  By knowing I’m not always here, and not sure when I’ll be back, I took a few photos of my food and tea and then turned the camera off.  This was peace that is (by mainly our own doing) harder to come by.

Many coffee and breakfast shoppes are charming yet they all have similar and sometimes bland characteristics. This one had a little more to it.  I know my love affair with charming towns like this one have much to do with it but regardless this tea likely tasted infinitely times better because of where I was and how I was feeling.

In addition, I would absolutely try more of their teas in the future if the opportunity presents itself.  And I hope and I know that it will be at Bean Hollow, which makes me so happy.  I can’t wait to go back.

Here is more on Montana Tea & Spice along with their contact information if you’d like to know more.

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If you’re in the vicinity I would definitely stop by Bean Hollow and maybe you will find a source of rest and relaxation here as well.

Take good care,

Ideen

 

 

Won’t You Be My…

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Happy Valentine’s Day.  This is a day with a mixture of emotions for people.  It shouldn’t be, but our manufactured societal pressures have placed more emphasis on this day than there really should be.  It’s one of those holidays that time doesn’t stop for.  The majority of us still go to the workplace and to the classroom like it were any other day. And if we treat this like any other day, than it will be over before you know it.  Actually it’ll be over no matter what.  That’s how days and times work.

Nevertheless, after the previous weeks post, I wanted to see if I had a little more holiday spirit in me.

Well it’s a different holiday than what I’m used to but I should appreciate the fact that my regular scheduled blog falls on this most polarizing of holidays.  I might as well make the most of it.  And chances are, I may not get this opportunity again.

And if you or I focus on love, in not just the romantic sense, but love of all, then it makes this and just about any other day that much better.  And you don’t need a specific day to show that love and embrace for what makes you feel good.

Do you know what makes me feel good? Well it’s not only tea, but it’s the love of all things natural.  I love animals, I love nature, I love plants, flowers, trees being out doors, and most of all our universe. This encompasses so many things, if not everything.  I’m grateful to present to you two more teas from a one of my favorite go-to’s Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.   And even more specifically, Eastern Shore Tea Company.

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The truly one thing about tea shopping is there will always be teas to fit a certain season, mood, place of healing, and love.

For the love of tea I went with two of the most apropos tea for the occasion.  But as you will see, with this tea, just like so many others, these are meant to be sipped all year round, not just in Mid-February.

First is the Chocolate Strawberry.  It’s simple, Black Tea with those two flavors added. What I noticed right away is how quick the effectiveness of the steeping came through. The color transformed into a chocolate brown cup at a higher pace than what I’m expected or what I’m accustomed too.  I would take that as a testament to the quality of the bags. Either that or I’m losing my marbles.  Well the latter is happening anyways, but it was entertaining to see regardless.

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At first I was hoping for more flavor than what I expected.  But I’m drinking this with the understanding that this is a dessert wine.  And if was too heavy on the chocolate and strawberry, would the whole tea be undermined?  Absolutely.  I’ve had teas rich in flavors t that could have benefited from a dialing back.  And then there’s others that weren’t flavorful enough, that could have used just a little more.  I’m leaning towards this wishing this just had a hint more.

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It was good but still I feel like that pop was missing.  But look what you see here.  Yes I really got goofy here and purchased specialty dipped chocolate strawberries.  This was strictly for show but figured one wouldn’t hurt.

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What I also figured is the tea and the chocolate strawberries flavors’ would bounce off one another, as well as intensify the other.  That’s exactly what happened.  One particular bite from the strawberry and a sip took this experience somewhere I didn’t imagine.  For that alone I would try this tea again.  But I wouldn’t rank it close to any of my favorites.

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Next up is the Cupid’s Arrow, after someone we may know.

This surprised the heck out of me, and in a good way.  I didn’t think it was going to be anything out-of-this-world to be quite honest.  The back tea with flavors of cherry, vanilla, and almond have all the recipes of turning into something legendary or a complete bust.  This falls on the former.  I wonder if its my slight trepidation of embracing this ‘holiday’.  That’s possible, but good tea is good tea.  And this wasn’t it. This was actually phenomenal.

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I made myself a second and third helping of this one.  You can taste these flavors a bit more distinctly without aid from from a sweet treat or other type of food.

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As you might be able to tell the color is not as strong or as overpowering as the previous selection.  It’s not like any of that matters.  It’s just an observation.  But this was something fun.  Maybe because those flavors feel more like winter and more like a year round tea than the aforementioned Chocolate Strawberry.

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However, as I said earlier most teas can be had year round.  There’s no rules to this.  It’s tea, it’s supposed to be fun.  Tea Is Fun is not the just the name of a blog but it’s how it’s supposed to be.

Most suppliers give around 20 bags per container for a reason.  We will try them again and again with what makes us feel good and feel inspired.  The Cupid’s Arrow is an inspiring one.  I felt so good after sipping this one in particular.  I felt healed.  And maybe that’s all in my head but this tea had  little more power than it really had any right to be.  Maybe it did.  Who am I to judge?   The cupcakes had nothing to do with any taste enhancing, like it did earlier, by the way.  But they look cool don’t they?

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And who are we to judge how one celebrates a certain day.    I spent more money on myself and this blog than I’ve had in years to commemorate Valentine’s Day.  But it was gift to me, to my audience, and to the universe.  It was my way of celebrating what I love; nature, animals, and of course tea.

These gifts I bought can be used more than once. These two new teas will last be a while, as well as my new drinking mugs, as well as those orchids.  Which are already outside and have been watered.

The sweets won’t last, but not because of me.  Someone else can have those.  But I’m going to hold on to the tea.  And maybe even those  new animal friends.

And those are just some of the things I love.  And I’m glad I can present tea in a spiritual way that combines many other things that make me feel love.  And this is not just one day a year, not a weekly post either, but as much as humanly possible.  And that’s the same love I will feel on this day, the next one,  and so many more.

Like I said last week, if you’re looking for a different kind of gift for a loved one, I think tea is a fantastic alternative.  And at only $5.00 per bags, it’s a fantastic deal.  And they’re ribbon bags too!  Beautiful.

This experience as beautiful.  And if you want to experience these and their massive array of teas click here.

Here’s my written history of the Eastern Shore Tea Company.

More love of tea and all else that is possible, next time.

 

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

Segue Into Summer

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I’m not sure how this all transpired but once again I found myself in beautiful Annapolis, MD this past week.   And as we’re rapidly approaching Summer it’s only right I find myself on the waterfront.  More on that shortly.

I was all set to sample a specific tea and write a review of said tea, but once again plans have been altered and this could not have worked out more perfectly.

Of course I go into a coffee shop looking more tea.  Make sense right?  Well actually it’s nowhere near as close to perplexing as that sounds.  I just have to go and be different again don’t I?

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City Dock Coffee is a place I’ve largely taken for granted and I have no explanation for it. I’ve walked or driven by the beautiful storefront a multitude of times and maybe set foot in there once or twice.  Maybe I grabbed a cup of coffee, I don’t remember for sure.

When I walked in I inquired about their teas.  A lot of staples you see in many shops were available.  Yet, one of the gentleman behind the counter pointed me to the last remnants of a familiar friend, Capital Teas.   I was told they stopped carrying their teas.  No explanation was given as to why.  Honestly, I was just so excited to see their teas in a somewhat neutral location (that’s a bit of a reach) that I didn’t care to ask anymore questions.

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With what was left I went with the oh-so-appropriately titled On The Waterfront Tea. As I was steeping inside I fell victim to my own obliviousness to the outside world.  It was gorgeous out and I planted myself at one of the outdoor tables, soaking in the sun that has been missing in this area for quite some time.  It was hot, humid, and heavenly.  Yes I did that on purpose.

I had no idea what was in the tea nor did I care.  It was a comforting and soothing Rooibos gem.  As I was sipping I did detect spearmint and something nutty.  That would be almond and you can never have enough almond.

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All the other ingredients belonged and bounced off each other perfectly.  Luckily, this tea was caffeine free or I’d be doing the same thing.  I loved it.  And this organic masterpiece if what I come to expect from this great company.

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There’s a funny irony to all this.  Capital Teas has set up shop at a prime location, literally across the street (kind of across the water but I can’t embellish) and I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences with the shop.  This is just the segue I needed.   This will be revisited later in the Summer.

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But for now I will add some pictures of all the pageantry and beauty of Annapolis.

I hope you all had an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend.

Best,

Ideen

 

Almond Joy

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For folks in the Northeast, you know we got leveled over the weekend.  I’m not a fan of the snow.  I never will be.  I’ve learned to adapt to it in some ways.   But honestly I freak out with the best (or worst) of them.

I ski now so I have some affinity for it.   But it’s minute.  Give me warm, sunny skies all year round over what we just endured.

To my relief, I was able to leave the house yesterday.  Those little things I take for granted like going to the store, the bank, the gas station, all became so important to me yesterday. You know what else is important?  A nice cup of tea.  And I went to a place I don’t go to often enough.  It’s the taken for granted aspect in play again.

This brings me to Coffee Coffee of Bel Air, MD.    No coffee on this day.  It’s a necessary evil in my life.  However, it’s not something I love nor would dedicate to writing about.

I walked in and the energy was small-town and community feeling.  That’s always favorable and heartening.  And on day of freedom it’s enhanced to a much higher state.

I look around at their loose teas selection and what stood out immediately?  The Snowflake. I’m not sure if that was there strategically or happenstance.  But I had to chuckle.   I am giving this weather too much credit and allowing it to affect my life, where it shouldn’t.

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Nevertheless, a black tea with coconut and almond sounds soothing and inspiring on this day.   I opened the jar to get a scent, and the nose tasted just like a candy bar you might have heard of.   It’s the title of this post if you weren’t sure.

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I was eager to try it and still relieved to be out, that just about anything was going to taste wonderfully.

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A cinnamon and raisin scone was ordered to go with my cup.

The sips tasted more like almond biscotti, which is not something to sniff at.  This is not a complaint.  It was fantastic.  And I took my sweet time enjoying this cup.

You might be able to see the sun shining in some of these angles.  It was bright and it was voluminous.  I was a happy guy.  I wasn’t ready to go anywhere.  I think I spent a good 30 minutes in there enjoying myself.

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Look at the bottom. Heavenly.

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The scone was a bit filling so I wasn’t able to complete that part of the party. But the tea I could expound on forever.  But I’ll end it there.  It’s great and I highly recommend it.

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If you’re in the vicinity, the shop is definitely worth a visit.

Here is their menu and their various products for sale in the shoppe.

I see they have a customer appreciation day coming up this Thursday, January 28th. That’s always something to look forward to.   I would like to become a regular first before partaking in an event.   Even though my visits have been a few, I am becoming a stalwart. Maybe the next one.

I need to harp on this point again.  Whenever the people are friendly they deserve to be acknowledged.  Every time I’ve stopped in, it’s been nothing but friendly faces and accommodating service.

I’ll be back soon, when the weather is even better.

Best,

Ideen

Here’s To Full Bloom

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Despite the fact that we’re a few weeks away from peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms, it has fortunately given me enough time to talk about another related tea.   For my recap of the Cherry Blossom Rose, click here.

The Cherry Almond from Bencheley is an absolute joy.   I am glad we grabbed that out of the stash.  It had been sitting there for a while.  But it still has legs.  And it still tastes good.   Now Bencheley is not a brand that many folks are familiar with.   They don’t have a website, Facebook, or Twitter page that I can find.   The good news is their teas can be purchased here.   I originally purchased this at my local Kitchen & Company.  Which is a very charming shoppe!

With the elements of cherry, almond, and black tea merging together, you can imagine how great this is.  And it’s decaf to boot.  So you can enjoy this at anytime without worry of staying up too late!   The flavors are easily detected, which isn’t always the case with more complex selections.   The almond taste lingers for a while and is a joy to my senses.   I can’t put into words how well it resonates.   The aftertaste is to die for.  And as I got to the bottom of the tea,  both flavors hit me with such potency.   I feel joy writing about it now.  What a perfect beverage for the season.

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In honor of the festivities, the pink mug has made it’s debut to the blog.  How pretty is that?  It makes me want to brew one right now.

I enjoyed my cup, with a piece of lemon cake and blueberries.    It’s all about the scents and flavors of Spring!   Below are some inspiring photos of my tea with dessert.

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I wish you a Happy Spring and look forward to enjoying the Cherry Blossoms with everyone!

Best,

Ideen