Sunday In The Summer Tea Party

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The calendar still reads September.  My love affair with Infused Tea Company concludes (for now) with what have been my favorite of the three.  Actually I can’t say that for sure. Each visit over the weekend told a different story, yet it also told something similar.

After knowing what to expect, my third visit was anything but ordinary and predictable. I just love not knowing what I’m going to order ahead of time.  A large menu with so many options helps.  It helps with expanding my palate, my horizons, and ultimately making this another endearing and perhaps out-of-body experience.

Saying I love tea is an understatement.   It’s been a part of my life since the beginning.  It will always be a part of me.  Whoever invented tea and the whole experience has created a way of life, that is way past the point of cultural.  It’s just a part of so many of us.  It’s become commonplace that I’m hoping the majority of us appreciate how beautiful the ritual is.  Because tea with friends, with family, with snacks, or with nothing at all is something so genuine that words will not always paint a picture of this joyous thing.

What also brings me joy is Matcha.   And over the past couple of years, via this blog, and other wonderful situations, it’s also become a staple of my life.

And this leads me to the conclusion of what has been a Summer to remember.  This was back in June, but the Infused Tea Company of my other adopted city St. Petersburg, FL.

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I didn’t even need to look at the menu this time.  On display for everyone to see (well it was kind of understated all the same) was a sign for Matcha Lemonade. I may have seen it the day before and kept it in on file, or this was a spontaneous and welcome surprise.

What a surprise this was.

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You might think that the dichotomy of flavors with how the powdery green the matcha tastes against the sweetness of the lemonade would be a disaster.  Not even close.  This blend worked perfectly.  And it worked that at least for me, it’s not something you’re going to drink quickly.  I took enough sips and enjoyed my time outside, that it felt like time stood still, I could do this all day, and I think I did do this all day.  Timeless..

I got another pastry to for display, and to complement my enchanting beverage. Seriously, how photogenic does this all look?

And once again the views and the weather could not have been better.  We’re in the 80’s to 90’s on this June day, which ironically wasn’t technically in the Summer.  Not that big of a detail but now that we’re in Autumn, the temperatures are basically the same, and will be like this for a while.  So while here in Maryland, lemonade and iced tea may begin to phase out, in beautiful Florida, you can have everything.  And everything is everything.

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But this Matcha Lemonade was one of those spiritually healing and invigorating kinds of drinks.  Again, I don’t know the exact words to give it, but this was special.  I can imagine having this at home, or somewhere local, still finding it special but maybe not having the same memorable experience.  Not everything is nor should it be.

This was my last day of vacation.  It was bittersweet (and I don’t mean the lemonade) but also a feeling of calmness came over me.  It was time to go home.  I saw some great friends, did some great things, ate some yummy food, and have some of the best tea experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

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The bikers I mentioned from last week were back and the crew looked bigger.  That’s a great life and that’s how I’m told the Gulf Coast does.  It’s all about outdoor activities and living a healthy lifestyle.  I was living vicariously through them, but in a way I was living vicariously through myself.   Oh man… I miss this city so much.

That’s it for now.  If there’s time I’ll throw in another post from this amazing place.  I love St. Petersburg so much.  I love Infused Tea Company so much.  I’m so glad I was invited to visit, and so grateful I got to experience such an amazing tea scene.

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I’ll be back and can only hope the experiences I’ve had thus far (my Florida experiences can be found here and here), can come close or maybe even exceed what I’ve seen thus far.

Here is the link to purchase their awesome teas, their accesories, and their location for those local or visiting.

Thank you so much Infused Tea Company, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.   It’s been a glorious time.

Fall and pumpkin themed teas as we head towards October, begin next week.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted

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So the title came to me earlier tonight.  And it’s inspired from this.

As I mentioned last week, there are certain teas, stores, and cafes that will hold sentimental value to me.  Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company will always be in that conversation.

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As you can see in my history of posts, the love affair is real.

The teas haven’t always been the best, but the service from their Annapolis and Timonium locations has always been stellar.

If I were to do a weekly blog just based on this wonderful company, I would never run out of material.   I’ve been here that many times, but sometimes I go just for me.  No blogs no writing, not anything.  Sometimes we need that.  Not everything is meant to be shared.

But as the title says, sometimes a story is necessary.  Sometimes an entity deserves all the praise. I can only do my part to show my appreciation.  Because that’s what Baltimore Coffee & Tea deserves, all the appreciation.  Because I can’t take a place like this for granted.  It’s been so good to me.

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And you know where else has been good to me?  The state capital of Annapolis (my history with tea in and relating to Annapolis can be found here) is the backdrop for so many small things and memories, that are truly the big things.

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I can’t go the entire summer without not giving love to this magical, colonial, and historical place.   So with that, my most recent visit was last week, and I was going merely for a cup of coffee.

That changed because I felt inspired.

When I’m reviewing teas purchased here, I usually grab them a bag from the display rack, or kindly ask one of the friendly staff members to open up a box of a tea I’d like to try.  They’re so good about that.  It’s opened up many new doors and experiences, I didn’t know existed.  The tea journey is never-ending, and they’ve added multiple dimensions to that.  I’m thankful for that.

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So how fitting is it, that I decided to order a tea from the menu.  And what do I see but the original or originals, the Eastern Shore Back Porch Iced Tea,  As the description says, it’s your standard iced tea.  There’s nothing fancy or earth shattering about it.  But if you know what to expect it’s going to be just fine.

For where I was, it was just fine.

I’ve never been a fan of just iced tea.  It’s not that I’m opposed to it, but I’ve always wanted something just a little more.  And I don’t mean sugar or any additives.  I appreciate a little natural flavor of some sort.

But sometimes you just want a cup of tea, you want some iced tea, and nothing else.  Well I can’t be too dramatic.  They did give me a lemon, which was plenty.

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I also got a simple chicken salad over lettuce.   And I found myself in a front corner spot of the store, which has now been a home away from home.  I’m serious when I say this.  I’ve sat here countless numbers of times over the past couple of years, that if I don’t get that spot (or porch in this instance) a part of me feels confused.  And no I haven’t always sat there but I think this resonates with a few people.

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In saying all this, the old man or old soul is coming through a little more than I’d prefer. But that spot, and this place is a part of me.  It has a small piece of my heart, and I’m grateful to give that piece to them.

After I took a few pictures I sat there for a while.  And it may have been an hour, but it felt like time stood still and I could sit there all day.  In many ways I did, I’v had before, and I will again.

Man I love this place.

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I’m not ready to put an end to summer just yet.  I’ve got iced teas I could write about for weeks, and maybe months.  I hope I can get to all of them, if not, I’ll save it for another time.  But you can be sure Baltimore Coffee and Tea will be a part of the conversation again, and soon.

How can it not be?

To purchase this tea, along with others, click here.

If you’re in the area, or will be visiting, here’s their list of stores, FAQ, and contact information.

Finally, here’s more from Eastern Shore Tea Company.

Thanks so much and I wish you a happy upcoming holiday weekend.

We’re just getting started.

Blessed,

Ideen

 

TeBella For Two

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This is a continuation from last week where I discovered and fully embraced the beauty that is TeBella of Downtown St. Petersburg, FL.    As I said this was not a one-time thing, and I hope it’s not a one vacation thing.  I made a second visit in I think as of many days, and can tell a different yet at the same time the same beautiful experience at this beautiful venue.

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What I glossed over and did not specify last week (I blame my excitement and hazy memory) that Tebella is part of Station House, which is a beautiful and welcoming space that doesn’t have that stuffy and pretentious vibe that I’ve seen around town and elsewhere.  Once again, I may be romanticizing but everyone here either was friendly or kept to themselves.  I only felt good energy, good vibes, and some more good tea.

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I may have been a bit overwhelmed by the TeBella’s extensive and inspiring tea collection the first time, that I could make some generic proclamation that I was better prepared the second time.  That’s no fun.  The fun is losing yourself in all these teas.

This time I went through the White Tea list, and wanted to keep the Summer themed party going with the delicious and magnificent Blueberry Mountain Sunrise, iced of course.

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The synopsis says it all, the whole blueberries and pomegranate are not there to overpower the tea but to serve as an enhancement. I can imagine how great this would be hot as well.   But that color radiates and makes me smile, makes me feel good, and makes me truly appreciate the joy that is tea drinking.

For this sitting I took my time indoors, as this was afternoon, and there was a little more activity than my original visit which was right around the start of business day.  But again, business here is different than any other city I’ve visited.  It’s only part of the culture, but doesn’t seem to be the most important.

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And if this wasn’t awesome enough, I noticed they had a lovely display of Pineallas Chocolate.  Since its local and I was local for a few days it naturally made sense to buy some.  In hindsight I wish I got more.   The Cacao Orange was my perfect yet unconventional pairing with my tea.  But does it really matter?  The teas are there, the chocolates presented themselves like they were waiting to me purchased by me, and everyone else.  This was match made in tea and cocoa heaven, the universe, and all the beautiful stuff in between.

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There were a few other charming experiences and encounters during these two visits, that only seem fitting to keep internal, as anyone who goes on vacation and is sentimental is.  Some things are just hard or not meant to be elaborated in words that hopefully those hints are something we all can relate to and have experienced.  There’s little gems we can laugh about either with ourselves or with the company we were with.

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In these instances I was alone but I really wasn’t.  But then I was again.  And that’s what going away is all about, losing yourself and finding yourself all at once.    Somewhere in all this tea drinking are metaphors and analogies (or the other way around) of life.

As I finish this post I realize these were not so little moments.   There were moments of peace, calm, and just appreciating the moments that don’t need to be photographed or documented for the world to see.  I didn’t mean to be so vague.   I’m writing from the heart, as we all do from time to time.

These two tea experiences reminded me that life can be so wonderful, and all I did was drink some tea, have some pastry, and have some chocolate.  To me this is something bigger than all of us.

To purchase any of TeBella’s teas click here, more on how great TeBella is, and their contact information.

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I will be back.

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And here’s where you can find Pinella’s locally and a link to buy their chocolate online.

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I can’t say this enough, the tea culture in St. Petersburg is incredible.  As amazing as this was, I have more stories (another one can be found here and here’s another one!) to share.  I will get to them when the timing and feeling is right. It could be next week or could be down the line.  I truly believe that these posts will match these amazing experiences I’ve had in Florida so far.

I can’t wait to share them with you.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

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.

stashteaspread

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