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HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplayWithDog

With all the writing that I do, it’s hard to not sound repetitive.  I’ve only recently started looking back at stories from the last year, and I’m proud that many of them have a different slant on teas, similar teas, and just life in general.  While I do see similarities, every story is different, and every story feels significant and feels real.

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Harney & Sons continues to be one of the standard bearers for tea, and it’s highly sought after by many of my friends and peers, that it’s the one tea they prefer, and some they only sip exclusively.

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They’re doing something right.  That’s an understatement by the way.  All their teas are available for purchase here, and here is my Harney history lesson.

Speaking of exclusive, I first had the sense that Harney & Sons teas had this stigma of being unapproachable and only available to the elite and high society types.   My presumptions were false.  However, over 10 years ago I worked in a typical corporate environment where their teas were served at parties, luncheons, and other events, where I thought this tea was out of my league.

Don’t ever thing something is out of your league.

But I would grab the leftover bags, and of course the free food when everyone left, (hey free food is free food), and when I would have their teas, I thought I had struck gold.  It’s gold alright.

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And free tea is free tea, but this is worth paying a little extra for.  While most teas are $2-$4, to only have to pay $6 for the Green Tea Coconut tin 20 pack of sachet’s, is a bargain.  That is more than welcoming, more than inviting, and feels like home.

This tea takes us back to February, where the weather was different, and the teas are all going to be hot.  They’re still going to be hot, here and there, as the weather gets nicer.

Everything about this is great.  I was on a mini vacation, and while I was isolated, I really wasn’t. I had the company of some amazing dogs, beautiful nature, and a selection of teas where you throw in that kid in a candy store analogy.  Just a little healthier of course.

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Green tea, coconut, vanilla, ginger, and lemongrass is a memorable melange, where my words are not going to be enough.  When I opened up the tin, the immediate sensation and feeling of all the goodness hit me.  I knew the steeping and brewing process was going to be just as special.

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Perhaps it’s because I was away from home, yet I was in a home where I felt comfortable and at ease, that this might be more romantic then if this were somewhere else.  A tea like this deserves all the romanticizing in the world, yet doesn’t need me or anyone else to do so.  This is a masterpiece.

I’m glad I had this, where I did.  The three dogs I shared this time with (no I didn’t give them any tea), made this all the more memorable and my heart feels so big right now.  The pups did it, this tea did it, and something just made my spirit so big.

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This was 3 months ago and I remember it like it was well, I don’t know.   It’s beautiful.

I’m glad I decided to write this today.  It’s Be Kind To Animals Week, and I’m so happy and grateful that some caricatures of animals are on display with this incredible tea.

Where do we go from here?  I almost want time to stand still or I would love to go back to this story.  I’m glad I have this written out, and I have this memory that will last with me forever.

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This is a tea for now, and for….

Blessings to you..

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Awaken, Invigorate, Revitalize

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

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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.

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