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

 

Another New Years Special

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Well actually this takes us back to August and a family party I’ve written about before.  However, sometimes it’s always good to save some for the most appropriate of times, seasons, and situations.

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Like I was saying last week sharing a joyous experience that revolves around your favorite people, favorite sites, foods, and for this so go around, tea, is what this life is all about.  It can’t always be articulated or quantified in words.   Nor should it always be. Those amazing memories are sometimes meant to be retained internally and with the people you love.  You know what though, sometimes internal is enough.   I hope that makes sense.

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Taking photographs is so important to these memories too.  I had to go back into the archives to restore these pictures, and then ask my cousin how this amazing tea was concocted.    The tea was an Earl Grey masterpiece from Sadaf.

No photos were taken of the pre steeping or the packaging in general.  This is all information I needed to dig back in the archives of my brain and through asking extra questions.  And come to think of it, I’ve been enjoying this beautiful tea pre or post-dinner on many occasions.  It’s not something I take for granted.

And I think the pictures of the tea themselves can do the talking.

This isn’t just Earl Grey tea.  Real jasmine was added to give that extra kick that made an already delightful tea all the more delightful.

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I miss this tea.  I miss how it was created and I miss the company that partook in the tea drinking.  For some it’s a tea with close friends and family.  For me it’s something so meaningful and sentimental to me.

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And how can you not like a little sweet pastry to go with that tea.  My family is always going above and beyond with the sharing of food and drink.  And everyone brings something to share which only makes this experience of community and family all the more spiritually magnificent.

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What this has also done is inspired me to try to add some unique flavors to a black or Earl Grey tea if the inspiration comes to me.  I’ve always been so simple when it comes to that.  I like my tea with nothing to little added as possible.  And it’s usually the former.

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I appreciate how the entire time I’ve been drinking this tea it included the added jasmine and I had no idea.   That’s a credit to the tea, my cousin, and also shows that we don’t get every flavor and scent right away.  And that’s definitely ok.

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As I write this it’s making me miss these fun times.   I know we all can be so busy with our lives, and sometimes that includes meeting all kinds of (hopefully) wonderful people. What I’ve found out is I’m meeting lots of great people that wanting to spread that mutual love can become difficult.  It’s a good problem to have.  And you can never have enough great family and friends in your life.

I need to tell myself to spend more time with family and close friends, because it honestly it can never be enough.   If you’re sharing an amazing cup of tea and a delicious treat to go with it, everything becomes that much more indelible.

So if you have a tea you like and are thinking of adding jasmine or something else you might be inspired to include, I say go for it.   I will be hoping to do the same.

And I will be hoping for more amazing times with amazing people soon.

For more on Sadaf and to purchase online, click here.  Otherwise there’s a reasonable chance you might be able to find it at your local Iranian or Middle Eastern Market.  Here is their contact information.

This will not be the last time I write about them.

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Love,

Ideen

 

One Step Up

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I’ve mentioned it before, I have love for Harris Teeter. However, this may not translate to their teas.

Over 10 years ago I first set foot in one of their stores and it felt like a magical place. Maybe it’s the thought of something new, the thought of something simple, or maybe just the free samples.  If you’ve been inside a store then you know what I’m talking about.  I just had some delicious sugar cookies the other day.  Next time you’re by the register, check out the display rack and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

This brings us to HT Traders, which they proclaim is a step up from their regular brands. I’m going to assume that means more of an organic or healthier version of some of their staples.   It doesn’t work for their Earl Grey.

For me, I want some power in my Earls.  It’s been suggested that this is a tea to add honey, lemon, and sugar, among other flavoring.  Earl Grey was the first tea my dad and other family members introduced me and led me to my love for tea.   And I’ve usually always savored it in its purest form.  And I know when there’s a good batch.   Whether it’s been in loose or bagged form, you can smell and sense when it’s going to be wonderful.

I had a sense here of none of that.  It smelled too light and I got the sense it was uninspired and there was nothing behind it.  You might be able to tell by my post that I was headed in this direction.

Maybe it’s where my head was but during the whole heating process and creation, I got the feeling this wasn’t going to be anything to write home about.  And it wasn’t.

My cup was bland, drab, and lacking any kind of passion, for lack of better words. The tint gave me some hope otherwise but that was short-lived.

So what do we do when something tastes lifeless and unimaginative?  We dress it up and try to cover up its deficiencies.   Now this is where my friends and I got carried away.

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I was at a friends house when I happened to discover this tea in their cupboard. Yes, I’ll just help myself, why don’t I.  Plenty of snacks and decor have been added to make this tea party the best it can be.  Sadly, I was the only guest that wanted to attend.  But thanks so much to my friends for setting it up anyways.

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That mug is obviously not mine and for many friends in the Baltimore area, you understand how hilarious this truly is.   Easter has already passed but you may find some Easter eggs and hidden gems in a couple of these photos.

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It’s a shame that the highlight of this experience was everything but the tea.  They all can’t be winners or this wouldn’t be fun.

Until next time…

Onward and upward,

Ideen

 

 

Decaf Spice

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How did I get to this beautiful image you see above?

The Spice & Tea Exchange has been bringing it with their teas.

This will be another in the long line of positive posts.   There’s been so many great teas that have come into my life, the bad ones have been few and far between. So another mixed-to-bad review will have to wait.

Nevertheless, their Decaf Earl Grey was effortless to drink and immensely fun to prepare.

I haven’t done a lot of decaffeinated teas for my blog, if any, so I felt the time was right.  I’m not sure if it’s the tea, my state of mind, or the weather slowly turning cooler, but I am a bit tired.  It’s more of a relaxed feeling.  I’m more focused than usual.

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The tea smelled so natural.  The ingredients are shown to you here.  The aroma of the tea leaves and orange peels permeated throughout, as soon as I opened the package.  I will admit, I cheated before and already knew how it smelled when this was given to me as a birthday gift.   The initial Spice & Tea post can be found here.

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The Tovolo Tea Infuser also makes its long-awaited return!  I’m in love with this thing.  As it gets cooler I’ll be prepping more loose teas, so you’ll be seeing more of one of my favorite gadgets!

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What I love about the infuser is you get enough time to see the color literally evolve from beginning to end.  And I have enough time to see this in front of my eyes.  It may only be a matter of moments but the way the beauteous color of this tea is manifested is a sight to behold.   And I want everyone to see it as well, hence the clear glass.

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I savored every sip with a small plate of almonds.  And the sips were savory.

Like I was saying, this tea was a gift from dear friends of mine, from the Ocean City, MD store.  I have been to OC  few times this summer, but the store was never open when I was in the area.  Maybe the timing was not right.  But I hope to check the shop out soon.  Yes we’re still technically in the Summer!

Where was shop alluded me, another did not.  I had the honor of privilege to visit New Orleans a couple of months ago, and maybe it was fate, but I got to visit their NOLA store!  The staff member there was kind of enough to ask me any questions while realizing I was acting like a complete tourist.   I literally stumbled upon this store while walking around the French Quarter.

And in touristy fashion, there will be plenty of photos for your viewing pleasure.

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There will plenty of posts to come from this great company!  And I will continue so next week…

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

Twinings Tuesdays

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Drinking tea makes me happy.   Sometimes it’s my mind that needs healing.  Sometimes it’s my entire spirit.   And a hot cup will do that.  Ever since I can remember, my dad has had a big hand in educating and indoctrinating me on the joys of sipping.   And one of the first teas he introduced me to was Twinings.

For this posting I sampled the Decaffeinated Earl Grey.  And the flavors and aromas take me back to having a cup with my pop.

How could only two ingredients, decaf black tea and bergamot, taste so good?   I think I just answered my own question. Sometimes two is all you need.  It’s the simple things.   Thankfully this is decaf.  Because as of this writing, I’m three cups in and could drink this all night.   It’s the right balance of sweet, and maybe the slightest hint of bitter.

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As soon as I dipped in the bag, the scents were intoxicating.  And how about that beautiful color?

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With all the brands of teas popping up, it’s easy for one of the originators to get lost in the shuffle.  Luckily, Twinings has kept up with the times, with new packaging, innovative new teas, and affordable prices.  There’s a reason they have been world renowned and respected for over 300 years.   I get goose bumps thinking about that fact.

This is only the beginning in posting about this legendary company.   They have so many flavors I want to try and as the weather breaks,  And with some of the most user friendly instructions on how to brew perfectly, it’ll encourage me to do just that.

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In the meantime, I am enjoying myself with a return of one of my favorite mugs from Assateague Island, and with some yummy Cadbury Eggs.   This is the perfect post holiday treat!   And I find this to be the perfect way to relax and settle my stomach after overdoing with unhealthy foods this past weekend.

I hope you all had a tremendous holiday.  Here’s to a happy and healthy warm weather season!

Best,

Ideen

Gotta Have A

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Wawa is known for so many happy things on Earth.    I have been a fan, since I first visited one outside of Philadelphia, in 2000.   Just about all of their stores I’ve visited have had a strong energy, and a sense of community. Many I’ve seen have a strong sense of community and is a meeting place for locals, pals, and friends of from nearby towns of neighborhoods.   The coziness is endearing.    They have great coffee, but I love them for their tea.

And I love them for their hoagies, smoothies, soups, salads, sides, and of course the soft pretzels.   But, their tea has evolved into something delicious.   For years, I didn’t even know they carried their own teas.

I did some research about where they get their teas from, and I got nothing.   Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.  I should just enjoy their teas for what they are.  No over-the-top flavors, additions, or gimmicks.

I love their green tea.  Ingredients : green tea.

The added experience that it’s from Wawa, might make it taste even better. But it’s tremendous.  I usually enjoy it by itself.  But they have plenty of breakfast hoagies, bagels, pastries, and scrambled egg dishes to complement it with.  And I’ve indulged in them all pals.

Look at that awesome selection :

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At certain locations I have had their Chamomile, which is a flavor that has grown on me.  The staples are there – Earl Grey, Regular Black, and Lemon.   Along with the aforementioned Chamomile, you might see Decaf, Ginger Peach, among some other charming flavors.   I am a big fan of the Lemon.  The flavors are parallel to their iced teas.   These teas are not glamorous. I don’t think Wawa intended them to be.   They’re just great and that’s all you can ask for.  I swear I’ve seen an Orange tea in a store somewhere.

Next time you stop into your local Wawa, give the tea a shot.  It’s one of the reasons I look forward to going to their stores now, along with the sentimentality and convenient food choices.   Happy sipping!

TowerOfTea!

Best,

Ideen