The Fireside Is…

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I’ve been away for a little while.   This season has been a little harder to embrace than most.   Eventually sadness was going to take over and just manifest itself throughout the holidays.  And I love the holidays so much.

I love Thanksgiving.  I love Christmas.  I love all the celebrations of peace, life, love, family, and of course all the celebrations in general.

Holiday parties make me so happy.  But this year I haven’t been feeling it.  I’ve chosen to stay away from a few this time, or make other plans.  The comforts of sitting at home with my cat, or the various pets I look after are what’s getting me through the holidays thus far.

I never wanted to be someone that just got through the holidays, but this is currently where I stand.  And it hurts.  It hurts in ways that I can’t even describe.

Plain and simple, this is the first holidays without my dad.  And with that brings upon feeling of grief, not just about him, but about so much else going on in my life, or lack thereof.    Yet with all the hurt and tragedy, there’s still so much to be grateful for, and there’s those constants that just keep me going and still bring a smile to my face.  There’s much to be thankful and grateful for.  There always will be… Just like…

The Spice & Tea Exchange has always been there, and I hope it continues to be there (my love for them can be found here) for me, not just to review their limited time teas, but all their magical teas, that are for sure magical, and all those other good things.

For now, I like to go when it’s quiet.  This is a far cry from when I would want to be around big groups, busy shoppers, and all the noise and commotion that makes this season so exciting.  Maybe later.  Right now, that’s not for me.

The Annapolis location (all locations can be found here) was the ideal setting for browsing and purchase.

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What is for me is peace, calm, and a lot of solitude.  I find comfort in the unknown and in quiet.  The unknown is the three latest teas for holidays.  I’m so grateful to share with you my thoughts on the Holiday Cheer, the returning Chocolate Candy Cane Tea, and the Fireside Spice.

For more on the returning Chocolate Candy Cane go here.

With help from the trusty Cozy Cup Mitten Infuser (charming I know right), I had a ball preparing these for enjoying and sipping.  Yes!

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Not going in any particular order we start with the Holiday Cheer.

The trios of cinnamon, hibiscus, and fig is breathtaking.  I probably didn’t do the best job of brewing this cup, hence the color that you see.  But the flavors still shined through in spectacular fashion.   With a name like Holiday Cheer, how can you not be enchanted?

The Chocolate Candy Cane is just as great as I remember it a year ago.  Maybe even better. Black tea, chocolate, and peppermint will make anyone happy.  This also tells me I must try some of their more traditional teas, such as black and other flavors that I’ve grown up with.  Yes, ones I’ve shared with my dad.  I felt this one a little more this time.

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If I had to pick a favorite it would be the Fireside Spice, and it might just be the cinnamon and chicory combination that made feel a little more sentimental for the time I’m in, for the the time we’re in, and where time tends to stop, and I felt like a kid for a moment.

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But I know I’m not.  These teas take on a whole new meaning to me then if this were a year ago, or many years ago.  This is life though and we’re all going to experience a lot of things, some that will hurt, but hopefully many that bring us joy and raise our spirits.

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I love these teas and I love The Spice & Tea Exchange.  Thank you for making my holiday feel a little more manageable.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

Mochi Ice Cream Party! Yay!

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I’m glad I discovered this now.  But what took me so long to notice or even try Mochi ice cream.

To be late to the party is ok, I did show up.  I have friends that raved about this decadent dessert for a number of years (or so they told me), and it either never registered, or it just didn’t register.

It didn’t resonate.   And I’m all about trying new foods, new beverages, and new anything.  This is what life is all about.   A always joyful and welcome drive to Trader Joe’s (I may have written about them once or twice…) means sampling some new food and drink (the free sample area used to be called the Tasting Oasis, yay free samples!), and of course purchasing so many of their great items, usually brand exclusive to them.

Then there’s the Buono Group, which I had also never heard of until a few days ago.   I thought for sure they were exclusive to TJ’s (find one near you), but if you do a search (couldn’t find on their site), there in more stores than just the one.   It’ll always be at where I found it to me, along with this incredible aftertaste that’s still with me after a few hours later.

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Strawberry and Matcha Green Tea were the flavors available and I was happy to grab both…

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All the info is presented to you in the pictures above, so there’s no need to me to go on an elaborate diatribe about the texture and depth of Mochi Ice.  I love so much about this.  What a great dessert idea, and in a world of unlimited ideas and creations, this is well done on so many levels.

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Both are Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free.  Vegan, no trans fats, and made with coconut milk.  If I ate both of these without knowing that, I wouldn’t notice the difference, aside from a lighter and healthier feeling, so maybe.

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But I loved these both so much.  The strawberry tastes exactly how you would want it to, and it’s lower on calories and all the bad stuff that there’s no guilt and only pleasure in eating this.  Not that you should ever feel bad about eating something that makes you feel good, as long as it’s done in a fashion that makes you feel good.

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The matcha as always is an acquired taste.  There’s a sweeter element to this that takes that (to some) rough green tea taste and makes it all the more merrier.

Speaking of merrier, the packaging and pictures will charm anyone.  I find these images adorable.  Everything about this is fun, and it’s the big and little things that always make a an experience that much more memorable.  It separates the meals from the out of this world experiences.  This one leans towards the latter for me.   There’s a first time for everything and I’m grateful this was my first encounter with Mochi Ice Cream.

Of course while we’re in the summer, this is something for now.  Yet it’s something for any time.  This is it to be enjoyed, be entertained by, and appreciated.

It’s all in the same of good food, good times, and feeling good.

This was fun.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

These Are The Words…

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Summer means a lot to me.  I know it means so many things to many different people, from all different walks of life.

For me it takes me back to when there were no worries.  As a kid my biggest dilemma in the summer was whether I go to summer camp, or stay at home and do nothing, and daydream.   As time has gone by, I find myself in a similar situation.  I’m not sure how many of you may be going through your own trials and tribulations.

Not all of this is bad.  It’s a time of rebirth, reawakening, and rejuvenation.   Perhaps it’s a time to reflect.  Where do we go from here?   As much time has passed there’s still so much left to look explore, look forward to, and to accomplish.

When preparing (or not) or contemplating what tea stories to elaborate on (and some to leave unsaid), I tend to make it more dramatic and complicated than it has any right to be.  For me, or for any of us who enjoy writing, it’s a personal thing.

Memories are so beautiful, and so many are meant to be kept to ourselves, and those close friends and family that we shared them with.  To that I say, some are so amazing, that it’s best to write them or say that out loud, so for where we can capture or recreate details and memories that otherwise we’d forget.

This takes us back to before the long holiday weekend, yet a weekend of companionship, conversation, and doing as much relaxing and being in nothingness as possible.  Nothingness is a good thing in this instance.

I love going to friends’ house and enjoying a day and night in (often more times than a night out now) and knowing that the night has already been made, and there’s no worries or cares of the outside world.

We had plenty of snacks, treats, vino (more on that here), and some of my favorite animal friends and the freshest are there is.  Just what everyone can use, in times of joy or otherwise.

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I couldn’t think of a better place to continue the story of one of favorite entities in general, The Spice & Tea Exchange.

Here’s the link to shop online, their store locations, contact information, and my past stories on their incredible teas.

I want to thank Denise from the Annapolis, MD location for all of her assistance and support.

For the Summer, for National Iced Tea Month (even though this was in May, but I don’t think anyone is going to write me a demerit), and most of all for you and me, I’m honored to discuss their most recent releases and limited time teas, the Blue Raspberry Crush, and the Get Up & Goji.

Both have endearing names, and have endearing qualities that have stuck with me as I write this.  That can only mean I will keep loving these teas more and more over time.

 

Just the colors on the Blue Raspberry are going to win you over.   When it looks this good, I can only hope that the scents and tastes will mirror what you see at first sight.

That’s exactly right.

 

I only wish I added lemon to see the changing of colors.  I’ll have to revisit this again later in the Summer.  Thankfully there’s so much left…

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I think it’s only fitting that my friend prepared this tea hot, but we made it iced and served in the most perfect of glasses.

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This tea was shared among so many other food and drink, but it never got lost in the shuffle.  It was a day and night of indulgence, celebration, peace, and all the emotions in between and book ending.

 

The Get Up & Goji was for the next day.  And after everything has settled, this was the perfect sip for a rebirth, and to get the day going.   Once again, iced or hot, you can’t go right or wrong.  There’s no right or wrong.  It’s all just so magnificent.

 

I’m constantly exhausted lately, so this tea,with the sun shining the way it did, felt like someone or something was watching me, looking out for me, and telling me everything was going to be ok.   You can substitute ‘me’ for ‘us’ or with ‘you’, and it all applies.

 

I don’t recall the sun ever looking so beautiful in my entire life.   I don’t think that was an accident.

 

The company of my friends, and these amazing dogs I’ve had such a history with, made these two days so perfect.

This is why you share these stories, or at least write them out to yourself in diary or however form you like.  You realize the little things or those big things.  And those big things are whatever you want them to be.

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It’s all important.  And with that said, I still left details out (some on purpose), because while stories are meant to be shared, parts of it are not easy to share, just yet, if at all.

And some are just meant for you, for me, and for anyone you want it to be.

I’m so grateful the teas of one of my favorite shoppes, Spice & Tea Exchange, were featured at this vulnerable and emotional moment in time.

It’s good to be back…

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

It Is Only With The Heart…

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I write this on the verge of Spring, the verge of Iranian New Year (which coincides with the first day of spring, and depending on where you are, has already happened), and the verge of well I don’t know.   I am of Iranian heritage by the way, yet was born here, but I just digressed.  And I’ll stop now.

This has been some winter,  some year already, and a whole lot of other things.   Many I can’t describe, many that seem invisible and hard to comprehend, and some that need no explanation.  Some things are just bigger than us.

As we approach Spring, we know this can be a time of rebirth, spiritual healing, rejuvenation, and all those other words that mean the same thing, but mean so much.

It’s a time that can mean so much…

As the days go longer, and our spirits are heightened, it’s a reminder how quick and fleeting this life is.  I’m over three years into this blog, wondering but appreciating where all this time went.  It’s a good thing.  I’m fortunate to continue to do this, and hope that this will grow, flourish, and become something bigger than I can imagine.  Just like the season.  I know it’s coming.

I know things are good, they’ll only get better, and I believe it for myself and for those closest to me.

So it only makes sense that the tea this week is the Supreme Matcha Green from Pukka.

If they’re sounding familiar, it’s because I’ve written about them twice before since February, and I see them becoming a regular staple of this journey.   Pukka has my heart, and I feel it understands me.

I would like to say I understand them, but I don’t necessarily need to.  But I do know I love their teas.  And seriously, I love their teas.

The Supreme Matcha Green was actually not what I was going to write about.  A dear friend suggested I write about the Clean Matcha Green, but I looked far and wide (no not really haha), and while there was no luck, the signs were all their to write about something Supreme.

And supreme it is.  It’s masterful.

The synopsis is great, and it shows sense of humor and seriousness all at once.

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Sometimes our superhero or are normal (whatever that means, it’s all relative) powers do run low and we need a reboot.   This is the tea that’ll do it.  And there’s nothing glamorous about it, which makes it fantastic to me.  That’s just the way I want it.

It’s the combination of green teas from the great regions of the world, and the matcha powder that even though seems understated after each sip, you know it’s there.  I couldn’t tell you what stands out in this tea, because in this instance, it doesn’t have to.

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It’s a green tea that is just a cut above many green teas you’re going to have.  I take it that the energy and soul behind this tea has a lot do with it.   Pukka has a lot to be proud of as they have created something incredible, joyous, and it’s the quintessential tea for not just this season, but anytime you want.

But this is the kind of tea that can kickstart a season, your life, and your anything.

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There’s just something so grandiose in the simplicity of this tea.  Even if you’re not a fan of Matcha or how it tastes, I think this tea is going to change people’s minds and win hearts and spirits all over the place.

You may notice a sweet treat within this holiday display, and that’s merely for decoration.  Well I did sneak a snack or two, but this tea doesn’t need anything.   A lot can be paired with something, but teas like this are best sipped slowly and sipped on its own.  This is one to savor my friends.

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Pukka continues to amaze and inspire.  I feel like my superhero powers will be running high after a cup of the Supreme Matcha Green.

It’s heart, and sometimes it is only with the heart…

And if you needed another reason to love their teas, look here.  Hi Pukka, you’re amazing.

Here is their story, a focus on our well being, their contact information, and where to buy their inspirational teas.

Happy Spring and Happy New Year to you! It’s going to be a good one!

Love,

Ideen

Fly On…

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Oh man.  So yeah, Paromi Tea was a late Christmas gift from some dear friends I hadn’t seen in some time.   It’s one of the more unique tea packages you’ll find.  And if you like what you see on the outside, just wait…

I love Sachet’s, I love all kinds of way that tea is presented.  But Sachets are something else.  The pyramid or triangle shape gives a glimpse of all the amazing herbs, spices, fruits, and other amazing entities from this planet, and it’s all there for you to see, in all its glory.  It’s much different than you standard steeping tea bag.  This is an event.  And the way the bag opens up while it steeps is all part of this fantastic journey.

What else is does is you get a lot of beautiful colors rather quickly.  And the Chamomile Lavender Rooibos brings all the amazing things I just wrote about, and so much more.  Oh there’s more.

I’ve come across lavender a lot lately.  There’s so many things lavender, from scented trash bags (yes that’s correct), air fresheners, incense, oils, soaps, lotions and all that good stuff that keeps popping up into my life.   So it makes sense that I’m gifted this amazing tea, as my mind is drawn to and focused on lavender.  The universe works just like that.  Ask and you will receive.  Some things may take longer than others.   And yet not everything needs or has to be rushed.

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And after writing about one beautiful lavender flavored tea two weeks ago (which was no accident by the way, either), we come to this one.  So no more build up, but as I’ve said Paromi is doing something tremendous.

The ingredients, which are Fair Trade, organic, and from something much bigger than all of us, is just tremendous.  It’s a stellar blend of the aforementioned ingredient and a little vanilla flavor which is just understated enough to make this a meteoric and world class tea.

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And when the description says no more than five minutes of steeping, they’re not kidding.  This has some power to it.

I might be caught up in the fact that this was a gift.  But yes, I will get caught up in the fact that this was a gift. I’m grateful.  I would love this tea if I discovered it on my own, but I wasn’t supposed to.  I hadn’t heard of this until it was presented to me, in present form.   And that’s living in the present folks.  Yes, that was intentional.

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The days are getting longer.  Spring is rapidly approaching.  I’m contradicting what I just said about being in the moment, and present.   Yet, I do have a few Spring like pieces in these displays, just to get the happiness going.   We should always be happy, but sometimes the winter and the short days, will do something to people.

For me, it’s been strange.  I could go back and look at all my previous stories, and likely find positives in all of them.  Maybe so much.   Lately, it’s easy to find all the positives but with a more realistic tone.   Life has been funny for me.  It’s been funny for a many of my peers, our peers, and people we’ve yet to meet.   It can be chaotic, stressful, and sometimes overwhelming.   One day it’s great, the next day it’s an experience.  And we go to bed with those feelings and wake up hoping each day is better, is great, and is going to transform into something good.

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But to ease the stress, a little help might be needed.  This tea did something to me today.  Lavender has its calming tendencies.  And that easily could be it.  Yet I had some moments standing outside, where the synopsis even says, a lot of things just faded and melted away.

This feeling, among other things, inspired the title for this post.

I stood outside, took my photos, but then I just kept standing there.  There was still lots of daylight, maybe no sunlight, but lots of time to still appreciate what I’m looking at, and feeling.  I saw beautiful animal friends, grass, I saw trees, nature, thing maybe not so natural, but everything felt fine.

Something hit me.  It may fleeting, because feelings tend to do that, if you let them.  Feelings can be fickle.  But, for a few minutes I felt comfortable with me, in my own skin, and the universe.  It felt good.  I want that feeling all the time.  I have this tea to thank, my friends to thank, and I always owe it something much bigger than us.  I’m going to say that a lot.  It just comes to me, naturally….

For more on Paromi , here is their story, where you can find their teas, and to purchase online.

At $10 a bottle, that may seen steep (ha) to some.  But trust me, it’s well worth the investment.

And I know I’ll be making another investment soon.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Lives Up To Its Name…

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Here we go again.  Another holiday and another phenomenal tea from our friends at Trader Joe’s.

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The Red Refresh Herbal Tea has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, aside from the color that shares a connotation with said day.   It’s a tea for all year round, and was actually released to the universe in August of 2017.    Well I base that on the date of their own details of this charming tea were posted.

After last week,  (here is my history for this holiday) I wanted to keep some kind of theme going for this week, and this spoke to me, came to me, and literally found me.  And without sounding too dramatic, I just went to the tea aisle and bough me a couple of boxes.  Yes it’s really that simple, but making it seem larger than life and bigger than it really is, is fun too.

But this tea doesn’t need any monumental or life changing build up.  This is damn good and is loaded with ingredients, yet they all add value and mean something to this tea.

Hibiscus, rosehips, peppermint, lemongrass, and orange peel are all easily detected if you don’t look so hard, or maybe even if you do, that’s alright too!

I just a had sense this was going to be pleasing, refreshing, and that ever so ‘charming’ word I tend to throw around from time to time.  But it really is all those things and more.  It’s an endearing tea that I think non tea lovers will appreciate.   The floral traits mixed with herbs, fruits, and cherry bark make such an impact, that’s not in your face or overbearing.

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Yes I did just say cherry bark.  With everything I mentioned there’s a literally something in this for all four seasons, and all the major holidays you can think of.  Well maybe not every holiday, but you get what I’m saying.

What this also means is this tea would be just as awesome, if not better, iced.   It has the themes and feelings of the cold weather months but can just as easily be appreciated cold, chilled, and served to and with perfection.

I’m savoring another cup as we speak.  Yes I did just put the kettle on boil.

It’s not even close to the best tea I’ve ever had, part of that is because I’ve been spoiled with sampling and trying all these types over the course of this blog and my life.  But also not every needs to be.  It just needs to make you feel something and touch you in a way that not everything does nor has to.  But if this or any kind of food, drink, or entity moves in to the point of an out-of-body and existential experience than you and that object of your affection has done its job.

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This is why love is not meant to be given on just one specific day.   Many of us are aware of this, so this is not meant to be a preacher sermon. Yet, love should be spontaneous, authentic, unconditional, and if you’re fortunate enough, reciprocal.  It shouldn’t be forced or artificial.  But again, most of us are aware of this fact.

And this is not just love of a person.  I know many people that find the love of their friends, their pets, and themselves to be just as important as the love for their (insert similar term here) romantic loved one.

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Right now, I’m celebrating the love of this tea.  And there’s so much to love.  I’m grateful to a dear friend for all of the pictures you see here, and a couple of videos as well.  I hope to take advantage of this feature much more as we move forward.

And as I continue to celebrate all things love, the love of this blog, it’ll progress in an organic, spontaneous, and hopefully uplifting sense.   Just like this tea did.

I’m in love alright.

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

 

Your “I Love You”

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So we got to February rather quickly.  Actually in a way it feels like time has always been moving at the rate, or at a faster or slower place, depending on your situation or how you’re feeling.   All I know is this month means a lot of things to a lot of people.  I know there’s some holidays that depending on your beliefs and situation’ you either embrace, don’t care about, or don’t even think about.   Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above, or none of this at all.

This past Sunday I was at one of my local grocery stores’, without realizing that it’s one of the busier, and more hectic days to be at such a place.  I was oblivious to that fact until I walked in.   Instead of feeling despondent and disheartened (which I initially felt at first), I embraced it.  Everyone is there for the same and different reasons.  People want to get there stuff and get the heck out of there.  For others it’s a highlight to their weekend.  So who am I to question that?

Little did I know that I would make a wonderful discovery.   This is one of those weeks where I didn’t actually know what tea or what tea related story I would write about.  I didn’t sweat it, I didn’t force the issue, and I just let it come to me.  In this case, it found me.  And I’m so grateful it did.

We’re only about a week away from Valentine’s Day.  For some it’s a something to celebrate and embrace.  For others it’s not to take seriously.  It’s just another day.  And to another segment it may breed contempt and dissatisfaction.   I tend to fall into all of those categories, or have been over the years.

But love comes in many forms.  It’s not just a love for a person, romantically.  It’s a love for your friends, family, your pets, the universe; but most of all, yourself.  When you love yourself its easier to love others.   And I do think its easier to love others over ones self many a time.  I might be guilty.

But with all this talk of love, leads to one of the better teas you’re going to find.   How I’m just getting to writing about Pukka and one of their fine teas is one of those things I just can’t explain.  Maybe I’ve had a cup and not realized.  Maybe it was worth before I start writing.  Whatever the case, it has led me here and has led me to the exquisite Love Tea.  I love that it’s called Love.  There’s no pun there, I promise you.

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But this is just as beautiful as the name implies.  The flavors of chamomile, lavender, and elderflower are as lovely as a blend as you’re going to find.  Oh my goodness.  This is meant to be drank hot and I think I heated this just a little more than I intended, and I think it came out that much better.

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That color illuminates and it paired perfectly with some sweet treats.  But you could easily have it withing nothing at all.  I prefer most of cups of tea to be savored in all their glory by itself, but a little cookie or pastry never hurt anybody.

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So in my own way, I celebrated this forthcoming holiday with a display of things that might make you happy, and some that make me happy.

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I’ve always had a love for our animal friends, and any depiction or illustration makes me happy and feel good as well.  It’s the timeless images that will last with us forever.  And to me that’s love.  It’s not meant to be reserved for a single day or a single event.

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There’s more than enough good, more than enough love, and more than enough love to go around.

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This tea brought me so much joy and I felt love, and I’m not sure from exactly where.  I don’t need to know nor do I have to know.  I just know it was there.

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And after reading this story, it’s beautiful to know that there’s a story of true love that inspired this tea.

To find out more about Pukka Herbs, here is a list of all their teas (including Love which is in the Relax grouping of teas), their mission,  a section on our well being, and  something inspirational.

To get in touch you can find them here. And I’ve seen their teas in many grocery stores and retailers so it should be easy to find.

I took way to long to write about Pukka.  I’m just getting started, I’m just getting warmed up, and I’m feeling even more love in the air as I keep writing this out to you.   That’s love.

I loved this tea and everything it symbolizes.  It resonates in me something beautiful.

I wish you a most wonderful day of love, not just on the 14th, but all days possible.  If I’m in a harmonious place, I will continue this love of love next week, and beyond.

Let’s do it again sometime.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen