The Magic of Tea

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Some things just get better with age, with time, and with anything.  Change is constant, constant is constant.  What is will always be, moving in form, through form, and out of form.   And all that other metaphysical, cosmic, and uplifting stuff that sounds good on the surface, but doesn’t always register or resonate.

But often times it does.

Celestial Seasonings is worthy of all the praise, all the lauding, and all the love I can bestow upon it.    It’s only been a few months (all my stories can be found here) since the last time, but it honestly feels like so long ago.  So much has happened that it feels like it;s been ages.  And in a way that’s ok.

As time is moving rapidly, it also feels slow.  I know we’re in late July and that may feel sad for some (I’m one of them), yet there’s still plenty of the summer, the season, and of course life to celebrate.

They just continue to dazzle and impress with all their amazing flavors and newest creations.   Some seem to have passed me by via limited release, but nevertheless, there’s plenty of good to share with you.

And I’m grateful to be sharing two summery and wonderful blends with you now.

The Watermelon Lime Zinger and the Tangerine Orange are the kinds of teas I should have started having back in the Spring, but here we are, and it’s never too late and it’s no time like well….

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I’ll start with the latter.   The blend of tangerines, oranges, passionfruit, and hibiscus creates a masterful looking tea, and that pinkish-reddish color makes it all the more a picturesque sight.

For my own edification and maybe yours too, I made both teas hot and iced, and the results are exciting.  Yes I found the discoveries to be a bit of a surprise, but it all leans towards the positive.

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Yet I enjoyed the tangerine orange heated over chilled.  I feel the iced version lost a little bit of its flavor.  Maybe I put too much ice, maybe my taste buds and mood were altered a bit, but I’m going to lean and say that this just feels right under higher temperatures.

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The Watermelon Lime is even that much more spectacular.  It’s good iced or hot, and the flavors remain.  This tastes even more like summer and I can’t get enough of it.  If I had to pick one, I would go with this, but you can’t go wrong (and it’s all right and amazing) with either.

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It tastes like candy, it tastes naturally sweet, and it taste like it’s from somewhere or something bigger than us.  I know that’s a bit much, but I felt transformed and felt rejuvenated.   Like I said, these are the teas I should be having more often and what I grew up on.

These are the teas that have helped this blog and helped me learn more about tea, learn more about myself, and to just feel good in general.  Tea is good, tea is fun, and tea is so beautiful.

I took my time sipping as I took my time writing this.  There’s moments where I feel like, is this all worth it?  And the answer is yes. The answer is still yes.  It will always be yes.

Celestial Seasonings teas are easy to find, at a store near you, and are quite affordable, for under $3, and even less than that in many places.  In a world where teas are going up in price, for what may or may not be higher quality, Celestial Seasonings has been that constant and consistent brand that you can trust, depend on, and will always be there for you.

It’s always been there for me.

Where do we go from here?  There’s so many flavors and so many styles I could tap into.  And I just might.

I just might.

Peace as always be with you.

Ideen

From The Heart to the Soul

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Literally next door, and I mean literally next door, from where I spoke on last week, is another charming and I’ll say it, adorable spot in West Annapolis, Rutabaga Craft Juicery.

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I had no intentions of writing about this wonderful place, (here is their menu, some eco information, more about them, and their contact info) and that’s not meant in a disparaging way.  I just came for some cold-pressed juice, a smoothie, and some peace.

There’s plenty of places I walk into that I’ll never write about because either it doesn’t fit the context of what I’m saying, I like the break, or I just don’t think about.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, that I don’t always think about what to discuss or not discuss, without a little research, preparation, but my favorite is always the spontaneous.

As would be with Rutabaga…

West Annapolis is its own entity, its own island, and own universe within such a tiny and beautiful universe of Annapolis (my past posts on this wonderful place are here), that the joy just continues to compound.

With such a cozy space, it’s a blessing I had an outside table to myself.  I came around lunch hour, and while people were in and out, it once again felt like I was the only person on Earth.  That’s a good feeling, and while it may feel egocentric or narcissistic, it feels like peace to me.  And there’s more of where that I came from, and more at our disposal then we know.

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I went with the Berried (a blend of apple ,strawberry, blueberry raspberry, and banana maple chia) and it went down smooth, went down easy, and went down a little too fast.  The weather warranted it.  Which also means I could’ve used a glass of water or two.  I did get around to that eventually.

But as I was leaving, I noticed they had kombucha on tap and available for sampling.  Since I already bought a drink, I feel like I had some immunity and didn’t feel as greedy or as cheap by trying all three samples.

One stood out above the rest.

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The Green Garden from Federal Brewing Company based out of Federalsburg, MD, was one of the more refreshing kombucha’s I’ve had.  It was the perfect contrast to my fruit drink, that I loved trading a sip of each back and forth, while cleansing my palate of course.   Even without a sip of water in between, I got all the beautiful tastes and flavors from each.

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I honestly forgot what was in the Green Garden, but maybe I wasn’t supposed to know or remember.  I just knew it was great, and I would love to have some more.

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For the warmer climates, you can’t go wrong with either of these.  You can’t go wrong with supporting local business, and any chance to sit outside, be with nature, enjoy my surroundings, and enjoy not one, but two amazing beverages is something to be truly grateful for.

If you’re local to the area, and have not visited Rutabaga’s, I highly recommend it.  The staff is so friendly and accommodating. Many tourists will visit this summer, and because of its location it may be overlooked, but I wouldn’t.  It’s a gem among gems, among more gems.  While open for less than three years, it looks like it’s going to be a mainstay for years to come.  It’s another great reason to visit and love our state capital.

Have a good one, enjoy your day, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

Thank You For The Sun, The One That Shines On Everyone…

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This is a continuation of what I wrote about last week, and the story gets that much brighter.  And the sun surely had a hand in that…

Maybe it took some life changes, and a late May day for one of the most beautiful displays of sun and serenity that I can recall.   Until recently, we’ve been lacking in days like this.  Lack is never good.  It implies, well lack and missing something.   The sun is vital to our lives, for many reasons.

Happiness seems to be number one.

The sun makes people more motivated to do things, whether it’s doing nothing or something life changing.  Sometimes those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

A good night’s rest after anything is welcome, and I don’t do it enough.  I imagine the same goes for many of you.  When it becomes 6-7 hours, it just only feels like ‘enough’, but barely.

Maybe it was the anticipation of trying a new tea, taking some new pictures in a different setting than I’m accustomed to, and giving the gift that keeps on giving.

This gift was a souvenir from my dear friends who visited Sunny California months back, and I held on to this tea, because I was waiting for the right moment.

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And what better way to share the Angels in the Mist from Point Loma Tea, then with my friends who brought it to me…

Here’s their catalog (which is available for purchase online), more about them, and their contact information.

You know packaging and presentation goes a long way.  First impressions can be misleading and deceiving, but they’re still first impressions.   And I was impressed.

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We didn’t realize that the packing carried more than one tea.  Which makes this all the more exciting. More for later!   This blend of oranges, apples, hibiscus, and rose just projects all the good things about Spring and Summer.  It’s a simple, yet powerful blend of all the good in the world.

And it tastes good too!

The brewing process was seamless, and since I had some of my favorite animal friends with me, this was the perfect cup for it.

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The vanilla tea cookies were also a gift, and paired just right with our tea.  The dichotomy of the flavors of my sweets versus the other sweets in the tea may throw some off a bit, but I love it.  It’s sunny out, the days are getting longer, and you only live, well you know.  All those sayings…

Just as I take my time writing this, I took my time appreciating, savoring, and photographing this tea.  You can see the photogenic colors from onset of steeping.  I love this tea so much.

And I love when I’m introduced to a new tea company, that I had never known existed.  If it wasn’t for my friends, who knows if I would ever found out about, and be introduced to something so exquisite.  It makes me think how many teas are out there that I have yet to discover, and may never discover.

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That’s what makes this journey so wonderful.  While we have all these major brands, who have earned their reputation and earned their place in grocery and retail aisles, positions of prominence, and on the minds of many; I’m always about something new, something local, and something inspiring.

I’m feeling inspired, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Happy Spring into Summer!

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

 

 

Love That Blue!

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The Spice & Tea Exchange continues their run of making amazing teas, limited time or not.  I mean you’ve got to be kidding me.  I mean we throw terms around a lot; calling things incredible, legendary, iconic, that we maybe shouldn’t.   Where am I going with this?  I don’t know.   But I would say at least one of the teas I’m going to discuss fits the mold of awesome.

This almost didn’t happen either.  Every tea, every discussion, and just about anything for that matter, can have a a backstory, if you allow there to be one, or if you pay attention.  I’m all for things just being or to ‘just be’, but not today, maybe next time.

I always look forward to a new season, which usually means the Spice & Tea Exchange is going present to us their Limited Time Offer Teas.  And is just out of this world, and out of this stratosphere, literally.

I know I don’t get to the point right away.  And that happens a lot.  But as I say that, I will attempt to shortly.  A serendipitous return to their Annapolis location, meant good times, good vibrations, and hopefully a discovery of their seasonal teas.

And I got ’em down to the wire.

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I was told that they were down to what was left on display, and they had only had them for a short while.   Maybe I lost track of time, not realizing that they’re already in preparation for their summer teas.  I know Summer sounds great.  Everything about it is great.

But first things first.  And yet I completely understand…

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The Aurora Blue Herbal Tea is one of the cosmos.  Yes I said that on purpose.  After seeing it, smelling it, and staring in awe, I wanted to love this that much more.  And this is way before prepping, steeping, and infusing.  I wanted magic, and I got magic.

And with this new Stainless Steel Tea Mug Infuser I purchased, everything fell into place, just like it was always going to.

The ingredients are presented to you up above, and here,  so I don’t need to elaborate too much.  However, what can be said about this color?  Even when I originally got a smell of it at the store, I sensed something incredible was going to come of this.

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That’s what I’m talking about.

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The fact that there’s a tea that can mimic the colors of the Aurora Borealis, is stunning on so many levels.  It’s hard to comprehend and fathom, but then it doesn’t see, crazy.   We’ve seen amazing teas, amazing things in general, amazing anything that we throw out that word ‘amazing’, that it loses it’s value and shine.  But this is magic, and yes it’s amazing.

The transformation while infusing in the tea mug is magical.

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The love is blue, and the love is golden.  Holy moly seriously, who came up with this?  Am I overrating this?  I don’t think that can be applied here.  This is five stars and then some.  Who knew butterfly pea flowers would be the reason for all this.  I would be lying to you if I told you I knew what those were before last week, but be that as it may, I’m not giving this tea enough credit.

My words won’t be enough.  The citrus and ginger are understated yet there that it makes this blue concoction that is one to worship, that will resonate, and will make you coming back for more.  Hurry before its gone.  I should’ve bought more than I did.

So how does the Lemon Drop Mate Tea follow up?  It’s almost not fair, as it’s put in the  come down position.  I went by what I saw first, purchased first, and in a nerdy sense, alphabetical order.  So fun and funny I know.

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When I got my first scent, it was candy, more akin to a lemon Jolly Rancher, so that was exciting.  My next sentiments were this would be just as good cold, as hot.  And I was right.  And while it’s not quite on the level of the Aurora, this has its own charm, its own identity, and a beautiful yellow tint that will leave its own lasting impression on you, if you let it.

If the Aurora is five stars or ten out of ten, the Lemon Drop is no worse than a 9 or a 9.5.  The combination of green tea, Matcha, and Yerba mate (which all make me happy) with a understated amount of lemon, is a a dream sequence.   My own worry was the lemon I smelled before steeping, would be too much in taste, but it was the complete opposite.  Everything became absorbed and one with my cup, and with myself.

What else needs to be said?

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These are both fantastic teas, and I’m so grateful that I got the chance, at almost the eleventh hour, to try them.

Spice & Tea has been so good to me, as you can see my my past write ups of them here. and I’m fortunate to be a part of something so wonderful for several years now.  I only hope it continues.

For more on The Spice & Tea Exchange, here are their teas, which are available for purchase online; their growing list of store locations, and their contact information.

More is coming.  It’s always coming.  But for now…

I wish you a Happy Holiday weekend, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Tea Party

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I think I said last week (and throughout the past few months) that my admiration for the tea scene on the Gulf Coast of Florida (my growing fondness can be found here and here) can not be expressed enough in words, in thoughts, and in anything else.  It’s a time of my life I will always remember, and will find it hard to forget.  I will always appreciate this five days of my life that has brought on a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of joy.

And yes, it all revolves around tea.

Friday Night means different things to a lot of people.  For some it’s a night of rest before getting ready for a fun weekend of doing fun things, for some it’s happy hour. a night out, and in this instance it was one of the great tea drinking experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

It was my first time going with my friend to Downtown St. Petersburg.   Now St. Pete has a lot of charming places to check out, away from the small but growing downtown area. And after a couple of days me and my friend made the short and scenically awesome trek to Beach Drive.

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The intent was to check out a nice bar or two, or three, if you catch what I’m saying. Maybe a glass of wine, or a nice dinner.  I think my indecisive, restless, and adventurous spirit was thinking something else more organic on this night.

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After doing a lap or two, my eyes were wide open and my excitement hit a whole different level when we discovered the Infused Tea Company.  This place made me so happy.

If I recall correctly, we made it with minutes to spare.  At this point I’m thinking it’s nearly 9 pm.  But I had enough time to take pictures, smell some loose teas, and appreciate all the teas, pots, kettles, infusers, pastries, and everything else I could absorb and revel in these few moments.

I want to thank our teaologist, Ang, for being so kind of patient with us.   I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for in terms of a tea.   In mid-June I was actually contemplating something warm.  What on Earth was I thinking?  It wouldn’t have been the worst thing. I would just have to have saved this post for later in the year.   But time is of the essence, as it was on this night.

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Ang, per his suggestion mixed the Mango Tango and the Tahitian Dream for me, to make the most exquisite, refreshing, and enlightening blend of flavors, inspiration, and soul in this gem of an iced tea.   My friend agreed, the universe agreed, as did I.  Two thumbs up, five stars, and all the other superlatives you can throw at it.  Honestly, the tea could have been mediocre and probably would have tasted much better simply because of the service, the decor, the positive energy, and simply being a harmonious place I hadn’t experienced before.

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The Mango Tango with its pineapple, mango, and orange pieces are perfect not just for the Summer but I believe any time of year.  And in Florida, all the time is an understatement.  The Tahitian Dream adds not only more pineapple, but passion fruit, and strawberry as well.  Does it get any better?  Maybe, but not on this night.

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This is why I made two more visits to this amazing place during the course of my holiday. And if time allows, I will get to them in the following two weeks, or in a rare instance I may break tradition and post them on different days.  I’m preparing for the changing of the seasons while still wanting to honor how amazing all three experience were.  I’m so happy just thinking and writing about it.

This was at night, the day experiences are a surreal enjoyment all its own.

And I look forward to sharing those fun times with you soon.  But I can’t stress this enough, this was amazing, and I’m grateful I got to share with a close friend.  And I fondly remember my friend was happy for me as well.

For more on Infused Tea Company, here is their story. and their location for those close to the area, or will be visiting.

The good news is you can order their fantastic teas and accessories online.  Many of those accessories are displayed in this post.

I could go on all day, or I could just go on to the next post.   How about both?

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To be continued…

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Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

What A Great Summer

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I write that not saying that Summer is at its end (because we’re not even close), but it’s appropriate to get to the best of now.  And it’s one of those rare instances where I keep thinking a bonus post will come up, either on a Tuesday or another day.

The tea culture and the tea scene (I’ve said it before) in the Gulf Coast of Florida is just something so spectacular.  I’ve written about a few here and here, and honestly could write about a half dozen more stories if time, the season, the universe, and more importantly, myself allows.  I’m going to allow that.

My trip to St. Petersburg, FL and the surrounding areas in June just gives me more of a smile and more of an appreciation for an organic and just memorable experience.  Just for the tea alone, I’m so grateful for my time there.  It’s as simple of a cup of tea to make me smile and sometimes even give me more of a sly grin, then those warm and fuzzies, and as I write this, goose bumps.

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And the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park makes me so happy.  I say make because I’m coming back.  It’s over for the year but just means I have to come back.  I must come back.   Let me not get ahead of myself.

I promised to write about the three tea experiences I had at the market, and this is number two (number one can be found here), and they all stand out for their own blessed and harmonious reasons.

For this one I’ll write about the vendor I saw seconds from within walking in.

The Bay Coffee & Tea Company embodies what a market, supporting farmers, and supporting local is all about.   After I purchased my Mango Berry Iced Tea I did some research about this company, and took some mental notes, but when you’re on vacation you’re not going to remember everything and not going to experience everything you either planned or intended.  I didn’t plan for this but the universe brought me here with all the good intentions.  This makes me feel so good

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And the Mango Berry Iced Tea was truly refreshing.   With this climate, in mid June, this is exactly the kind of beverage that checks all the boxes for this kind of moment.  Well that might not be that kind of boxes but I think you know what I mean.  It’s a great iced tea and I should leave it at that.

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For a company known for their coffee (and I bet their coffee is excellent), they did right with the tea.  So the next time (yes…) this is revisited I will incorporate some coffee and hopefully another inspirational story to accompany that.  Here is their story and it’s so positive, that I want to be a part of something so beautiful and so heartwarming.

What’s also so beautiful is the Williams Park Market in general.   I got some of my best pictures on this visit.  I’ve had a renewed love for plants, flowers, and horticulture in general.  It’s something my dad got me into but has since been re-energized my taking care of my plants at home, and helping taking care of friends plants whenever I can.  It’s all about nourishing, taking care of our friends, and taking care of each other in general.

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The vibe at the Market seemed to tell that same story.   This is one of those little things that is anything but.  I’m grateful to be part of it, and I know I’ll be back again.  And as I promised, one more story is coming, but I’ll save it for Autumn.  Yes I just said that.  Oh man…

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For those in the Tampa and St. Pete area, you can find their coffees and teas here.    Here is their story, their blog, their contact information,  and their shop.

Until next time, thank you so much.

Ideen