Feeling Grateful – Part III

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That doesn’t mean I’ve only been grateful for three visits on this journey.  That would defeat the purpose of what’s happening here.  Matcha Time Cafe is one of my favorite places to visit (Part 1 and 2 can be found here) anywhere.  It’s more than just my love for Ellicott City, (even though that only enhances experience) it’s a love of local business, and a the people behind it.

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The space and time between this and the last visit was much less, and I suspect that this will continue.  For this visit, it was a quiet Friday afternoon, unplanned, and in some ways my favorite of the three.  But they’ve all been my favorite.  Something about this had a feel, just like most experiences area.  Something just felt safe, felt secure, felt even more safe, and felt like home.

This was just that much more safe, it was essential, and it was one of those feelings that can’t be explained.

We’re all in weird places from time to time.  Hopefully for the most part we’re in harmonious ones that when we go somewhere safe and happy, that feeling is that much more amplified.  Otherwise, a place like Matcha is just that much more needed.  I don’t like that word ‘need’, because it represents lack.  But sometimes those lacks need (oops) to be filled.  That comes from within, but it helps to get assistance from friends, from good food, of course good tea, and sometimes from people you don’t even know.

You know when things are comfortable and great when you can relax and the owner (who is also a friend) is working off to the side, and we can enjoy some conversation, but even better in some instances, silence.    I mean of course there was tea.  Let me get to that now.

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Ah it’s now really fall, and that means these endearing lists of teas, coffees, and ciders.  And there’s is as charming as it gets.    Funny how I’ve never had the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Matcha before, so let’s do it.

I had multiple cups and each one just tasted better than the other.  And that speaks to the power and quality of the loose tea itself.  If you can get multiple cups with lots of flavor remaining, all is good with the universe.   I took my time with each cup.  Then somewhere along the way…

Let’s have some chicken curry.  What a perfect dish for this time of year.   It was still bright enough outside and there’s this crisp coolness that just feels right, but also tells you that well, yeah not yet….

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This food and tea combination felt like a home cooked meal.   But in so many ways I felt like I was at home.  This was happiness.  I got comfortable, and maybe too comfortable, but is that such a bad thing?

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I shouldn’t have to question joy.  No one should.   I’m in a place of healing and it take a while, maybe forever to be healed.  Yet there’s always time to feel good and to feel better.  I felt so good here.  I lost track of time.  I felt like I was here 20 minutes, yet I was here nearly three hours.    That’s when you know peace.  We’re capable of attracting so much peace and harmonious feelings regardless of what the outside world presents itself.

The view of the outside world on this day was pretty amazing.  There was an outdoor wedding about to be held.  It was cool to see the set-up to the start of the ceremony.  Across the way live music was about to take place.  I forgot this was a Friday, and fun things like that tend to happen.   I could have stayed here, but maybe it was time to join the outside world.  Well that and they were about to close.

I like to think they stayed opened longer so I could feel as safe as long as possible.  Maybe I left before closing.  I don’t remember.  But I know I could have stayed there for a while.  I did but you know, a while…

My friend gave me a hot apple cider to go, and it was beautiful.  Cider is one of those comfort drinks that I should drink more often, but then maybe it wouldn’t feel so special. Again, happiness should never have an arbitrary amount of or anything like that. No.

I joined the concert with my cider, and I didn’t know a single soul, and it felt wonderful.  I felt connected to everyone while not knowing anybody.  Maybe somebody was going through something similar.  Maybe because I’m a in a place I’m not a regular, that people smiled at me just to say, everything’s going to be ok.  You’re ok.  I hope so.

This day was more than ok. It was one of my favorites.  My favorites are always the simplest ones, with a lot of good conversation, then a lot of peace, and that leads to inner peace, and inner joy.   That’s the season for you.

There’s a lot of beautiful moments to come.  I can feel it.  No event is ever the same nor should it be attempted, but I can only hope for more amazing ones down the line.

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I’ll treasure and savor this one forever…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

Feeling Grateful – Part II

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This life is fun and funny at times.  What started out as any other day (and I don’t like days just being ordinary or like ‘any other day’), turned into one that was full of happiness, joy, hope, and many things to look forward to in the present, as well as the future.

But it’s always important to live in the present tense.

As one door opens, so does another, and a return to one of my favorite places in Historic Old Ellicott City, the wonderful Matcha Time Cafe.  I absolutely adore this place.

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I find it so wonderful, that a bonus post, outside of my usual Tuesday style, was absolutely necessary.  Actually none of this is necessary, but to me, it’s important enough to expound upon, especially as the Ellicott City Spring Festival takes place this coming Saturday.

It’s not like business will be slow, or this or any other business needs any more publicity or promotion leading into this weekend.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to promote positivity, support a local business, and support someone who I now consider a friend.

When I made the most incredible and memorable of discoveries back in November of 2016 (story can be found here), of this gift from the universe, I thought that if there is something bigger than us and bigger than this life, this is one way the other side would look like.

I hadn’t introduced myself to the manager, Hatsumi, at the time.  Actually maybe I did after I sat outside in the what was an unseasonably warm yet picturesque day, that gave me one of the best stories, on not just about tea, but about anything.  I got some awesome pictures too. And I say that with confidence, because I haven’t read it since.  I rarely read what I write.  Maybe I’ll go back and see how well that story, among others, has aged.  I bet it’s timeless.  I know it is.

So nearly a year-and-a-half later, my return visit tells a different story, yet it’s all relative, and all means so much.

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I had given a heads up that I was on my way and was greeted with open arms.  That made me feel so good.  On a day where everything felt unique and uncomfortably fantastic at times, it was good to see a familiar face.

After a several minute chat, that became much longer, I got to sample some of the new teas for the season.  I also see that they make dumplings in house, along with so many other amazing foods.  I forgot it’s more than just a cafe.  There’s a delicious and nutritious element to their menu, that must be revisited again.  And no it won’t be another 18 months till the next time.  That’s a guarantee.

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After a few moments of deliberation, I was presented the Masala Chai Latte, and as an added bonus, a gluten free chocolate cake.  Yes it’s as rich as it gets ladies and gentlemen.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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The latte is as gorgeous and splendid as it looks.  It’s a bit heavy and rich, like I said, so sip carefully, slowly, and in peace.  It’s going to wake you up.  And on a day or string of days where I’ve been perpetually exhausted, this was as welcome a beverage as any.

 

ChocolateCakeAnd that cake.  I didn’t know it was gluten free until I was basically full from my tea.  I first thought there’s no way I can have all this.  When I found out it was GF,  there was this open sigh of relief. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

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I enjoyed my cake later, and once again, as beautiful as it looks, it would be a shame not to eat.  It was beautiful.

Everything about this visit was beautiful.

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I’m glad I arrived when I did, right before lunch, as business started to pick up, and the time for conversation was beginning to wane.  But a good hour or so was just enough.  And like I said, I’ll be back much sooner than later.

I see this being more than a trilogy.  I see this being a recurring story, with no timetable, no expectations, just a good time with good people, and some more amazing teas and tasteful bites.

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The way I write this might feel like a transition. And maybe it is.  Maybe I’m projecting, but my intent is to project the good I’m feeling based on not just this visit, but the first one, and so many other invaluable experiences, all for the love of tea.

For more on Matcha Time Cafe click here.

I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

Have a good one, and peace be with you…

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

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

Feeling A Little…

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When it’s this cold here in the Baltimore and DC area, it can be a challenge looking at the glass half full.   It can be a time of hibernation, which is good or bad depending on how you look at things.  I’m all for peace at any time of year.  I’m all for a good cup of tea and some good conversation any time of year.  I’m all for anything that’s genuine, any time, any place, and anywhere.

But sometimes you appreciate a little solitude and with our busy schedules it may be few and far between.   However, with anything in life, if you want to make time for the ones you care about you will.  And that includes the one you need to look out for the most, yourself.  That’s not a selfish statement whatsoever.  It’s one of where if you can take of yourself, then you take care of others and look out for the ones you care for the most.  That’s anything but selfish.  It’s the most selfless thing there is.

This is why, back in November, I took some time much needed and in the place I was in, some desperately needed time for myself.  Exploring charming towns, seeing new sights, and appreciating the universe around you is what makes this life so glorious, even if it’s a short drive away.

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Caffe Amouri of Vienna, VA fits the bill of something different and a place where it seems like community is a way of life.  It’s in the historic part of town where upon inspection seems to be a lot smaller than it once was.  I could be completely wrong but it’s an observation based on other small towns I’ve encountered in my journey, not just for my love of tea but for everything.

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The decor with musicians past and present is a great touch.

Leave it to me to always want to drink tea in a coffee shop. A few close friends tease me for that, but all in good fun.  I love a good coffee, but that story can be reserved for another time and maybe another blog.  Maybe.

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For all the vibe of the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area being a bit stuffy, I didn’t get that here.  It’s all our perception and how we tend to view things, but I saw something beautiful.  And I can’t put my finger on it nor do I need to exactly.  Maybe as I keep writing it’ll come, but it doesn’t have to.

If I remember correctly, I actually had my sights set on a cup of coffee, but when I saw their collection of tea, I had to go in that direction.  How often am I here, and when would I actually be back?  So it’s funny that the tea that caught my eye was the Bourbon Street Vanilla.

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Where it came from I have no idea, but maybe this link or this one will help, if you would like to purchase some yourself.

You see, I went to New Orleans in the summer of 2015 and that vacation still has a profound effect on me to this day.  It was life altering that I’m still trying to come to terms with.  And by me writing this out, I still haven’t and maybe I’m not meant to, or maybe I’m afraid to.  Nevertheless, it was amazing.  But it’s not as if Bourbon Street itself was the highlight of the trip.  It actually wasn’t even near the top.  But when I find a tea that reminds me of something beautiful, because of the name or a picture, drawing, or something else symbolic, I have to try it for myself.

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The tea itself is fantastic.  I’ve said over the course of this blog that Rooibos teas have been such a joy to me, and if it wasn’t for these stories who knows if I would be such a fan.  It’s the discoveries I’ve made and the new things I’m learning about myself and my surroundings that have helped me grow, even if it’s been a slow process.

The almond pieces and vanilla flavor really made this tea a pre holiday treat.  And it’s perfect for these cold weather months and times ahead.  So there’s the half full part.  I was also in a place of peace and tranquility where I was able to relax, without a worry or care in the world.  Now that last part is temporary.  I do worry and I do care, maybe too much.  But at least for these few minutes, I was in an unfamiliar place, yet it felt like home.

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Home is wherever you want it to be.   Now I have some things to thing about…

For more on Caffe Amouri, here is their selection of coffees and teas (including the aforementioned Bourbon Street Vanilla) to purchase online, and contact information.

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

Sunday In The Summer Tea Party

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The calendar still reads September.  My love affair with Infused Tea Company concludes (for now) with what have been my favorite of the three.  Actually I can’t say that for sure. Each visit over the weekend told a different story, yet it also told something similar.

After knowing what to expect, my third visit was anything but ordinary and predictable. I just love not knowing what I’m going to order ahead of time.  A large menu with so many options helps.  It helps with expanding my palate, my horizons, and ultimately making this another endearing and perhaps out-of-body experience.

Saying I love tea is an understatement.   It’s been a part of my life since the beginning.  It will always be a part of me.  Whoever invented tea and the whole experience has created a way of life, that is way past the point of cultural.  It’s just a part of so many of us.  It’s become commonplace that I’m hoping the majority of us appreciate how beautiful the ritual is.  Because tea with friends, with family, with snacks, or with nothing at all is something so genuine that words will not always paint a picture of this joyous thing.

What also brings me joy is Matcha.   And over the past couple of years, via this blog, and other wonderful situations, it’s also become a staple of my life.

And this leads me to the conclusion of what has been a Summer to remember.  This was back in June, but the Infused Tea Company of my other adopted city St. Petersburg, FL.

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I didn’t even need to look at the menu this time.  On display for everyone to see (well it was kind of understated all the same) was a sign for Matcha Lemonade. I may have seen it the day before and kept it in on file, or this was a spontaneous and welcome surprise.

What a surprise this was.

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You might think that the dichotomy of flavors with how the powdery green the matcha tastes against the sweetness of the lemonade would be a disaster.  Not even close.  This blend worked perfectly.  And it worked that at least for me, it’s not something you’re going to drink quickly.  I took enough sips and enjoyed my time outside, that it felt like time stood still, I could do this all day, and I think I did do this all day.  Timeless..

I got another pastry to for display, and to complement my enchanting beverage. Seriously, how photogenic does this all look?

And once again the views and the weather could not have been better.  We’re in the 80’s to 90’s on this June day, which ironically wasn’t technically in the Summer.  Not that big of a detail but now that we’re in Autumn, the temperatures are basically the same, and will be like this for a while.  So while here in Maryland, lemonade and iced tea may begin to phase out, in beautiful Florida, you can have everything.  And everything is everything.

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But this Matcha Lemonade was one of those spiritually healing and invigorating kinds of drinks.  Again, I don’t know the exact words to give it, but this was special.  I can imagine having this at home, or somewhere local, still finding it special but maybe not having the same memorable experience.  Not everything is nor should it be.

This was my last day of vacation.  It was bittersweet (and I don’t mean the lemonade) but also a feeling of calmness came over me.  It was time to go home.  I saw some great friends, did some great things, ate some yummy food, and have some of the best tea experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

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The bikers I mentioned from last week were back and the crew looked bigger.  That’s a great life and that’s how I’m told the Gulf Coast does.  It’s all about outdoor activities and living a healthy lifestyle.  I was living vicariously through them, but in a way I was living vicariously through myself.   Oh man… I miss this city so much.

That’s it for now.  If there’s time I’ll throw in another post from this amazing place.  I love St. Petersburg so much.  I love Infused Tea Company so much.  I’m so glad I was invited to visit, and so grateful I got to experience such an amazing tea scene.

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I’ll be back and can only hope the experiences I’ve had thus far (my Florida experiences can be found here and here), can come close or maybe even exceed what I’ve seen thus far.

Here is the link to purchase their awesome teas, their accesories, and their location for those local or visiting.

Thank you so much Infused Tea Company, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.   It’s been a glorious time.

Fall and pumpkin themed teas as we head towards October, begin next week.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Jasmine Pearls

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You sometimes don’t know where the best teas will come from.   I could go on some long winded rant about how the best teas could be loose, or in bags, or from other source.  And I might also say the best of the best may find you.   When you aren’t looking it just comes your way.  I’ve gone on and on about the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of tea drinking.  It’s a subconscious and conscious experience all at the same time.

The team I’m going to write about here is from a company I’ve never heard of, and it was sipped at a place I’ve never been to before, and in a place I would least expect.   Actually it wouldn’t be near the last place I’d expect, but it’s fun to say that for dramatic purposes. But it was at a place where it only seems fitting.

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I’m happy to say that the Haiku White Tea from The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company is one of those teas I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

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What makes this even all the more special is this was after appetizers, after wine, and after a fantastic dinner at Vin 909 in gorgeous Annapolis, MD.  And this location is as cozy, charming, and welcoming as it gets.  But more on this awesome restaurant later in the week.

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But this tea oh my goodness.  Maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the ambiance, the location, the meal, the energy, and the everything.  It doesn’t matter.  Good tea is good tea and great tea is even better.  This was on another level.

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I don’t talk about white tea enough.  I’m grateful I got to write about a expertly crafted one here. The white with natural peach, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean flavors makes this a unique medley of flavors that I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of having altogether before. Throw in orange peel and rose hips (which I couldn’t taste since I was mesmerized by everything else) and this is a tea I strongly recommend, but only wish was available at a store near me.

The good news is you can purchase this tea among so many selections online.

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To me, this tea is a throwback to so many I’ve had in the past.  It felt like a culmination of something.  No, not the culmination, or else that’s even more over-the-top, and I’m just getting warmed up.

The majority of restaurants we go to do have tea. But not like this.  And the tea offerings are usually along the lines of the most standard label, which usually means a black tea, and anything but herbal.  And there’s nothing right or wrong about that.   Higher end (which is what I consider Vin 909 to be) restaurants don’t (and for good reason) consider their after dinner menus as well thought out as I’ve seen Vin 909’s.    And this is part of what I forgot to mention earlier.

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You usually get this presentation at tea shops and cafes, so this gave me that warm and happy feeling.  Anytime I see a teapot with infuser, I’m super excited.  Yet, I try to keep that enthusiasm to myself or I may be asked to leave the premises.

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The tea paired with a heavily rich Chocolate pot de creme.  It was comfort food for a time of comfort.  It’s January, we’re still in a bit of the holiday hangover.  This is the time to be practicing healthy eating and drinking habits.  Apparently this was the last thing on my mind.

For more on the wine pictured below, click here.

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The dessert was an interesting counterbalance to the tea.  I split it with company, and still could barely eat any.  But the joyous tea was one I was thrilled to split 50/50.

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I’m craving a pot all to myself right about now.    But I would be a fool to say that everything else leading up to this was tremendous, that it made the after dinner experience that much better.

Where is this going?  I go to a farm-to-table restaurant/wine bar and all I write about is the tea?   I keep my universes separate, but this will all make sense as the week progresses.

In all honesty, depending on where the next posts go, the tea one might have been the easiest or most difficult to right.  How about that for a bold prediction?

If you are in or around the Annapolis area, I cannot recommend Vin 909 enough.

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Here is their menu, their wines (more on this this later this week), and a little more about them.

I was happy to learn that owner and general manager, Alex Manfredonia is a big supporter of my dear friend’s organization, Anne Arundel County CASA.

It makes me happy to support a great restaurant that supports a greater cause.

This will all be elaborated on later.

For more on the incredible and incomparable Jasmine Pearl Tea Company, click here, more about them, their story, and of course where to buy.

It’s a Vin 909 kind of week.

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To be continued…

Ideen

One More For Philadelphia

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That title sounded open-ended enough, that there will be more from just one of my favorite cities.   So tis the season for fun, for friendship, friends (wait what), family, food, and frenzy!

And there’s always room for tea.  Because tea encompasses everything I stated above, and so much more.

Several months back, I went on a tea shopping spree in Philadelphia (you can read about them here and here) and the experiences were awesome overall.   And I saved a few gems for later.  When I was going to get to them all depended on timing, whether the content was relevant, and how the holidays would influence my posts.

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However, if I waited too long, my visit to Ray’s Cafe & Tea House in Chinatown may feel more like a footnote than a proper review of a charming experience.

There’s no thrills to this place.  If you look on the outside, one might presume exactly that. And that’s a good thing.  Many of the businesses in the neighborhood follow the same pattern on the outside and from within.

The interior had a standard counter for ordering, with all the teas on display in the back, and just a few tables for sitting.  It felt cozy enough to feel like I was in a friends’ living room, without feeling too cramped.  My initial thought was the tables were bunched up together.  No, it was just right.

But I came for tea, not for critiquing the showroom.

I love my seasonal teas this time of year.  Actually I love ’em any time of year.  I equivocate that too the Soup of the Day or the daily special at my favorite restaurant.  It can be an exciting surprise, and a change of pace versus ordering off the menu.

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Much to my hilarious surprise the seasonal Green Tea I went with tasted a bit too familiar. Where have I tasted this before?  Could it be that’s it actually the tea listed below, the Jasmine Green?   I can trick my mind into otherwise, but the taste is too overpowering too ignore.

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No I’m not complaining.  The tea was wonderful.   The pot and overall display was overall magnifique.  And what is seasonal to you and me, might be seasonal to someone else.  Maybe I ordered the Jasmine and not realized.  Maybe their seasonal tea is a play on that too.  Maybe they were making fun of me.   I would be too. The manager saw me taking photos.  I was in awe of this set-up.  Many have been posted for your viewing pleasure

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And how can anyone complain about getting a free cookie?  That’s a holiday special in and of itself

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The tea was divine.  The energy inside was divine. The tea never stood a chance.  I sipped it in proper time.  After I did my photos, I enjoyed myself for a long while.  I was in my zen pose.  No, I actually wan’t posing.  I was just at peace.

I did this place.  I will be back and maybe order something off of their extensive menu.  But for now, I’ll savor this experience.

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If you’re in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia, give them a visit. It’s a tranquil experience in a city that doesn’t always attract that kind of calming.

This was the perfect segue into the holidays.  I look forward to what December will bring. But I truly appreciate Ray’s for what it was. It’s simple, soothing, and the tea was sensational.  If you find a better synonym (oops) that starts with ‘s”,  I’ll change it.

More alliteration and awesome (ha) tea reviews to come.

Happy Holiday Season,

Ideen