And All In Good Time…

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I wanted to wait just a little while before getting into my quarterly tradition of raving about the seasonal teas from The Spice & Tea Exchange.  We are barely into autumn, and two of the three teas were out of the stock as of this post yesterday.  As of today, two of three are now available.  This is too funny, but it’s also the times we’re in.

I would say this is a faux pas of mine, and to some extent it is.  It also speaks volumes of how good these teas are, how much so many of us embrace the change of the season and the impending well, you know…, and the power of tea (here is their complete list of teas, available at their stores and to purchase online) and how so many of us love it for the art of drinking, as a hobby, a passion, and the way it makes us feel.   I think the place and the energy of many of their stores has a lot do with that.

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This time it brings me to where I was born, Alexandria, VA, and their charming shoppe in the heart of Old Town. That was not meant to be as dramatic it sounded.  Ah maybe it was…

A huge thank you to Jessica the manager for being so kind.

As I wrote about several months back, I was in a similar position spiritually, (and in many ways still am, and might be for a while) and a visit to a tea shoppe, especially their’s is always cleaning for the soul and the spirit.

I’ve been writing for long enough that the changing of the seasons is now synonymous with a visit to their stores, and knowing that three amazing teas will be presented to all of us.

And that’s exactly what happened once again.  These guys are incredible.  My past stories will confirm all of this.  

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It was still Summer when these teas were introduced and still Summertime when I bought these.  I along with some of my close friends know that we shouldn’t rush these things.  I had a sense that these flavors would be out of stock soon if not already.  The packs were on the low side, and I didn’t think to ask if more were coming.  You just know sometimes.

The three for us this time are the Tipsy Toffee, the Spiced Ruby Cider Herbal Tea (out of stock for now?), and the Pumpkin Chai Latte.

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The ingredients are all on the back of the packs.  I want to review this like I always do, with as light hearted and approachable as it can be.   If things overlap then that’ll happen naturally.  I have so much to say but sometimes the tea says all that need to be said, and we should embrace.

Here goes…

One thing that always stands out is while the aromas of their teas give the impression that they may be too sweet for many, but it’s so brilliantly deceptive.  It almost tastes exactly the opposite of what you would expect.  In many cases this is a good thing and I believe this is the intent.

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The Tipsy Toffee has the strongest scent of all in my opinion.  And while I love toffee, I was weary of how it would taste.  Nah I’m kidding.  It’s not that serious.  There’s nothing to be weary of haha.

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This is tremendous.  While you might think the butterscotch and caramel flavorings may be overpowering, they were anything but.  Everything has its place and complemented the other so well.   I’ve said this before but so much about tea is what you don’t taste immediately until seconds later, or even longer.  Understated yet endearing is what their teas are all about.  Beautiful.

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The color on the toffee among with the others was a little more special this time.  All credit goes to the dragonfly infuser, which is also available through them.  For significant, personal, and sentimental reasons I’m grateful to use this trusty friend for the first time, for this round of teas.

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The Spiced Ruby Cider had this color of red that is perfect for this season and matches the color of things to come.  Yes I’m thinking a little bit ahead too.  In order to brew this, I had to break the pieces up a little.

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Again, with cinnamon apple pieces, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, orange peels (I feel like a pendulum), cloves, and more cinnamon stuff, you would think this would be too sweet.  Even if was, I think it would be awesome.  The smell is great and once again this is a universally wonderful tea that everyone will love.  However, that’s for you to judge and judge alone.

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You can’t forget the Pumpkin Chai Latte.  This is why we celebrate autumn right?  We got more pumpkin then we know what to do with.   You wouldn’t know it here though.  And I’m not a fan of most chai, but once again this is nowhere near as rich and that full feeling chai you might expect.

I never tasted any whipped cream or caramel.  But it’s there and so is that pumpkin!

I thought this would be the most potent of the three and I felt it was actually the most tame.  This was my least favorite of the trios, and not in a bad way.   You can’t go wrong, and you can only go right with all of them.

This sounds like a heavy bias, but with few exceptions The Spice & Tea Exchange clearly knows how to make superb tea with a lot of soul and a lot of feeling behind it.

Yes you see sweet treats with each cup, and while they were merely for display, it’s to prepare us for indulgence, because indulgence is coming.  I’m so happy to begin the fall season with their teas and I’m so grateful for the opportunity once again.

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One last thing, when you buy 3 packs, you get a free packet of sugar.  What do with this Apple Cinnamon Crisp Sugar?  I answered my own question by maybe wanting to add to these teas, but maybe it’s meant for something else.

Peace Be With You, and there will be another story much sooner than later.  I’m purposely being vague because I honestly don’t know what’s next.

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All in good time…

Love,

Ideen

Thank You For The Sun, The One That Shines On Everyone…

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This is a continuation of what I wrote about last week, and the story gets that much brighter.  And the sun surely had a hand in that…

Maybe it took some life changes, and a late May day for one of the most beautiful displays of sun and serenity that I can recall.   Until recently, we’ve been lacking in days like this.  Lack is never good.  It implies, well lack and missing something.   The sun is vital to our lives, for many reasons.

Happiness seems to be number one.

The sun makes people more motivated to do things, whether it’s doing nothing or something life changing.  Sometimes those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

A good night’s rest after anything is welcome, and I don’t do it enough.  I imagine the same goes for many of you.  When it becomes 6-7 hours, it just only feels like ‘enough’, but barely.

Maybe it was the anticipation of trying a new tea, taking some new pictures in a different setting than I’m accustomed to, and giving the gift that keeps on giving.

This gift was a souvenir from my dear friends who visited Sunny California months back, and I held on to this tea, because I was waiting for the right moment.

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And what better way to share the Angels in the Mist from Point Loma Tea, then with my friends who brought it to me…

Here’s their catalog (which is available for purchase online), more about them, and their contact information.

You know packaging and presentation goes a long way.  First impressions can be misleading and deceiving, but they’re still first impressions.   And I was impressed.

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We didn’t realize that the packing carried more than one tea.  Which makes this all the more exciting. More for later!   This blend of oranges, apples, hibiscus, and rose just projects all the good things about Spring and Summer.  It’s a simple, yet powerful blend of all the good in the world.

And it tastes good too!

The brewing process was seamless, and since I had some of my favorite animal friends with me, this was the perfect cup for it.

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The vanilla tea cookies were also a gift, and paired just right with our tea.  The dichotomy of the flavors of my sweets versus the other sweets in the tea may throw some off a bit, but I love it.  It’s sunny out, the days are getting longer, and you only live, well you know.  All those sayings…

Just as I take my time writing this, I took my time appreciating, savoring, and photographing this tea.  You can see the photogenic colors from onset of steeping.  I love this tea so much.

And I love when I’m introduced to a new tea company, that I had never known existed.  If it wasn’t for my friends, who knows if I would ever found out about, and be introduced to something so exquisite.  It makes me think how many teas are out there that I have yet to discover, and may never discover.

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That’s what makes this journey so wonderful.  While we have all these major brands, who have earned their reputation and earned their place in grocery and retail aisles, positions of prominence, and on the minds of many; I’m always about something new, something local, and something inspiring.

I’m feeling inspired, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Happy Spring into Summer!

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

Festively Flavored

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I teased it last week and knew I was going to go back for a couple more from my old pals at Trader Joe’s.

When browsing their tea section, and looking for anything new I can get my hands on,  something told me to just walk around some more.  And when you’re at a store as captivating as Trader Joe’s, that’s not hard to do.

But after grabbing some free samples, at the corner of my eye in in the refrigerated beverage area, I spotted something new, something hopefully something inspiring, and most important of all, something perfect for the holiday, and the season.

They have recently introduced Kombucha to their already impressive repertoire of teas, and for that matter many of their food and drink products.   It was only a matter of time.  It never crossed my mind to think they would carry Kombucha until now.

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When I saw the two on display basically begging to be purchased, I didn’t hesitate one second.

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I will admit that when I saw the Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea, I thought it read Gently Gingerbread, which would be quite ambitious.  Could you in theory make gingerbread flavored Kombucha?  Of course you can.  But that’ll have to wait.   This is…

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This wasn’t good.  This is about as flat as a Kombucha I’ve ever had.  And it’s not that it was terrible.  Take out hoping that this would taste like the flavors of the season you love so much, it doesn’t take like much.

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If you’re not into fermented drinks, this is not where you want to go.  These are meant to be sipped, savored, appreciated, and and drank slowly like you would have a cup of tea.  But this was a struggle.   I usually save my Kombuchas for a while if they’re in protected packaging.  This is the first I’ve had in a can, and I don’t think that’s anything to really expound upon, other than the fact is I’m going to have a hard time wanting to drink this again.  But if was able to be sealed I may give it another chance.   And  you know what, I still might?

You taste ginger but it’s light, it’s lacking, and it’s missing the heart and soul I want from a tea and now the Kombucha I drink.   This was about $2-$2.50, so I wouldn’t dissuade you from not trying it.  You might love it.  But I would say proceed with caution.

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The Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s you see here and in the next display of sweet treats are mainly for display, as I still want to celebrate all the deliciousness that Trader Joe’s has to offer.

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All is forgiven and all is glorious, because their current offering, just in time for the holidays, the Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha represents everything that’s right with the world, and that includes Christmas.  Especially Christmas and the holidays.

This makes me so happy.  The color tells one story, but the combination of cranberry juice, apple juice, and cinnamon within this black tea work-of-art is just what you want this month.  I would say you could have this year round.  Yes you can.

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Again, while this one is easy to drink, it’s one you take your time with.   The amount you see poured here is the amount I had.  Yet this one was kinder to my stomach , so you know the probiotics are working! I can’t rave about this one enough.   And at a little under $3, it’s worth splurging a bit on this.

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Can’t forget those Peppermint Joe Joe’s.  Again, this is not really a pairing but more so an homage to all the joys of this holiday.

This will not be it for Trader Joe’s, as my history has shown, I will always be on the lookout for whatever awesome item they will introduce next.  Just when I think I’ve done it all, I know I never will, nor do I want to.

This is a journey, it’s a marathon, and anything but a race.  It’s not a race against time or anything else.  Though the holidays may feel like all of the above and then some, it’s about enjoying all the moments you can, with amazing food, drink, and of course the people.   We’ve got a lot holiday left and I look forward to what’s next.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Walking In A Winter Wake Up Tea

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I honestly thought I went through so many of the teas at Trader Joe’s, that I thought it would be a while till I got around to talking about one of my favorite stores in any capacity.   My fear is that this would go past the holidays and they would be left out in the cold.

Not a chance.  And there’s no need to worry.  Everything is going to be alright.  After all it’s the holidays.  This is where magic, hope, joy, peace, prosperity, and a universal feeling of love means the best of what’s around.  Yes I did just quote someone.

Here’s my Trader Joe’s history lesson.

Maybe a break was needed.  There’s so many teas from so many companies I’ve yet to get around to.  I may never get around too.  I have my favorites, I have my sentiments, and I have a soft spot for traditions and celebrations around this time of year.  Sometimes I share tea with the ones I love.  For this one, I went at it alone.   Well there were plenty of props and snacks too.

These two debuting teas are the Apple Cranberry and the Winter Wake Up.

But with the holidays that also means loads of sweet treats, unhealthy eats, and hopefully no feelings of guilt.

You will see some of the sweet treats I purchased pictured below.  Not all of them were used with these teas, and they may be used at a later time.  I just wanted to share with a little sampling of how creative and charming the flavors of the season can truly be.

In honor of the full moon that was this past weekend, I will be working backwards, but not really, as it only makes sense.   I think (no I know) the full moon had me going a little cuckoo as well.

First is the Apple Cranberry.  What stands out is that this is not actually tea.  The description even says so.  Yet it’s all natural and full of such life.  It tastes like hot autumn, but I think this would work chilled, and if you felt the need to add a little libation to it, that would work too.  But I didn’t tell you to do that.

No tea leaves are used, so there is no caffeine.  It’s the perfect drink to relax with and maybe even ease you into a lovely nap or deep sleep.  I feel quite comfortable as I write about this now.  Not quite tired but peaceful just the same.    The combinations of apples and cranberry stand out to make this a winner.  Throw in a little cinnamon and this screams autumn, the holidays, and all is right with the world.

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Well at least in the world of tea, this is the best non tea I’ve ever had.  It might be the only non-tea, tea, I’ve ever had but that’s besides the point.  As of this past weekend I saw this at my local Trader Joe’s, but it seems to headed towards clearance if not already.  So get on it if you have a chance.

The chocolate stars are a perfect complement to your home, and for any gathering.  Mine were simply for display.  Well maybe I had one or two, oops.

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And yes this display you might as well call Christmas Commotion!

The Winter Wake Up tastes and feels like breakfast, but could be had any time.  I’d be lying if I said I had it in the morning.  But it tasted good just the same.  Yes this is more in line of your traditional black teas with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, and licorice.

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This is a great tea, but I’ve had so many recently, that I don’t know where to rank this.  It’s not fair to rank it.  What I’m saying this, if I had this in a different context, I may think this is up there with all the awesome teas I’ve had this year, and especially this season.  I may be over analyzing a bit, but I think I’ve been spoiled.   Nevertheless, I’ll be drinking this a lot this year.

And as soon as I say all this, the flavors that came out from this cup when shared with these Speculoos Cookies made this an incredible combination.  So in a way everything I said in the previous paragraph becomes augmented to a significant extent.  These cookies are incredible, and I need to revisit these again while paired with another Trader Joe’s tea or some kind of holiday themed beverage.

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We go from Christmas Commotion to a more relaxed affair.  But both teas helped relaxed me, but I found myself settled a bit with this display.  Hence the full moon and working backwards stuff I was referring to.

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So if you can get your hands on either of these teas, and I’d say grab a few.  At $2.50 it’s not going to hurt you too much. Hopefully there is a Trader Joe’s near YOU.

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With that being said, I’m hopeful and in all likelihood going to explore a couple more tasty delights from this store I love so much.   There’s a lot of time and a lot of holiday themed teas and drinks to explore, from Trader Joe’s and many other magical places. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

I hope you’re having a great holiday season up to this point, and wish you many great days ahead.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tis Tea Season

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Oh yes it is, and we’re just riding along this train till I run out of tea to try, which will never happen.    I promised myself, you, and the universe, that I would get to as many teas for autumn and naturally let the blend from season to season.

With this I will reviewing two teas from Stash, which has been a friend to me and this blog (previous posts can be found here,  over here, and one more right…here…) and I don’t write about enough.  I could say that about a whole plethora of companies, and their finest of teas.

The Pumpkin Spice Decaf really got me good.  Without trying too hard I figured out that this was natural pumpkin flavor and not that artificial and synthesized coloring and flavoring that many of these companies add to their teas, to make it sweeter when it’s better off being left alone.

But this was fun.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (oil in this instance which I found intriguing), and cloves really make this a powerfully packed tea that seemed so effortless to produce.  I think black tea and pumpkin is a winning combination if done right.  You could actually apply that to just about anything  If things are blended together properly, with some good soul and feeling behind it, it’s going to be a winner.

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This checks of all the boxes.  How about that beautiful color? Decaf or not, I wouldn’t know the difference, this is a great tea.

The Maple Apple Cider is fine except for the maple flavor.  This is a matter of taste.  Maple doesn’t always work for me.    It’s natural maple flavor and it’s possible that’s where I’ve thrown off.  I’ve had plenty of foods with maple glaze that either taste too good to be true, or just don’t taste good at all.

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Aside from that, this had another melange of great flavors, that is slightly marred my the maple.  But there’s times where I feel the cinnamon, caramel, and apple is lost because of the strong presence of maple.  This is another in the line of rooibos that I’ve been trying, and this is a slight step back.

I will gladly give it another go since I’ve bought a package, but I wasn’t blown away this with this one.

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My snowman friends didn’t seem to mind.   They seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Yes I did just say that…

On their website, both teas are listed as a package deal.  I think that’s a fantastic gift for now, and the Christmas season that is fast approaching.

When it comes to Stash, I’m only just getting started.  They have so many teas for the  holidays, that I’m hopefully going to dedicate some more posts too.   Just from my observation, Stash is one of those companies that doesn’t get the publicity and headlines that it should.

I know some people close to me are huge fans, and make it a part of their daily lives, and morning routine.    I have to many teas to choose from, I’m not sure if there will ever be  a routine.  And neither situation is right or wrong.  It’s all beautiful.  It’s all in the celebration of tea.

We’re still in the heart of November, and there’s so much tea to try and share with you guys.  For some reason, I’m feeling a little more heart warmed today than normal.  Tea makes me so happy and this is some of the happiest times of the year.

More to share soon.

For more on Stash, here is where you can find their teas, their list of fall teas, more about the company, and contact information.

Thank you so much, and I’ll be back tomorrow…

Peace be with you.

Ideen

Happy Thanksgiving Week…

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Three is a number.  I did three posts last week,  and I’m compelled to do it again.

As we march towards Thanksgiving, the amount of tea I tried, and want to keep trying got a little overwhelming.  Some brands I will try to revisit after turkey day, if time and the place permits.  I’ll make time.

But for now, I’m recapping three from Republic of Tea.

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The Pumpkin Spice, Caramel AppleCaramel Apple, and Hot Apple Cider teas were all unique and had something to offer for all the same and for different reasons.  I purposely listed the teas in that order as it’s a segue from one holiday season to another.   I know, we got here to fast.

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While three distinct teas, they all carry an aura of familiarity compared to the other.  It could be that drinking so many in a short of time, may dilute the flavors.

It’s also rapid fire time.  I’ll tell you, in the time I’ve been doing this, there will never be enough time, there will never be enough teas, and thank goodness for that.   I also got lost in how many teas came to me without even looking.  There might be a week where I have no idea what I’m doing, and I make a discovery at the final hour.  Sometimes I do better at the last minute.

But when I find blends that add to an already growing list, I find that even more of an adventure.  How much more effort do I put into these teas, while I have time to take pictures, set up displays, and take more careful sips.

In the end it always works out.  But it looks like this will be another week of multiple posts.  And what’s the holidays without a little more excess?  Oh man I’ve been watching too many dopey holiday cinemas already.

So here are the three, in sequential order, with some snacks and displays to go with each.

First, the Pumpkin Spice.

With all the cans, the immediate aromas after opening are all the pumpkin you can handle, and I adore it.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all the other joys of autumn.   I was initially worried when I saw the water turn blurry almost immediately after dropping the bag in the cup.  That may be the signs of a defective bag.  But all fears vanished immediately.

Black tea and pumpkin, with all these other magical flavors, is a match made in tea wonderland.  I also just love black tea right now.  It reminds me of growing up, being around good people, around family, friends, and enjoying myself.  At the time I was drinking this, it was just the tea I needed.

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Thankfully these tins are in 50 count bags, so I will be enjoying this after the new year.   That’s exactly right.   As you see, some friends joined the party and helped me indulge in some holiday chocolate treats.

The Caramel Apple is the simplest of the three.  And that doesn’t mean it’s any less in quality.  While I’ve grown to love Rooibos, and love it some more, this wasn’t my favorite.   While I still enjoyed it, nothing about this made me go crazy over this tea.  Personally, caramel doesn’t always work for me in certain situations.  This is a matter of taste and acquired taste.   Less  is more, and while this is a good tea, it wasn’t the best I’ve had.

In a different setting, with different people, or in a different frame of mind I might be giving you another story.   And perhaps in a little while, I may give you another story.

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Was there meant to be a turkey in this setting? Haha oops.

The Hot Apple Cider is created in a way to mirror how cider would taste in its natural form.  Those aren’t my words, they’re in the description. Well maybe I’m overanalyzing.

This one is fun, and in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  That’s how I feel about all three of their teas.  There’s a lot of care put into it without being too pretentious.  And the aura of this company gives one of a a regal nature.

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The flavors of apple, cinnamon, and the many other fruit and fall flavors, make this a joy to drink into the holidays, late into winter, and good for many other situations.  This is a a tea for now and forever.   Wow that was dramatic, but I mean that.

These teas are symbolic of what’s good in the world and what’s good about the holidays.  And you can’t ask for much more than that.   There’s no need to.

I found these teas already at a discounted rate at my local grocery store, so hopefully if you’re in the market for some of these, you can find them.

For more on The Republic of Tea, here is their story, their social responsibility, and contact information.

I wrote about them some time back, and will not wait this long to do so again.

Their teas are available for purchase online.  And while their teas are mainly $10 and up, for a count of 50 and then some, I think you’re getting your monies worth.

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you.  I hope it’s an enjoyable one for you and your loved ones.

Ideen

 

 

 

Springtime Feelings In The Middle Of…

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So this felt quick.  Well when you do three posts in three days, it feels about right and it fells relative.  But I think I’m just getting started.

After the first two posts (you can find them here and here respectively) from one of my favorite places of all time, Wegmans, (click here to find a store near you).

I’m feeling a tad emotional. Why I don’t know.  I just tend to get emotional.  It’s not like the teas and store is going anywhere. If anything this is only beginning.   I feel like we use that term, ‘it’s only the beginning’, or ‘we’ve only just begun’ a lot, but it’s true.   There’s so much tea and so much time to talk about it.

Absolutely.

The Jasmine Globe Tea is exactly that.  It’s shaped like a globe and during steeping it blooms into a flower.  Well that was the intent.

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I just love the look of this tea.  It’s almost too beautiful for it to be brewed.  But then again, I can always save another piece or two to admire.  I mean look at this thing. How this was fused in the way it was is a marvel.  I bet it wasn’t that difficult, but I like to think this was done with such precision to get every herb, flower, spice, and everything else to look like perfection.

It smelled like perfection.  However, during infusing it didn’t quite break up to be like the flower it was meant to be.  I tried with and without the infuser.  Maybe it was me, maybe the water wasn’t hot enough, or maybe it was something else.

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But the smell of jasmine takes me back to my childhood.  I just recall it being in parts of potpourri, air fresheners, and even parts of various foods my parents could cook up.  It’s those scents that remind me of you holidays and celebrations past.  It’s not always the best of memories, but this one reminds me of many other people, not just relatives, going back in time.   I’m sure you have familiar scents and tastes that remind you of something from growing up, or maybe even more recently.  That’s my take on it, and this tends to manifest itself more so this time of year.

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The taste was not at profound as the aroma, but it was just right.  Too much jasmine might not work on the mouth at times.  This was meant to be exactly how it was intended.  I celebrate that spring time feeling with one of my favorite cups and we segue and tease future holiday celebrations with some more of my favorite decor, and some pumpkin spice oatmeal.

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One of my most favorite birthday presents ever, the beautiful black labrador retriever plate, is back for an encore.  It should be part of the main set and every encore!

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Last and certainly not the last (for now), is the Apple Pie Chai Rooibos.  Try saying that a few times without messing that up!

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This was the only tea that listed the ingredients on the bag.   Did every other tea have nothing except what was in the tea itself?   I still enjoy the vague, wine like descriptions of these teas, and will always find unintentional humor in them.

There’s ways to describe tea and then there’s ways to describe tea.

The Apple Pie might have had my favorite tint after completion.  It looks more orange but that’s due in part to orange peel and orange lemongrass.   The inclusion of apple pieces, cinnamon and hibiscus flowers make this the happiest of teas for the season.

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I love this one so much.

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I didn’t have any apple pie but some apple cider and pumpkin pretzels is just as viable as an alternative.   There will be more mentions of apple cider and similar teas as we progress.

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But right now there’s still plenty of time to celebrate autumn, November, Thanksgiving, and all the good that comes with it.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and the celebrations that will ensue makes me warm inside.  It gives me butterflies and makes me thankful for good family, good friends, and good health.

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I hope you enjoyed this trilogy.  This is it for now.   But there’s so much time for me to seek out some more approachable and welcoming holiday teas.  The traditional weekly post will be back, but not just yet.

I got a few more things in mind starting this weekend, into next week, and leading in to the big day.

I wish you good health and a happy holiday season.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen