There’s Room For Everyone

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As promised (in a different universe, or the same one depending on how you look at it), I wanted to dedicate my last of the two posts to Syriana Cafe & Gallery, to not just a off-the-charts tea, but also a wonderful experience that only gets better with time.

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Since this writing, their official grand opening has taken place.  I wish I was able to attend, but the timing of things and life prevented me from doing so.  But I’m grateful to have made the serendipitous visit last Thursday.  And it’s truly an honor to come up with two stories based on what is hopefully he the first of many stops to this majestic place.

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I’ll admit I’ve fallen into patterns like so many of us do.  I find myself in routines, going to the same places, ordering the same things, and wondering what’s wrong with me.  Literally I go through this mantra in my head from time-to-time.  And there’s nothing wrong with me, or you, or anyone.  We like what we like.   But I don’t like a lot of routine.

Even if it’s the same cup of coffee, I rather get it from a different place, just to keep a level of sanity.   But you know what the say about insanity.  Well somebody somewhere said something.

A place like Syriana Cafe is the complete opposite of the norm.  It’s a an art gallery, cafe, and a place of rest.  It’s so much more on top of all that.   It’s the type of experience that I’d want to be a part of on a regular basis, that would never be the same and never get old.

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That comes from the breakfast pizza I ordered, along with this stellar Hibiscus, Citrus, and Mint tea from Hooyo’s Tea, based out of Baltimore, MD.

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For more on Hooyo’s Tea, here is their story, teas available for purchase online, where you can find their teas, and contact information.

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I was informed that Syriana Cafe has an agreement with the tea company, which is a win win for everyone.  Local supporting local is what life is all about.   And I’m all about it…

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But this tea is the perfect preview of sunnier and happier days ahead.  And I know they’re coming.  In my heart and mind they’re here and they’ve always been here.  A tea with this soul, this spirit, and not to mention the color, flavor, and aftertaste brings all the feelings and emotions of all that is good in the universe.

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The synopsis is here so I don’t need to go into that detail.  I can only envision how great this would be iced.  Yum.

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When enjoyed in a setting such as this, with so many beautiful visual cues, a powerful and vibrational energy, and a picturesque town such as Ellicott City, it’s the stuff you read or see about, but also know it exists.

I want to thank the owner, Majd, for chatting with me for a few minutes, and giving me a bit of history in how this cafe came to be.

By looks of the grand opening, there’s nothing but a warm embrace and support from not only the neighborhood, but the town, and Howard County.   As I said in the title, there’s room for everybody.  One successful local business can only benefit the other ones surrounding it.   I know success, prosperity, and all around great things are to come for this place.

From one event such as the grand opening leads into another….

SpringFest 2018 is this Saturday, which is in conjunction with Earth Day, is a celebration of the town, celebration of Spring, and a celebration of all that is good.   Admission is free, and it’s one where I hopefully will be able to attend.   All the information you need can be found here.

This was tremendous.   I don’t know where to go from here.  Actually yes I do.  If time is allowed, I may do another post this week (and when I post outside of Tea Tuesday, you know it means something) on this beautiful town and in celebration of the upcoming festival.

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Have a blessed one.

Ideen

That’s The Island Greeting…

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This post is long overdue for several reasons.  First, a friend brought me a couple of boxes of Hawaiian Islands Tea Company, and while I sampled them, I just never gave myself the opportunity to write about them.  That, or the timing didn’t seem right.

For more on purchasing Hawaiian Island Teas, click here.

Speaking of timing, a recent visit right after Christmas, to the ever-so-charming Café Latte da in the beautiful Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, told me the timing was just right.

I met up with a friend on a truly random day, which are always my favorites.  The intention was coffee, breakfast, maybe a pastry, and who know what else.  But intention and attention to things change.  Yes there was coffee, but I recall fondly how charming their tea display was.

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While you see a familiar brand in full display, off to the left was the Hawaiian Islands that have alluded me for far too long.

It was meant to be.  It’s really that simple.  I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I detached myself from the universe, whether I realized it or not, and the tea was just waiting for me, in plain sight.

The tea I’m actually going to talk about is the Coconut Macadamia Herbal Rooibos tea, that I’m actually sipping on currently to make this post a little more authentic.  I may do more of this in the future, if I can gain even some more inspiration reminiscing on the past sipping experience, and how I feel in the present, and as I write this.

Considering that this was a little under a month ago, and still technically in the holidays, a lot of feelings and emotions are already in place, and even more amplified because of the season.

For all the melancholy, there’s always much to be grateful, hopeful, and to be happy for.  Just the fact that I’m able to write this out is a blessing.  And the fact that you, me, or anyone else has a gift to express themselves is another one.  I could go on and on.

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How was the tea?  While it may not make sense to drink it during the colder months, it made all the sense to me.  It makes all the sense.  That’s what’s so great about tea, you can have many of them, hot or chilled, and many during any time of year.

This was a great tea.  And Roobios continues to be impress me and make me so happy.

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The flavors of coconut and macadmia are enough, more than enough, to make you smile, feel good, and feel relaxed.  As the synopsis says Rooibos is known to help with digestive issues and nervous tension, which is something I’ve been dealing with for quite some time.  And while I think most natural teas, have so many health benefits, it’s good to know that Rooibos is exactly what I need more times than not.  No matter I’ve been so drawn to it.  That’s no accident.

You know what else helps with tension?  Good company, a quiet space, and plenty of time to listen to what’s going on with the friends in your world, in a setting that I yearn for.

 

HITeaCoconutMacadmiaTeaSantaI haven’t been to Latte da since, and I almost in a way feel that’s fitting.   I’ll go back for a coffee, a pastry, a breakfast item, and time will go on, and I won’t think about things.

But another magnetic force, a sign from the universe, and something much bigger than I can describe will bring us back here for another momentous day.   I might be sound dramatic, but these are the experiences that better me as a person, humble me, and remind me that it’s ok to feel whatever it is I’m feeling.

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I hope I’m forgiven for posting these holiday images a little late. Haha.

I want to believe the universe loves me, forgives me, and is here to look out for me.

It looked out for us on this day.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

…The Highest of the High…

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If you don’t know then I’ll say it, The Land of Kush is a masterpiece in all areas.

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It took me over 3 1/2 years from discovering this gem, to actually walking and enjoying myself and my life.  What took me so long?  I have no answers, other than I wasn’t meant to go there until right around this past Christmas.  I honestly don’t know after that, but the universe had other plans for me now, and now the universe has brought me here.

This wasn’t a meal I was ever going to write about or share with you necessarily across this blog or wherever else I may write about things. And it wasn’t for any negative reasons, it just did’t come across my radar.  I was going to enjoy my meal, likely give a great review across multiple sites, then hopefully romanticize it enough to the point I’ll set myself up for a letdown the next time I came back.  That last sentence was a joke by the way, but I think you know what I mean.

Your first impression is the lasting impression, and like I said, I didn’t think I was going to be able to share with you.  But that was until…

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I saw their Sorrel (or Sorrell) on the drink menu which is fresh brewed hibiscus leaves, and nothing else.  And my favorite kind of drinks are the ones with the fewest ingredients.  And this was joy to drink, and it’s best drank cold.  You can see the pictures for yourselves and just picture how magnificent this is.  And it’s exactly that and all the other good vibrations that comes with it.

And I’ll have more good vibes to talk about shortly.

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I kept it simple with my order, which is something I’m guilty of when going somewhere new.  I got the Curry Chickun, vegan mac and cheese, and rice and vegetable medley.  And the meal is incredible.  I can only say so much, the pictures say it all.

I so badly wanted to like this based on what friends of mine had shared with me, and the aura of prestige that I bestowed upon this place, just because the years started to pass by and I still had yet to set foot in the restaurant.

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Damn this was good.  I didn’t expect to finish it all right then and there.  But I took my time and found myself in the most peaceful place I’ve been in some time.  And with all the commotion of life, the holidays, and and everything else that comes in our direction, any kind of peace and tranquility is welcome.  And I was so out at peace, I was so happy, and I was just so happy with everything.

This place felt so Baltimore, felt so local, but also felt unfamiliar, yet familiar all at once.  The feelings of familiarity and doing this somewhere before in a previous life were there.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I was transported myself into a different universe and felt transformed all at once.  And when I go to the next level; it’s not always about the food, and at many times it’s bigger than anything related to the restaurant itself.   It’s something bigger than us, out of this body, and out of this world.

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For about an hour, I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  And that’s a feeling that isn’t narcissistic, self indulgent, or any other bells and whistles like that.  It’s more of a feeling of calm, of zen, of what makes this life so great.

This food was so great, the simple service, the amazing staff, and that incredible music are all the perfect complement to one another.   Everything was vibrating off the charts in a way I haven’t felt in some time.

And about the music..  I haven’t heard a quality sequence of songs anywhere in years.  That includes going to bars, lounges, even live concerts, and the occasional pretentious club I’ve been to.   The latter part is kind of a joke but somewhat serious, ha.  But give me great beats, hip hop, neo soul, or whatever you want to call it, from the 90’s, and I’m a happy guy.

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I was already done with my food but the hits just kept coming one after another.  At this point I was afraid to leave.  I was afraid I was going to miss a song I hadn’t heard in years.  And truthfully, I didn’t have that big of plans later in the day that I had to leave.  I was happy where I was, I was grateful where I was, and I was where my feet were.  And it was a beautiful place.

This is a beautiful place.

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For more on Land of Kush, here is their story, their menu, upcoming events, and their contact info.

It won’t be three plus years until the next time.

Thank you Land of Kush.  This is a memory I’m so grateful for.

Happy New Year.

Ideen

 

 

The Joy and Peace of the Season

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I used a similar title once before (right here), in a different universe, where I was in a different place.  I was in a place of peace, of happiness, where I was younger (even though it was only three years ago), and everything seemed like it would go on forever.  All the while knowing that the life I’m living can’t go on forever.

And I’m not talking about a life full of partying, going crazy, and living in the fast lane, or whatever these cheeseball terms are.  I’m talking about spending time with the ones you care the most about, whether it’s over Christmas or any time of year.  We’re grateful for the moments and the time we have, feeling that time may stand still, we could do this all day, we want to do this all day, and we want to be where we are.

I’ve had so many moments like that in the past year, with the awareness that nothing lasts forever.   The fact that I’m expressing my thoughts about this is that I still haven’t come to terms, or made peace with this.  If I’m being vague, well that’s the point.  But the fact that I’m aware at least shows that I’m at least trying to come to terms with things in my life.

The peaceful, the relaxing, and the calming parts of the holidays will always be there, but for me, it’ll take on a whole new trajectory.   I feel like I’ve outgrown a few things that I maybe should’ve done a while ago but such is life.  And while I outgrow certain aspects, I embrace the simple, the companionship, the love, the community, from friendship and family that has always been, and will always be there.  At least I hope so.

This leads me to another community.  The Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company has been so good to this blog for the duration, (previous posts can be found here), and a much needed visit, which was again unplanned, to their Timonium location, brought upon me some much needed Christmas Cheer.

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And that Christmas Cheer lead into some Christmas Spirit, aha!  The Eastern Shore Christmas Mint Tea from the Eastern Shore Tea Company came at the right time, in a time where my this holiday season has been a bit off for me, and has seen so many rapid fire changes around me, that I wasn’t sure I would be able to cope with.

But we learn to adapt.  Whether it’s because we have no choice, fight or flight, or we just learn through experience, somehow life goes on.  And it’s going on my friends.

With all the commotion of the holidays, the running around, the shopping, the parties, the eating, the drinking, and all the other frenzy that comes with it; there’s these reminders in life to slow down.  I for one wish I didn’t need reminders, and should always live in as harmonious and as peaceful of a place as possible.  It’s more than doable, and while external situations can’t be helped, there’s still more than enough room for peace, that should be embraced and never taken for granted.

So what’s what I did here.  It was a busy day, but after I purchased my tea, I found a seat, and just was happy with where I was, nothing more, nothing less. Actually more yes.  More happiness and peace is good.  I brought a few chocolates, more for display than anything else, and got some photos with my new friends.

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But before I continue to lose sight of the point of this blog, the tea is tremendous.  But then again, in the place I was in, the mood I was in, and with this setting, just about any tea would be making me feel like a new man.  But this China Black Tea, with hibiscus and peppermint made me feel so warm inside, was so kind to my stomach, kind to me, but most importantly was kind to my soul and spirit.   For this window of time, I felt the joy and peace of the season, and it’s something we all yearn for and it’s not that we deserve it, but we deserve to be good to ourselves, to be good to our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community, and this universe.

After I stopped taking a few pictures, I just sat there, no phones, no distractions (well I maybe did take a picture of their beautiful Christmas tree), and a whole lot of just being,   This is not necessarily an art form, but it does take precision and practice.

What I got from this day is while things may be tumultuous at times, confusing at times, and trying at times, that I’m still here, I’m still breathing, and I have value to give to myself, my surroundings, and this great big world of ours.

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Even if this wasn’t the most amazing and beautiful of Christmases for me, it was still enjoyable at many points.  And maybe down the line I’ll look back at 2017 and realize this was more of a pivotal, transitional, or maybe life altering year then I even realize.

For more on Baltimore Coffee & Tea Company, here are their locations, their story, and their list of teas as well as coffees available for purchase online.

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I hope you guys had a Merry Christmas.

Ideen

 

Hoping There’s Time

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This week I may be cheating just a little, or I’m just pushing the boundaries oh what exactly constitutes a tea, and every now again I’ll throw in a cup of coffee.

So how fitting is it that I take it back to another familiar face and friend, Baltimore Coffee and Tea.

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This week I take it to the Odenton, MD location, which is a first time for me.  The area is quiet, it’s connected to residencies and is part of one of the many towne centers you see popping up in every town or any location that has enough people that developers see the need to justify a towne center.  While many look the same, this location and it’s surroundings does feel a bit more charming and cozy.  There’s lots of green and trees in the vicinity, which is always a good thing.

The beverages I’ll be reviewing today were based on a simple question, ‘have you tried these?’  Two out of three is pretty good, and before today that number was zero.

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I’ll save the Hot Apple Cider for later in the year, if there’s time.  But the Dirty Pumpkin Chai is something I had to try.   It’s early November, the time is now or never.  More on that in a second.

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I like the chai but it’s not setting the world on fire.  There’s truly no need for any analysis. You know what you’re going to get.  I assume black tea and milk since it’s a chai.  But it could all coffee for all I know.  I’m willing to wager zero dollars that I tasted some cinnamon, nutmeg, and all your other fall essentials.  I enjoyed it with a pumpkin biscotti.   It’s great for now and it’s great until this limited time beverage ends.  But I know there’s better out there.

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The Salted Caramel Mocha was way too rich for me.  I mean it’s coffee with stuff that I don’t usually have.   For the sake of trying something new, I wanted to try something new, but I could barely get any sips in before my stomach and my head began to ache.  There’s a lot more sugar in there than I can handle.  But again, just because I don’t care for it, doesn’t mean you won’t.  And I imagine I would be on the minority on this one.  No biscotti, or any pastry, was going to work with a drink like this.  But my cranberry and pistachi biscotti tasted great on its own.

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But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if these drinks are going to work for you or not.  I’m looking at the cup half full here and knowing that Baltimore Coffee and Tea has been good to me many times over the years, (previous stories can be found here) that a minor hiccup is not going to change that.

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For their coffees click here, their tea list is here, and their growing list of store can be found here.

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I made a comment about time earlier.  Because I feel (and I’m inclined to believe many others such as yourself might too) time is moving rather quickly, and there’s so many teas I want to talk about..  I may make more than just my weekly post as we head towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ve been introduced to different teas, discovered different teas, drinks, and similar entities that I feel a weekly post may not be enough.  So I hope to take this further if I can make the time.  And that’s something that can be easily done.  Yet I still have to make the time for it.

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And I will…

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted

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So the title came to me earlier tonight.  And it’s inspired from this.

As I mentioned last week, there are certain teas, stores, and cafes that will hold sentimental value to me.  Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company will always be in that conversation.

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As you can see in my history of posts, the love affair is real.

The teas haven’t always been the best, but the service from their Annapolis and Timonium locations has always been stellar.

If I were to do a weekly blog just based on this wonderful company, I would never run out of material.   I’ve been here that many times, but sometimes I go just for me.  No blogs no writing, not anything.  Sometimes we need that.  Not everything is meant to be shared.

But as the title says, sometimes a story is necessary.  Sometimes an entity deserves all the praise. I can only do my part to show my appreciation.  Because that’s what Baltimore Coffee & Tea deserves, all the appreciation.  Because I can’t take a place like this for granted.  It’s been so good to me.

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And you know where else has been good to me?  The state capital of Annapolis (my history with tea in and relating to Annapolis can be found here) is the backdrop for so many small things and memories, that are truly the big things.

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I can’t go the entire summer without not giving love to this magical, colonial, and historical place.   So with that, my most recent visit was last week, and I was going merely for a cup of coffee.

That changed because I felt inspired.

When I’m reviewing teas purchased here, I usually grab them a bag from the display rack, or kindly ask one of the friendly staff members to open up a box of a tea I’d like to try.  They’re so good about that.  It’s opened up many new doors and experiences, I didn’t know existed.  The tea journey is never-ending, and they’ve added multiple dimensions to that.  I’m thankful for that.

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So how fitting is it, that I decided to order a tea from the menu.  And what do I see but the original or originals, the Eastern Shore Back Porch Iced Tea,  As the description says, it’s your standard iced tea.  There’s nothing fancy or earth shattering about it.  But if you know what to expect it’s going to be just fine.

For where I was, it was just fine.

I’ve never been a fan of just iced tea.  It’s not that I’m opposed to it, but I’ve always wanted something just a little more.  And I don’t mean sugar or any additives.  I appreciate a little natural flavor of some sort.

But sometimes you just want a cup of tea, you want some iced tea, and nothing else.  Well I can’t be too dramatic.  They did give me a lemon, which was plenty.

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I also got a simple chicken salad over lettuce.   And I found myself in a front corner spot of the store, which has now been a home away from home.  I’m serious when I say this.  I’ve sat here countless numbers of times over the past couple of years, that if I don’t get that spot (or porch in this instance) a part of me feels confused.  And no I haven’t always sat there but I think this resonates with a few people.

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In saying all this, the old man or old soul is coming through a little more than I’d prefer. But that spot, and this place is a part of me.  It has a small piece of my heart, and I’m grateful to give that piece to them.

After I took a few pictures I sat there for a while.  And it may have been an hour, but it felt like time stood still and I could sit there all day.  In many ways I did, I’v had before, and I will again.

Man I love this place.

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I’m not ready to put an end to summer just yet.  I’ve got iced teas I could write about for weeks, and maybe months.  I hope I can get to all of them, if not, I’ll save it for another time.  But you can be sure Baltimore Coffee and Tea will be a part of the conversation again, and soon.

How can it not be?

To purchase this tea, along with others, click here.

If you’re in the area, or will be visiting, here’s their list of stores, FAQ, and contact information.

Finally, here’s more from Eastern Shore Tea Company.

Thanks so much and I wish you a happy upcoming holiday weekend.

We’re just getting started.

Blessed,

Ideen

 

Artscape Has My Heart

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I tend to say this sometimes.  Not everything has my heart.  If everything did would there be room for anything else?  I’m not sure.  But I’m sometimes selective in what I place stock and loyalty in.   If not, the things truly of value, may lose some of well, there value.

Since my first Artscape in 2006, I’ve never not been back.  I fell in love with the aura, with the atmosphere, with the culture, with the food, and a new found love for the city of Baltimore.

I was late to the party, so I have no idea how the event was before.   But I do know it’s evolved with the times and so have the people.  For a while that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Everyone has their take but somewhere in the late 2000s to the up to a a few years ago, the event lost something.  The spark, the local food vendors, the local artists were put on the back burner in favor of more corporate, more generic, and more vapid food suppliers, artists, and literally everything else.

Certain parts of the festival were eliminated, bands were booked for the sake of filling a lot, and overall the event had an arbitrary feel.  It was done just to do.  And not much else.

It felt like any other festival,  carnival, or sanitized event that you could find on a weekly basis during the warmer climate months. It no longer felt special.  It was still Artscape but not the Artscape we remember.

Then something beautiful transpired.  Enough people spoke up and over time.  They wanted local,  and I mean they wanted everything as local as possible.  The feedback was massive and unanimous.  People wanted their old Artscape back and to feel like its a Baltimore thing and no one elses.  And not in a territorial sense.  But we’re here, it’s the city, and it should represent that.

Now I could be wrong with everything I’m saying.  It’s just a feeling and an observation, that is shared by many of my friends.

The past few years has seen a renaissance.  With few if any exceptions, the festival is local.  The restaurant booths were all proud displaying a Maryland location,  the artists just the same.   While national acts were booked, that’s different.  That’s always been part of the event. But now the artists seem to be there because it clicks with everything else and not just there to fill space and time.

For many it’s just a festival, and for others there’s a sentimentality.  I always have and always will look forward to walking around on my own and becoming one with this event. I’ll run into people sure, but this is one I’v always enjoyed going at it alone, especially that Friday day, when it’s quiet and I can take in so much more.

Of course I’ve joined friends but Artscape has taken on a life of its own that hits us all in unique ways.

With all that, I did want to talk about a serendipitous tea experience.

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For our pals in Baltimore, Zeke’s Cofee, also hits a sentimental nerve with many.  It’s local, it’s great coffee, and they’re easily accessible.

Now I’ve had their coffee and enjoy it like many others but that’s not my forte.

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So it was a wonderful gift to see that Zeke’s had a perfectly located booth (more on this shortly) at Artscape, and even better, they were serving the most splendid raspberry iced tea.   I think I had at least four over the weekend.

I’m not sure what else was in it and I didn’t care.  It was raspberry iced tea, and on what is traditionally the hotter weekends of the year, it went down like a tea is supposed to. And I kept coming back for more.

A place that’s known for their great coffee also has other things, as their menu states, but it’s a joy to know they’re in the position to make brilliant teas to boot.

What adds to everything is my good friend Rachel who owns Byrdie Jewelry (and her stuff is awesome) had just as ideal of location in the center and heart of everything.  Yes we were right by Zeke’s, we were near the main stage, we were near the folks handing out free peanut butter bites, and free samples of pizza, but like i said, the best of all was that it was in the epicenter of everything.

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My friends and I spent a lot of time there hanging out but did our share of walking around as well.  It felt like summer camp at times, it felt like a vacation (or staycation) in our own city, but most of all it just felt real.   And in a world that’s evolving and ever changing that is not as commonplace as once before.

I can’t go into every detail about all the amazing people I met, friends I ran into, incredible art I saw, or the stellar local foods I ate.  It was a lot.  There’s some stories better kept inside, and many of us like to hold stuff internal and to our hearts too.  I guess you can say I got nostalgic while already there.  That happens.

Every year tells a different story, and this was more focused on taking it easy, letting the awesomeness come to me organically, and being at peace with the universe.  That sounds like a theme I can embrace every year.

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For more on Byrdie, click here for their products, and where you can find them.

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For more on Zeke’s, here’s the link to buy online, and where you can find them as well.

I had a great time this year.  I’m grateful to have been able to do this again and look forward to not only this event, but hopefully others that will embrace their roots and focus on why local business is the best kind of business.

It brings out the best in everything.

Thanks so much.

Ideen