Tiki Tuesdee

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As of this posting Memorial Day has passed.  I know I know.  Time just keeps on chugging along and fortunately it’s the unofficial start of Summer.   It’s always about enjoying life, enjoying the things that mean the most to us, and of course the teas that are symbolic of the season.

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Last week I promised to do another two part celebration of the exclusive summer teas from the Spice & Tea Exchange.

If I sound like I have a bias towards them (in a good way) than you’re probably right. Ever since the first time I was introduced to them by one of my best friends, and I first saw those charming miniature sized packets that they came in, I immediately became a fan.   Just how they are, how they promote tea, and how they promote all of their products is a blueprint that I feel many should follow.

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This brings us to their other limited edition selection, the Tiki Punch Herbal Tea.

This one is another winner.  But this also turned into a bit of a challenge.  And I only have myself to either blame or to learn for the future.

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When the synopsis says steeping time of seven minutes take that very seriously.  Because when it came to the iced tea version of this, it didn’t even come close to the pictures you see here.

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After multiple attempts with different infusers the best I could get was more of a yellowish to orange tint.  This is more about my challenges than anything about the tea itself.  Maybe it was how I packed it, maybe it was the universe telling me it wasn’t time (I think it was time), or maybe it was just me.

Maybe I got too excited.  Then I got a bit nervous.  I even broke out another infuser.

Just in time for the party I broke out my new piggy friend from Tovolo, which is also available on the Spice & Tea site and all their stores, is now a new trusted ally and confidant when it comes to infusing.

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The hot tea was easy.  I took my time steeping it and the reddish hue was easily visible without any thoughts of what was to come.  The flavors of apple, papaya, coconut, blueberries, mango, among all the others may not be detected at once.  But with various sips you’re going to get the feeling of the islands, the tropics, the beach, summer, and all the stuff that will literally warm your heart.

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Herbal tea is a friend to begin with and this specific tea is now one I consider a close friend.

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The iced version is truly the way to go.  Like the warmed up version, you get those beautiful summer flavors but you even get more.

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It’s sweet enough that you may discover more of those enticing fruits that may not be found when steeped and toasted via a kettle.  But it’s not that sweet that you might be put off by.

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I could see teas like this really going off the rails and never having a chance from the get go.  This tea is setting highs marks for these Tiki and tropic themed teas that I’ve been told are becoming quite the trend.  I’m all for trying more of these as the Summer continues.

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But lets slow it down.  It’s time to sip, savor, and appreciate all the good that this season, or any season for that matter brings, and feel grateful for where we are.

I have a great feeling about this Summer.  Not in a forced or disingenuous way, but in one of hope, spirit, and a belief that lots of good is coming on top of the good that has already been presented to us.

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What makes me laugh is during the multiple times I tried to get a beautiful looking iced tea over this holiday weekend, it was always cloudy.  As soon as I walked away and chose to town my situation, it became sunny, beautiful, and gorgeous.   These are the things I laugh at.  That’s the universe telling me that it wasn’t my time just yet.

This is also a reminder in discipline and truly respecting the steeping time.  It’s about enjoying the entire process from start to finish.

I’m all about enjoying Summer from the start.

Get the Tiki Punch while you can. It’s incredible.    And the get the Peach On The Beach I wrote about last week.

Of course everything can be purchased online as well as in their beautiful shoppes.

Thanks to my friends at the Annapolis location for two weeks worth of masterpiece like teas.

I hope your Memorial Day Weekend was a good one and I wish you a happy, safe, and blessed Summer.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

 

Have A Holly & A Jolly

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I know I know, Christmas is officially over.  It’s 2017.  It’s time to move forward. But what better way to move forward then talking about a new that could be beneficial to all the folks who enjoyed themselves a little too much over the holidays.  I would fall into that category as well.

The Holly Jolly Ginger Aid Tea from Traditional Medicinals might have been what you were looking for.  Unfortunately it may be hard to find right now.  As I was lucky to find this as a clearance item at my local Wegmans.

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You might be able to tell by the photo that I literally snagged the last one.  I thought that it might have been waiting for me to be sampled and reviewed.  In hindsight, I wish I got around to this within the last couple of weeks.

But I remember the first time I tried it that it didn’t stick out to me in any way. The flavors of lemon, ginger, and blackberry really didn’t wow me whatsoever. This is part of why I waited a bit to right about it.

It had a nice aroma of lemon and ginger.  It didn’t overpower me which didn’t feel like a red flag on first sniff but made sense a few minutes later when I began sipping.

As like all teas, I really wanted to like this product.  Just look at that adorable packaging. And look at how pretty at the design of the bags before being opened.

Sadly, the tea was just kind of there.  And I’m a huge fan of Traditional Medicinals so I consider this an aberration more than anything. It has the tint and shine of another solid tea but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it again.  But I do have a near full package so I will do my best to enjoy it over time.

On a personal note I’ve pretty much had a full stomach and lethargic way about me going back a while.  This goes back way before Thanksgiving.   Without getting into too many details, this tea hasn’t been as beneficial in that regard as I hoped. Maybe it worked differently for you if you did get some yourself.

I can’t speak for you or anyone else, but I can only imagine that over the last month or so, eating healthy and seeking out health with digestion was not at the top of everyone’s list. That’s completely understandable.

We have this short time on earth and want to enjoy ourselves not only during the holidays but with all the celebrations we attend.  In that way we should feel blessed that we get the opportunity to be invited to such gatherings.  I’m grateful to have been a part of a few myself this holiday season.  I hope you got to enjoy yourself as well.

But as with New Years and all the resolutions that come with it means a bit of a reality check.  Many of us try to eat healthy, exercise, and practice healthy lifestyle choices.  The decisions we make on a daily basis can lead us to that happy and healthy place.  I’m saying this to you as much as I’m saying this to myself.  And not as a sermon but as a friendly blogger who happens to love good tea.

I truly wish I could say this tea was awesome.  I can’t though.  But I can suggest plenty of other great teas from their vast collection.  It’s been a while since I wrote about them, but here are my previous reviews of their fun and beneficial teas.

I’ve been having this tea myself to much more positive results.  I will get to this one in time as I have a lot of positive things to say about it.

For where you can find their teas click here.  And you can order online as well.

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It’s been a great holiday and my decorations are still up  When I will take them down is when I’m ready to let go and move on to the next thing.  But this is likely the end of the Christmas-themed posts unless I magically come across something inspiring in the next few days.

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There’s still this day by the way.

I hope you all had a stellar holiday and look forward to sharing more great tea experiences in 2017.

Stay healthy,

Ideen

 

 

Oh Christmas Tea

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I’m sad Christmas is officially over. From my perspective it felt like it went at a steady and solid pace.  With all the parties with family and friends, the food, the shopping, errands, and everything in between, it felt just right.  For me it felt like time stood still at times. And I’m all for that.  Time is always relative and for the most part it’s been moving at such a rapid pace, we often forget where the time goes.

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I envision that for at least the next few weeks the tea discussion will pertain to the holidays, and at the very least winter.  But for now I feel I can safely talk about the Christmas Tea from one of my new favorite tea shops, Old Town Coffee, Tea, and Spice.

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Yes indeed my travels bring me back to the town where I was born, Alexandria, VA.  And usually I get the opportunity to be here during the holidays, and even though this was post-Christmas, I feel that the universe had a different plan for me.

Some months ago a good friend of mine had wanted to bring me to this shoppe, which was at another location, only to see that it was closed.  The timeline could not have been more bizarre.  I came to find out that it was literally within their transition to their new shoppe. And the new location is literally footsteps from the old location.   How these things work out is something else.   I was not meant to experience this store until now.  Call it one of those Christmas Miracles or whatever, but I will always remember this holiday season for many things, but my time here (albeit brief) is one I will always treasure.

Even if other folks don’t find the sentimentality with this place, I can.

What I mean is, the place was busy.  Customers wanted their cups of tea and coffee in a hurry.   Maybe they’re regulars or just people shopping nearby looking for a quick pick me up.  If I wanted a coffee at a coffee shop I may be inclined to temper my excitement as well. But the teas and all the tea gifts, gadgets, and gizmos in stock made me feel like a kid in a tea shoppe.  Did you expect me to say candy?  I’ve had more than my share this Christmas.

You can’t help but be in awe of all the loose teas in house.   I mean we’re talking hundreds. I wanted a holiday or Christmas themed tea, and just when I thought I was going to give up, I see near the top their Holiday Tea.  Unfortunately it was sold out.  However, the gentleman working the counter, countered (see what I did there?) with an idea of mixing chocolate, peppermint, and raspberry teas, and calling it a holiday a tea.  That’s quick thinking and a man who is a master at his craft.   He said he can call it anything he wanted. I’m wowed by everything this happening right now.  He thought I wanted a bag.  For now, I was going to just get a cup.

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And just when I was going to get this blend, I see the Christmas Tea Blend, and of course I went with that.

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How he brewed this tea I will never know.  It felt like a millisecond between opening the tea and heating that I never saw how he brewed this cup.  And I wish I got a picture of this, but he held the tea back with a toothpick.   He said the steeping time needed to be two minutes max or the hibiscus would become muddled.  This was all such a fascinating experience.

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I didn’t get a chance to ask what was in it but I suspect orange peel and cinnamon upon viewing and sniffing.   And with a sweet treat it only came out to a couple dollars and change.  I was just amazed by what I just witnessed that I almost didn’t want to share this. It’s a constant reminder that my love of a tea is also a forever learning process.

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It also made gave me a little closure on Christmas.  When one door closes, another one opens.  And I’ve opened quite the door.  This was my first, but nowhere close to the last time I visit this tea shoppe.

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If you’re in the area, and have never been here, I strongly suggest you visit.  It’s got this cozy and unpretentious vibe that reminds me why I love Old Town Alexandria so much.

And I don’t know how long their Christmas Tea blend will be available, but as you can see they had more than enough to go around.

There’s photos from the shoppe all across this post.  In addition, I’ll leave you with some photos of the surrounding area and some of the fun Christmas decor this city bestowed upon its citizens.

I love this town.  I love this shoppe.  And I love Christmas.

Hopefully your Christmas was awesome as well!

P.S. I loved this tea.

Merry and Happy to you!

Ideen

A Christmas Tea To Remember

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How did we get to the end of the year so fast?  Well as of this post it’s a mere five days until Christmas.   Now usually that would lead to feeling sad that the season is fleeting. And I would be lying if I would say otherwise.  But this has also been a time where time has felt like it’s moving at a reasonable place, neither fast nor slow.  It’s just been as is.  And that lends itself to appreciating every moment I can, whenever possible.  Now that may be easier said that one.

As we often do, we’re busier this time of year than any other  And that is on top of our already busy lives.  The things to do just pile up to the point where we’re on the verge of being no longer being able to handle it.  But that’s the funny thing about life.  It gives us just enough of what we can handle.  We reach our threshold and then some.  I also think that the hectic nature is just a part of Christmas.  It’s inevitable.  And either go big or go home, adapt or fall behind.  And I just don’t mean all the shopping.  There’s so much more to Christmas than shopping.  But isn’t it fun to give to the people you love?  I’m starting to ramble like I usually do.   When it comes to the holidays I could ramble on forever.  I’m a softy.

From talking to friends this year there seems to be this added pressure to get everything just right.  Whether it’s meeting up with all the friends and family you see seldom, making your rounds at all the holiday parties, or just catching up on all the usual day-to-day aspects of everyday life, it can drive you bonkers.  For me, at least this year, it’s been about balance.  It’s about keeping it simple.  And that means an added focus on spending the holidays with the people you care about the most and vice-versa.  And to slow it down and make a few hours for those people at a time.  That may be easier said than one but I adapted.  And because of that, I’ve gotten so much more enjoyment out of the holidays.

And with that comes with one of my favorite traditions of the year.  It’s a simple gift exchange with close friends that has been going on for quite a number of years now.  The location has changed but the sentiment remains the same.

Gifts were handed out, snacked were nibbled on, and there were plenty of libations.  But one of the most important aspects, and one of the highlights was the tea.  And what tea did we have this year?  This wonderful tea would be the one and only, Christmas In Paris from the underrated Stash Tea.

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But this tea will be anything but underrated.  This carried an intense and uplifting aroma immediately upon opening. Here is my Stash Christmas Post from two years ago.

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The peppermint and cocoa shells permeated the whole house that the term Christmas Spirit took on a life of its own.  I’ve been waiting to say that all season.  There’s a wine hiding back there, and for more on that fun bottle click here.

And the way that tea brewed was a sight for all eyes.  It’s some of the most beautiful brewing I’ve seen in some time.  That color is something else.

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This all made even better by present company.  I imagine I would enjoy this alone but a tea like this, with the Christmas connotation is meant to be enjoyed with the ones you love. This is one that can be enjoyed all winter for sure.  The chocolate and peppermint vibes well with everything December.

There were plenty of treats that paired with this tea.  And this can go with anything holiday.  But just as important, this is an herbal tea, so the caffeine levels are low, even with the cocoa.  So this is more for soothing, calming, and relaxation.

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And this is what the spiritual and peaceful part of the holidays is truly meant to be.  A quaint, cozy, and harmonious environment is what most of us want.  It’s what we all seek. It’s not that hard too find and can be almost anywhere.  We don’t even have to look that hard for it.  That’s the other fun part of the holidays, and life in general.  As hectic as things are, the simple things, like good friends, good eats, Christmas movies (good and bad), and that incredible cup of tea.

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I don’t need to get into the specifics of the gifts or anything like that.  What’s more important is that this season has an organic energy and vibe, that only comes this time each year.  I’ll miss it.  I’m getting nostalgic already. But hopefully many memories to come.

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To find this and all of the Stash Tea collection at a store near you, click here.

This’ll be a tea and Christmas to remember.

Merry Christmas!

Ideen

Have A Happy Holiday

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Does that title sound familiar?   Funny lines and song lyrics like that have been embedded in my brain since childhood.  They resurface at this time of year, and it feels good to dig into the archives of my brain, and recite lines like these?

Where is this going?  It’s the third annual tree decorating party with a group of people I’m proud to call my friends.   So the heartwarming, dopey, emotional, cheesy, and most importantly traditional Christmas Music will be playing, sometimes two or three times over.  And that (along with so many other things) is the fun and funny part.

When it comes to any holiday party, decorating party, or dare I say any party, comes plenty of food and drink.  And there was plenty of that.  Everyone contributed something to the cause.  Because that’s what the holidays and gathering are all about, everyone sharing and giving.   And what may you ask, did I contribute?

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Per a suggestion from a friend, I was told to review the Mulling Spices Tea from the R.W. Knudsen Family brand of products.  And it’s just a small part of what I brought to this Christmas Community.

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If the name rings a bell it may be because you’ve had their juices and other various beverages.

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I had no idea that this tea existed.  And from doing research, it looks like it has been around for a few years.   Why it took me this long to attract it into my life is one of those holiday mysteries.  But now I consider it a miracle.

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I adore this tea.  The hostess of the party had a cup herself and she concurred.   It’s good to disagree respectively but isn’t even more rewarding to enjoy the same cup with people you truly care for?  It adds to the spirit of the season.  And I can always use some more.  I would assume many would feel the same.

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And in this group setting the tea was necessary as a way to relax from all the commotion of decorating, eating, and the overall excitement of decorating a tree.   Oh and there was some champagne and mimosas earlier on (actually throughout) the day as well.  So the tea truly was a friend in settling the stomach and bringing me back down to Earth.

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What makes this tea so special is that the Mulling Spices is meant as a way to make hot spiced cider, blended with their Organic Apple Juice, of course.

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I will do that soon but as I’m into holiday traditions, I’m also very traditional when it comes to my tea.  I prefer adding nothing to my teas.  I think the true test of a tea is how it stands alone, with noting but hot water and the bag or leaf itself.

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This tea can be enjoyed in that form, and that’s an understatement.  I love this tea.  It went down smooth and I felt so balanced and at peace with each sip.  Again, I reiterate the importance of quality people around that makes the tea even that much better.   I got a few cups out of each bag, and the beauty of the brewing process only enhances that fact.

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The aromas of lemon peel, orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves upon opening hit a festive nerve that emit the joy and peace of the season.   The smells remind me of holiday parties past with friends and family.  The way the tea brewed, the colors changing, and the steam rising made me all warm and fuzzy.  That tint is gorgeous.  It made me so happy for that moment in time, yesterday, to appreciate the present.  I appreciate my friends, I appreciate the holidays, and I appreciate being able to share this with you.

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Everything about this day was right.  But it felt like it moved so fast.  That’s because it did.  Time flies when enjoying life.  And enjoying life with good people makes that time feel even more fleeting.   I’m grateful to have been a part of this day and look forward to doing this for many years to come.  And on top of that, I welcome any new traditions that unexpectedly present themselves.

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Some of the photos of the awesome food spread may look like they were taken from a blimp. That’s just my camera phone.  But I did feel like a blimp after eating all this yummy Christmas food.  And over-indulging on treats is another tradition that will be timeless.

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Speaking of time, these are moments in time I’m grateful to have captured and presented to you.  This party will be remembered for many things, and this tea will be near the top of this list.

Get this tea.  To find out where you can find all their fun products, click here.

To read more about all the good that R.W. Knudsen does, this link and this one should be of great assistance.

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At my local Wegman’s, the price was over $5 so that may be a bit steep for buying tea, but I think it’s well worth it.

To read about the 2nd Anniversary party, click here.

I love this and I’m glad there’s so much more of the holidays to celebrate.  I hope you’ve been doing the same with the ones you love, and that love you too.

This is such a wonderful time of the year and I look forward what the holidays bring next.

Have  A Happy Holiday,

Ideen

 

 

 

Charming Candy Canes

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This post is due in part by a suggestion from a dear friend.  They had mentioned I should compare the Candy Cane Green Tea from Trader Joe’s versus the Candy Cane Lane I reviewed nearly one year ago from Celestial Seasonings.  That review can be found here.

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It felt like weeks, not years ago where I was celebrating holiday themed teas throughout December.  Time flies when you’re having tea I guess.   And this week it’ll be of the decaffeinated variety.

I’ve mentioned it numerous times before.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I felt like it was meant to write about this and write about this today.  I’m a lover of the holidays and welcome this time of year.  I love that it spring up on us so quickly, but would also like time to slow down so I can enjoy every moment of it.

Trader Joe’s and the holidays have always gone hand-in-hand for me.  Each time I walk into one of their stores I love seeing the flyer items on display, which always coincide with the time of year.   I did grab some sweet treats for display.  I’ll get to that in a bit.

I made it to the tea section and to my pleasant surprise, I found one of the last boxes.   The way the season is going, a lot of items I’ve been looking for are not always available when I want them.   Of course, more tea would resurface with each new shipment, but I, along with so many others adore our holiday themed anything.

My intent was to find a fresh package of Candy Cane Lane so the comparison would be fair and untarnished.  The dilemma was that I actually never bought this tea from the get go. This was a gift from Celestial Seasoning’s as part of an amazing care package after I reviewed another one of their teas, and they sent me a variety of their holiday-themed teas to try and review.   I look back fondly at those times.  And after a search of a few local grocers and shops, I couldn’t find the Candy Cane Lane anywhere.

It didn’t matter because even a year later, the Candy Cane Lane has aged well.  Can a tea age well?  I  think so.  And when the best by date isn’t till late Summer 2017, I think this is a safe comparison.

Where as the Celestial Seasoning’s version is still a pleaser, the Trader Joe’s version tastes just a tad sweeter.  I told my friend that it was like drinking hot liquid peppermint bark. And that’s not an insult.  It tastes like this time of year.  I cherish this time of year.

I literally took photos side-by-side of the two teas from open to final brew.  And if you look closely, the same exact ingredients are in both.  Yet, the Celestial Seasoning’s version seems like it was prepared with just a little more soul and feeling.  Maybe that’s all in my head.

And that’s not to say that TJ’s version is bad.  I actually like it a lot, but it didn’t blow me away like previous Trader Joe’s holiday selections I’ve tried.  But I’m glad it’s part of my tea collection and I’m grateful that Trader Joe’s continues to come up with new teas for me to try.  That’s all I can ask for.

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The Celestial Seasoning’s candy cane tea also seems more balanced.  All the flavors mesh well together and nothing overpowers one where another ingredients gets lost in the shuffle.  That’s where my peppermint comment on the Trader Joe’s version applies.  I feel that sticks out and not much else shines through.  I do taste some cinnamon but not much else.  But that’s being a bit more picky than necessary.  I did both but I’d give the edge to Celestial.

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I incorporated some of the sweet treats I purchased from Trader Joe’s to pair with both.  I have to laugh because in my post from last year you can see one of those same treats.  This may not be the biggest source of serendipity or clairvoyance.  But the holiday spirits and connections are not an accident.  So that makes me feel good.

If you tries these teas, I hope they make you feel good too.  They’re perfect representatives of what this season is all about.

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The packaging on both are hits on all fronts.  The comforting images of animals will always draw people in.

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We got loads of time so I hope more inspirational and spiritual selections will be presented to you, starting next week.

This is my history with Celestial Seasoning’s and Trader Joe’s.  A lot of good stuff for the season can be found there, and is still relevant today.  I get goose bumps looking back on it. Ah the holidays can strike a chord with us in so many ways.

Here’s hoping you’ve been having a happy and blessed holiday season,

Ideen

One More For Philadelphia

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That title sounded open-ended enough, that there will be more from just one of my favorite cities.   So tis the season for fun, for friendship, friends (wait what), family, food, and frenzy!

And there’s always room for tea.  Because tea encompasses everything I stated above, and so much more.

Several months back, I went on a tea shopping spree in Philadelphia (you can read about them here and here) and the experiences were awesome overall.   And I saved a few gems for later.  When I was going to get to them all depended on timing, whether the content was relevant, and how the holidays would influence my posts.

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However, if I waited too long, my visit to Ray’s Cafe & Tea House in Chinatown may feel more like a footnote than a proper review of a charming experience.

There’s no thrills to this place.  If you look on the outside, one might presume exactly that. And that’s a good thing.  Many of the businesses in the neighborhood follow the same pattern on the outside and from within.

The interior had a standard counter for ordering, with all the teas on display in the back, and just a few tables for sitting.  It felt cozy enough to feel like I was in a friends’ living room, without feeling too cramped.  My initial thought was the tables were bunched up together.  No, it was just right.

But I came for tea, not for critiquing the showroom.

I love my seasonal teas this time of year.  Actually I love ’em any time of year.  I equivocate that too the Soup of the Day or the daily special at my favorite restaurant.  It can be an exciting surprise, and a change of pace versus ordering off the menu.

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Much to my hilarious surprise the seasonal Green Tea I went with tasted a bit too familiar. Where have I tasted this before?  Could it be that’s it actually the tea listed below, the Jasmine Green?   I can trick my mind into otherwise, but the taste is too overpowering too ignore.

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No I’m not complaining.  The tea was wonderful.   The pot and overall display was overall magnifique.  And what is seasonal to you and me, might be seasonal to someone else.  Maybe I ordered the Jasmine and not realized.  Maybe their seasonal tea is a play on that too.  Maybe they were making fun of me.   I would be too. The manager saw me taking photos.  I was in awe of this set-up.  Many have been posted for your viewing pleasure

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And how can anyone complain about getting a free cookie?  That’s a holiday special in and of itself

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The tea was divine.  The energy inside was divine. The tea never stood a chance.  I sipped it in proper time.  After I did my photos, I enjoyed myself for a long while.  I was in my zen pose.  No, I actually wan’t posing.  I was just at peace.

I did this place.  I will be back and maybe order something off of their extensive menu.  But for now, I’ll savor this experience.

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If you’re in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia, give them a visit. It’s a tranquil experience in a city that doesn’t always attract that kind of calming.

This was the perfect segue into the holidays.  I look forward to what December will bring. But I truly appreciate Ray’s for what it was. It’s simple, soothing, and the tea was sensational.  If you find a better synonym (oops) that starts with ‘s”,  I’ll change it.

More alliteration and awesome (ha) tea reviews to come.

Happy Holiday Season,

Ideen