You’re Beautiful, It’s True

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As I promised, this is a continuation from last week of my love affair with Bigelow Teas.  And their newest addition to the tea party is Bigelow Benefits.  And what positive benefits they are.

All the information you need is right here.

My dear friend, who has helped me with this big in so many ways, suggested I get to writing about these when I had the opportunity.   Only been released since the beginning of this year it has been a slight challenge finding these beneficial teas in my local store.

With a few searches that turned up nothing, I didn’t give up.  But I did take a step back and realize once again that if I’m going to find these teas I’m going to find them.  Even more importantly, they’re going to find me.  And that’s exactly what happened.

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The Harris Teeter I visited near me carried all seven of this collection.  No, I’m not going to do all seven.  I will revisit the others not mentioned today in a future post.  But today I’m going to focus on not two, but three of these that stood out to me the most.

And now they stand out to me even more after the fact.

Before I started I figured I was going to write in sequential order of the teas that I sipped. However, after thinking about it I’m going to go in reverse and it only makes sense thinking about it.  Well I hope it does.

First (or the last one I sipped) is the Sleep (Chamomile & Lavender Herbal Tea).

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This one quite simply knocked me out. What I had wanted to do was write about this as I was midway through this cup and be done with this post as I was finishing. That didn’t even come close.  Whether it was me or the tea, I got tired and groggy almost instantaneously.

This is better than any sedative I’ve ever had and I don’t do sedatives.  But you hopefully know what I mean.  This tea is heavy and the chamomile and lavender are going to hit you without any warning.  This might be my new cure for insomnia and lousy sleep. Not that I have a lot of the former.  But my sleep patterns haven’t been the best.  Maybe some of you can relate to that.

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I got some of the best rest I’ve had in sometime and it’s good to know that the benefits this tea is claiming are valid.  It may not be the most palatable tea but it did it’s job.  The flavors may not appeal to some but I found it enjoyable enough to sip, and to know it aids in rest and relaxation means I will be having this again before bedtime for the foreseeable future.   Not the most flavorful but it does its job.

The tea I did have second (and second here funny how that works out) is the Balance (Cinnamon & Blackberry Herbal Tea).

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I absolutely love this.  I had this in daylight and outdoors, and it added to that experience.  This is about taking care of your sugar balance.  And the universe knows I need that.  Maybe the same situation applies to you.  Cinnamon is one of the gifts from the universe and it works so perfectly here.  There’s so many fruits and leaves of fruits that it’s like tasting a fruit salad in a cup. This is so my kind of tea.  I would like to think that the combination of blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry (and everything else in between) is what I tasted and it was beautiful.  This is so beautiful.  This is a tea for all seasons.  And so perfect for the time of year we’re in and what’s to come.  I love this tea so much.

That’s why it’s hard to say if the Balance or the final (or first) tea I sampled is my favorite.  It’s a horse race to be honest but the Radiate Beauty (Blueberry & Aloe Herbal Tea) set the table for a great trios tea tasting party.    This was created to help with your skin, you glow, and just overall well-being.  I felt so good drinking this. It could be the labels, the packaging, or the entire aura of all these teas.  But there was something different.  It carries a different energy than their teas you see in many stores.  And I enjoy many a cup via their selections.

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But these three, and especially the last two are some of their best.   I could go on and on but if you come across the teas I highly recommend them.

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I highly recommend giving them a go.  I haven’t seen them everywhere other than at Harris Teeter, as I sense it’s so new it’s still being slowly introduced into stores.  If I come across more locations, I will update this post as needed. At only $3 a box for an 18 count tea, it was well worth it.  It felt like I was paying discounted prices for a regularly priced item.

You can also purchase these teas along with all their other teas online if you’re getting excited.  I have a feeling some of you might be.

There’s four more teas (at least) from their Benefits collection that I have yet to try and when the time is right I will.  But I feel like those (without even trying them), maybe unfairly, have a lot to live up to versus these awesome choice I made.

I highly recommend the Balance and Radiate Beauty for all aspects, and the Sleep for exactly that, good sleep.

More is coming and I look forward to talking about Bigelow in some way, shape, or form again in the coming weeks or months.

Stay beautiful,

Ideen

Have A Happy Holiday

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Does that title sound familiar?   Funny lines and song lyrics like that have been embedded in my brain since childhood.  They resurface at this time of year, and it feels good to dig into the archives of my brain, and recite lines like these?

Where is this going?  It’s the third annual tree decorating party with a group of people I’m proud to call my friends.   So the heartwarming, dopey, emotional, cheesy, and most importantly traditional Christmas Music will be playing, sometimes two or three times over.  And that (along with so many other things) is the fun and funny part.

When it comes to any holiday party, decorating party, or dare I say any party, comes plenty of food and drink.  And there was plenty of that.  Everyone contributed something to the cause.  Because that’s what the holidays and gathering are all about, everyone sharing and giving.   And what may you ask, did I contribute?

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Per a suggestion from a friend, I was told to review the Mulling Spices Tea from the R.W. Knudsen Family brand of products.  And it’s just a small part of what I brought to this Christmas Community.

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If the name rings a bell it may be because you’ve had their juices and other various beverages.

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I had no idea that this tea existed.  And from doing research, it looks like it has been around for a few years.   Why it took me this long to attract it into my life is one of those holiday mysteries.  But now I consider it a miracle.

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I adore this tea.  The hostess of the party had a cup herself and she concurred.   It’s good to disagree respectively but isn’t even more rewarding to enjoy the same cup with people you truly care for?  It adds to the spirit of the season.  And I can always use some more.  I would assume many would feel the same.

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And in this group setting the tea was necessary as a way to relax from all the commotion of decorating, eating, and the overall excitement of decorating a tree.   Oh and there was some champagne and mimosas earlier on (actually throughout) the day as well.  So the tea truly was a friend in settling the stomach and bringing me back down to Earth.

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What makes this tea so special is that the Mulling Spices is meant as a way to make hot spiced cider, blended with their Organic Apple Juice, of course.

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I will do that soon but as I’m into holiday traditions, I’m also very traditional when it comes to my tea.  I prefer adding nothing to my teas.  I think the true test of a tea is how it stands alone, with noting but hot water and the bag or leaf itself.

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This tea can be enjoyed in that form, and that’s an understatement.  I love this tea.  It went down smooth and I felt so balanced and at peace with each sip.  Again, I reiterate the importance of quality people around that makes the tea even that much better.   I got a few cups out of each bag, and the beauty of the brewing process only enhances that fact.

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The aromas of lemon peel, orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves upon opening hit a festive nerve that emit the joy and peace of the season.   The smells remind me of holiday parties past with friends and family.  The way the tea brewed, the colors changing, and the steam rising made me all warm and fuzzy.  That tint is gorgeous.  It made me so happy for that moment in time, yesterday, to appreciate the present.  I appreciate my friends, I appreciate the holidays, and I appreciate being able to share this with you.

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Everything about this day was right.  But it felt like it moved so fast.  That’s because it did.  Time flies when enjoying life.  And enjoying life with good people makes that time feel even more fleeting.   I’m grateful to have been a part of this day and look forward to doing this for many years to come.  And on top of that, I welcome any new traditions that unexpectedly present themselves.

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Some of the photos of the awesome food spread may look like they were taken from a blimp. That’s just my camera phone.  But I did feel like a blimp after eating all this yummy Christmas food.  And over-indulging on treats is another tradition that will be timeless.

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Speaking of time, these are moments in time I’m grateful to have captured and presented to you.  This party will be remembered for many things, and this tea will be near the top of this list.

Get this tea.  To find out where you can find all their fun products, click here.

To read more about all the good that R.W. Knudsen does, this link and this one should be of great assistance.

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At my local Wegman’s, the price was over $5 so that may be a bit steep for buying tea, but I think it’s well worth it.

To read about the 2nd Anniversary party, click here.

I love this and I’m glad there’s so much more of the holidays to celebrate.  I hope you’ve been doing the same with the ones you love, and that love you too.

This is such a wonderful time of the year and I look forward what the holidays bring next.

Have  A Happy Holiday,

Ideen

 

 

 

Feeling Grateful

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Every experience is just that, an experience.   For some, getting a cup of tea or any beverage, like a cup of coffee, or a meal is just standard operating procedure. For me, the tea drinking experience is one of the most spiritual of all.   I see it as more than just drinking tea.  There’s a sense of zen and calming that usually happens for me, especially when I’m not looking for it. This isn’t always case.  But more times than not a feeling comes over me.

If I’m feeling down or bummed out about something, a cup of tea can slowly lift my spirits and re-energize my soul.  It’s a gradual process.  If it’s rapid, it’s only because the experience is pure.  Otherwise it’s inauthentic and unnatural.  And that contradicts the journey of a tea lover.   So this post really embodies why tea means so much to me.  And I knew it was going to happen as soon as I found….

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How fitting that I get to write about Matcha Time Cafe just days before Thanksgiving.

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Once again my travels bring me to one of my favorite parts of the state of Maryland, Ellicott City.  I’ve made mention recently about my love for this town and I’m blessed and thankful to have another opportunity to write about EC and as an added bonus, this remarkable  cafe.

For all the times I’ve been in town, I’ve never actually been here.  I’ve never noticed it. Nestled in the heart of town (and I mean heart) almost seems fitting.  It’s in the center where some other charming shoppes and restaurants are located.  It’s the epitome of the beautiful small town settings you read about, or sometimes seen portrayed positively in television shows or cinemas.  Here I go again raving about a place and I haven’t even walked in and tried a thing.

But like I said earlier.  I knew this would be special.   After literally getting goose bumps walking towards Matcha, I finally walked in.

I figured that based on the name and the decor, that the store is Japanese owned and operated.  This adds an authenticity you don’t get everywhere.

I wish I talked to the manager more.  She was as friendly a person as I’ve ever come across. She and the friendly person at the register let me sample their seasonal teas.

Tis the season, so holiday themed teas are a must.   My first scent was the Cinnamon Plum and without any hesitation that’s what I went with.  I ordered a pot because I figure let me take this all in.  I’m not in any rush.  The rush will come as we approach Christmas.  Right now (well it should be like this most of the time) is a time to rest, relax, and be at peace with myself and my surroundings.  And that’s exactly what I did.

I had a few minutes before my pot would be ready.  So I did some browsing…

There’s a beautiful gift shop within the cafe.  I took pictures for your viewing pleasure.  For those local to the area, keep that in mind for your small business shopping.  I intend to be back soon.

Before I completely digress I want to make mention that I’m fascinated with Japanese culture so I felt right at home and not everything looked unfamiliar to me.  I don’t want to make this too much about me but what did this do is enhance this experience.  And yes this is all without having a sip of tea.

My new friend had asked me where I wanted to sit.  It was nice enough outside that I gladly found a seat on the front patio.

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This is where charming goes to a whole new level.  She gave me a timer with a countdown clock, essentially telling me that after 5 minutes the tea will be perfect enough to drink. Otherwise it may get lost with how hot it would be.  This is taking customer service to a whole new level.  I was so happy in that moment.

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She even gave me a holder for my strainer after each cup was well, strained.  I got a good three plus cups out of it.  And I took my time.  I mean I really took my time.  I was alone but I wasn’t.   I felt like I was the only man on earth but I was with spirits.  Whether they were angels or something else I don’t know.  But I felt an energy field around me that words will never give it justice.  It’s one of those things that I almost left out.  It’s also one of those experiences that maybe I keep to myself and in my internal memory bank.

But no, this is a small business, this is Ellicott City, and this is a world class operation that deserves all the praise in the world.  And oh yes the tea was incredible.  The cinnamon and plum combination is one that rejuvenated me by cup number three.  Like I said before, it was organic and ethereal.  It’s something that can never be recreated.  I’m glad I took a lot of photos.  But after a while I said enough, this is for me.  It can be for you too.  It can be for any of us.  If you’re within driving distance, you’ve got to come here.

I think I was here a good hour, maybe more.  Where that time went I don’t know. Time stood still.  My vantage point was pretty awesome.  Some photos I will keep to myself but I’ll definitely post some to give you the impression of what I was feeling.

But what I said in the beginning rings true.  Every experience is different and can be similar.  It’s all what we choose to see.  I chose to see the best in this when it was already breathtaking to begin with.

As I was returning my pot and cup, the manager actually bowed to me.  It was so flattering, but all I could think is I should be bowing to her.  I know it’s Japanese tradition but it should have been me humbling myself to her.   So this is me bowing to Matcha and saying thank you, Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays.

Here is their menu, brewing info (which I’m mesmerized by), and some education materials.

And here’s another post I made on beautiful Ellicott City.

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It’s going to be a great holiday season.  On this experience alone, it’s already first class. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.

Ideen

My Little Yogi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Yogi reviews to come!

Thanks so much,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Pairing

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Just in time for Spring, I really needed this one.  This most incredible pairing of tea and sweet treats was a gift from somewhere beyond.

I found myself strolling in the beautiful and enchanting town of Havre de Grace, with some intent of a tea sipping and corresponding review.  Those reviews will I had come eventually and will be posted in time.  What I’m about to talk about is a cosmic and genuine experience that I will attempt to put into words.

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A chance visit to Les Petits Bisous not only re-introduced me to delicious macarons but also the most amazing tea from Simpson & Vail.

I had a few moments of hesitation.  I wasn’t sure I even wanted to talk into the shoppe. Have you ever had that battle with yourself?  It’s like a tennis match with the universe. There’s nothing to be afraid of.  The unknown is a good thing.  I think a lot of this has to do with getting out of my comfort zone.   Alright, enough of the dramatics.

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Wanda could not have been nicer.  Before I could even ask what the store had available, I saw this iconic display of tea and other wonders.  I mentioned I had a blog and she allowed me to take pictures.  I’m grateful for that.

So to return the favor, I was all aboard getting some macarons and a tea to pair it with. Her suggestions were an organic lemon & white chocolate, Belgian chocolate with peppermint, among others.  Beautiful right?

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For the tea, Lavender Lace was recommended without a second thought.  I took a sniff of the samples on display and I was floored.  The lavender and spearmint hit the nose like a ton of bricks. I was floored. I was blown away.  I was sold.

Wanda recommended I freeze the macarons if I wasn’t going to have them that day.  But 3-4 days is when they should be eaten.  Sage advice.

The experience brewing this was a joy.  After the charming visit to the shoppe, the energy is going to resonate.  I wanted this to be great.  I know it would be.  And thankfully it exceeded all my expectations. Wanda will never steer you wrong.

Upon opening the canister, I was reminded how beautiful this loose tea was. This is fine craftsmanship.    The ingredients are shown below but the pictures should tell the story.

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The cup itself was a gem.  It rejuvenated me.  And this is a tea that contains no caffeine. I’ve been feeling blah all week and this was what I needed.  It’s an upper when necessary and at the same time, a cup to end the evening with. The lavender, cinnamon, and spearmint notes shined through during steeping as well as sipping.  The consistency throughout was remarkable.

This was life transforming.  This was a multiple step operation.  If I never set foot into Les Petits Bisous; this post may never happen, these macarons may never be nibbled on, and it may take another not-so-probable sequence of events for this to transpire.

Life is so fascinating like that.

For more on Simpson & Vail and to purchase their teas, click here.

And for more on Les Petits Bisous, go all the way over here!

This will be revisited again.  I  feel enlightened and a better person after this one.

Stay healthy,

Ideen

Harney & Such

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It’s almost Spring. I feel it took a lot longer to get here than usual.    Finally, the days are getting longer and temperatures are getting higher.   However, while we’re still in the winter I’d like to write about some teas that are custom-made for this season.

I throw it back to one of mine (along with many others) favorites, Harney & Sons. Their hot cinnamon spice is one of their most popular and beloved flavors.  I can understand why.  This one hits the spot in a multitude of ways.

Most importantly, the health benefits of cinnamon have been documented.  And there’s so much to celebrate.

Secondly, it just tastes good.  Yet I wonder if the artificial flavors are what’s adding to the amazing taste.  Was it necessary?  I’m questioning out of curiosity.   I expect this to be stellar with our without the additives.   The orange and especially the cloves add a lot to an already masterful tea.

I got the largest cup I could, so I could savor each sip by the moment.  And I took my time.   Because cinnamon is so flavorful I felt one bag was enough.  That’s how I took my  tea initially.   Yet I can’t help myself.   Common sense dictates the largest size gets you double.  So I threw in the second and felt like I got hit with a bomb.  It opened up some tastes buds and senses that may not always get exposure.

This is where the artificial flavors might be justified.  A major positive is there are no sugars.   I purposely waited till later in this post to mention that.  I wasn’t trying to be ironic.

I’ve always preferred my teas with nothing added unless it’s natural.   For me, the whole point of drinking tea has been to enjoy it with nothing else thrown it to undermine its health benefits.    Yet throwing some cinnamon, honey, or other natural joys is something I’ve down from time-to-time.

I’m grateful to try a tea that has already included the appropriate additions like so many of the tremendous brands do.

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I enjoyed my cup with a not-so-healthy bagel sandwich.  Well it was a power sandwich. Since my sandwich was loaded with vegetables, and my favorite pesto spread. I tell myself everything is fine.  It’s still winter so I still love my comfort food.  Who am I kidding? Comfort is a year-round thing.

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It’s nowhere near as bad as ordering a super-sized meal with a diet cola.  Well that’s how I justify it.  Whoops.

I think I’m as crazy as this winter has been.  It’s a year with a leap month, so the goofiness ensued.  Another reason I’m thankful Spring is coming.  It’s been a season to remember but I’m ready for some sunnier skies and enjoyable outdoor activities.

The teas will represent the changes in weather and the lifting of our spirits.

For more on this amazing company, here is my inaugural recap.

Along with their site, you can go to these familiar links to procure their teas.

Happy first day of meteorological spring!

Best,

Ideen

Hibiscus Healing

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I’ll get it out of the way.  Don’t let the name trick you into believing something else.  iSiS Organic has been making great products for quite a number of years, 35 plus to be exact.

I’ve enjoyed their teas with my father and with other family members.  It would usually take place after a hearty meal where we needed our stomachs to settle. Sometimes I would prefer enjoying afternoon tea with a pastry.

They’re based out of Egypt and take great pride in being organic, sustainable, and free of GMOs.  That’s a trifecta of brilliance if there ever was one.

My background is Middle Eastern so my family loves anything healthy to come from that vicinity.  In the Washington, DC area there is a strong population of people from the region so Halal and Middle Eastern stores are ubiquitous.   And yes, iSiS’ food is Halal.

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This weekend I was in for a pleasant surprise.  I visited a friend I haven’t seen in quite a while.  A lot longer than it needed to be.  And I got to meet members of the family, while we enjoyed some Hibiscus Tea.   I had the option to go with the Cinnamon as well, but I chose the former.

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I was told that hibiscus is good for lowering blood pressure and that was needed just in the nick of time.  I was feeling a bit fatigued and stressed.  This did the job. How beautiful does this look?  An all organic tea made with the most elegant of flowers, and nothing to undermine it’s purity.

That’s how you make a tea and sip on one.  This was decadent.

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I’ve been feeling under-the-weather recently so this really hit the spot.   The great company always helps this experience ten-fold.   Oh and maybe that chocolate chip cookie too.

If you can find the tea or any of their other products, I highly recommend.  I’ve been grateful to have several flavors when spending time with my dad.  I’ve also had their dates which complement any cup of tea.  It’s the archetype of a sweet treat.

Their site doesn’t list where you can find their great products, but you can contact them here.

I strongly recommend their tea and by virtue all of their products.   When something represents good or intends for good I’m more likely to be drawn to that over anything else.

And it’s getting cold on the eastern coast of the United States.  This tea is aiding in dealing with this drastic change in the weather.

I sincerely hope you’re all staying warm as well.

Best and Best,

Ideen