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.

BigelowBenefitsTeas

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

May Is Beautiful

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We got here quick didn’t we?  It’s gonna be Summer soon.  And for man the month of May signifies this.   I’m good with that.  But I’m also good with appreciating each day and time of year for what it is.   I love this month so much.  The outdoor events have already been making their triumphant returns but this is the month where it becomes a weekly, and sometimes daily thing.  I also hope that means plenty of outdoor tea drinking, hot and cold.

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The one I’m going to discuss today, can be drank either way.   I’m assuming as such.

There are many teas I try that I never get a chance to write about.  Either that, or they are stored in my memory bank, with a new note taken, for future use.   The Pink Lemonade Herbal Tea from Eastern Shore Tea Company, which can be found at Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company (hope that doesn’t confuse you), is a gem to drink, a joy to watch steep, and a tea I thin even the non-tea drinkers would appreciate.

And the funny thing is this particular experience took place late last fall, but I wanted to wait for this time, this moment, and this part of the season to share it with you.

The setting was their Annapolis location.  I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love our state capital,  And even though their location is away from the heart of Downtown Annapolis, it still has its own aura and charm that always feel good and omnipresent when I visit.

And even though it was months ago I still think about this tea.  Yeah it was that good.  No, it’s nowhere near the best tea I, or most tea drinks, will ever have.  But there’s something about it.  It has a universal appeal.  If you’re not a tea drinker,  you may find this enjoyable anyways, especially in the warmer months.  This will be perfect for any outdoor party, cookout, birthday, or any other event of celebration.  And there will be much to celebrate.

I wish I had the opportunity to try this iced, but in a tea shoppe, they gave me some hot water (which I assume I asked for) and I just steeped a bag.  And even that color will remind you of that perfect seasonal drink.  It radiates.

Lemongrass and hibiscus flowers are the ingredients.  You probably wouldn’t know it unless you looked at the label.  It’s a naturally created pink lemonade that’s better than your fountain soda, or your artificially enhanced flavored drink on your grocers shelf.

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When I look back at the picture above I’m reminded of the fact that I almost didn’t sip this tea.  I almost didn’t sip a lot of teas.  This also means that there’s still teas in this display and others that have seen been created, that I must and will get to sample.

That’s the charm of their stores.  You may have a tea in mind off the bat but another one is just waiting for you to try.  And that’s how I got to try the Pink Lemonade for the first, and what is still my only time.  It was beautiful in so many ways.   And the atmosphere is throwing down a gauntlet.  Which one should I try next?

I forgot I had a sandwich with my tea.  I do recall these beautiful flowers though.  So while this was all taking place in autumn, it was a charming preview of where we are now.    Time is accelerating my friends so whenever there is a chance to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature and life around us, we should do just that.   I would say this tea is in that conversation.  It’s been months but I’m salivating for another cup right now.

Here are some links if you’re interested in purchasing this or any of their teas.  You can order online or stop by one of their stores if you’re in or visiting Maryland sometime soon.   They do list a phone number as well.  Yes some places still take phone orders!

And here’s a few of my past posts related to Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

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Say the opportunity presents itself, and I do pour myself a glass of this (yes we’re talking iced) and it works out, I will do a follow-up to this post.   But for now, I will feel nostalgic over a moment that may have been trivial at the time, but is now charming and endearing memory to me.  Even if it is just tea, it’s those little things that make me happy.

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I promise you this tea will make you happy.

Happy May to you!

Ideen

 

First Class All The Way

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When I first ever heard about Harrods, I immediately thought it’s one of the stores that I don’t think I would ever be good enough to enter or even allowed to be invited inside. Yes, I’m making more out of this than I have reason to.  I assumed (and you know that whole cliche about assuming anything) that the clientele was VIP only and I would have to pay a steep fee to the bouncer just to get a chance to be allowed inside.

If you read here, my assumptions or presumptions weren’t that far off.

However, this is one of many preconceived notions I’m learning to let go,  I think.

What I feel now is excitement. The store is one of those all in one places that feels like a throwback to when I was a kid.  Why the change of heart?  Because it’s best to focus on the positive.  I’m saying this without actually ever being to the store or being to England, but the thought of getting lost in a store of this size excites me.  It’s good to get lost sometimes.   Wow, that sounded wrong.  I meant that in the most positive ways of possible.

I may never visit Harrods and that’s ok.  Well maybe.  But thankfully some amazing friends were in London recently and brought me back something amazing. Can you guess what?  Well this is a discussion of tea.  I’m thrilled, ecstatic, and all those other classy words to share with you my experience with the Harrods Limited First Blend Tea.

This is a tea that carries a lot of weight on levels that I don’t even know where to begin. I’m going to do my best here.

HarrodsTeaFirstBlend

First, that tin.  Does that not just scream authentic?  I want more collectors items in my life like this.  And now I have another one.    And already I’m cherishing this item without even having tried what’s inside.

Now onto the inside.

This loose leaf black tea has a scent,  a look, and an aura of something bigger than most teas I’ve ever had.  I think everything I said earlier and researched about has added to the worth of this tea.  And it’s worth everything.

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A tea of this caliber needed a proper treatment.  I am grateful to have the assistance of some close friends to help infuse this gem of a tea.  And in addition, my friends insisted on breaking out the fancy tea cups and tea plates to make this even more special.

I can’t articulate in words how special this was.

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Unless my mind was deceiving me, there’s a lot of caffeine in this than I realized.  But every bit of it was worth it.

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No foods, no snacks, and no pastries of any sort were necessary.  But I can only imagine an amazing scone or sweet treat would complement this iconic tea to a t.

My best good friend who helped me with the tea production told me that the freshness last two months after opening.   I think 250g is a lot that we may go past two months but I’m going to savor any situation where this tea is served, either to me or two friends.

Tea is something special and it’s something to be appreciated with good friends and the best company possible.

From my dear friends who brought me the tea from across Atlantic to my dear friends who helped me prepared the tea over the weekend, is what makes this even all more the more magnificent.

HarrodsTeaReady

An imported tea of this importance (ha) is wondrous on its own but I’m grateful that some of the people closest to me had a part in making this experience memorable and unforgettable as the tea itself.

Thankfully this tea is also available to purchase online to the entire world, click here for more information.

Here is their tea and coffee collection for your viewing and purchasing pleasure, in what I think is their entirety.

And here is more on Harrods, which has everything known to everyone.

This was stellar.  Five stars and then some.  Oh my goodness this was tea.     I can’t think of that many better ways to spend a weekend afternoon by drinking an incredible tea of this stature and spending it with some awesome company.  The sun being out always helps any occasion.

There may also be a video of this experience posted soon.   Stay tuned for updates.

How I get back to writing about them will be presented to me in time.  Maybe it’s a trip overseas or maybe it’s a gift from a friend.  Either way I look forward to it and I’m so grateful for this experience.

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Feeling blessed,

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

 

Family First

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Happy New Year and Happy Spring to everybody.  Happy New Year is for all of my Iranian friends who celebrate Nowruz.

I thought for sure, that after last year (here is the post) there would be another Iranian tea, either from my dad or from myself.  That may still come in a future post in April or soon thereafter, but for now I let my dad do all the work, and I get to relax a bit.  Well sort of.

Leave it to my dad to obtain a tea literally from obscurity.  But that’s what makes this so fun.  I wouldn’t and shouldn’t always be writing about teas that are easily accessible and easily well-known.   I take pride in trying something new in all facets of my life whenever possible.   With that said I’m so grateful to have had my first cup of White Tea & Blueberry from ManzaTe of Costa Rica.

It used to be that I would initially write-off and have presumptions, preconceived notions, and other nasty things to say about something before even trying it.  Just because something is unfamiliar doesn’t mean it should be frowned upon or put on the back burner.  It could easily be a treasure that otherwise would be forgotten.

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There won’t be much in the way of pictures of steeping and prepping, because, once again my dad broke this out with little notice.  I love when an idea falls into my lap when I’m not looking for it.

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What a thrill this was to sip.   Even if it were disappointing, I would still find so many positives about this experience.  Hanging out with family and the people you care about is always a positive.  And when the tea is great, it definitely is an added bonus.

Yes this tea is delicious.  It was so easy to sip and those blueberries taste natural, and not artificial.  Well at least I hope so.  There’s not much information about this specific tea online.

However, there are online stores where you can purchase their other flavors.  I have two links for you, here and here.

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But no Nowruz gathering would be complete without some sweet Iranian pastries that we have more than once a year.  Trust me.  We go overboard here.  We tend to have these at least once a month.  The honey based pastries complement the white tea and blueberries to a tea.  Ha I made myself  laugh with that one.

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If you would like to find out more about these sweet treats, here are the links for Jalebi, Bamiyeh, and Persian Baklava.   All of this is so good and so beautiful.

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This is a tradition that I hope goes on forever.  And I just don’t mean celebrating New Years and enjoying a meal, a cup, and some sweet treats with my dad and other family.  I would like it to happen as much as possible.  And not all of them are meant to be shared.  As some are meant to be kept internal between yourself, the people you shared them with, and the universe.

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If time permits and the opportunity presents itself I would like to write about another tea in another of Iranian New Year.  I figure I have a window of a few weeks to write about a Persian tea if I get the chance.   I hope  I do.  I will hopefully make that happen.  But like with this experience, it will best come organically.

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And If I get another chance to write about ManzaTe, I will.  This was a wonderful first impression.  It was easy to drink, easy to appreciate the smells, but most importantly it’s about family and being around great company that you appreciate and that appreciate you back.

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This is what life, at any time of year is all about.

I look forward to what April brings.   But for now Happy New Year and Happy Early part of Spring.

Ideen

The Joys of Spring

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I love Spring.  We’re so close to the official day, which will be less than one week from when this thing gets posted.

There’s plenty of things I love.  One thing I know for sure has been my love affair with The Spice and Tea Exchange (for past posts click here), and with every new shoppe of there’s I visit, there’s another reminder of why I enjoy visiting their stores and sampling their incredible array of teas.

Spice&TeaTheTeas

As I just stated, I love checking off the list of locations I’ve been to.  At my count I’ve been to their Annapolis, MD; Alexandria, VA; and New Orleans, LA locations.  For only visiting three I feel like I’ve built a genuine connection with these wonderful company, and it all felt so effortless.

Williamsburg, VA should be on that list but I don’t think I can count that (more on that maybe down the line, as I don’t recall if I actually visited their store) and another friend was thoughtful enough to bring me a tea from their Forth Worth, TX store.  Good to know my friends know me so well.  And I think that’s what this tea experience is all about, enjoying tea and enjoying the company you have that tea with.

Now this is not going to turn into a national tour of visiting all their stores, even though that would be so wonderful, this is more about two fabulous and similar, yet so different experiences this past weekend in Rehoboth Beach, DE and Ocean City, MD.  Yes, two more off the list.   And yes, I went to the beach a little early this year.  But it’s never too early or too late for tea.

I think I shall break this down into two parts.

Spice&TeaRehoboth

My first ever visit to Rehoboth was a couple of days ago and was one of those experiences that continues the tradition of why I love this place so much.   And what a cozy and charming area Rehoboth Beach in general is.  It has a great small town feeling.

Yanna,  who was working at the time was enthusiastic to help and answer any questions. Whenever I visit, my main intent is to check out their seasonal teas, because they come and go in rapid-fire fashion.   They’re turnover with the new season of teas is sometimes less than a month.

Spice&TeaSpringTeas

With that, before time runs out, I am proud to bring you the first of two Spring teas, their Wild Berry Spring Tea.

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I got to experience many free smells of their teas, but this was my first.  And it really got me excited for Spring.  The aromas of berries, vanilla, mint, and tulsi make for a lighthearted yet at the same time powerful bouquet of flavors that I could not wait to try.

The anticipation and build-up was worth it.

At the Ocean City Store that same day I bought a beautiful, new infuser mug that fits the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day.  You know because of well, yeah.

I want to thank Tiffany at the OC location for also being so kind and so helpful in my search for new tea gadgets. There will be more on this next week.

I’ve really set high expectations with this tea, and I still had a near three hour drive home before I got a chance to brew it.

I have good and breaking news.  This tea tastes just as good as it smells.  And just as good as advertised, if not more.

It once again has a powerful initial taste, which might be the cream.  But it’s light and for a Spring tea that’s what you want.  As the weather improves and the temperatures rises, we might be looking for more of those light bodied and lighter flavored teas that will be gentle on the stomach and in turn we’ll feel grateful and spiritually rejuvenated to have such a wonderful and majestic tea.

I put the suggested amount and that really made the difference.  I think adding too much may undermine the intent of what this tea is all about.   A few good minutes of steeping paid enormous dividends in the end.

The pictures of the tea leaves before and after are a thing of beauty.  How they expand after boiling, steeping, and infusing in water is absolute art.  Not all leaves, and for all intents and purposes, flowers bloom in this fashion.   What a treat and a what a blessing this was to witness.

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The green mug did not fully to the color of the this tea justice that I enlisted a new friend to help me show you how it looks in a clearer cup.    There it is!

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Beautiful right?  And my new holiday themed buddy enjoyed its (his?) (her?) tiny cup.  I almost think my friend savored theirs just a little bit more than I did.  This was an easy one to drink.  And if you’re at a nearby store, I would strongly suggest getting this tea while supplies last.  I’ve been told these teas will be around for 3-4 weeks.

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You can have nothing or everything with this tea.  These holiday themed sugar cookies were more for decoration than anything else.  I did have a little myself but a healthy tea likes this deserves a great complementary snack to go with it.  And that can be anything ou want.  In that sense the cookies worked perfectly.

I didn’t give all the details of both visits. I’ll save that for next week.  But I have posted some pictures from the Rehoboth store throughout this post for your viewing enjoyment. This is one where another post is more than necessary.

And any chance to write about Spice & Tea is good enough for me.   And hopefully some of you will get some enjoyment and seek out their teas, and maybe their which are also available for purchase online.

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This tea was fantastic, and with that I am so looking forward to trying the Peach Tumeric tea.  If the weather permits I will present it hot and cold.  I’m confident in that and confident the weather will cooperate on all levels.  It is Spring after all.

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And Spring mean a new year, new hopes, new opportunities, and new teas to try and share with the people we love, or in solitude.

As the days grow longer and the sun looks stronger, I now the tea experience will continue to get better.    And man I’m excited to get to part two next week.

See ya then and Happy Spring Forward, St. Patrick’s Day, and Happy Spring itself!

The best is here and the best is coming,

Ideen

 

 

 

Something Sacred

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In the midst of all the tea posts I have pending, many to fall by the wayside.  Others have an expiration date or statue of limitations that would make no sense to see the light of day.  Maybe I’ll explain that another time, or maybe give you an example in the future. But then there’s others that I feel are so personal and so inspiring that either it’s a memory I want to retain just for me and the amazing people I shared it with (and in many instances I was alone), and then there’s growing businesses and the fantastic people behind it that you feel a personal responsibility to share it with as many people as possible.

Back in October I was at one of the many festivals that makes Baltimore so unique and so special.  And at many of these events I keep in the back of my mind about something I could write about in the future.  Little did I know that I would discover one of those incredible food and tea combinations I’ve ever had.  And this pairing is always going to be at the top of my list.

I wanted to give a huge thank you and hello to The Sacred Kitchen.

At many a festival food trucks and the usual food stands are all too commonplace.  The options for something different have become lost in the shuffle. What’s different now is basic meals and what’s become the norm is sometimes businesses being too cute for their own good.

And then there’s The Sacred Kitchen.

On this one day I just couldn’t make up my mind on what to eat.  I wanted something healthy, something that wouldn’t blow me up, and something out of the regular options.

These guys came through without having too try to hard.  And their booth was so much more welcoming and approachable than just about anything I’ve come across in a while.

Their mobile vegan operation is one that I’m fortunate to have discovered in the early stages of this growing venture.

I got the pleasure to meet the owners Harpreet and Kelly, and we were chatting like we had known each other for years.

But wait just a minute.  What does this have to do with tea?  Look at the menu below.

SacredKitchenMenu

It took me a second to figure out what this Blueberry Tulsi Mauby Tea is.  I’ll tell you what and I’ll be honest, I still don’t know.  What I do know is this was so refreshing, so enlightening, and such a healing drink.  I can’t tell you why exactly.  Part of is for me to appreciate but part of it I truly think doesn’t need to be explained.

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Meeting the great souls who made this tea and having this for the first time instantaneously is one of those truly remarkable things that I appreciate just for what it is. Nothing more and nothing less.  Well hopefully more.  I’m craving a cup right now.

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You might be asking what this visually pleasing plate of food is.  That would be the Armitsari Chole made of garbanzo beans and spices, that yes, do uplift the senses and the soul.    Throw in some Punjabi Puri Bread and this is one of those life-changing meals that will well, change your life.

This entire experience raised my spirits.   Why it took me nearly five months to write about this is something I can’t explain, other than this is the time that it was supposed to happen, and…

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Spring is approaching and that means more festivals, more events, more parties, and hopefully more opportunities to try amazing tea and food like this.

I need to get myself to the Kent Island Farmers’ Market on a Thursday at the very least.  If you’re anywhere close by, I would highly recommend you do the same.

If you’re interested in having them cater your event or be a part of your party or festival, you can contact them here or email them at sacredkitchencatering@gmail.com.

When and when the opportunity presents itself I hope I get to share another amazing tea and food experience with these genuine and down-to-earth souls again.

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Everything about this was beautiful.

Ideen