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

London Fogging

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

And it really isn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

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

 

Tuesday Jam Session

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The sweet tooth bug has really hit me these past couple of weeks.  I have no explanation why.  Maybe it’s the sunny weather (or lack thereof), or maybe it’s some inexplicable and something that doesn’t need to be made sense of.  There I go getting all deep on you again.

I believe the choice of tea for this week is only fitting.   Oh and there’s cake too.

Random circumstances brought me back to the Timonium/Towson area and the stars aligned for me to return to a now familiar stomping grounds, Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

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With past posts I’ve been critical of their stalwart tea, Eastern Shore Tea.

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One of the many pleasurable aspects of this thing is that I get to be random.  If I see a tea that catches my eye or even one that looks ominous, I’ll give it a whirl.  As I referenced earlier, my knack for something sweet has been permeating.  So with that resonating in my subconscious, I went with the Berry Jamboree Tea.

I’ve mentioned this before.  There is something missing with these teas. There’s been some quality ones don’t get me wrong.  But the oomph and the pizzazz is lacking.

For sure, I thought one bag would be enough.  The jammy elements of strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry should have made this black tea magnificent.  I wanted to feel cozy.  And with this horrific rain we’ve had all month, it would only be so fitting.  The irony was that it wasn’t and it was sunny.  Go figure.  Even two bags didn’t multiply the fruit.  If anything this cup plateaued.

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Regardless, this tea was good enough to drink but it needs a thing or two to put it over-the-top.  The touch of hibiscus was unbeknownst to me until I read the synopsis.

There may be something to be said about location.   Towson has a feel but not the shame charm I remember.  The store nestled in an office park should scream anonymity and a sense of a tight-knit community.  That might be there but I don’t see it like I used to. Maybe my energy level was not at its best on this day or in previous incarnation, but there’s something more.

The first visit or first experience is always the most unpredictable.  You have no expectations and no preconceived notions.  Well there’s exceptions but I think you know what I mean.  My original visit to the Timonium location was special.  But honestly I have no memory of when this was, what I ordered, or whether I was with anyone.   But it was special.  Some memories stay so private and internal, even with the person who created them.

Annapolis, on the other hand, has my heart.  And there’s that small town and community feel I yearn for and that I love.  Oh and there tea variety is a bit more expansive.   I just have to go back and report from there again.

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I love local and love supporting this company.  Even though this tea was only good, but not a masterpiece, will not deter me from trying some more.  Something tells me this will be revisited this summer.

For more on their teas or to purchase, click here.

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To sunnier days ahead,

Ideen

P.S. That lemon cake was delicioso!

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