Autumn In Annapolis

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This is where we get to my favorite time of year when talking about teas.   With the iced teas somewhat behind us, it’s time to focus on fall and all the adorable flavors, aromas, spices, and the other glorious entities that come with the change of the seasons.

I’ve stated countless times my love for Annapolis, and it’s not something I will grow tired of.   Walking around Main Street makes me so happy.  It’s been like this since I was a kid, and as I’ve gotten older, I still feel like one at times  It has that colonial, European, and authentic feel that is slipping away in many other parts of the area.  But thankfully the heart and character remains.  And I hope that integrity remains forever, or close to it.  Whichever comes first!

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The Spice & Tea Exchange has a centrally located and charming location in Downtown Annapolis.  They’ve been so good to me over the course of my blogging.  My past stories can be found here.

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I always look forward to the changing of the seasons, because they always have a few limited time teas that embody all that’s good about the time of year and where we are.

I’m going to split this into two parts.  If I really wanted to milk this, I would cut it into fourths, but that would be serious overkill, and before you now it, it’s…. Nah Not yet.

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There’s no sequential order or preferential treatment being given to one tea over the other.  But the two I’m going with this week, will be the more conventional teas (on paper).  Heck they’re all unique, and if this week is any indication, they’re all going to be tremendous.

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But I will get to all the teas and the infusers, this week and next.  I promise it’ll be worth it!

First up is the Spice Orchard Oolong.  All the ingredients are shown above.  What really stands out for me is how understated this tea is.   I’m willing to bet this will be one of the more simple fall-like teas I’ll sip this season.  And with all the creative flavors out there, this will be ironically refreshing in hindsight.

But in foresight it’s fantastic.  Yes I had a feeling this and all these teas would be glorious.  Yes there’s a bias but there’s so much more to Spice & Tea Exchange than the tea itself.  It’s become a part of me and something I look forward to when the seasons change.

Plus, I just adore Oolong tea.  With the flavors of cinnamon, pear, and ginger, along with apple pieces, this is a charming segue of the change of seasons.  Those apple pieces are charming in itself.  Yes I had a dry piece of two and got a guilty pleasure out of it  No need to feel guilty.  It’s beautiful.  This tea is beautiful.

And it was brewed beautifully too.   In my love of affair with this place, I can’t help but get more infusers.   The Tuffy Steeper expands and contracts to your liking and brewing purposes.   I wonder if it had any bearing on how great this tea tasted.  Every element of the universe helps.

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So what about this endearing blue crab mug?  I want to thank Sara from Local By Design for suggesting something so wonderful.  It may not fit in with the season, but it fits with the Annapolis theme.  Both stores are footsteps of each other on Main Street.

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Local By Design is just its own universe of a store.  I can’t describe it.  I mean I can but I wouldn’t do it justice.   I added some photos this week, and more will come next week.  A little teaser now… Seriously, this place makes me so happy.

I also want to thank my dear friend Rebecca who provided this magnificent Annapolis themed mug and this adorable spoon, also from Local By Design, to add some pizzazz to this next tea.

Well here we are. I’m embracing all the pumpkin stuff.  I swear it start earlier every year.  Before you know it, pumpkin season will start as soon as pumpkin season ends.  And with all that’s going on, I’m happy with that right now.

The Pumpkin Chai Latte is not as overpowering as I thought it would be.  When you think chai latte, you might thing too much flavor.  No.  This had just enough.   And having a tea with cinnamon back-to-back seemed like the only way to go.  It’s glorious, gorgeous, and full of pumpkin fun.  This simple black tea with all its additions is a winner from now until this tea goes out of circulation.  Yes these are limited time offer teas.

I thought I tasted a little whip cream too.

When I saw four teas were being sold, I knew that buying three would mean I get a free sugar.  And in serendipitous fashion I grabbed the Pumpkin Pie Sugar. To add a little kick, I added some to this tea, and what a difference it made.  It’s a concoction of pumpkin on pumpkin that once again might not be put into words.  I loved it and I’m pretty sure you will too.   And surprise, suprise it has cinnamon as well.  Add in some nutmeg and ginger and welcome to Autumn.

I’m embracing it and I can’t wait to see where next week takes us.

I want to give a huge thank you to Jessica at Spice & Tea Exchange for being so courteous during my most recent visit.

The cookies that you see are just another way of celebrating the change of seasons.  Happy Fall Everyone!

To purchase these teas click here.   And to purchase any of the fine teas click here.   Yes, shopping online is a beautiful thing sometimes.

For more on Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you.

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And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  But if you’re local to the area, I highly suggest a visit. It’s one I’ll always remember and look forward to visiting again.

It’s early October and we’re just getting started.  I got two more teas and more local stuff to embrace and celebrate.

I look forward to it.

XOXOXSpoon4

Peace Be With You.

XOXOXSpoon5

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiki Tuesdee

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As of this posting Memorial Day has passed.  I know I know.  Time just keeps on chugging along and fortunately it’s the unofficial start of Summer.   It’s always about enjoying life, enjoying the things that mean the most to us, and of course the teas that are symbolic of the season.

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Last week I promised to do another two part celebration of the exclusive summer teas from the Spice & Tea Exchange.

If I sound like I have a bias towards them (in a good way) than you’re probably right. Ever since the first time I was introduced to them by one of my best friends, and I first saw those charming miniature sized packets that they came in, I immediately became a fan.   Just how they are, how they promote tea, and how they promote all of their products is a blueprint that I feel many should follow.

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This brings us to their other limited edition selection, the Tiki Punch Herbal Tea.

This one is another winner.  But this also turned into a bit of a challenge.  And I only have myself to either blame or to learn for the future.

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When the synopsis says steeping time of seven minutes take that very seriously.  Because when it came to the iced tea version of this, it didn’t even come close to the pictures you see here.

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After multiple attempts with different infusers the best I could get was more of a yellowish to orange tint.  This is more about my challenges than anything about the tea itself.  Maybe it was how I packed it, maybe it was the universe telling me it wasn’t time (I think it was time), or maybe it was just me.

Maybe I got too excited.  Then I got a bit nervous.  I even broke out another infuser.

Just in time for the party I broke out my new piggy friend from Tovolo, which is also available on the Spice & Tea site and all their stores, is now a new trusted ally and confidant when it comes to infusing.

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The hot tea was easy.  I took my time steeping it and the reddish hue was easily visible without any thoughts of what was to come.  The flavors of apple, papaya, coconut, blueberries, mango, among all the others may not be detected at once.  But with various sips you’re going to get the feeling of the islands, the tropics, the beach, summer, and all the stuff that will literally warm your heart.

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Herbal tea is a friend to begin with and this specific tea is now one I consider a close friend.

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The iced version is truly the way to go.  Like the warmed up version, you get those beautiful summer flavors but you even get more.

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It’s sweet enough that you may discover more of those enticing fruits that may not be found when steeped and toasted via a kettle.  But it’s not that sweet that you might be put off by.

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I could see teas like this really going off the rails and never having a chance from the get go.  This tea is setting highs marks for these Tiki and tropic themed teas that I’ve been told are becoming quite the trend.  I’m all for trying more of these as the Summer continues.

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But lets slow it down.  It’s time to sip, savor, and appreciate all the good that this season, or any season for that matter brings, and feel grateful for where we are.

I have a great feeling about this Summer.  Not in a forced or disingenuous way, but in one of hope, spirit, and a belief that lots of good is coming on top of the good that has already been presented to us.

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What makes me laugh is during the multiple times I tried to get a beautiful looking iced tea over this holiday weekend, it was always cloudy.  As soon as I walked away and chose to town my situation, it became sunny, beautiful, and gorgeous.   These are the things I laugh at.  That’s the universe telling me that it wasn’t my time just yet.

This is also a reminder in discipline and truly respecting the steeping time.  It’s about enjoying the entire process from start to finish.

I’m all about enjoying Summer from the start.

Get the Tiki Punch while you can. It’s incredible.    And the get the Peach On The Beach I wrote about last week.

Of course everything can be purchased online as well as in their beautiful shoppes.

Thanks to my friends at the Annapolis location for two weeks worth of masterpiece like teas.

I hope your Memorial Day Weekend was a good one and I wish you a happy, safe, and blessed Summer.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

 

Peach on the Beach

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We are days from Memorial Day and the holiday weekend here in the US of A.  How did we get here so quickly?  Well that’s life.  We’re busy and encompassed with so many things that while we may wish for holidays, we’re also so occupied with life and activities and everything else that days and events just creep up on you.

Here we go.  It’s the end of May and it’s time to celebrate.  It’s always time to celebrate. The party continues.  And of course that means the tea drinking party continues.

What better way to get this week and upcoming weekend going than a fateful stop to one of the great towns in Maryland and all of the United States, Annapolis, MD.

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The state capital has been so good to me and so good to this blog (here is a refresher), and so has The Spice & Tea Exchange.

Here is my cherished history of stories about this amazing company.

So I’m so fortunate to have ended up in Annapolis this week.  I always believe that nothing is by chance, and just as I was all set to have something else written up for this week, I find myself (or they found me) at their beautiful location on Main Street, which is centrally located to everything exciting in downtown Naptown.

I want to thank Gaby, the manager, for helping me find the correct teas for the season, the time of year, and for the story I’m telling.

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I will never try all their teas.  It just won’t happen.  Actually who knows, but their collection is so colossal that it’s just meant to be that there will always be a journey with this group, and not a conclusion.  I love that so much.

What makes them so sun is they always break out a few season and limited edition items at various times throughout the year.  Some I’ve presented to you over the past couple of years.

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This week I present to you the first of two of their limited time teas, the Peach on the Beach.  And it’s a grower for many reasons.  It smells absolutely incredible.

I think I’m going to like this even more as the weather heats up.  As of the day I brewed this, the skies were grey, the weather was lukewarm, and it wasn’t conducive to fully appreciating all that this tea has to offer.

 

Everyone’s palates and taste buds are different but I didn’t get all the peach and mango I was hoping for.  But after analyzing and preparing this tea hot and cold (yes both!), I understand.  It’s a black tea first and foremost, and I genuinely love that fact.  Black tea is what made me first get into tea before anything else.   This reminds me of teas I had growing up, sharing with my dad, members of my family, and now often with dear friends.

I fully think this is going to taste even better when shared with friends, shared with good times, shared with appropriate snacks (which isn’t necessary), and I fully think shared with sunny skies and glorious conditions.

Mine was sipped in solitude under murky skies and not the most ideal of spring or summer weather.

However, tell to that to my newest friend and newest tea infuser, Mr. Tea.  Yes, Mr. Tea from Fred & Friends, is also available through the Spice & Tea website or at all of their stores.

Mr. Tea is more than ready for the Summer, so he (I think?) might be making another appearance or two in the coming months if it feels right.  Which I know it will.

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So I said I also made it iced.   And not to be outdone by our beach bud Mr. Tea is another infuser and friend I made a couple of months back, ManaTEA.

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The ManaTEA is the perfect complement to any tea and infusing party, that I’m so grateful he decided to join us for this pre Memorial Day celebration.

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I want to add I used filtered water for both cups/glasses, and used plenty of ice for the iced tea.  Well yeah that would make sense.

Once again, I think under better days from the universe this is going to be incredible.  It was really good here but the atmosphere and the sky was not my friend on this day. Actually I shouldn’t say that.  This was how it was supposed to be.  It creates a different perspective for now and once the skies are perpetually picturesque, it’s going to make drinking this tea again all the more satisfying.

So what I did was add a little dash of Rose Sugar.  I don’t see it listed in their iconic list of sugars on the website, so maybe it’s exclusive to in store. Yes, for purchasing three tea packets you get a free bag of sugar.  I saw the Rose and didn’t look anywhere else.  Actually I did but the Rose stood out.  Just the color of the Rose petals and sugar looks like the most beautiful sand on the beach.

I love that this happened.  None of this was planned but it seemed pre-destined or pre-ordained.

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A little bit, and then a little more was added and it did add something to the tea.  I think the teas are perfect on their own but this was the perfect sweet kick to put this tea on another level of joy and inspiration.

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Speaking of inspiration, this company has been so great to me.  I’m a huge supporter of them and they have been supporters of this blog.  All I can hope is that I’m giving these teas their proper due.  Next week will continue with the Tiki Punch Herbal Tea.  Yes you read that right.  It smells amazing, I can only imagine what else it has to offer.

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Here is a list of the Spice & Tea’s Exchange locations, their link to shop online, and their contact information.

I wish you all a Happy Memorial Day Weekend.  Be safe, have fun, drink lots of tea, and then drink some more, tea that is.

Blessed,

Ideen

 

Pumpkin Parade

It seems like the only thing I’ve been writing about is pumpkins.  I’m going to enjoy these moments because as nauseating as it may be for some, I’m sentimental to it.  And I know many others that are too.

It’s November, the holidays are approaching, and it’s good to find the positives in this time.  As the weather gets colder, our drinking and eating habits will slowly adapt to those changes.   My tea sipping habits will be going through a transformation as well.  I made this more dramatic than it needed to be.  But I’m having fun here.

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This week takes us back to one of my favorite tea companies, The Spice & Tea Exchange.

I was lucky to find myself at the Alexandria location last month and the timing couldn’t have been better.

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They had their fall display set-up and loaded with all kinds of fun teas, spices, and other various provisions for the season. When I walked into that I was sold.  But I also want to give a formal thank you to Jerome.  He was very helpful in showing me around the store and recommending season teas along with sugars to purchase.

There will be at least one follow-up post next week, and maybe the week after depending on how the rest of this month goes.  But I want to give credit where credit is due.  This was a fantastic experience.  Jerome and a couple of the other folks working were so friendly and let me feel like a kid in a candy store.

This week, from their Fall FesTEAvities collection, I will be talking about the Pumpkin Chai Latte Tea.

I had fun brewing it, sniffing it, but I didn’t love it.  I don’t know if it was how I brewed it or something in the atmosphere, but something didn’t click.

It smells amazing.  And I’m salivating at the thought of it now.  This has happened before.   The aroma doesn’t always translate to a winning taste.  It might be my tastes have changed.  I’ve had some good chai’s so that isn’t it.  I’ve had some that have let me dismayed too.  I’d put this somewhere in between.

I do have one thought.  Maybe the ingredients are all-natural that it tastes exactly how it should.  There’s no harmful additives or artificial flavors to augment the taste.  That part I love.  The ingredients are listed above. Like I said, it smells great it just doesn’t compute in my eyes.   Maybe it’s too much of a good thing?   I’m not sure about less is more.  I’ve had teas with a dozen plus ingredients that have been a staple in my life for years.

They all can’t be winners and by no means will this discourage me from purchasing teas and other items from here.  This store has been so good to me and my friends.   I can’t wait to come back and look forward to doing more positive write ups in the future.  And one will likely take place next week.

For your viewing pleasure I’ve photographed the brewing and steeping experience.

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Can you see the steam in the last few pictures above? Pretty awesome!

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The pumpkin pancakes totally complemented the tea and definitely heightened the flavors of my cup but it wasn’t the best I’ve had.   Maybe next time.

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And more next week!

Unfortunately these items are sold out online.  If there’s a location near you I’d highly recommend grabbing this and the other seasonal teas.  Just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped doesn’t mean you won’t.

For previous posts on this great company click here, here, and also here!

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

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