Grateful For The Spice & Tea Exchange

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

The All Mightea

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I have seen the Mighty Leaf tea boxes in stores all over town.  And I’ve always been drawn to their packaged presentation.  But, I never thought to buy a box.  Well now is as good of a time as ever.

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Today is Cinco De Mayo.  And that’s an excuse to celebrate.  Many of us will be eating big Mexican meals and indulging ourselves.  I wanted to buy a tea that would help settle the tummy and aid in digestion.

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So I went with the Ginger Twist.   In all honesty, I wasn’t dazzled or blown away.   You don’t need a lot of ginger to help keep you regular.  And I am aware that it’s one ingredient among many others.

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However, the packaging and presentation is mesmerizing. They call their pouches artisanal, and I would agree.    The contents look incredible.   The silk pouches are visually stunning.

And the Annapolis, MD mug has made it’s debut to the blog!

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I just didn’t get a lot of power from the tea itself.  It looks beautiful.  And I’ve provided plenty of pictures to prove that fact.   Visually, everything about this is fantastic.    But there’s something missing with the flavor.

It’s very minty and I could taste the licorice.   And aside from the lemongrass, I couldn’t taste much of anything else.  There’s a vast array of tropical fruits that I was hoping to taste, but to no avail.    After my first few sips, I wasn’t in love with it.  But it got better as it progressed.

It’s not a bad tea at all.  I think I was just expecting a lot more.    I think a lot of people will enjoy it immensely.  I’ll say it was ok.   And by no means will this dissuade me from trying out their products again.   As you can see, they have so much to offer and there’ll be plenty of time to try this company’s wide array of teas again.   And I’m looking forward to it.

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I did want to post a link about their community involvement. I always love reading about that.

In the meantime, enjoy your celebrations and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen

Source Energy

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Earth Day is tomorrow.  And I searched far and wide (5 minutes up the road at Wegmans) for a tea that would fit the mold of this special day.  I had so many to choose from, but I settled on Runa, which is a tea I hadn’t heard of until today.   I am so happy I did.  A cup of this made my day.  It felt so good that I had two.  Now I feel I can type a novel.  But I’ll keep this blog to its standard amount of words.

First off, when I was canvasing the tea aisles for a package that would catch my eye, this one did it.   I was looking for words and graphics that represent what this day is all about.   It took me a few minutes, but the answer was in front of me the whole time.  I saw a beautiful image of an orange.  And I saw the term “clean energy’.  And this led me to the Ginger Citrus Guayusa.  This seemed just right.

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This box is incredible. I’m mesmerized.   I took photos all over the place.  I have posted them for your viewing pleasure!

Now about the tea.  It tastes good and it tastes easy. What I mean by that is it went down a lot smoother than many I’ve sipped over the years.   It didn’t feel as rigid on my tongue or in my throat.  When looking this fact up I read that there are no tannins in Guayusa.   Now what is Guayusa? I hadn’t heard of it until today.   In one of the aforementioned photos you can read a quick synopsis.

I wish I had heard about this sooner or I’d be drinking it immediately.  Now it’s a part of my life.  And I am grateful doing this blog has led me to this tea and to the Guayusa leaf.

I switched up the mugs today and went with an outdoorsy theme, with a charming Ocean City, MD image.

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The natural caffeine and antioxidants have certainly brightened my day.  And I am certain they would do the same for you. It’s so powerful that the usual taste of ginger is harder to detect than in other teas.  But you know it’s there.  And the orange peel is a perfect complement to this tea.  As you can see the color really shines.  And the bag looks spectacular.

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I will be sampling more of their products for the duration.

Finally, in going through this website, the Earth Day theme is one that Runa represents the other 364 Days of the year.   They’ve only been around since 2009 and are already accomplishing amazing things.   This makes it that much more fulfilling that I discovered this great organization this week.  I could read about them all day. And I will. It’s good to know I’m supporting something that leads to a big picture of helping and healing.

This is what life is all about.   We’re all a good energy, a clean energy, we’re source energy.

Happy Earth Day.

Best,

Ideen