Embracing Everything

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I thought my experience with Mother Kombucha would be a one and done.  Well that isn’t entirely accurate.  After this incredible experience last week, I thought the next time I’d sample and sip this fermented goodness would be the next time I return, which I’m tentatively thinking will be in the next couple of months.

Yes so this looks like this will be a trilogy, at least.  And I just love how this came together.

On my next to last day in beautiful Downtown St. Petersburg, I went for a run, because it’s beautiful out, it’s sunny, it’s glorious, and even though I was there for some rain, most of that held off and I could appreciate and embrace this new place that seems to embrace everyone in kind.  At least that’s how I felt.

And when I meant run, that means stop and appreciate how charming this location is.   I did a lot of walking, a lot of taking pictures, and enjoyed many of the sights, the sounds, and all this incredible energy I was feeling in and around downtown.

I had no length of time for how long this little mini journey would go.  Vacation is not about planning and having everything be formulaic.  It’s about organically experiencing all there is to experience.

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And without forcing the issue, it happened once again.   I ended up in this oasis, where everything around me is beautiful to begin with.  But the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park is one of those most glorious things I’ve ever experienced.  Yes I just said that a farmers market was as amazing an event or occurrence I’ve had the privilege of being a part of.  It’s the littlest things that are the biggest things, that resonate with me forever.

I took my time, appreciated the food vendors, the fresh fruits and veggies, the small businesses, and wouldn’t you know it, a whole host of tea vendors.  I could do at least two more posts from here, and I may get around to them.  But after a few minutes, the most inviting of booths was that of Mother Kombucha.

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I must reiterate how beautiful this park and market is.  Everyone seemed so happy.

We were meant to be meet again, attracting one another like magnets.  Life is funny and comforting that way.

The girl working the table could not have been nicer.   They had kombucha on tap and plenty of promos to sell and to giveaway.   I did take some pictures but most of all I got the Goji Grape, which is on par, with the Lavender Mojito from last week.

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If that sounds like a cop out or I can’t make up my mind, then fair enough.  But how do you compare two amazing flavors that are on another level from drinking your standard soft drinks with toxic additives and other substances no one should be touching?   I appreciate what I’m drinking for what it is.

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It’s something natural, healthy, organic, designed for us yet it comes from a place much bigger than us.

When it comes to Mother Kombucha, I don’t know what else to say.  Maybe nothing else needs to be to said.

And being in such a warm environment, yet not knowing anyone (recurring theme on this trip) felt good.  People at the market all seemed to know each other and a few folks nodded and said hello to me, like I was a regular fellow and one of them.  It’s that hospitality of the south and I felt even a different kind on the Gulf Coast.

It was all so beautiful and natural.  Yes I was on vacation, yet I felt like I belonged here.

Then after all this romanticizing, the rain came.  And it kept coming.  Yet it felt like it was only coming down at the market and no where else.  Across the street seemed sunny and as clear as day.

Maybe the universe was telling me something, telling us something, and what that is not quite clear.   Maybe I will figure that out when it comes to complete the trilogy.

And I say that with the understanding that I’ve been invited to check out the facility the next time I’m back.  It would be my honor and I look forward to making my return to a place that feels like home to me.

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I’ll see you soon St. Pete and I’ll see you soon Mother Kombucha.

For more on Mother Kombucha, click here for their story, their brew list,  where you can buy, and their contact info.

The Saturday Morning Market runs till August 26th, so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to support everything this beautiful space has to offer.

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To be continued, when is to be determined…

Thanks so much,

Ideen

 

 

This IS Living Tea.

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I didn’t know when or how I would write about Mother Kombucha, but it needed to happen now and the universe told me that today was the day.  Actually I had intended this after my kombucha post last week. So you can call this a segue or a continuation but I just call this a celebration of some of the best beverages Mother Nature has ever provided.  That wording was intentional by the way.

Nearly two months after visiting the great city of St. Petersburg, FL. I recall fondly how gorgeous, spacious, and welcoming Central Avenue was.  While visiting a friend who lived on that street, and meeting with friends throughout the week, I still had plenty of time to myself and to do my own thing.

There were hardly any plans (here is my tea history in the sunshine state thus far), other than knowing that I would love to try some tea, try something new, and try something fun, and then try some more tea.  I love going in blind and going in open-minded and seeing where life takes me.

I can’t say it enough, the tea culture and lifestyle on the Gulf Coast give me goose bumps.  It’s something truly special that I only hope to experience either back in Florida or somewhere just as breathtaking.

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Well what would you know, that this amazing coffee shop (which does have great coffee by the way) Intermezzo, which is footsteps away from where one of my closest friends now resides, would be where I discovered the Mother of all kombuchas.  Yes I could do this all day…

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I walked in on a gorgeous and supremely sunny day to this cozy and charming space not knowing what to expect.  When I walk into a coffee shop my curious mind always wonders about the tea list.  Now many also have their own loose leaf tea, or might carry a few standard label tea bags (which are perfectly fine by the way), maybe some more lavish brands of tea, or in this case the Lavender Mojito, which to say is incredible is a severe understatement.

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Before I could even let my the friendly server behind the counter finish her suggestions, like a boisterous child ordered the Lavender Mojito without any hesitation.

Thanks to my new friend (I humbly apologize for not remembering her name) she allowed me to take pictures of the inside, and enjoy my this iconic beverage outside on a peaceful day. While many others are working, I’m on vacation, so it was an early afternoon, it was a tad lonely, but in the same way it was needed peace and time to reflect.  If it weren’t for this blog I would hardly share this with anyone.

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There were no check-ins, no pictures, and no hints at the time that I was here.  And that’s just the way I wanted it.   I took my few pictures (or so I thought), and then I stopped. Because sipping something like this, being in your own universe, being around the sun, around random people saying hello, and enjoying my own company lies a feeling that everything is going to be ok.  It’s not just one of those things you have to believe, it’s one of those things you should believe.

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The thoughts going through my head were different than what I would feel at home.  I can’t explain it, I can hardly remember even what I was thinking about.  I did recall my tea was unbelievable.  It’s one of the easier ones I’ve ever had, and I would be saying this even if I had this on a regular basis at home.  But I rather make this larger-than-life, because it was.

The ingredients and information are presented to you below but all I can say is that if you live in a place nearby that sells this, do yourself a favor and grab yourself as much as you can.  That flavor, that color, that bottle, that label, oh my god.  What else needs to be said?  It’s ecstasy in a bottle.

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And the funny thing about being in your own ecstasy, I was the only one outside so for a while it felt like I was the only person on Earth.  After a while I noticed while taking photos a group of people drawing closer and closer to my location.   Then I noticed they all wore the same attire.  I don’t even remember who they were with or what they were about.  I hope someone can remind me.   But as they came near, if this were a bad movie or tv show the first thought would be to run.  However, this group was about spreading love, kindness, and hugs all around.  I got a bunch of hugs from people I’ve never met in my life and who knows if I will ever see again.  But it didn’t matter.  I was alone but I wasn’t, then I was alone again.  But I wasn’t lonely.  I felt good.   I took enough pictures that it may look like a flip-book or slide show for your enjoyment.

To say this made my Lavender Mojto Kombucha that much better would be one of those fabled understatements.

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After a little while I felt like it was the right time to go.  I’m grateful to Intermezzo for everything, and for letting me keep the bottle.

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I’m grateful for this experience, which will never happen this organically again.  It’ll have to be something else.  And that’s what makes this so beautiful.  This will continue next week, as this was not my only encounter with the Mother.

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Where I was staying was minutes from their headquarters, but they’re not open to the public for tours, as far as I know.  But I did get a picture anyways.  This is how I play tourist.

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But what I’ll get into next week is how a day after this awe-inspiring experience, was one at the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park that I’ll only say is comparable in stature but how it comes out in my words will convey if it was just as awesome, or magical for other reasons.  I can’t wait to reminisce.  I had another dynamic flavor that I’ll leave as a teaser for you below.

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For more on Mother Kombucha, here is their story, where you can find their product, and their contact information.

This was beautiful.  More next week.  Thank you so much.

Ideen

TeBella For Two

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This is a continuation from last week where I discovered and fully embraced the beauty that is TeBella of Downtown St. Petersburg, FL.    As I said this was not a one-time thing, and I hope it’s not a one vacation thing.  I made a second visit in I think as of many days, and can tell a different yet at the same time the same beautiful experience at this beautiful venue.

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What I glossed over and did not specify last week (I blame my excitement and hazy memory) that Tebella is part of Station House, which is a beautiful and welcoming space that doesn’t have that stuffy and pretentious vibe that I’ve seen around town and elsewhere.  Once again, I may be romanticizing but everyone here either was friendly or kept to themselves.  I only felt good energy, good vibes, and some more good tea.

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I may have been a bit overwhelmed by the TeBella’s extensive and inspiring tea collection the first time, that I could make some generic proclamation that I was better prepared the second time.  That’s no fun.  The fun is losing yourself in all these teas.

This time I went through the White Tea list, and wanted to keep the Summer themed party going with the delicious and magnificent Blueberry Mountain Sunrise, iced of course.

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The synopsis says it all, the whole blueberries and pomegranate are not there to overpower the tea but to serve as an enhancement. I can imagine how great this would be hot as well.   But that color radiates and makes me smile, makes me feel good, and makes me truly appreciate the joy that is tea drinking.

For this sitting I took my time indoors, as this was afternoon, and there was a little more activity than my original visit which was right around the start of business day.  But again, business here is different than any other city I’ve visited.  It’s only part of the culture, but doesn’t seem to be the most important.

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And if this wasn’t awesome enough, I noticed they had a lovely display of Pineallas Chocolate.  Since its local and I was local for a few days it naturally made sense to buy some.  In hindsight I wish I got more.   The Cacao Orange was my perfect yet unconventional pairing with my tea.  But does it really matter?  The teas are there, the chocolates presented themselves like they were waiting to me purchased by me, and everyone else.  This was match made in tea and cocoa heaven, the universe, and all the beautiful stuff in between.

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There were a few other charming experiences and encounters during these two visits, that only seem fitting to keep internal, as anyone who goes on vacation and is sentimental is.  Some things are just hard or not meant to be elaborated in words that hopefully those hints are something we all can relate to and have experienced.  There’s little gems we can laugh about either with ourselves or with the company we were with.

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In these instances I was alone but I really wasn’t.  But then I was again.  And that’s what going away is all about, losing yourself and finding yourself all at once.    Somewhere in all this tea drinking are metaphors and analogies (or the other way around) of life.

As I finish this post I realize these were not so little moments.   There were moments of peace, calm, and just appreciating the moments that don’t need to be photographed or documented for the world to see.  I didn’t mean to be so vague.   I’m writing from the heart, as we all do from time to time.

These two tea experiences reminded me that life can be so wonderful, and all I did was drink some tea, have some pastry, and have some chocolate.  To me this is something bigger than all of us.

To purchase any of TeBella’s teas click here, more on how great TeBella is, and their contact information.

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I will be back.

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And here’s where you can find Pinella’s locally and a link to buy their chocolate online.

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I can’t say this enough, the tea culture in St. Petersburg is incredible.  As amazing as this was, I have more stories (another one can be found here and here’s another one!) to share.  I will get to them when the timing and feeling is right. It could be next week or could be down the line.  I truly believe that these posts will match these amazing experiences I’ve had in Florida so far.

I can’t wait to share them with you.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

TeBella Is Right

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St. Petersburg, FL has my heart.  I’ve been saying this before I got there, and now since I’ve been home.    I mentioned in a post two weeks ago how beautiful the people are, the way of life, the culture, and even more specifically, the tea culture is something beautiful.

For anyone that goes on vacation, perhaps we romanticize and glorify landmarks, places, events, and everything in between as much more amazing than they have any right to be. For locals or folks who have lived somewhere for years, maybe they take it for granted or are numb to their surroundings.   They may just be used to it that the excitement wears off, or maybe it was never there.  Maybe it’s just like anywhere else to them.  And to others, it’s just there or it just is.

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At least on my trip, TeBella was more than just a place.  It was my source of joy, happiness, and a time for solitude and relaxation.  It was so good I went more than once. And in a town where everything is so accessible, so compact, and approachable, I easily could have made another appearance.  And another appearance.

But I’ll start with this one.    And this was my actual first experience in St. Pete, so that is memorable in itself.

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This was morning, and while some folks were headed to work, others were likely working outside from the this tea shoppe, or maybe they were on holiday too.  Maybe they were just enjoying life. I say all this because the quiet and serene way of life is not something I’m used to, but I could get used to it real quick.   It wasn’t chaotic, it wasn’t the hustle and bustle you see in many major cities.   This is a city that’s growing but also I sense embraces a small town feeling, small town values, and a genuine sense of community.

My first exposure is how everyone is saying hello.  Random people on the street were just saying hi.  It was beautiful.   The staff inside was great too.  And the gentleman helping me with tea suggestions did it with sincerity and a genuine sense of joy.  He seemed happy to be here, and that’ll rub off on the patrons and those good vibrations had an impact on me the rest of the day.

Of course we’re talking tea.  So with all this build-up, this better be good right?

As you can see I had so many options to choose from.   The canisters behind the counter were a beautiful thing to see.   It’s nice to have choices, but it can be difficult narrowing it done to one.

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I went with the Tropical Breeze Green Tea.   I figured for where I was, it only seemed appropriate.   The funny thing is, I ordered it hot.   To me it’s not that humorous but I think you know what I’m getting at  It’s early in the morning, some people life their coffee (and I love it too), but I needed something hot.

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The weather would dictate something chilled and something iced (and I’ll get to that next week), but I’m not thinking conventionally here.   Green tea is something I prefer warm. I just feel like how one of the greatest teas and greatest beverages in general is better served.

And this was a joy.  The tastes of pineapple, mango, and papaya scream this season.  I mean what else is there to say.

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I probably could have ordered just about anything, and I might be saying the same thing. But this was a great tea.  How does it compare to others?  I honestly don’t know.  And it doesn’t matter.  I got myself a seat outside and enjoyed the view, enjoyed the quiet, and enjoyed my life.

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Whether you’re on vacation or not, a good sip of tea, a nice complementary pastry, and a joyous state is sometimes all you need.   And that lemon thyme scone was the perfect pairing with my tea.

When you’re on holiday, or whatever you prefer to call it, you take pictures.  And a lot of them.  I took some but then I stopped.  It’s about appreciating where you are in fleeting moments.  Because these moments, they come and they go.  But if they’re a memory worth holding on to, it’s going to get better with time.

Yes this is what’s happened here.  I was here less than a month ago but my two visits to TeBella were even more special than I realized.  And all I did was order tea in a town I’ve never been too.  But spiritually there’s something else going on.

I only hope next week I can convey a similar, yet different perspective on the same place, yet a different time, and different dynamic.   Perhaps it won’t be that different at all.

This was beautiful.  And as much as I love the company of good people, the times on my own have give me some of my favorite memories of all.

For more on TeBella click here,  and here’s their link to purchase their massive selections of tea online,  their story, and their contact information.

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Part 2 Next week.  I’m already feeling nostalgic and looking forward to it.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Tea, Art, Happiness…

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I think my visit to St. Petersburg, FL came at the most perfect time.

The amount of items I could write about is going to be endless.   And I will be spacing them out.  Last week it was Tampa, this week and for the foreseeable future it’s going to be St. Pete and all St. Pete.  No not every week but sporadically through the summer I’m going to expound upon how incredible the tea culture is here.  And incredible might be an understatement.

I found tea places, I stumbled upon tea places, tea shoppes found me, and my reaction to a few were that of a kid in a candy store.  Yes it’s these little things (that are the big things) that give me natural and spiritual highs that words may not always do justice. I’ve made that proclamation before but I stand by that.  Sometimes words an pictures aren’t enough.  Memories are for us and all we can do is our best to share them in our own harmonious and sentimental way.

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With that one of my first stops in St. Pete was Pom Pom’s Teahouse.

I know, how awesome is that name?

And just as awesome is the place.  Everything about is, was, or whatever you want to call it a constant reminder of why this town is beautiful.  And why it now has my heart.

When I first arrived in town my friend guided me through St. Pete and I noticed so many amazing looking shops, restaurants, businesses, and everything else in between that makes this place (that’s on the rise) already look like it’s there (in a good way) and I wouldn’t want anything about it to change.  I probably put this paragraph in the wrong part of the post.  It’s as if I put the finish or the crescendo here, before I’ve even gotten into the tea and this incredible salad that I ordered.

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So let me get to that and see if I can come up with another finish with some big words that will enhance this experience that doesn’t need any more enhancing but deserves all the praise in the world.

Ok…

So I was there on a weekday afternoon, presumably on the tail end of the lunch rush.  If there is a lunch rush here it doesn’t mirror other major cities, and I found that so refreshing.  It was a mix of students, police officers, office workers, tourists, and overall a lot of people that seemed genuinely happy to be there.

I was happy to be there.

There was so much art adorning the walls, which is a point that Pom Pom’s wants to promote.  They’re all about local art, and creating and promoting art is one of the greatest things in this world and in this universe.

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After taking so many pictures of the inside, I requested to my friendly server, Brett, if I could sit outdoors.   He kindly obliged.  I was surprised that I was the only one out there. But how could I complain?  I was the only person on Earth for about an hour, or at least in that moment.

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I made a new friend outside, as you can see.  I felt as if he could read my mind.  And maybe he could.  I think he was saying everything is great, everything is going to be fine, and you’re on vacation, enjoy yourself.

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And I did…

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My meal comprised of a Kiwi Pear Iced Tea and their Seasonal Berry Salad, which may have been one of the best things I’ve eaten, not only on my holiday, but in a long while.  It almost looked too pretty to eat.   But those berries were heavenly.    I almost forgot there were almonds and peanuts in the salad.  It was that great.  The goat cheese and onions made for a simple yet artistic looking salad.  This really was a masterpiece.

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Those berries were something out of a smoothie or freshly made ice cream.  And on a gorgeous day in Florida, what could be better.

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The tea was the understated, yet still elegant part of my meal.  It was light and on this day this was a welcome treat versus something a little too sweet, since the berries were sweet enough.   I did wish I could taste a little more kiwi and pear, but really no complaints from me whatsoever.

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Brett, who like many of my friends I got to visit, is a transplant from Maryland.  I can see the appeal.  I can see why so many people like the mellow vibe and harmonious ways of being in beautiful St. Petersburg.

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More posts are coming and if they can match this experience than I’ve already succeeded.  My time at Pom Pom’s was one of joy, of peace, and of art.  Yes I did take many pictures but then I just sat, relaxed, and started off into the distance.

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I might have been there an hour, two hours, or somewhere that time can’t measure.  But this one hit my heart in a different way than many other tea and dining experiences. And I want to believe it was more than just being away from home, being somewhere else, and being one with the universe.  Well the latter part is great.  But I hope you know what I mean.

This was beautiful.

If you’re in the vicinity, or are a local and have never visited, I can’t recommend this place enough.

Here is more about them, their menu, the art, the buzz, directions, and their contact information.

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When I’m back in the area, and I will be back, how do I follow-up?  It may not be the identical experience, but I sense it will be spectacular, and will tell a different story of what makes Pom Pom’s and this town special to me and special to so many.

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Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

Brew Good, Do Good

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That’s the motto of what is a coffee shop institution in the Tampa, Florida area, Buddy Brew.

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This was my first, and hopefully one of many, visits to this side of the sunshine state.  I literally got to town and my dear friend had a few places we thought we should go.  And Buddy Brew was on the list.  But which location?

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I honestly don’t remember which of the shoppes we were exactly but I believe this was the third Buddy Brew that we came to and decided this would work.    I honestly was just grateful and happy to be a part of something new and hopefully something special.

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When you go away, you want to get as much in as possible.  But at the same time you don’t want to go too crazy that you don’t fully appreciate what is going on.

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This was my first tea related experience on my trip, and will be nowhere close to the last. I have so much to write about but I had told myself and my friend that this would be the first and it would be going up today.

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Of  course leave it to me for another coffee shop (which does carry their own selections of tea, more on that in a bit) to be my first of many tea experiences, that will hopefully be conveyed properly.  Some are going to be loaded with enthusiasm.  Actually many of them will.

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So will this one but maybe not at the heightened level it deserves.  I just got here, I have no idea what I’m doing.  But in honor of National Iced Tea Day which was on June 10th, I decided to do one of many belated celebrations here by ordering myself a glass (or plastic to go cup) of Iced Sweet Mango Tea.   Should that all be capitalized?  Well I did it anyways.

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The tea was sweet, but not overly sweet that it you might think wouldn’t be genuine.   But honestly, I was sweating, I was thirsty, and just about anything within reason would be refreshing.  I also sampled coffee and pastries at a couple of places prior (there’s the part about not doing too much already rearing it’s something head) so maybe my taste buds and mind were all over the place.

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But in all seriousness I enjoyed this tea.  I tasted enough mango mixed in with black tea that I appreciated this greatly.  It’s hard to truly appreciate and review iced tea though. It’s a different beast then drinking teas hot and fully immersing yourself in all the flavors, the leaves, the dried fruits, and all the scents it has to offer, versus an iced tea which leaves it open to interpretation even more so.

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Or maybe we shouldn’t take it too seriously and enjoy the chilled tea, enjoy the spring, the summer, and the warm weather.

I make it a point on my trips to live in the moment, appreciate life and the surroundings all around me without sharing too much with the rest of the world.  I took pictures yes but then I turned my camera off, and put the phone down to just feel good about where I was.  I had great company, a great iced tea, and was already on a roll and I had just landed.

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The pastry is a gluten free vegan brownie that tasted exactly as advertised.  And in this inviting and welcoming weather, it paired perfectly with my tea.

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This is only the beginning though.   My early fandom of Buddy Brew is only just beginning.  I mean look at their logo.  How can you not love that?  Happy looking dogs, cats, and just about any other animal will always win me and many others over.

I didn’t get an additional coffee, but my friend did, and it didn’t stick out with me as anything out of this world.   But I will gladly try another cup again.  This is a tea blog so that isn’t too much of a concern.

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But what I must do, because I didn’t give myself a chance on this go around, is to sample their own teas, either by ordering online, or by making a return to one of their locations, which I’ll hopefully remember next time.

And of course here is their coffee selection.

I’m just getting warmed up.  I’ve got to come back here and talk about other things.  I’m just excited to recant bits and pieces of my getaway.   I want to profess my love for Buddy Brew because I know there’s so much to love.

But like with any trip, no need to do (or in this case say) everything.  Oh man but I love where this is going.

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I will be back again…

Ideen