Love That Blue!

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaDisplay

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.

Spice&TeaExchangeSpringTeaDisplay

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…

AuroraBlueHerbalTea

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.

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaOpen

That’s what I’m talking about.

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaInfuse

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.

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaReady

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.

LemonDropMateTea

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?

LemonDropMateTeaDisplay1

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

 

 

 

 

 

Awaken, Invigorate, Revitalize

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTeaDisplay2

All roads lead to something, and some other roads lead to something, wait I just said that.  I was going for more of that dramatic stuff, but if and when I get to more, then so be it.

I’m writing this as there’s a little bit of mixed precipitation.  That’s been the theme of this and what seems like last year’s winter.  We get teases of things, only to get nothing.  But in that regard, I take it as a sigh of relief.  We had our cold days, our windy days, and our hints of the warmer weather to come.  But as always, it’s best to live in the moment.

So this takes me back to a recent memory, where I was on my own mini vacation.  I was staying at a home of some dear friends’, while I took care of their dogs (who are so dear to me), and I had the blessing to write about some of the teas in their collection (a few that are in mine as well), and to share it with you from a different perspective, a different vantage point, and with different props.  I love props.    I may have alluded to all this last week.

I don’t view one tea brand as better than another, but I do have my favorites.   Trader Joe’s will always be a favorite.  My ever growing encyclopedia of my Trader Joe’s tea recaps can be found here.

So it helps that while I’m away, to still have some familiar friends nearby.  And the TJ’s tea I’m talking about is the Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea.

The teas that actually aren’t tea (no leaves to be found), are some of those fascinating.  This is why we call them tisanes aka herbal tea.   Beautiful.

I think of this tea as an all in one kind of tea,  It rebuilds, it rejuvenates, it reinvents.  And it does all those things I list in the title, and so much more.  That seems like a cheesy plug for something, but it’s true.   My dear friend suggested I get to this tea as soon as I can.  I had the the time, I had the space, the setting, and all those other little things that are the big things too, that make a tea and the experience that much more exciting.

You see, any entity can be great, but when surrounded by certain elements that make you feel good,  it’s that much better.  This is not covering up any deficiencies, because there aren’t any.   This is just making this the most memorable experience, for me, that I can make.

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTea

I knew when I was brewing the water, opening the tea packet, and steeping, I was on the verge of something great.

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTeaSteep1

I’m running on a string of great teas, as if you read my posts you can tell, and I hopefully don’t see an end in sight.  There may be a hiccup or roadblock or two, but it just says that the level of teas is off the charts by so many companies.

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTeaSteep2

Maybe it’s the competitive marketplace, the interest in tea drinking going up, or maybe there’s room for everyone and everything.  I’d say it’s combination of all of the above, and then some.

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTeaSteepUpClose

I’ve said so much without saying a lot about the tea itself.    And that guy in the picture does seem a bit creepy no? Ha.  Those are animal crackers since you were asking.  Oh yes, the tea, finally…

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTeaDisplay

The turmeric and ginger are easily detectable, based on appearance and on taste.  That golden color can only mean one thing.   I didn’t realize until after reading the synopsis, that that other powerful spice was black pepper, and not so much the licorice root.  Add some orange peel and orange oil, and you have an entirely organic experience, literally.

I’ve been spoiled and blessed all at once.  This tea did everything it said it would, and to call anything the best or the greatest makes those terms lose their luster.  So I’ll just say the tea was great.  Because it really is.

TraderJoesOrganicGingerTurmericTeaDisplay3

And as the weather begins to break, this is the perfect for now, and for a little while longer.  Actually for any date, time, and season you want.   And those are the best teas.

Those are the best anything.

It’s almost Spring.   More is coming.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Grateful For The Spice & Tea Exchange

ChocolateCandyCane3

Well here we are.  Thanksgiving has passed, and we’re well into this most beautiful of times of year.   And when it comes to tea and beautiful times of tear, that can only mean the fine folks of The Spice & Tea Exchange.

Spice&TeaWinterDisplay2

The Spice & Tea Exchange go hand in hand with all that is good about tea, and all that is good about the holidays.  They’ve been so good to me throughout this blog, it’s only fitting that the first ‘official’ teas I review post Thanksgiving into Christmas is in honor and tribute to them.  It would’t be right otherwise.

Here is my ever growing with this iconic and mesmerizing brand of tea.

Spice&TeaWinterDisplay

With amazing tea, comes the most work and thought put into it.  As with the holidays, a lot of heavy lifting, shopping, card writing, errands, the parties, and everything else in between is going to rear it’s holiday head.

It’s up to me, to you, and the universe to appreciate and savor these moments, or rush everything to the point of not living in any one moment.  I’ve been guilty of that continuously.   So for that reason and many others, I took my time here.  I really took my time here.

The prepping, steeping, brewing, display set up, and all the other minor details took an hour or so.  In the past I may have rushed things.  But what is the rush in life?  It’s life, it’s the holidays, it’s time to savor every moment possible.  It’s plausible I may rush through the teas I’m going to review but I really don’t want to.  I want to tell you how beautiful and charming this experience was.  Because it was.

And I’m so happy and grateful that I’m able to visit their many locations.  This past week it brought me back to their most charming of stores in historic Downtown Annapolis.

Spice&TeaWinter

With the Christmas Spirit in the air, and another heartwarming visit to one of my favorite towns, it’s time to review their three teas for this season.

And you will see of old friends along the way, that I’ve used as infusers before.  You could call them the ghost of infusers past.  Yes I really just wrote that.

First, is the Winter Granola Herbal Tea.

What I love about this is while it smells amazing when you first open this bag, and the aromas really hit you, it’s not as strong upon actual prepping.  And while that may sound like a bad thing, or bait-and-switch, it’s exactly what you want.

WinterGranola1

My old pal the ManaTea is what I used, and initially it was a struggle.  I only blame myself.  I think this infuser is perfect for certain loose teas that don’t have as many solid pieces.  Get what I’m saying?   But I wouldn’t let that deter me.   Like I said, I remained patient, and wanted this to be as memorable and perfect for me as possible.

WinterGranola3

Yes I took my time, and finally we got that color to shine through.  However, as I was saying, maybe this is how it was going to turn out regardless of whatever infuser I used.

WinterGranola2

It’s light and has the perfect balance of maple, apple, orange, and cinnamon.  Yes this goes perfectly with breakfast.  I broke out some old pumpkin oatmeal I got off clearance, and it was a match made in holiday season heaven, or something.  Yes, it was beautiful.  This is a well crafted and constructed tea.  But I don’t think I could drink it outside of morning time.  And that’s exactly what’s intended.  Beautiful.

Second, is the one a few of my friends were most intrigued about, the Chocolate Candy Cane Tea.

Again, it’s so powerful on the nose that you would expect it to be too sweet (ha) when you sip.  Oh no, it’s refreshingly light on the tongue and it’s a still a black tea at heart.  And it’s so good to my heart and soul.  And the Pink Pig Infuser was ready to step up and steep.  And my cup got dark in a hurry, which is what made me initially think this was going to sweeter to the point of uncomfortable.

Again, it was the most pleasant of surprises.  And the lightness of the chocolate, the peppermint, and the candy cane makes this a blessing for those who find the candies of this season, that this tea represents a bit too harsh.

I put those said candies on display but strictly for display purposes.  Well maybe I indulged in a few.

Last and certainly not least is the Gingersnap Herbal Tea.

This was my favorite, simply because it’s most like a tea I could drink all year round.  I love ginger and it’s the most distinct taste in this tea.  While you have vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and lemongrass, you still have ginger, and that makes so happy.  The smell of the bag will make you think of those tasty gingersnap cookies, and who doesn’t love that?

This is tea I can have all the time, and I think my ducky friend would approve.   And I think he brought some company.  This one is feeling a bit festive right?  I love that.

GingerSnap3

There’s the cookies but you really don’t need anything with this tea.  It’s a caffeine free and herbal gem that I want right now.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

GingerSnap1

Oh man, I went into this thinking this would be the heavy lifting portion of my holiday tea posts.  I don’t know.   It seems The Spice & Tea Exchange makes the love of tea so joyous, so effortless, and reminds me why I keep doing what I’m doing.  I’m so blessed.

Spice&TeaWinter3

I’m happy to present these to you while it’s still November.  But I also think that all the posts that proceed this have a lot to live up to.  If time allows, during the month of December I will try to throw in some more than weekly posts.  I tried that for the last couple of weeks and happy with how that turned out.

Spice&TeaWinter2

But for The Spice & Tea Exchange I’m going to savor this for a while, into next week, and beyond.   Just when I think I’ve run out of things to say about them, they just create a whole new world of joy, and happiness.

That’s the true spirit of the holidays.

For all your shopping needs, click here, here is their list of locations, and contact info.

This will be a repeated message, but I wish you and yours a happy, safe, and most amazing of holiday seasons.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Kombucha Koolness

kombuchadisplay1

Never underestimate the art of alliteration.   And boy does it apply here.

For our friends in the Baltimore area, you might have heard of Wild Kombucha from the fine folks at Mobtown Fermentation.

First here is some information on what Kombucha exactly is, or you can scroll up and down their website for a primer.

The festivals, parties, and other excuses to hang out accelerates as we’re deep into fall, and we’re approaching the happy holidays.   Leave it to a Pumpkin Party (there goes that alliteration again) to get the ball rolling this season.   And this party took place at Rooftop Hot in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, which is one of one my favorites and most down-to-earth parts of the city.

kombuchadisplay3

There was food, live music, outdoor chilling, and all the other stuff that goes along with a festival.  You know, the usual.   And that’s more than enough but when you add free samples of their kombucha, now you know it’s a party.  But if you hadn’t look closely, you would think they were handing out free samples of beer.  The bottles would make you think so.  Never judge a bottle by it’s cover (make sure to look first) and make sure you know what’s being served.  That didn’t mean to come off as dopey as it sounded.

So yes they had samples of all four of their delightful beverages.  Yes I’ve already given away my thoughts on this.  The pumpkin display with their drinks on ice was a great presentation.  It really made it seem like this is a beer tasting.   My peers thought so.  I initially thought so.  I don’t care for beer so this was a relief.

Let’s talk about the drinks.  They had all four of their creations available for sampling.  Yes I loved them all.

kombuchaapple

The website doesn’t list it, but their Apple Spice was my favorite.  It tasted great and tastes like fall.  So a full appreciation of this was taking place.   Joey, who was doing the tasting, was kind enough to give us multiple pours of all the flavors.  But this was one I’d want to drink on a regular basis for sure.  That tint is gorgeous too.

kombuchaelderberry

The Elderberry was rocking too.  You’re going to see a theme here.  This may have been my second favorite.  This just fits what they’re doing.  I’m not sure if that makes sense, but Elderberry is the perfect flavor for their fermented tea.  And that color just luminates and radiates.  And it tastes good too.  That’s the most important aspect of all of these.

kombuchamangopeach

Next, the Mango Peach.  It was energizing but I would fully appreciate this more in the warmer months.  But this is another winner.  These guys know what they’re doing.

kombuchaginger

Finally, the Ginger-Grapefruit tastes the most like tea.  Ginger has always been one of my favorite components of a tea.  The pairing with Green Tea, lemon, and honey and other flavors has always been a go-to for me.  This’ll now be another go-to as well.  I just love Ginger.  And I loved this one too.

It’s hard to compare these four.  They all are special and blessed in their own way.  I may alternate which of these drinks will be my favorites based on the day and the season.

kombuchadisplay2

This was a stellar experience.  Once again, a huge thanks to Joey for being so accommodating, and giving me more pours than I had any business having.  I hope  I don’t get you in trouble.

At the bottom of their page, is where you can find their divine drinks, their story, and contact information.   They make it look so easy. 

Hopefully, more awesome fall posts to come.  Actually,  that’s a yes.

Yes!

Ideen

Feels Like Home

zedsmeal

Silver Spring, MD has changed so much in the past 15 years, it’ll seem unrecognizable to many, if you’ve been gone from the area long.  Or perhaps locals to the Washington, DC area haven’t paid a visit back.   It’s close enough to DC that many transplants and I’d assume folks who grew up in the area will consider it home.

zedsfront

It’s a little to new and full of chains in some parts for my taste.  But if you don’t look so hard, the local businesses are flourishing and proving they belong.  And I hope they belong for some time to come.  I had the pleasure of visiting one of these establishments recently. Zed’s Cafe right on the outskirts of Downtown Silver Spring has that neighborhood and homey vibe I always look for in a place.  And I just don’t mean for tea.  I mean for food, for various places I shop, for my own self serving interests, and I’ll repeat, tea.

As they state, it’s one big living room.  I’m not sure whose spacious living room but I got cozy and comfortable real quick.  And I had yet to order anything.  I was sure I was setting myself up for a disappointment and free fall.

And I also should be careful to assume that all these gems of places have a tea list.  That’s a risky presumption depending on where you go.  Just about anywhere will have an expansive coffee list, yet the teas could be a standard national brand in a box, or thankfully in this instance, their had their own loose teas in house.  Whenever I come across the latter I’m so grateful.  It really adds a dimension to a shoppe that otherwise they wouldn’t have.

zedsteas

Speaking of dimensions, they literally had a 3-d display of their loose teas.  You don’t see that everyday.  Actually I’m not sure the last time I saw something similar.  I’m glad I got a picture.

zedscup2

Per their recommendation, I went with their house special, their lemongrass ginger tea. And we knew it was coming, but pumpkin season has arrived.  Actually, if you noticed, it started somewhere back in mid-August.  So I capitulated under the pressure of seasonal forces, and went with the pumpkin spice.  Don’t get me wrong I love pumpkin but we should appreciate every season for what it is.

zedsfullcup

I’ll first state that the presentation of my tea was masterful.  What a beautiful mug and plate.  Next, they had real pieces of ginger emanating from the tea.  Oh my and ginger!  I couldn’t resist, I picked a few pieces and ate them separate from my cup.

zedsfullcup2

The tea was everything I hoped it be.  I love lemongrass, I love ginger, and I loved everything about this cup.  That atmosphere helped.   The muffin was fine but a bit rich for my taste.  That’s more of a reflection of my taste than anything else.

zedscup

As you’ll see below, that tea was done but not as fast as I usually sip these things.  I really did feel like I was in mine or someone else’s living room.  It felt like old times.  But it also felt like new times.  I love relaxing at a pals’ house with a good cup of tea and some tasty snacks to complement our cup.  It makes the tea, the food, and most importantly, the whole experience better.

I’m also sentimental because my family has ties to this area.  My family used to run a business in this area, way before any of these new, and even longer-standing businesses had arrived.  So I always get this feeling when I’m here.  Depending on what part, it’s not always the best energy, but at Zed’s, it was all good and then some.

zedssign

If you’re in the vicinity or passing by, I would strongly suggest a visit.  It’s a home away from home.  And there’s no place like…

Stay ginger,

Ideen

 

 

 

Gingerbread Goodness

GingerFun

This will be the last post for the year and there won’t be any end of year recaps.  I’m sentimental but not in that way.

Instead, we’re headed into the homestretch with the Celestial Seasonings portion of the articles.

GingerFront

The penultimate choice in this collection of seasonal and holiday favorites is the Gingerbread Spice.

GingerProverb

At first this tea didn’t do anything for me.   As always it smelled great upon the opening of the package.  The ginger and cinnamon came out like a house of fire.  I was so eager to brew this thing and get my day started off properly.

It started slow, much like many things in the morning, but it picked up by the moment.   Maybe I’ve been spoiled by some amazing teas by Celestial and other awesome companies.   However, this tea is a grower and deceptively creeps on you after a couple of minutes.

GingerSantaSteep

It’s probably for the better.  Too much cinnamon, too much ginger, and perhaps too much of anything can be counter-productive.  This is a peaceful sipping tea that I took my time with.   But shouldn’t they all be drank in comfort and peace?

As with other cups from other brands, there were times where I got a lot of flavor and some where I got none at all.   This is part of the all encompassing fun with the whole tea drinking experience.  No two sips are exactly the same.   Pretty cool I know.

I must admit the packaging gets me every time.  These two gingerbread friends (or lovebirds?) seem to really be enjoying themselves.  The holidays might be over but they don’t seem to care.

I’ve raved about the designs of their packages before and was glad to see they have a whole section dedicated to their artwork.  This is an enjoyable read.

I just took another sip and this one hit the spot.   With anything, never judge or presume anything initially.   Sometimes things take time to develop and blossom into something extraordinary.  On the contrary, some teas are doomed from the start, but this is not one of them.  This one was some longevity.   It’s a favorite that can be enjoyed into the cold winter months ahead.

What I take from this is a source of comfort and solace.  And that’s sometimes all you can ask for.

With their previous teas, not too many flavors is what helps.  Keeping it simple and knowing what you’re going to get makes this very precious.

A few frosted mini gingerbread join the party but didn’t last too long.  The pairing was perfect.  It’s a cold morning as I write this, so the situation is fitting.

For my previous posts on one one of my favorite tea brands, you can click here, over here, and finally here.

And for a previous ginger tea review, click here.

One last tea from the Celestial Seasonings package is coming.  Have I saved the best for the last?  They’ve all been stand-outs in their own way, so we shall see.

Any general questions about Celestial can hopefully be answered here.

And like in previous posts I have included a link on purchasing teas and a store locator.

I wish you all a great rest of your holiday season.  I know for many it can be full of commotion and go at a frenetic pace.  Hopefully you got to enjoy yourself and will continue to do so into the new year.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen

Fall Fun

HarvestFox

I did just type that out.  I always embrace the Summer with open arms.  The autumn months are full of positives too.  And I don’t have to look too hard to find them.  If it’s not a genuine feeling of joy and euphoria than it’s not going to be feel authentic.

This tea I will discuss today is authentic and so much more.  It’s that time of year which means the changing of the leaves, different flavors, scents, foods, and of course pumpkins.

There’s going to be a lot of pumpkin-style and related posts forthcoming and I hope you enjoy!

The Harvest Blend Herbal Tea from our pals at Trader Joe’s is the embodiment of what this season is all about. From the packaging, to the beautiful illustrations of animals, and to the scent and taste of the tea itself, this is perfection.

HarvestBlend

First off, when I visited the pumpkin display at my local store, it’s an in-your-face reminder of the time of year we’re in.  But I’ve been seeing it while we were technically still in Summer.  I understand the rush but I really don’t.  I could have written about this a month ago but I want this part to be authentic as well.  Lets all get into the season in a little more sensible fashion.

HarvestOwlHarvestFaveHarvestFlavorsHarvestTeas

I took multiple angles of this package as I only feel it’s right.  And one on of the sides are all the ingredients listed.  And it’s a lot.  But it’s a who’s who of what makes this season great.   After smelling the bag upon opening, the most noticeable scent is cinnamon, one of my favorite things on this Earth.

HarvestBrew

After steeping, more aromas start to come alive.  I got a great whiff of apple, chamomile, ginger.  If my nose and taste buds got carried away I may detect everything included and then some.  Nevertheless, this is a winner.   As my tea became ready to sip the cinnamon and apple hit me the post.  This packs a punch suitable for the season.   And since there’s so much involved I think multiple cups can be made from this.

HarvestFallFun

With all these incredible elements you think something would get lost in the shuffle.  This is not the case. There’s room for everything here.   However, I will say that chicory is not a plant I’ve had much exposure too. I’ll be curious to see if I can trace it in other teas that I come across.  I may have to do some further investigating but I don’t want to lose course here.

HarvestTea

As I ended my first cup, the flavors were so strong, I had to add more boiling water.  And I mean that with highest of praise. This tea cannot go to waste.  I’m ecstatic thinking about it.  This will be a staple in my sipping repertoire for the reason of this season and beyond.   It just tastes and feels so good.   The words soothing and comforting come to mind.  I feel so happy sipping it, thinking about it, and putting it to words.

And with a price tag of only $1.99 how can you go wrong?  This is a bargain for that price and what you’re getting.

I included some wonderful items that reflect the season that has just commenced. I’m enjoying wonderful piece of golden raisin cinnamon bread to complement my cup.

This is just the beginning.  I am thrilled to get fall off on the right foot.

Thanks so much!

Best,

Ideen