I Felt Transformed, Transported…

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Some time ago, I had stumbled upon SPORTea at one of my favorite places, Baltimore Cofee and Tea Company, and it was on a display table along with many other teas to select for your brewing and steeping enjoyment.

It just didn’t feel right at the time.  Sometimes it just doesn’t.  It didn’t stand out to me.  I drank it hot.  It literally felt like a tea that was just there to me.  I ordered it, I drank it, and then I left.  Maybe it felt forced.  If it sounds like I’m talking badly about it, I don’t mean to.  There’s a reason I never felt compelled to write about it.  I have so many teas like this on backlog, and these stories will sadly (or not) never see the light of day.

But then something magical happened…

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A couple of weeks back I stopped in at Baltimore Coffee and Tea’s newest location, at the Annapolis Towne Centre, I already knew I was going to walk into something special.

I could tell from the outside looking in that this has that place to be kind of vibe.  And I don’t mean in a pretentious sense.  I mean in a place to feel like you’re in your world world, or your own universe, but still feel same to be near your home or loved ones.

In typical fashion, I stopped in alone and already felt at peace about things.  It’s all your perception, and I could have felt like I was just there or in a funk, like I was in a previous visit I alluded to, but I felt good.  The gentleman at the counter literally read my mind.  I asked for an iced tea recommendation and without any hesitation, he said SPORTea.

There was a blast from the past and a flashback but right away.  I had heard that name from somewhere, but it didn’t register right away.

All you need to know about SPORTea can be found here & here.  I’ve done my job and now I’ll just tell you how great this tea is.  The dichotomy is like night and day.  This is meant to drank iced.

 

I don’t think words can describe how healing and uplifting this drink is.  It hit the spot on so many levels, and I don’t have the words for that either.   Being in a good mood and in a good place helps.

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I started off admiring the inside, but a drink like this and a place like this screams sitting in the courtyard that faces the Towne Centre and the rest of the world.  But inside I felt safe, I felt protected, and I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  I’ve often said this in previous stories, but it’s true.

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The skies and the sun were looking picturesque, and it was a perfect day for doing nothing or anything you want.  That can apply to just about any day if you think about it, or better of not.  This felt like a go with your own flow kind of day, and I’m grateful I ended up here.

Baltimore Coffee & Tea has always displayed the best, brightest, and most inspiring stories to me, for not just tea, but life life in general (previous visits from all around the area can be found here) and for this to be in Annapolis (My past Annapolis memories for your viewing pleasure are right here) makes it that much sweeter.

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Speaking of sweet, I can’t help myself but include a sweet treat with my teas, but SPORTea can be enjoyed alone or with anything you want.

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I’ve yet to see SPORTea outside of Baltimore Coffee & Tea but this link to shop online seems like a good start.

I hope you have a great one and as always, peace be with you…

Love,

Ideen

 

Awaken, Invigorate, Revitalize

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All roads lead to something, and some other roads lead to something, wait I just said that.  I was going for more of that dramatic stuff, but if and when I get to more, then so be it.

I’m writing this as there’s a little bit of mixed precipitation.  That’s been the theme of this and what seems like last year’s winter.  We get teases of things, only to get nothing.  But in that regard, I take it as a sigh of relief.  We had our cold days, our windy days, and our hints of the warmer weather to come.  But as always, it’s best to live in the moment.

So this takes me back to a recent memory, where I was on my own mini vacation.  I was staying at a home of some dear friends’, while I took care of their dogs (who are so dear to me), and I had the blessing to write about some of the teas in their collection (a few that are in mine as well), and to share it with you from a different perspective, a different vantage point, and with different props.  I love props.    I may have alluded to all this last week.

I don’t view one tea brand as better than another, but I do have my favorites.   Trader Joe’s will always be a favorite.  My ever growing encyclopedia of my Trader Joe’s tea recaps can be found here.

So it helps that while I’m away, to still have some familiar friends nearby.  And the TJ’s tea I’m talking about is the Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea.

The teas that actually aren’t tea (no leaves to be found), are some of those fascinating.  This is why we call them tisanes aka herbal tea.   Beautiful.

I think of this tea as an all in one kind of tea,  It rebuilds, it rejuvenates, it reinvents.  And it does all those things I list in the title, and so much more.  That seems like a cheesy plug for something, but it’s true.   My dear friend suggested I get to this tea as soon as I can.  I had the the time, I had the space, the setting, and all those other little things that are the big things too, that make a tea and the experience that much more exciting.

You see, any entity can be great, but when surrounded by certain elements that make you feel good,  it’s that much better.  This is not covering up any deficiencies, because there aren’t any.   This is just making this the most memorable experience, for me, that I can make.

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I knew when I was brewing the water, opening the tea packet, and steeping, I was on the verge of something great.

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I’m running on a string of great teas, as if you read my posts you can tell, and I hopefully don’t see an end in sight.  There may be a hiccup or roadblock or two, but it just says that the level of teas is off the charts by so many companies.

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Maybe it’s the competitive marketplace, the interest in tea drinking going up, or maybe there’s room for everyone and everything.  I’d say it’s combination of all of the above, and then some.

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I’ve said so much without saying a lot about the tea itself.    And that guy in the picture does seem a bit creepy no? Ha.  Those are animal crackers since you were asking.  Oh yes, the tea, finally…

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The turmeric and ginger are easily detectable, based on appearance and on taste.  That golden color can only mean one thing.   I didn’t realize until after reading the synopsis, that that other powerful spice was black pepper, and not so much the licorice root.  Add some orange peel and orange oil, and you have an entirely organic experience, literally.

I’ve been spoiled and blessed all at once.  This tea did everything it said it would, and to call anything the best or the greatest makes those terms lose their luster.  So I’ll just say the tea was great.  Because it really is.

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And as the weather begins to break, this is the perfect for now, and for a little while longer.  Actually for any date, time, and season you want.   And those are the best teas.

Those are the best anything.

It’s almost Spring.   More is coming.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Carolina Tea Party

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I’m so out of sorts here.   I honestly forgot it was the 4th of July.  Happy Holidays.

One of the main joys and appreciation feelings I get from doing this is when close friends suggest trying a tea.  There’s a sense of validation, value, and a level of seriousness that people see I give this ongoing story of my love for tea.  It means so much.  I mean that sincerely.

So my friends suggested I try the Carolina Honey from Argo Tea.   I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them or given them much consideration.  Not for many reason in particular.  The bottled and iced tea genre is loaded with options, so there’s some I may never get to in this lifetime.  Well a lifetime is a long time, maybe I have a chance.

I did a little research on Argo beforehand and their story is one to root for.  They’re a proponent on working with local growers, local tea organizations, and use Fair Trade ingredients whenever possible.  This is all the good energies that make me want to sample their teas for a second and third helping, and then some.

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Unfortunately the Carolina Honey didn’t do anything for me to stand out.  And based on everything I just wrote, that makes me a little disheartened.

Nilgiri black tea, wildflower honey, and a splash of tart lemons sounds like a trio of flavors merging together and bringing you something incredible.  I wish I could say that. The flavors did not wow me like I had hoped.  It seemed lighter and standard at times, while after other sips I felt a few of my sips were a little too sweet for my liking.

How could that be?  The honey is in every bottle, and is going to be spread out evenly in every container, and hopefully with most sips.  Maybe it was the mood I was in.  I went from eager and excited to wondering if my expectations were too high.   When it comes to a tea and a company of this magnitude I feel expectations should be raised.

I actually waited to have this at my same friends’ party this past weekend because I wanted to pair it with some charming foods and be around some equally charming people.  I just wish this tea had done the same for me.

The party was beautiful, but as you can suspect, tea was not the main beverage being served. But for the sake of purity, water and this tea is the only thing I drank.  And the latter I couldn’t finish, and was only taking sparing sips over the course of the day.

I paired my tea with various finger foods; peanuts, pretzels, tiny sandwiches, and the the likes.  The smaller bites worked here.  I wish the tea did the same.  Can you tell I’m slightly despondent?  Yes I am.

But with all this being said, I’m here to support Argo Tea.    Their variety of teas and variety of bottled drinks, and among so many other fun things, is going to make this easy for me to find many things enjoyable.

Here are is their fantastic options for purchasing their tea and tea supplies online, and a link to find of their cafes near you, and finally here is a link to where you can find their bottled teas.

From their list of flavors I sense I’m going to really enjoy and appreciate the craftsmanship, the heart, and soul in many of these bottles.  I look forward to it and I also look forward to trying their loose leaf teas down the line.

I want to thank my friends for opening up a world to me that I otherwise may not have explored anytime soon.   This is the only beginning and I can only see things looking better and brighter.

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More from Argo is coming.

Happy Holidays, Happy 4th, and all the other good stuff.

Ideen

 

Pure Ambrosia

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Some time ago I walked into  Greenberry’s Coffee, in Charlottesville, VA to be exact.  It’s been a few years, but I most likely grabbed a cup of coffee and a snack to go.   It wasn’t the most memorable experience simply for the fact that how many times do we get grab some java and go on our merry way.

Knowing now, what I didn’t know then, I would have appreciated the small town charm of the cafe. Maybe I did for a moment, but I was in a rush. Why was in a rush?

This brings me to a visit to one of my favorite Virginia communities, Mclean.  And when I’m in a place I don’t frequent enough, it’s time to discover something fun.  To my pleasant surprise, they had shop minutes up the road from where I was.  I had no idea Greenberry’s had multiple locations, mainly in VA and DC, until yesterday.  Charlottesville was the original store, which in hindsight was what I would like to be writing about.  All in good time.

My idealism could be naive but I always thought of McLean as one of those parts of Northern Virginia, that still had most of their historic buildings and character in tact. When I was younger and living nearby, I would go out of my way to drive through this and similar areas, to get a more scenic and down-to-earth vibe.. As I’ve gotten older that sentiment grows.  I like big cities but the charm of a smaller community just feels right.

The Mclean location has that feel, but I can sense a change is coming, not so much with the store, but with the town itself.  The energy and happy feeling I got from when I parked to walked in, remained.

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It’s August, that means more iced tea.  Anything else would be a slap in the face to my favorite season.   The Ambrosia tea stuck out.  A lot of them did, but that name with its positive connotations, is what I was feeling.  I’m glad I did.

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This is traditionally drank hot, and I’m all for tradition, but lets toss that aside. It’s once again time to break out of my comfort zone, and  I went ahead and ordered the tallest glass they had.

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Black currant, apricot, and mango flavors makes this a crowd pleaser.  I was pleased for sue.  It didn’t start off strongly for me but this was a grower.  I realized I was sipping just a little more than the previous one each time.   It was getting better by the minute.  I sat for a good 30 appreciating my glass and the community feel around me.

I’m not an iced tea drinker by nature.  It’s not me but for the time frame, it’s only appropriate.  But I truly enjoyed this. The tastes expanded over the course of my time there and I was highly satisfied at the end.   I bet this tastes even better hot.  I hope to get the opportunity to have a cup in traditional fashion.

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They made me so much, they had to give me the rest in another cup.  I find that very endearing.  The staff could not have been nicer by the way, even in the midst of being overwhelmed with patrons.

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My teacake was hard to finish.  This had more to do with the weather.  It was an ambitious choice.  Again, when the timing presents itself, I bet I enjoy this much more.   But how charming are those owls?  Where can I get those plates?

I didn’t see the Ambrosia listed but here’s a list of their teas if you’re interested in purchasing.

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There were a lot of people that seemed to know each other.  I got the sense this is one of those places where you run into someone, catch up for a few minutes, then the next time you’d see ’em would be right back here, if not before.  I dig that.

As neighborhoods rapidly expand development, I get mixed feelings.  Some things are inevitable but the community businesses have a place and deserve to have a place.  From talking to folks Greenberry’s has kept up with the times.  And as you can see here, they’re growing in stores.  As long as they (and stores likes them) can maintain their integrity and charm, that’s ok.   But there’s something to be said about the local business culture.   I’m drawn to it.  I don’t like to speak for everyone else, but I suspect many share that sentiment.

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I look forward to coming back again.  I love local.  Lets do it again soon.

Best,

Ideen

 

Bakers Is Beautiful

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Over the course of the year-and-a-half I’ve been doing these posts, I’ve been professing my love for Annapolis.  We learn a lot about ourselves when we’re writing or sharing our thoughts, in whatever medium we see fit.   The subject matter is tea but it’s also about finding the good in every situation, no matter how difficult it may be.  This won’t be a challenge.

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My visit to Bakers & Co. was one of the most enjoyable.   I didn’t want to leave.

A couple weeks prior I was driving through the Eastport neighborhood of Naptown, and saw this hidden gem nestled within a gorgeous set of houses. This was out of production set, and I hadn’t even walked in.  I just drove by second-guessing myself after a while. Why didn’t I just walk in?  Would I be back and in an organic fashion?  Two weeks later…

There are signs all around us.  There’s good people and good spirits in this universe to guide you in your journey.   And someone was looking out for me as I naturally arrived here and made it a point to park my car nearby and stroll right in.  And stroll I did.  This area is even more spectacular than I envisioned.

I was hoping in the back of my mind, there would be an obscure tea to write about. Otherwise, a coffee would suffice.  After poking around for a few seconds, I noticed a sign in the back for a special in-house tea.  I asked the friendly staff member what that was. She mentioned it was their homemade black tea with pineapple, orange juice, and spices.   On a 90+ degree day I actually asked if I should have it chilled or warmed.   Moving right along…

The pastry set-up was stunning.  Even on a smoldering day, I had to get something to pair with this exciting new tea I was about to have.   After passing on the almond croissant (which is extremely popular), I went with the blueberry oat bar.

I’ll get right to it after all this dramatic build-up. The tea refreshed me to my core. And my blueberry sweet treat complemented my cup perfectly.

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I took my sweet (see what I did?) time with everything.   I took a lot of pictures and wish I could post them all.  Literally across both side of the street were homes.  I imagine the values of these properties are high and not close to my means.   Maybe in the next life.  But I felt so comfortable and so at home with these surroundings.

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Some memories and stories are too good be shared.  They’re meant to be kept internal.  I debated on whether or not to write about this but I think I’d regret it if I hadn’t.

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My main reason is my love for local businesses has been heightened with this blog.  I’ve always preferred family run shoppes versus the big box stores.  I imagine many people share my sentiment.    For as long as I can recall it’s always been my modus operandi.

Along those lines, my attachments and affinity for small towns, beautiful streets, and a sense of community is what I yearn for.  Bakers and Co. encompasses all of the above, and then some.

The people working the counter were amazing.   The quaintness of this all is worthy of romanticizing.

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If you’re in the vicinity, I cannot recommend this place enough.  There’s comforting outdoor seating as my photos have hopefully captured.  And my intent was to show the beautiful surroundings.    I can only hope I did it justice.  And I can only hope that future visits will be just as inspiring.

Take good care,

Ideen

Fall Favorites

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Well it’s Thanksgiving this week and why would I not continue the pumpkin panel! That panel only includes me and sometimes the universe. But it’s good to believe.

This week I take it even more local with a return visit to Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company and an in-person review of the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Eastern Shore Tea Company.

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I was just there a few hours ago so it’s fresh in my mind.  I wasn’t thrilled with it. Without looking I could tell it was black tea.  The taste is too obvious not to notice.  The ingredients included are cinnamon, clove, and something called pumpkin.

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I didn’t get much of anything.  I don’t expect every tea to be succulent and mesmerizing.  But I do want some flavor.  If you had told me this was a black tea with bergamot I would have believed it and not thought anything else of it.  It tasted that basic.

As you can see in the photos, the visual looks amazing.  The steeped bag evokes a lot of color and made me feel cozy being indoors.   For a moment I was fine with the cold weather.

I could definitely smell something separate from a usual black tea.  Maybe it’s the smell of fall and the holidays rapidly approaching.

I really wanted to like this tea but it’s just there.  I do think a lot of people are going to love it and add it to their tea collection.   I wish I could say the same.

This tea along with so many others are always on sale, not just during the final months of the year, so you can enjoy it any time.   Hopefully your experience will be a joyous one.

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I had my cup with a delicious pumpkin muffin.  As you can see the muffin never had a chance while the tea was not going down as quick.

I’ve had many teas from that I’ve adored and stashed in my collection.   And I look forward to many of those occasions happening again.  Even though this wasn’t the best, I know some spectacular teas will be delighted on down the line.

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Thanksgiving is just two days away so I’m not sure if this is the end of the pumpkin talk or not.  I sure hope not.   But as we approach that other major holiday, those types of teas will be talked about.

For my previous posts on this fantastic store, you can go here and here.

I’m thankful, grateful, and fortunate to be able to write about such a wonderful topic.  I love tea and I love the people who have been a part of this experience. That includes the assistance from the wonderful folks at their various locations.

I wish all of a you a safe, blessed, and joyous Thanksgiving.   And I look forward to doing this again.

Take good care.

Ideen

 

 

 

One Love

I’ve wanted to find any reason to incorporate the things I love into my posts.   And fortunately, the iconic and legendary Bob Marley is near the top of that list.

I found out about Marley’s Beverage Company only a few months ago and was looking for the perfect time to write about it. Well the Summer is the right time to talk about anything cool.   I didn’t want to wait all the way to February on his birthday to write about it.

I could only hope that a grocery store or the like would carry a product with such a monumental and historic name attached to it.

I am grateful to say that was the case.   Even though there were only two flavors available, luckily they were both the bottled teas. And did they taste fun and yes, I’m feeling mellow.

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Of course there would be a bias and I was hoping they would taste at least satisfying.  It was all that and so much more.  I felt great after sampling both.  It became more than sampling.  I decimated both.   Thankfully they were decaffeinated or I’d be bouncing off the walls.

As I’m writing this and feeling so calm, I realize that on the products site, they list the 100% Natural Calming Botanicals and this feels more than a placebo.  I feel so at peace.

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First up is the Black Tea with Peach, Raspberry, and Passion Fruit.  That is quite the trio of fruit.   And the trio comes together for a masterpiece of flavors.  I felt so good drinking this.

Most important, the tea does not get lost in the shuffle even though these powerful fruit flavors are included.   I can tell a lot of soul and a lot of passion (pun not intended) is behind this beverage.

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And then we have the Green Tea with Honey. The tea and honey combo is terrific.  There’s an even balance that both complement the other so well.  I’m relaxing and enjoying life sipping on this one as well.

This is also a tea that should be savored and drank naturally. Neither of these feel like the usual chugging iced teas or cold beverages that other may seem designed to do.

In what is now becoming a tradition with my recent recaps, I opened up the bottled and poured them in glasses so you can get the beautiful tints and shades of both.

How gorgeous do they both look?

To see if their beverages are sold near you, click here. And to read more about this great company, click here and here.

I had so much fun trying these teas and talking up how great they were, that I hope I get the opportunity to do so again.

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One love.

Kindest,

Ideen