Matcha The Year

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Everything has a reason, has its place, and has its well something.  I think I’ve said this before and said it in these exact words in this universe or another.  I can’t say for sure.  But what I do know is it feels good to be noticed, and it feels good to be acknowledged, and then it feels good to noticed.  I know I just said that.

I had my eyes set on writing about iced tea today, and this may go on for a while.  I make no promises or guarantee, but that’s what my heart is telling me.  So there may be more than just the weekly post at some points.  I can only hope.

But today just felt right and felt so good.. At my local supermarket the choices are endless, the possibilities might make you freeze a little (if you let it), and overthinking may lead to the wrong, or sometimes the best decision of you life.

Yes that was meant to be as dramatic as it sounded.

Someone noticed how intense I was with my bottled tea search. I mean I could not make up my mind.  This is where the multiple posts may come in.  I love what I ended up with.

And it was this suggestion that made the answer easier for me.  I’m all for ideas.  Sometimes they come to me, sometimes I do flip a coin, and sometimes it’s the outside world that say just go with it.  Here we go…

So this person, who requests they remain anonymous, was intrigued by the bottled teas from ITO EN (which I did write about in a different place and time nearly three years ago, but the article seems to have lost something, literally).

I love how things work out like how they should.  I have a love for many things Japan, I love Matcha, I love this brand, and per everything that’s been going on the past few weeks, I hope someone gets the not-so-obscure reference of my title.  If you’re curious, don’t hesitate to ask.  No, I mean you can really ask me! 🙂

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The two drinks I’ll discuss are the Matcha Love Japanese Matcha & Ginger,  and then the Ice-Steeped Cold Brew Slightly Sweet Lemon Matcha & Green Tea.

All the ingredients and information has been presented to you in the links above and in pictures.

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I do think that if you aren’t a fan of matcha and ginger, you aren’t going to love the former.  This is best served iced, and served cold.  I’m overstating the obvious but it can only help if you are looking to try something else.  I enjoy it but understand this is an acquired taste, and if you can’t drink it then I wouldn’t force the issues.

I don’t know what else to compare it too. I like it, but that’s because I love matcha and all the properties and benefits that come with it.  That harsh taste comes with so much goodness on the other side.  And I’ve grown to adore it.  No sugars necessary. The best ingredients in the world (purified water, organic green tea, organic matcha, and ginger root) will do anyone a world of favors.  So if you want to try, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

Yet at $2.50 it may be steep for some, but it’s worth a little extra investment.

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Same can be said for the slightly sweet. The cane sugar and organic lemon make this perfect for the spring, summer, and yes right now.  I say that a lot, but it’s true.  This is for the moment.  The sugar content is low enough, yet just sweet enough that this will make any sweet tooth happy.

Both these drink are to be savored, appreciated, and should be consumed in a way that makes you feel good, otherwise there’s no point.

There’s a soul and magic to this that I want to explore further.  And as you can see, there’s no shortage of products from this charming company.

To find them at another store near you, click here. 

Additionally, you can order everything online.

Beautiful. All of this is beautiful.  Five stars and above.  This is a matcha and would be a main eventer at any party or gathering in the world.

Take good care.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

The Heart of Annapolis

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There’s this calming feeling when you go back to a place for a second time, especially since it’s been nearly two years since the prior visit.  Bean Rush Cafe has the coziness of Annapolis tucked away in an even more quaint and peaceful part of town, if that’ even possible.

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My continuously growing history of a place I love so much can be found here.

Yes, there’s always happiness layered upon happiness if you know where to look, or maybe not look so hard.  It’ll just come to you.  I think I wrote about a similar experience here back in August of 2016. It sounds dream like when I say it like that.  It does feel like two years ago, but then again where did two years go?

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Two years and many visits to one of my favorite towns in between compelled me to come back to one of the more charming and welcoming coffee shops (here is more about them and their contact information) I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming to.

It’s July, it’s summer, and it’s one of those be careful what you wish for deals.  While it’s gotten uncomfortably hot for many, in many ways we’ll miss this when it gets colder.  I’ve never been one to complain about the heat.  I love this weather, and I stay hydrated, stay safe, and stay spiritually whole.   It’s easy to do.

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Iced tea is the only thing on my agenda at this and will be for a while.   Per recommendations from one of the friendliest faces and voices behind the counter, I went with the Berry Berry Iced Tea and a Raspberry pastry.   Why pastry?  Why not?

They complemented each other well, and I’m all for a lovely display.  The colors and tones fit the summer.  So do so many, and many other themes will be coming in the next few weeks, if not sooner.

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This tea is fun.  Where have I heard that before?  I found a spot on the porch, which felt familiar and divine, well yeah, I sat here two years ago.  It’s not that mysterious and surrealisitic, but it’s still fun to me over-the-top dramatic.

I love this place so much.  I felt like I was at a friend or family’s house, and even felt more comfortable than that.

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People were saying hello to one another, holding doors, and there was lots of smiling.  This made me so happy.  Where am I?  I’m in the most peaceful and serene place I’ve been in some time.

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The flowers in the vicinity, the refreshing tea, and harmonious surroundings makes me feel nostalgic, relieved, and wanting more of this.  I love more of this and I love Annapolis so much.

I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to move, so I didn’t.  I sat there for a while and just breathed some fresh air, soaked up the most beautiful and brightest rays of sunshine, and just appreciated being.  This is where the phone and camera was turned off.

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For a few moments I was the only person on Earth, and that’s a feeling I sense will be coming back in symbolic and necessary doses, when the timing is right.  Certain spirits will throw in reminders when they feel it’s right.

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A place that has been so good to me for such a long time, is going to get a lot of love and support from me over the next few weeks, if not more.   There’s so much to celebrate, and while the wording and themes may be similar, the stories will all have a touch something new.   It’s all relative, it’s all constant, but it’s all love.

My heart will always be with Annapolis.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

These Are The Words…

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Summer means a lot to me.  I know it means so many things to many different people, from all different walks of life.

For me it takes me back to when there were no worries.  As a kid my biggest dilemma in the summer was whether I go to summer camp, or stay at home and do nothing, and daydream.   As time has gone by, I find myself in a similar situation.  I’m not sure how many of you may be going through your own trials and tribulations.

Not all of this is bad.  It’s a time of rebirth, reawakening, and rejuvenation.   Perhaps it’s a time to reflect.  Where do we go from here?   As much time has passed there’s still so much left to look explore, look forward to, and to accomplish.

When preparing (or not) or contemplating what tea stories to elaborate on (and some to leave unsaid), I tend to make it more dramatic and complicated than it has any right to be.  For me, or for any of us who enjoy writing, it’s a personal thing.

Memories are so beautiful, and so many are meant to be kept to ourselves, and those close friends and family that we shared them with.  To that I say, some are so amazing, that it’s best to write them or say that out loud, so for where we can capture or recreate details and memories that otherwise we’d forget.

This takes us back to before the long holiday weekend, yet a weekend of companionship, conversation, and doing as much relaxing and being in nothingness as possible.  Nothingness is a good thing in this instance.

I love going to friends’ house and enjoying a day and night in (often more times than a night out now) and knowing that the night has already been made, and there’s no worries or cares of the outside world.

We had plenty of snacks, treats, vino (more on that here), and some of my favorite animal friends and the freshest are there is.  Just what everyone can use, in times of joy or otherwise.

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I couldn’t think of a better place to continue the story of one of favorite entities in general, The Spice & Tea Exchange.

Here’s the link to shop online, their store locations, contact information, and my past stories on their incredible teas.

I want to thank Denise from the Annapolis, MD location for all of her assistance and support.

For the Summer, for National Iced Tea Month (even though this was in May, but I don’t think anyone is going to write me a demerit), and most of all for you and me, I’m honored to discuss their most recent releases and limited time teas, the Blue Raspberry Crush, and the Get Up & Goji.

Both have endearing names, and have endearing qualities that have stuck with me as I write this.  That can only mean I will keep loving these teas more and more over time.

 

Just the colors on the Blue Raspberry are going to win you over.   When it looks this good, I can only hope that the scents and tastes will mirror what you see at first sight.

That’s exactly right.

 

I only wish I added lemon to see the changing of colors.  I’ll have to revisit this again later in the Summer.  Thankfully there’s so much left…

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I think it’s only fitting that my friend prepared this tea hot, but we made it iced and served in the most perfect of glasses.

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This tea was shared among so many other food and drink, but it never got lost in the shuffle.  It was a day and night of indulgence, celebration, peace, and all the emotions in between and book ending.

 

The Get Up & Goji was for the next day.  And after everything has settled, this was the perfect sip for a rebirth, and to get the day going.   Once again, iced or hot, you can’t go right or wrong.  There’s no right or wrong.  It’s all just so magnificent.

 

I’m constantly exhausted lately, so this tea,with the sun shining the way it did, felt like someone or something was watching me, looking out for me, and telling me everything was going to be ok.   You can substitute ‘me’ for ‘us’ or with ‘you’, and it all applies.

 

I don’t recall the sun ever looking so beautiful in my entire life.   I don’t think that was an accident.

 

The company of my friends, and these amazing dogs I’ve had such a history with, made these two days so perfect.

This is why you share these stories, or at least write them out to yourself in diary or however form you like.  You realize the little things or those big things.  And those big things are whatever you want them to be.

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It’s all important.  And with that said, I still left details out (some on purpose), because while stories are meant to be shared, parts of it are not easy to share, just yet, if at all.

And some are just meant for you, for me, and for anyone you want it to be.

I’m so grateful the teas of one of my favorite shoppes, Spice & Tea Exchange, were featured at this vulnerable and emotional moment in time.

It’s good to be back…

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

The Clock On The Wall Is…

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At Baltimore Coffee and Tea (here’s their tea collection and list of locations) there never seems to be a clock.  Not that I’m looking for it.  It’s more than when I’m here, I feel an  ease and calm I don’t get everywhere.

The visits are always by happenstance (or are they?), where I don’t think about going, unless I think about going.  The latter part is due to circumstances beyond my control?  Maybe.   If I’m in the vicinity of one then theme music might be going off in my head, and I hope to see the light…

The many visits before (stories can be found here) might tell of cozy and community feeling experiences.  That’s exactly right.

They might also tell of enjoyment in solitude.  That would be the case as well.

There’s happiness where it’s the simplest.  What goes on here is also a separation from the commotion of the outside world.  I’m not in the city, there’s little to no traffic,  the noise is practically non existent, and all the cares and worries seem to disappear.

It’s like I’m the only person on Earth.  Feelings like that come more times than we realize.  Being selfish in that way is ok.  We’ve all had those feelings where the world revolve around us and no one else, but not in that narcissistic sense so much.  Just a feeling of we deserve and have earned a place to just be, and nothing else.

Forgetting when I was here at my favorite and original location in Timonium, while it always seems busy, it never seems crowded. There’s room for everybody.  They say that without having to say that.   Again, it’s just being.

Thanks again to Eastern Shore Tea Company for providing the tea this week, the Blueberry Lemon for my enjoyment, and hopefully yours.

The seasonal tastes of blueberries and lemons, is just right.  There’s not much else to it, and on a day where you don’t want too much, don’t ask for too much, and in many cases just want to be alone or left alone, this is perfection.

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My breakfast sandwich was just as yummy, and while that is for display, it also did go well with my tea.  Not so much for pairings sake, but for my sake.

While the friendly patrons seem to know one another, and it would be nice to be in the know, it’s ok to be anonymous.  In a world where we’re more and more connected, and everyone seems to know you or about you, it’s nice to remain hidden, even if it’s plain sight.  It’s easier said and easier done.   As small as the world it, it’s also so big.  Just like our spirits.

I wish I could make every experience and story this simple.  When I go back and look, they all tend to be.  The teas may change, the locations may be different, the arrangements might be altered, but the story remains constant.  I love tea, it’s a timeless joy that I enjoy partaking in and sharing with you.

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I can’t wait to see what happens next…

Take good care…

Ideen

1, 2, What You Doing?

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I had something else planned for today, but my heart wasn’t feeling it.   That story will have to be told another day.  And like always, it’ll sort itself out and be better in the long run.

Wilmington, DE has a charm and aura about it that is bestowed upon many a small, yet growing and flourishing towns.  Not far from Philadelphia, and just a little north of Baltimore, it finds itself in its own world, a separate entity from anything else.  At least that’s how I look at it.

My last visit uncovered one gem (story can be found here), but this one tells a story that’s a little more relaxed, and one where I hope has at least a part two.

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First things first, Brew Haha!, aside from having a clever name, has such a warm and inviting energy, that you can’t help but find yourself inside.   Whenever I’m anywhere, if I think to, I will research a place nearby for tea.  I had heard and seen of Brew Haha! as it’s a growing coffee shop chain in our first state (locations can be found here), here is and I see them continuing their skyrocketing success.  Their story says it all.

The not-so-challenging aspect of a coffee shop, for tea lovers like you and me, are whether they have a tea list to begin with.  Then, is that list on your standard side, or a is that list a bit for expansive?   Here’s their menu.

Then when the manager mentions they have a couple of loose teas, my eyes light up and I’m reminded and bless of why I write about and love tea so much.

I love tea so much.

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The recommendation was the Cosmic Rose from Brandywine Coffee Roasters, which is beautiful on all sorts of levels.  It’s a local business, so local supporting local, and being supported by patrons and visitors like me is what makes this world so wonderful.

Here is Brandywine Coffee Roasters tea list available for purchase online.and their contact information.

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This tea is wonderful.  Just the visual alone in seeing the bag steep in an original Brew Haha! mug made me happy.

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Aside from the color there’s much to love about this; organic hibiscus, organic rosehips, organic rooibos, orange peel, rose petals, organic everything and everything that’s good in the universe.

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I enjoyed this with a vegan ginger scone, that if you weren’t told it was vegan, you may not know the difference.  It tasted lighter, healthier, and the ginger was the perfect complement to my tea.  A tea that would be perfect iced by the way.

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As always, I took a few pictures and then I relaxed for a good 45 minutes.  It might have been longer, but when I’m on a mini vacation or anywhere far away from home, time tends to operate on a different frequency.  And while I’m alone, and don’t know anyone, there’s a comfort in that alone time.   There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.

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In regards to that, I felt like a part of a community right away.  And Lydia, the ever-so friendly manager, made me feel like I was at home.  That’s immediately going to make my tea and food taste even that much better.  I noticed she knew many of the patrons by name, and how would that not make you feel good?  It’s always nice to be made to feel special and that you have meaning to someone’s life.  It’s a big thing, that we call the a little thing, but it’s all of the above.

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They had two of their teas available for serving, and for purchase.  I went with the in house suggestion, but ended up buying the Cosmic Rose and one for later, the Dreamers Sympathy, which has so many metaphorical and metaphysical implications to my life, and maybe yours, that I hope to get to this soon.   I’ll know when…

But for now I want to thank Lydia at Brew Haha! for making me feel like a regular on my initial visit.  I’ll be back and if you’re in the area I highly recommend you do the same.  There’s just something right about the neighborhood too.

Every story means something, and some are meant to be revisited sooner rather than later.  Some are meant to be a one time thing.  Only time will tell what this one will dictate.  In my heart I know how this will go.

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To be continued…

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

The Far Side of the…

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When I go back in my history of writing, I’m surprised to see that I’ve only made two posts ever about Harney & Sons.   The two posts I’m alluding to can be found here.

Dear friends of mine, whose opinion I value when it comes to tea, always rave about Harney & Sons.   And they don’t really talk about many other brands.

Someone close to me told me that they exclusively only order tea online from them, and they always throw in free samples.  No, not just the baby sized free samples.  We’re talking above and beyond, and in sometimes half dozen quantities.

Here’s more about them and more about the Harney Family themselves.

A company that carries so much prestige and has such an aura about it, doesn’t need to do anything.  Their teas sell themselves.   To go the extra mile, when the tea is already incredible, is not only smart business, but a goodwill gesture where one isn’t necessary.

The act of love and kindness for no reason, is the best reason of all.

With that I bring us to their Paris Tea, and it’s incredible.  This has to be done sooner versus otherwise, as we’re moving into sunnier skies, warmer climates, and that will segue into a different tea drinking experience in the coming months.

However, first things first.   This goes back to February when the days were short, layers were worn, and many a nights turned early, and one would find comfort in the simple things at home.  Well that can happen at any time of year, but the winter may bring hibernation and a time to reflect and prepare for rejuvenation.

I had myself a little getaway.  I got to be in a different part of the state.  I spent time with some dogs I’ve known a long time (and a new friend too), and I got to be one with the universe.  Which means a lot of alone time, which is good in certain doses, in small doses, and not be done too much, or it could become a part of the norm.

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When it comes to tea drinking, I would love to share it with friends  I’ve made many a mention about how good company can make any tea taste that much better.   With the Paris Tea it was as if I was with my friends who lived at the house (even though they were away) were with me and of course my animal friends always liven up the day with their cute, cuddly, and sometimes boisterous ways.

You may have noticed that I’ve barely mentioned how the tea actually tastes, and how marvelous it goes down.  I’m painting a picture, of what I’m not entirely sure.  But that’s my story.  It took little time for that strong black tea color to shine through.  The tea combined with oolong, vanilla, caramel, lemon, and bergamot is out of this world.

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I went to Paris once, but was too young to remember much.  I’m sure I had some tea, but not like this.  This is something out of a picturesque scene with beautiful people sitting around enjoying one another, eating yummy pastry, and having a cup of tea that would be part of their daily routine and feel like home.

Here back home, it feels more like a special occasion which I would like to partake in as much as possible, if not everyday.   Yet it my lose it’s shine or not feel as special.  Maybe, but who cares.  Great tea is great tea, where this goes way past the levels of great, and belongs in its own category.

Word of mouth is an easy thing to fall into.   The consensus is how good Harney & Sons tea is.  The Paris Tea is a reminder of their greatness.   I highly recommend getting some wherever you can, and who knows what amazing samples will come from that.

Which is going to lead to more from this incredible company much sooner than later.  How this is only my third post is beyond me but all that’s about to change.

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Have a good one, and peace be with you….

Ideen

 

 

Feeling Grateful – Part II

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This life is fun and funny at times.  What started out as any other day (and I don’t like days just being ordinary or like ‘any other day’), turned into one that was full of happiness, joy, hope, and many things to look forward to in the present, as well as the future.

But it’s always important to live in the present tense.

As one door opens, so does another, and a return to one of my favorite places in Historic Old Ellicott City, the wonderful Matcha Time Cafe.  I absolutely adore this place.

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I find it so wonderful, that a bonus post, outside of my usual Tuesday style, was absolutely necessary.  Actually none of this is necessary, but to me, it’s important enough to expound upon, especially as the Ellicott City Spring Festival takes place this coming Saturday.

It’s not like business will be slow, or this or any other business needs any more publicity or promotion leading into this weekend.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to promote positivity, support a local business, and support someone who I now consider a friend.

When I made the most incredible and memorable of discoveries back in November of 2016 (story can be found here), of this gift from the universe, I thought that if there is something bigger than us and bigger than this life, this is one way the other side would look like.

I hadn’t introduced myself to the manager, Hatsumi, at the time.  Actually maybe I did after I sat outside in the what was an unseasonably warm yet picturesque day, that gave me one of the best stories, on not just about tea, but about anything.  I got some awesome pictures too. And I say that with confidence, because I haven’t read it since.  I rarely read what I write.  Maybe I’ll go back and see how well that story, among others, has aged.  I bet it’s timeless.  I know it is.

So nearly a year-and-a-half later, my return visit tells a different story, yet it’s all relative, and all means so much.

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I had given a heads up that I was on my way and was greeted with open arms.  That made me feel so good.  On a day where everything felt unique and uncomfortably fantastic at times, it was good to see a familiar face.

After a several minute chat, that became much longer, I got to sample some of the new teas for the season.  I also see that they make dumplings in house, along with so many other amazing foods.  I forgot it’s more than just a cafe.  There’s a delicious and nutritious element to their menu, that must be revisited again.  And no it won’t be another 18 months till the next time.  That’s a guarantee.

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After a few moments of deliberation, I was presented the Masala Chai Latte, and as an added bonus, a gluten free chocolate cake.  Yes it’s as rich as it gets ladies and gentlemen.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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The latte is as gorgeous and splendid as it looks.  It’s a bit heavy and rich, like I said, so sip carefully, slowly, and in peace.  It’s going to wake you up.  And on a day or string of days where I’ve been perpetually exhausted, this was as welcome a beverage as any.

 

ChocolateCakeAnd that cake.  I didn’t know it was gluten free until I was basically full from my tea.  I first thought there’s no way I can have all this.  When I found out it was GF,  there was this open sigh of relief. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

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I enjoyed my cake later, and once again, as beautiful as it looks, it would be a shame not to eat.  It was beautiful.

Everything about this visit was beautiful.

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I’m glad I arrived when I did, right before lunch, as business started to pick up, and the time for conversation was beginning to wane.  But a good hour or so was just enough.  And like I said, I’ll be back much sooner than later.

I see this being more than a trilogy.  I see this being a recurring story, with no timetable, no expectations, just a good time with good people, and some more amazing teas and tasteful bites.

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The way I write this might feel like a transition. And maybe it is.  Maybe I’m projecting, but my intent is to project the good I’m feeling based on not just this visit, but the first one, and so many other invaluable experiences, all for the love of tea.

For more on Matcha Time Cafe click here.

I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

Have a good one, and peace be with you…

Ideen