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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn In Annapolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I thought I tasted a little whip cream too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to it.

XOXOXSpoon4

Peace Be With You.

XOXOXSpoon5

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

My Little Yogi

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This weather is something else.  It’ll be in the 80’s this week here in Baltimore.  I love it. I’ll take this on a regular basis.  However, there this coziness with autumn.  The changing of the colors, the festival season picking up, and more of our friends home means even more fun things to do.  It’s also a sign that it’s only going to get colder.  That makes some excited.  That makes me well, want some hot tea.

Yogi Tea has been one of those brands that exudes positive vibes.  And that’s not just from their teas alone.   From their positives quotes on each tea, promoting well-being, wellness, and yoga poses, the goodness emanates from all over.

Speaking of goodness, I’m grateful to have friends from all over that also share the love of tea, and especially Yogi.

I was at some dear friends’ house this past weekend for an inspiring night of doing nothing and loads of professional chilling (that’s a term we may have coined by the way), which meant loads of good food, maybe some vino, a comfortable couch or recliner, and a cup of tea for the ages.

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When you’re in a house with pals, that term, ‘mi casa es su casa’, might be taken too far and too literally.  In this instance, I had the green light to grab a tea from the tea cabinet. It was narrowed down to a couple.  But not even blog related, I hadn’t had a Yogi Tea in quite some time.

This would be my first (and won’t be the last) time having the Cinnamon Vanilla Healthy Skin.

If you hadn’t told me this was going to make my skin clearer, I wouldn’t have known any difference.  This is not a knock on the tea.  I find this more of a bonus.

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This was one of the most enjoyable cups I’ve had in a long time.   Facing facts, most teas I come across are good to masterful.  This is closer to the latter.  I just had a sense while I was steeping that this was going to be special.  How about that color?  It’s got a tint that screams cinnamon and other enjoyable flavors.  It screams fall and it screams friendship.

I hadn’t heard of a single herb in the tea’s description but now they’ll be ingredients I’ll look for when it comes to my tea.  I’ll seek them out in other products that rejuvenate and rebuild my skin, and who know what else?

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Cinnamon, cardamomom, cocoa shells, and vanilla bean make this one of the most eclectic and genuine blends you’re ever going to have.

It also helps being in a place of peace and around some of your favorite friends.  That enhances just about any experience.  It’ll make even the most mediocre of teas, foods, and anything else for that matter a lot more pleasurable.  That’s how life works.

It was a snack party so the tea went with some of our favorite finger foods.  But this was also treasured alone.  And whenever an animal friend joins the party, it’s definitely the best party ever.  For more on this lavish spread, click here.

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For more on where to find Yogi Teas in your area, click here, or shop online!

And here’s my two previous discussions on this amazing company.

More Yogi reviews to come!

Thanks so much,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

A Glorious Day

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Leave it to the Fells Point Fun Festival to bring another magical moment and post to my blog. After last year, I didn’t expect to write about anything for 2016.  And not in any negative away, I just didn’t have any expectations or was actively looking for this week or next weeks post.   Several lessons can be taken from this, let it come to to you, and expect the unexpected.  I need to keep reminding myself that.

For us in Baltimore, this event means so much to us.  Many of us don’t know why we love this festival exactly, but its sentiment rings true.  The neighborhood has changed, so has the city, maybe we’ve changed ourselves.  I should speak for myself, maybe I’ve changed too.  Actually I know I’ve changed.  But nearly 15 years of doing it, it seems to have been rejuvenated the past couple of years.  The allowing of drinking in certain part of the streets definitely play a part but I truly believe the heavier emphasis on local vendors and local business is the true backbone and the true revitalization.

And we’re talking upwards of 100,000+ people that attend.  This being the 50th anniversary, you know that’s going to add to it.

Saturday was rainy, the skies were gloomy, but my friends and I weathered the storm and enjoyed ourselves.  That’s what life is about.   We drank, we ate, we shared laughs, we hopped from one place to another.  It doesn’t get any better.

Sunday felt like a rebirth.  The early afternoon looked ominous but the skies cleared and then it still felt like Summer.  I know it’s October but it was akin to a new sense of hope and possibility.  It also led to more casual strolling and a more focused energy on seeing what was outside of the madness.

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After that extended monologue (prologue?) I’m grateful to have found within that hectic sea of humanity, the most charming of booths, the Wight Tea Company.

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Again I almost just walked by and thought I have enough content to last throughout the year.  There will never be enough content.  And never enough to support local business.

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I’m glad I turned backed around.   Izzy who was working the booth was kind of enough to let me try all four samples.   There were four, and if I get them wrong, I hope I’m corrected.

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But I’m going to try and recite the orfer by memory. First, I had the Sage Rose White, then the Tropical Green, Evening Tisane (their Chamomile), and finally the Chai.

This sounds like a cop out but I liked them all and likely in that order.   White and Green have always been favorites of mine.  White teas in general have been a regular staple in my sipping repertoire.   Chamomile was once I tea I avoided but as ones palate expands and evolves, new interests develop.  That may be a reflection on me growing as a person too.

By virtue of this blog it has made me try and uncover new teas, new companies, and new start ups.

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This is a start up that I’m rooting for.   I had the pleasure of meeting Brittany and Joseph Wight, two siblings who are the brains and brawn behind this operation.  You couldn’t meet two friendlier people.   When good people are taking a leap of faith, and using their own creativity to better humanity and themselves, it’s something you root for.

I live vicariously through such ventures, and it inspires to maybe one day do something myself. We’re all capable of it.  I motivated myself to do this blog.  And this’ll end up being looked back on as one of my most favorite posts.

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If you’re interested in purchasing their amazing teas, you can click here.  I was told more teas, strainers, filters, etc.  will be added to the website soon.

For our pals in Maryland, their teas are currently located at Rooster & Hen Store in Ellicott City, and Boutique 44 in Roland Park.

And exciting businesses are about to open by the end of the year, that will be carrying their products.  R.House Baltimore will be opening by the end of the year, and a cup or pot of tea will be available at BLK/Sugar Stall.  This article will shed some more light on this.

Last but not least, their teas will be carried at BWillow in Remington, which is due to open at the end of the year.  Big things are happening!

Here’s a list of future events of where you can try their mesmerizing teas.  And here is their contact information, if you have questions.

Oh cool they have a blog too!  Yes, all the cool people are blogging!

My posts from the festival last year and Fells in general can be found here and here.

This is just the beginning.  I will be purchasing their teas and updates to this post may be happening periodically. And hey, another post may come in time as well.  This is one where I want to word out about these guys.  I had such a good feeling when I was there on Sunday.  I wish them all the best.  The best!

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I love local,

Ideen

It’s Still Summer

And we have until tomorrow to enjoy that.   I love the Summer, I love the heat, and I love the sun.  And I’m sad its winding down.

However, there is much in the fall season to look forward to.   The weather is still great and there’s plenty of more opportunities for outdoor events, festivals, parties, and whatever else makes us feel good.

With that in mind I wanted to do a review a tea that could embody the beautiful months we’ve recently enjoyed and a segue into what’s to come.

As promised I’ll be doing another tea from the marvelous Spice & Tea Exchange.  For last weeks post you can click here!

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The Coconut Oolong Tea reminds me of many things. I wouldn’t think popcorn would be one of them.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.  I enjoyed the scent.

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When I opened the package it felt like a movie theater. That’s the buttery aroma or note that cannot be ignored.  Oolong has never been a favorite of mine,but that could change. It’s just not a tea that I think to drink or seek out.   That’s the enjoyment of doing this. I’m trying tea I don’t always have in my sipping repertoire and experiencing new flavors I didn’t know existed.

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This tea was a grower.  I didn’t love it a first.  As you can see, artificial coconut flavor is added.  I can’t say if that adds or takes away from the tea.  Maybe the flavor is necessary.  Maybe I should have added some sugar or flavoring but that’s not my style.

I’ve always preferred my hot teas with nothing.  In the few exceptions I’ve needed to add something, either out of experimenting or because it was necessary, the results have been mixed. Next time I would like to see how this tea could be chilled or with some sweetener incorporated.  Milk or creamer would go well with this too.  This would be a great alternative to coffee.

With all that being said I did enjoy drinking this tea and will gladly have it again.  It’s not on the top of my favorites, but it’s a cup I would look forward to having again.

That emerald color is visually stunning.   I took my time with my first cup just so I could enjoy how beautiful the tint was.

This cup reminded me that there’s so much fun that can come with tea drinking.   When the feeling and instinct is there, I may add some of the things that have been mentioned in this post.  It’s all about experimenting and expanding scents and flavors.  As we head into Autumn that will be happening.

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In the meantime, I will enjoy my cup with some chocolates and candies!   Now that is fall-like!  Uh oh…

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen