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

London Fogging

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I have a muse (or a dear friend rather) who I will turn into when it comes to tea suggestions.  You would think with the season we’re in, that it wouldn’t be that difficult.

And it really isn’t.

But I’m grateful for ideas and suggestions, because that’s what tea and the love of tea is all about it, informing, sharing, educating, and most important of all, sipping.

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So when my friend suggested I write about a couple of teas from Starbucks, I was intrigued and surprised.

I’m immediately thinking pumpkin this and pumpkin that.  And while there is a pumpkin pastry included with my two teas, the pumpkin teas will return at a later time.

It’s all about chai and this is quite the chai my friends.

My friend had asked me if I ever tried the Chai Latte or the London Fog Tea Latte, and suggested I write about one or the other.  The answer is right in front of me.  How about both?

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I was reminded that I may have had the Chai Latte before, when we used to frequent Starbucks on a regular basis.  I know frequent Starbucks on a regular basis.  I’ve become accustomed to local tea and coffee shops.  It’s where my heart is and it’s the symbolic gesture I feel I need to be doing.   Nevertheless, the Chai Latte is fine.  It’s just what I remember, if this is what I had before.  If you can get what I’m saying, it’s not that memorable.  And I’ve grown to like Chai’s in the past few years, partially because of this blog, and because I’m all about expanding my horizons.  This isn’t anything special.

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The pumpkin cream cheese muffin that I had with my chai, either became tainted because of my chai or it wasn’t that great on its own.  I love pumpkin and I didn’t get much pumpkin here.

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And I love cinnamon, cloves, and milk.  This screams fall and would hopefully scream success.  I know many love it, and will love it if they haven’t tried it.  To me it’s just a latte you could have anywhere, and not spend as much on it.    It’s not that it’s even that  sweet.  It’s just that I’ve had better.  And the black tea, which is the most important part of it for, seems to be lost in the shuffle with everything else.  And it’s not like there’s too many moving parts.  This would usually come together well in another setting.

And before you think I’m being hard on Starbucks…

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Then there’s the London Fog.  Oh my goodness, now we’re talking.  I knew it was great before I even ordered it.  And it’s because my friend told me that it’s not on the menu.  She told me if you mention London Fog, they will know what it is.  Now that’s a friend. And this is a tea.  This is a tea latte.  This is art.

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The ingredients are here, and this take on Earl Grey is giving me chills after I write about it.  It was a joy to sip and was so kind to my sense, my taste buds, and my spirit.   I adore the way bergamot smells and tastes, and it’s the highlight for me even with the lavender, vanilla syrup, and milk thrown into the mix. They’re all perfect complements of each other that enhance the Earl Grey.

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You can see why I prefer this more.  The integrity of the tea remains intact while everything plays its part perfectly.  This paired perfectly with their Caramelized Apple Pound Cake.  A match made in tea and autumn heaven.

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I must mention that the Earl Grey is from Teavana, which I happily wrote about some months back.

 

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I will gladly come back and order the London Fog a couple more times before the season changes.  And this is something you can have through the winter, so there’s plenty of opportunity.    I highly recommend it if you’ve never had this before, and it’s a different take on a classic tea.    Tremendous.

In the past I’ve mentioned that Earl Grey was likely the first tea I ever sipped.  And knowing myself, I appreciated the simplicity of it.  I’m not big on adding anything to my tea.  If a tea is that good it doesn’t necessarily need milk, honey, cinnamon, or anything to overcompensate for a tea, whether it’s good or bad.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t try or embrace teas with those same additions.  I’m all for trying something new.  I’m happy the London Fog worked out.

More to come as I feel rejuvenated and have so much more in the world of teas to talk about.  It just keeps on getting better.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

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.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

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

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kombucha Koolness

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Never underestimate the art of alliteration.   And boy does it apply here.

For our friends in the Baltimore area, you might have heard of Wild Kombucha from the fine folks at Mobtown Fermentation.

First here is some information on what Kombucha exactly is, or you can scroll up and down their website for a primer.

The festivals, parties, and other excuses to hang out accelerates as we’re deep into fall, and we’re approaching the happy holidays.   Leave it to a Pumpkin Party (there goes that alliteration again) to get the ball rolling this season.   And this party took place at Rooftop Hot in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, which is one of one my favorites and most down-to-earth parts of the city.

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There was food, live music, outdoor chilling, and all the other stuff that goes along with a festival.  You know, the usual.   And that’s more than enough but when you add free samples of their kombucha, now you know it’s a party.  But if you hadn’t look closely, you would think they were handing out free samples of beer.  The bottles would make you think so.  Never judge a bottle by it’s cover (make sure to look first) and make sure you know what’s being served.  That didn’t mean to come off as dopey as it sounded.

So yes they had samples of all four of their delightful beverages.  Yes I’ve already given away my thoughts on this.  The pumpkin display with their drinks on ice was a great presentation.  It really made it seem like this is a beer tasting.   My peers thought so.  I initially thought so.  I don’t care for beer so this was a relief.

Let’s talk about the drinks.  They had all four of their creations available for sampling.  Yes I loved them all.

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The website doesn’t list it, but their Apple Spice was my favorite.  It tasted great and tastes like fall.  So a full appreciation of this was taking place.   Joey, who was doing the tasting, was kind enough to give us multiple pours of all the flavors.  But this was one I’d want to drink on a regular basis for sure.  That tint is gorgeous too.

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The Elderberry was rocking too.  You’re going to see a theme here.  This may have been my second favorite.  This just fits what they’re doing.  I’m not sure if that makes sense, but Elderberry is the perfect flavor for their fermented tea.  And that color just luminates and radiates.  And it tastes good too.  That’s the most important aspect of all of these.

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Next, the Mango Peach.  It was energizing but I would fully appreciate this more in the warmer months.  But this is another winner.  These guys know what they’re doing.

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Finally, the Ginger-Grapefruit tastes the most like tea.  Ginger has always been one of my favorite components of a tea.  The pairing with Green Tea, lemon, and honey and other flavors has always been a go-to for me.  This’ll now be another go-to as well.  I just love Ginger.  And I loved this one too.

It’s hard to compare these four.  They all are special and blessed in their own way.  I may alternate which of these drinks will be my favorites based on the day and the season.

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This was a stellar experience.  Once again, a huge thanks to Joey for being so accommodating, and giving me more pours than I had any business having.  I hope  I don’t get you in trouble.

At the bottom of their page, is where you can find their divine drinks, their story, and contact information.   They make it look so easy. 

Hopefully, more awesome fall posts to come.  Actually,  that’s a yes.

Yes!

Ideen

Mango Times Three

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It’s been several months since I’ve set foot inside a Trader Joe’s.  Oh how I’ve missed thee. And in theory, I found myself here for no reason at all.  I just had a bunch of errands piling up and needed to get some out of the way.  And lo and behold the store found me.

Once again, I sort of had an idea of what I was going to write about.  Last summer I focused on a lot of iced teas.  There were brands I’d never heard of.   Many were personal sized.  I looked back as to avoid repeating if I can do so.   Little did I know that this visit would also lead me to one of the more refreshing teas I’ve had in a while.

And after a few minutes of poking around the store, this mega display was my answer. And this week I proudly get to review the Trader Joe’s Mango Green Tea.

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However, there are drawbacks.   The green tea and mango are not easy to taste.  The pear juice is what gives it flavor and not much else.  It makes me think are the tea and mango able to taste right simply as a duo?  That’s a question for the ages.  Well nowhere near that dramatic but it’s fun to speculate.

I love mango.  It’s a fruit that reminds us of the good times of summer, or maybe an island you’ve visited.  And to mix it with something as bitter as green tea may be the ultimate clash of universes.  So lets throw in some pear juice to shake things up a bit.

I’m a purist in many ways.  I want my teas to be as natural as possible.  There are additives, like extra sugar to make the taste for palatable.  And more palatable to the general public seems to be the goal.  I can’t disagree with that.  I also can’t be too serious.  It’s a seasonal beverage that’s meant to be enjoyed and not over-analyzed by the likes of me.

I liked it but with the understanding that the heart and soul of the tea seems to be an afterthought.

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Since this beverage is a bit out there, the pairings could fall in the same category.   But at the same display rack were the Mango Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies that taste a mix of real and artificial that at this point it doesn’t matter.

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They’re good but best in small doses.  No I didn’t eat all of these pictured, that would be absurd.

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For a healthier alternative, the apple and (you guessed it) mango bar is a bit more up my alley, and maybe yours as well.  This is what inspired this title.  Things sometimes go in threes.

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I love Summer and everything about these sweet treats screams as such.  If you’re in the mood this tea and the accompanying treats will make for quite the sugar rush.  If that’s what you’re into then I say go for it.  Otherwise, proceed with caution.

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I had one cookie and just one, I promise.  The rest I stored away for future snacking or to share with pals.   Portion control is a powerful thing.

Ah I love summer and I wish I could write that every week.  I will at least be doing so for a while.  Yay!

Kindest,

Ideen

 

 

Fall Fun

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Best,

Ideen