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HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplayWithDog

With all the writing that I do, it’s hard to not sound repetitive.  I’ve only recently started looking back at stories from the last year, and I’m proud that many of them have a different slant on teas, similar teas, and just life in general.  While I do see similarities, every story is different, and every story feels significant and feels real.

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Harney & Sons continues to be one of the standard bearers for tea, and it’s highly sought after by many of my friends and peers, that it’s the one tea they prefer, and some they only sip exclusively.

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They’re doing something right.  That’s an understatement by the way.  All their teas are available for purchase here, and here is my Harney history lesson.

Speaking of exclusive, I first had the sense that Harney & Sons teas had this stigma of being unapproachable and only available to the elite and high society types.   My presumptions were false.  However, over 10 years ago I worked in a typical corporate environment where their teas were served at parties, luncheons, and other events, where I thought this tea was out of my league.

Don’t ever thing something is out of your league.

But I would grab the leftover bags, and of course the free food when everyone left, (hey free food is free food), and when I would have their teas, I thought I had struck gold.  It’s gold alright.

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And free tea is free tea, but this is worth paying a little extra for.  While most teas are $2-$4, to only have to pay $6 for the Green Tea Coconut tin 20 pack of sachet’s, is a bargain.  That is more than welcoming, more than inviting, and feels like home.

This tea takes us back to February, where the weather was different, and the teas are all going to be hot.  They’re still going to be hot, here and there, as the weather gets nicer.

Everything about this is great.  I was on a mini vacation, and while I was isolated, I really wasn’t. I had the company of some amazing dogs, beautiful nature, and a selection of teas where you throw in that kid in a candy store analogy.  Just a little healthier of course.

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Green tea, coconut, vanilla, ginger, and lemongrass is a memorable melange, where my words are not going to be enough.  When I opened up the tin, the immediate sensation and feeling of all the goodness hit me.  I knew the steeping and brewing process was going to be just as special.

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Perhaps it’s because I was away from home, yet I was in a home where I felt comfortable and at ease, that this might be more romantic then if this were somewhere else.  A tea like this deserves all the romanticizing in the world, yet doesn’t need me or anyone else to do so.  This is a masterpiece.

I’m glad I had this, where I did.  The three dogs I shared this time with (no I didn’t give them any tea), made this all the more memorable and my heart feels so big right now.  The pups did it, this tea did it, and something just made my spirit so big.

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This was 3 months ago and I remember it like it was well, I don’t know.   It’s beautiful.

I’m glad I decided to write this today.  It’s Be Kind To Animals Week, and I’m so happy and grateful that some caricatures of animals are on display with this incredible tea.

Where do we go from here?  I almost want time to stand still or I would love to go back to this story.  I’m glad I have this written out, and I have this memory that will last with me forever.

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This is a tea for now, and for….

Blessings to you..

Ideen

Simple, Tranquil, Peaceful

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You know there’s the simple joy of heating up that tea kettle, seeing all that steam, and hearing it whistle.   You pour the hot water into a cup, with a bag, loose tea, or however you do your tea already in place; and then you sip.   That’s simple, it’s joyful, and it’s one of those things I never want to take for granted.

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Then there’s the simplicity and happiness in adding a few extra ingredients, to take tea to another level of all those wonderful things I’ve alluded too.  And while winter is winding down, and the temperatures start to rise, there’s still time to appreciate a cozy drink in a pleasant, safe, and just as cozy environment.  Of course I’ve talking about a latte.

This was a suggestion from a dear friend to try, sip, and relax with this latte, over the course of a day of doing nothing, or as some might say, professional chilling.  That’s an official term by the way.

I take no credit for this beverage.  My friend did all the work, even though she suggested we try it together.  I knew I would not be involved in the prepping.  It’s just one of those things.  I’ll leave it to the experts, and I’ll do my best to write about it.

The Chamomile Lavender Latte is immediate peace, immediate harmony, and immediate (fill in the blank).   I’ve mentioned in the past how lavender is such a calming scent, that the affects are immediate, and are more than a placebo.  When it hits your nose, your lips, your tongue, and all other parts, the feelings are transforming.

Life has become too hectic in many instances.  And we allowed this.  But as I say that, we can also allow ourselves all the easy going experiences available to as well.   Life is meant to be enjoyed, to be awesome, and to be extraordinary, not ordinary.

This late is extraordinary.  And while you see the ingredients used, of course you can use your own creativity.

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Yes, that’s lavender.  This is what puts the latte over the top, when it’s already pretty great to begin with.

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What I didn’t realize at the time is my friend used syrup over honey.  That’s a pleasant change, as I’ve grown accustomed to using honey (if I am to ever use anything) in my tea.  So this makes me even happier.

Non-dairy milk, and in this instance coconut almond was milk, is also a positive attribute, that I think using regular milk may not bring.   You see where the Chamomile tea is from, and I’ve had this tea on its own, and it’s fantastic.  But to see if mixed in with all these simple, and fantastic ingredients is a testament to the tea, and to all the components.

The whole does equal the sum of all parts.

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But the lavender flowers are the true highlight.   I mean look how gorgeous that is?  I look at these photos with such a heightened feeling of nostalgia and happiness, that I knew existed.

There’s those moments at the time where you know you will look back with such fondness that it will be forever etched in your mind, and within your spirit.   I felt this at the time, but then I feel it even more as I write this.  I can’t explain why, and some things don’t need that explanation.  It just feels good, it feels abundant, and all feels right.

We took our time sipping this.  And even when there might have been a rush to go to the next thing, is there really a rush?

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Those lavender flowers were almost too pretty to take in.  But I took them in, we took them in, and yes there’s multiple meanings to take in.

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This was incredible.  I’m grateful this is was my first experience with such a different take on tea, chai, or blend of so many wonders of nature, and the universe.  This was tremendous.

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This moment will never be forgotten.

Here’s to many more…

Ideen

 

A Tea for the Spring & Summer

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I was told that the Peach Turmeric Tea from The Spice & Tea Exchange will only last a few weeks.  And if captain obvious is showing you that along with the tea I reviewed last week, the Wild Berry Spring, these are both in the Limited Time Offer section all to the themselves.

My question would be after this limited time offer ends, where would the extra tea go?  I think I answered my own question. At least for the Peach, it doesn’t have a chance.  And I mean that in a good way.   I would not be surprised if this tea is near the end of supply or getting close.   This is up there with some of the best tea I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot of teas but I haven’t had them all.  Nor will I ever.  But at least for this moment, and it might be a temporary or short burst of feeling, this is up there with the classics.

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Where the Wild Berry is fantastic, the Peach is just in class of its own.  I love both but I think I love the Peach just a little bit more.  I can see others loving the Berry more.

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Turmeric is something that has been a a part of my life and my family going back as far as I can remember.  Yesterday, was the first day of Spring which also mean the first day of Iranian New Year.  And Turmeric has been used in traditional Iranian and Middle Eastern dishes for many a lifetime.  No, this wasn’t planned.  But I’m so happy I can incorporate Iranian New Year into this post.

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But this tea has so many joys of not just the spring, but the summer as well.   When I first got my first smell of the tea at the Rehoboth Beach store, I just knew this was going to be special.   Yet with this blog, I knew there would be a little bit of a wait.  And boy it was worth the wait.

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Yet a tea like this needs a beautiful presentation.  Maybe not quite like last week but another cup and infuser was in order.

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Leave it to me to split my purchases with Rehoboth (the teas) and Ocean City (everything else), when I could have done it all in one place, or even online.

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I spotted some fancy cups and thought a lighter blue would be more fitting.  I’ve done so many variations of greens that something else was necessary.  But I need more.  I needed a proper infuser for this occasion.  Leave it to Fred and Friends, and my new friend the ManaTea.  Yes it’s a silicone tea infuser and he looks so friendly.  No, not creepy.  I said friendly! Yes!

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But after looking at him I can understand why one might get freaked out.  It looks like he keeps staring at you, similar to a creepy stuffed animal or some dopey looking person on a billboard.  But enough, how was this tea I keep heaping praise on?

The smells matched how it was after brewing.  I only had to place a little in the infuser since I was steeping it in such a tiny cup.  I placed less than a teaspoon and it worked to perfection.   The peaches, honey, coconut, and Rooibos really shine through to make this the perfect tea for the spring and the summer.   This can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Some sweet spring and holiday themed treats pair wonderfully with the tea itself, the cup and the season.  And that color and shine on that tea is magnificent.

Speaking of  cold, I realized I had a little left after a few hours and naturally got to savor this tea chilled.  It was beautiful.  Everything about this was beautiful.   In hindsight I wish I bought more and I may do just that.

Since I have a relatively small bag of this and the berry, I will appreciating and savoring every moment I can with these teas.  For a limited time really means just that.

And onto the subject of limited time.  That’s what spring (and much of life in general) feels like.  It comes and it goes.  So on this second day of spring my goal once again is to appreciate every moment.  It would safe to assume many of you want to do the same.  We don’t have to document or blog every moment (though that helps for yours truly) but to create and imprint new Spring memories is what life is all about.

Spring is a time of rebirth, a revitalization, a time of hope, joy, peace, love, and everything positive synonym and superlative you can think of.  I said Summer earlier and we do love Summer.  But one day at a time.

Yes this is a tea for both seasons.   If you only could get one of the two teas I’ve written about, I would go with the Peach Turmeric.  But that’s just me.

Here’s the list of Spice and Tea Exchange’s locations and their online store.  I have only had good experiences with them.

I want to thank Yanna at the Rehoboth Beach shoppe for giving me a discount on my teas (which went above and beyond) because of my blog.  And thank you to Tiffany at the Ocean City store for help on my new infuser, glass, and getting me essentially another tea for free.  Which I hope to get to down the line.

A limited time on teas, a limited time on this earth, means an unlimited amount of time to enjoy tea, enjoy each other, and enjoy life.  That’s the point of all this.

If it works out for next week, I will hopefully write about an Iranian tea like I did last year to celebrate New Years.

Nevertheless Happy First Day of Spring, Happy Spring, Happy New Year, and Happy Everything.

Ideen

Olympic Tea Party!

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I’m a softy for the Olympics.  I’m sure many of you may share that same sentiment.  It just makes me feel good.  What makes feel so warm and fuzzy?  I want to believe there’s still genuine competition and sportsmanship on an international level.  In a way by saying that, I’m showing my cynical side.  Most certainly.  But I’m an idealist at heart.  I’m enjoying an inspiring event as I write this.  I sense the good vibrations, the good energy, and I feel the love.

You know where else I’ve always felt love?   Trader Joe’s has always been good to me.  It’s been so clutch to this (for more TJ posts click here) blog.  And even if the results have not always been the most positive, I still find many without trying too hard.

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An Olympic themed tea was not necessarily what I was seeking out.  Though that would be nice.  Maybe I’ll get to that next week.  My visits to this store have shrunk and I need to fix that.  So I fixed it today and a lovely display rack of their Sweet Tea and Bollywood popcorn did the trick.  Yes you read that right, Bollywood popcorn  with Vegan Tikka Masala seasoning.   I didn’t know any of this existed.  I grabbed a bag of course.

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This pairing may not make sense but if their featured in front of the store then why quibble?  If Trader Joe’s says its ok then who am I to dispute?  There is a hint of sarcasm here. Not to be outdone, as I strolled around the aisles I discovered Mango Coconut Popcorn.   This looks scary and potentially habit-forming.   However,  if you’ve noticed my posts I’ve been in a mango kick this summer.  And I don’t see why not. Oh how I love summer. And I’m loving the Summer Olympics.  And we’re only getting started.

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None of this screams the Olympics.  None of this is remotely good for you.  I put my little spread together and started feeling gross.  These athletes are in shape and inspiring.  This is not quite like going to the movies but it’s a monumental event that only happens every two years.

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I’ll get the negatives out of the way.  I’ve never loved sweet tea.  This will hardly change that.  But, pure cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup could lead me to change my mind at some point.  Many of you are going to love it.  But this isn’t me.

But both flavored popcorns’ are so bad for you and oh-so habit forming.  Be careful, the caloric and fat content is high.  I already feel like more of a non-athlete versus these Olympians.  This Olympics party spread won’t do anything to dispel that.

I put most of it back in their bags.  But beforehand I took some fun shots, and even some of my animal friends joined, and were looking for some foodies.  They slowly crawled their way to get some eats but this wouldn’t be right.  But just like any athlete, they never gave up.  They put up a fight.  But I did them a favor.  The most important fact that should not go unnoticed is that they worked together.  They looked out for each other and motivated each other every step of the way.  This is the true spirit of the games of the 31st Olympiad!

But yeah, the tea and snacks should only  be taken in small doses.

And who puts iced tea in a mug?  Well I think this particular mug would be a viable exception.

Next time you’re at your local Trader Joe’s be on the look out for these treats.  I think most of you will enjoy.  And speaking of enjoyment, we have two weeks of thrilling Olympic coverage.  I hope you get a chance to be captivated.  I already have been.  And more is coming.

If I can keep the Olympic Spirit going, I’ll continue next week.

Best,

Ideen

Almond Joy

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For folks in the Northeast, you know we got leveled over the weekend.  I’m not a fan of the snow.  I never will be.  I’ve learned to adapt to it in some ways.   But honestly I freak out with the best (or worst) of them.

I ski now so I have some affinity for it.   But it’s minute.  Give me warm, sunny skies all year round over what we just endured.

To my relief, I was able to leave the house yesterday.  Those little things I take for granted like going to the store, the bank, the gas station, all became so important to me yesterday. You know what else is important?  A nice cup of tea.  And I went to a place I don’t go to often enough.  It’s the taken for granted aspect in play again.

This brings me to Coffee Coffee of Bel Air, MD.    No coffee on this day.  It’s a necessary evil in my life.  However, it’s not something I love nor would dedicate to writing about.

I walked in and the energy was small-town and community feeling.  That’s always favorable and heartening.  And on day of freedom it’s enhanced to a much higher state.

I look around at their loose teas selection and what stood out immediately?  The Snowflake. I’m not sure if that was there strategically or happenstance.  But I had to chuckle.   I am giving this weather too much credit and allowing it to affect my life, where it shouldn’t.

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Nevertheless, a black tea with coconut and almond sounds soothing and inspiring on this day.   I opened the jar to get a scent, and the nose tasted just like a candy bar you might have heard of.   It’s the title of this post if you weren’t sure.

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I was eager to try it and still relieved to be out, that just about anything was going to taste wonderfully.

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A cinnamon and raisin scone was ordered to go with my cup.

The sips tasted more like almond biscotti, which is not something to sniff at.  This is not a complaint.  It was fantastic.  And I took my sweet time enjoying this cup.

You might be able to see the sun shining in some of these angles.  It was bright and it was voluminous.  I was a happy guy.  I wasn’t ready to go anywhere.  I think I spent a good 30 minutes in there enjoying myself.

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Look at the bottom. Heavenly.

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The scone was a bit filling so I wasn’t able to complete that part of the party. But the tea I could expound on forever.  But I’ll end it there.  It’s great and I highly recommend it.

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If you’re in the vicinity, the shop is definitely worth a visit.

Here is their menu and their various products for sale in the shoppe.

I see they have a customer appreciation day coming up this Thursday, January 28th. That’s always something to look forward to.   I would like to become a regular first before partaking in an event.   Even though my visits have been a few, I am becoming a stalwart. Maybe the next one.

I need to harp on this point again.  Whenever the people are friendly they deserve to be acknowledged.  Every time I’ve stopped in, it’s been nothing but friendly faces and accommodating service.

I’ll be back soon, when the weather is even better.

Best,

Ideen

Pumpkin & Caramel Charm

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This pumpkin phenomenon has been beaten into our heads going back to right before Labor Day.  Depending on who you are it’s entertaining, laughable, corporate, mind-numbing, or everything in-between.

Personally, when the season ends I will miss it.  I’m not big on monetizing something if it compromises something sacred such as Thanksgiving. However, I still see so much good, so much spirit, and so much joy in it.   That’s what I’m choosing to focus on today and as much as I can.

This leads me to this post.

I’ve spoken so highly of The Spice & Tea Exchange several times over the year. And I think I’m justified.   I will be talking about different tea companies and groups in the future but what finds me is what finds me. And I’m doing it back-to-back with another special from one of my favorites.

The Pumpkin Caramel Creme Tea is nowhere near as creamy, sweet, or as full-bodied as I thought it was going to be.   It’s almost quite the opposite for me and I’m perfectly happy with that.

The term ‘subtle’ brew is applied and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. I’m in a place of comfort and happiness as I write this. And I have been sipping and savoring my cup.  I’m at peace.

The candy, coconut, caramel, among others were hard for me to detect. But I knew there was a melange of many transcendent ingredients to make this a winner. Fortunately, nothing is too overpowering.  That’s why using ‘subtle’, in the synopsis is perfect.

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When opening the bag the aromas really captured the essence of the season.  I thought I was in line for something very sweet.   After brewing and smelling, I knew I was in for a special treat.  And I’m thankful to have tried it.

Everyone’s palate is different.  This tasted nothing like I thought it was going to be.  And I’m happy about that.  I like it for reasons that you may not.  And we may have an agreement or counter on some other attribute.

One thing I know for sure, the caffeine level is very high. This one snuck up on me.  I’m ready to go and tackle the world now.  Or maybe just wake up.

As seen above, in traditional format I will once again show a picture-by-picture breakdown from opening, brewing, and to sipping.   I’m fortunate to have the Tovolo make its triumphant return!

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I enjoyed this with some delicious cinnamon almonds and pumpkin cookies.  See I just can’t get enough. And why the heck not!  It’s almost the holidays.

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Like in last weeks post you see that this item sold out online.  I know a lot of their stores were saying they may have been done as early as mid-October on the pumpkin items.  But if you live near a store and you’re curious, hopefully they still have some of those teas available.   I hope to track down some more myself.

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They may be one more post from this awesome company before the year is out. Only time will tell.

Happy Early Thanksgiving and Happy Pumpkin Season!

Best,

Ideen

 

It’s Still Summer

And we have until tomorrow to enjoy that.   I love the Summer, I love the heat, and I love the sun.  And I’m sad its winding down.

However, there is much in the fall season to look forward to.   The weather is still great and there’s plenty of more opportunities for outdoor events, festivals, parties, and whatever else makes us feel good.

With that in mind I wanted to do a review a tea that could embody the beautiful months we’ve recently enjoyed and a segue into what’s to come.

As promised I’ll be doing another tea from the marvelous Spice & Tea Exchange.  For last weeks post you can click here!

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The Coconut Oolong Tea reminds me of many things. I wouldn’t think popcorn would be one of them.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.  I enjoyed the scent.

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When I opened the package it felt like a movie theater. That’s the buttery aroma or note that cannot be ignored.  Oolong has never been a favorite of mine,but that could change. It’s just not a tea that I think to drink or seek out.   That’s the enjoyment of doing this. I’m trying tea I don’t always have in my sipping repertoire and experiencing new flavors I didn’t know existed.

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This tea was a grower.  I didn’t love it a first.  As you can see, artificial coconut flavor is added.  I can’t say if that adds or takes away from the tea.  Maybe the flavor is necessary.  Maybe I should have added some sugar or flavoring but that’s not my style.

I’ve always preferred my hot teas with nothing.  In the few exceptions I’ve needed to add something, either out of experimenting or because it was necessary, the results have been mixed. Next time I would like to see how this tea could be chilled or with some sweetener incorporated.  Milk or creamer would go well with this too.  This would be a great alternative to coffee.

With all that being said I did enjoy drinking this tea and will gladly have it again.  It’s not on the top of my favorites, but it’s a cup I would look forward to having again.

That emerald color is visually stunning.   I took my time with my first cup just so I could enjoy how beautiful the tint was.

This cup reminded me that there’s so much fun that can come with tea drinking.   When the feeling and instinct is there, I may add some of the things that have been mentioned in this post.  It’s all about experimenting and expanding scents and flavors.  As we head into Autumn that will be happening.

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In the meantime, I will enjoy my cup with some chocolates and candies!   Now that is fall-like!  Uh oh…

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen