Friday Night Tea Party

InfusedTeaIced

I think I said last week (and throughout the past few months) that my admiration for the tea scene on the Gulf Coast of Florida (my growing fondness can be found here and here) can not be expressed enough in words, in thoughts, and in anything else.  It’s a time of my life I will always remember, and will find it hard to forget.  I will always appreciate this five days of my life that has brought on a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of joy.

And yes, it all revolves around tea.

Friday Night means different things to a lot of people.  For some it’s a night of rest before getting ready for a fun weekend of doing fun things, for some it’s happy hour. a night out, and in this instance it was one of the great tea drinking experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

It was my first time going with my friend to Downtown St. Petersburg.   Now St. Pete has a lot of charming places to check out, away from the small but growing downtown area. And after a couple of days me and my friend made the short and scenically awesome trek to Beach Drive.

InfusedTeaIced3

The intent was to check out a nice bar or two, or three, if you catch what I’m saying. Maybe a glass of wine, or a nice dinner.  I think my indecisive, restless, and adventurous spirit was thinking something else more organic on this night.

InfusedTeaSign

After doing a lap or two, my eyes were wide open and my excitement hit a whole different level when we discovered the Infused Tea Company.  This place made me so happy.

If I recall correctly, we made it with minutes to spare.  At this point I’m thinking it’s nearly 9 pm.  But I had enough time to take pictures, smell some loose teas, and appreciate all the teas, pots, kettles, infusers, pastries, and everything else I could absorb and revel in these few moments.

I want to thank our teaologist, Ang, for being so kind of patient with us.   I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for in terms of a tea.   In mid-June I was actually contemplating something warm.  What on Earth was I thinking?  It wouldn’t have been the worst thing. I would just have to have saved this post for later in the year.   But time is of the essence, as it was on this night.

InfusedTeaCans

Ang, per his suggestion mixed the Mango Tango and the Tahitian Dream for me, to make the most exquisite, refreshing, and enlightening blend of flavors, inspiration, and soul in this gem of an iced tea.   My friend agreed, the universe agreed, as did I.  Two thumbs up, five stars, and all the other superlatives you can throw at it.  Honestly, the tea could have been mediocre and probably would have tasted much better simply because of the service, the decor, the positive energy, and simply being a harmonious place I hadn’t experienced before.

InfusedTeaCanInfusedTeaCan2

The Mango Tango with its pineapple, mango, and orange pieces are perfect not just for the Summer but I believe any time of year.  And in Florida, all the time is an understatement.  The Tahitian Dream adds not only more pineapple, but passion fruit, and strawberry as well.  Does it get any better?  Maybe, but not on this night.

InfusedTeaDisplay3InfusedTeaBarInfusedTeaTheTeas

This is why I made two more visits to this amazing place during the course of my holiday. And if time allows, I will get to them in the following two weeks, or in a rare instance I may break tradition and post them on different days.  I’m preparing for the changing of the seasons while still wanting to honor how amazing all three experience were.  I’m so happy just thinking and writing about it.

This was at night, the day experiences are a surreal enjoyment all its own.

And I look forward to sharing those fun times with you soon.  But I can’t stress this enough, this was amazing, and I’m grateful I got to share with a close friend.  And I fondly remember my friend was happy for me as well.

For more on Infused Tea Company, here is their story. and their location for those close to the area, or will be visiting.

The good news is you can order their fantastic teas and accessories online.  Many of those accessories are displayed in this post.

I could go on all day, or I could just go on to the next post.   How about both?

InfusedTeaCard

To be continued…

InfusedTeaDoor

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaSalad5

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeFront

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaCup

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaCup2

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaCup4

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaSalad

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaSalad2

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.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaSalad7

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 Is Right

TeBellaTea3

St. Petersburg, FL has my heart.  I’ve been saying this before I got there, and now since I’ve been home.    I mentioned in a post two weeks ago how beautiful the people are, the way of life, the culture, and even more specifically, the tea culture is something beautiful.

For anyone that goes on vacation, perhaps we romanticize and glorify landmarks, places, events, and everything in between as much more amazing than they have any right to be. For locals or folks who have lived somewhere for years, maybe they take it for granted or are numb to their surroundings.   They may just be used to it that the excitement wears off, or maybe it was never there.  Maybe it’s just like anywhere else to them.  And to others, it’s just there or it just is.

TeBellaFront

At least on my trip, TeBella was more than just a place.  It was my source of joy, happiness, and a time for solitude and relaxation.  It was so good I went more than once. And in a town where everything is so accessible, so compact, and approachable, I easily could have made another appearance.  And another appearance.

But I’ll start with this one.    And this was my actual first experience in St. Pete, so that is memorable in itself.

TeBellaTea4

This was morning, and while some folks were headed to work, others were likely working outside from the this tea shoppe, or maybe they were on holiday too.  Maybe they were just enjoying life. I say all this because the quiet and serene way of life is not something I’m used to, but I could get used to it real quick.   It wasn’t chaotic, it wasn’t the hustle and bustle you see in many major cities.   This is a city that’s growing but also I sense embraces a small town feeling, small town values, and a genuine sense of community.

My first exposure is how everyone is saying hello.  Random people on the street were just saying hi.  It was beautiful.   The staff inside was great too.  And the gentleman helping me with tea suggestions did it with sincerity and a genuine sense of joy.  He seemed happy to be here, and that’ll rub off on the patrons and those good vibrations had an impact on me the rest of the day.

Of course we’re talking tea.  So with all this build-up, this better be good right?

As you can see I had so many options to choose from.   The canisters behind the counter were a beautiful thing to see.   It’s nice to have choices, but it can be difficult narrowing it done to one.

TeBellaTeaScone

I went with the Tropical Breeze Green Tea.   I figured for where I was, it only seemed appropriate.   The funny thing is, I ordered it hot.   To me it’s not that humorous but I think you know what I’m getting at  It’s early in the morning, some people life their coffee (and I love it too), but I needed something hot.

TeBellaMenu

The weather would dictate something chilled and something iced (and I’ll get to that next week), but I’m not thinking conventionally here.   Green tea is something I prefer warm. I just feel like how one of the greatest teas and greatest beverages in general is better served.

And this was a joy.  The tastes of pineapple, mango, and papaya scream this season.  I mean what else is there to say.

TeBellaTea2

I probably could have ordered just about anything, and I might be saying the same thing. But this was a great tea.  How does it compare to others?  I honestly don’t know.  And it doesn’t matter.  I got myself a seat outside and enjoyed the view, enjoyed the quiet, and enjoyed my life.

TeBellaTea

Whether you’re on vacation or not, a good sip of tea, a nice complementary pastry, and a joyous state is sometimes all you need.   And that lemon thyme scone was the perfect pairing with my tea.

When you’re on holiday, or whatever you prefer to call it, you take pictures.  And a lot of them.  I took some but then I stopped.  It’s about appreciating where you are in fleeting moments.  Because these moments, they come and they go.  But if they’re a memory worth holding on to, it’s going to get better with time.

Yes this is what’s happened here.  I was here less than a month ago but my two visits to TeBella were even more special than I realized.  And all I did was order tea in a town I’ve never been too.  But spiritually there’s something else going on.

I only hope next week I can convey a similar, yet different perspective on the same place, yet a different time, and different dynamic.   Perhaps it won’t be that different at all.

This was beautiful.  And as much as I love the company of good people, the times on my own have give me some of my favorite memories of all.

For more on TeBella click here,  and here’s their link to purchase their massive selections of tea online,  their story, and their contact information.

TeBellaMap

Part 2 Next week.  I’m already feeling nostalgic and looking forward to it.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Carolina Tea Party

ArgoTea6

I’m so out of sorts here.   I honestly forgot it was the 4th of July.  Happy Holidays.

One of the main joys and appreciation feelings I get from doing this is when close friends suggest trying a tea.  There’s a sense of validation, value, and a level of seriousness that people see I give this ongoing story of my love for tea.  It means so much.  I mean that sincerely.

So my friends suggested I try the Carolina Honey from Argo Tea.   I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them or given them much consideration.  Not for many reason in particular.  The bottled and iced tea genre is loaded with options, so there’s some I may never get to in this lifetime.  Well a lifetime is a long time, maybe I have a chance.

I did a little research on Argo beforehand and their story is one to root for.  They’re a proponent on working with local growers, local tea organizations, and use Fair Trade ingredients whenever possible.  This is all the good energies that make me want to sample their teas for a second and third helping, and then some.

ArgoTea2

Unfortunately the Carolina Honey didn’t do anything for me to stand out.  And based on everything I just wrote, that makes me a little disheartened.

Nilgiri black tea, wildflower honey, and a splash of tart lemons sounds like a trio of flavors merging together and bringing you something incredible.  I wish I could say that. The flavors did not wow me like I had hoped.  It seemed lighter and standard at times, while after other sips I felt a few of my sips were a little too sweet for my liking.

How could that be?  The honey is in every bottle, and is going to be spread out evenly in every container, and hopefully with most sips.  Maybe it was the mood I was in.  I went from eager and excited to wondering if my expectations were too high.   When it comes to a tea and a company of this magnitude I feel expectations should be raised.

I actually waited to have this at my same friends’ party this past weekend because I wanted to pair it with some charming foods and be around some equally charming people.  I just wish this tea had done the same for me.

The party was beautiful, but as you can suspect, tea was not the main beverage being served. But for the sake of purity, water and this tea is the only thing I drank.  And the latter I couldn’t finish, and was only taking sparing sips over the course of the day.

I paired my tea with various finger foods; peanuts, pretzels, tiny sandwiches, and the the likes.  The smaller bites worked here.  I wish the tea did the same.  Can you tell I’m slightly despondent?  Yes I am.

But with all this being said, I’m here to support Argo Tea.    Their variety of teas and variety of bottled drinks, and among so many other fun things, is going to make this easy for me to find many things enjoyable.

Here are is their fantastic options for purchasing their tea and tea supplies online, and a link to find of their cafes near you, and finally here is a link to where you can find their bottled teas.

From their list of flavors I sense I’m going to really enjoy and appreciate the craftsmanship, the heart, and soul in many of these bottles.  I look forward to it and I also look forward to trying their loose leaf teas down the line.

I want to thank my friends for opening up a world to me that I otherwise may not have explored anytime soon.   This is the only beginning and I can only see things looking better and brighter.

ArgoTea5

More from Argo is coming.

Happy Holidays, Happy 4th, and all the other good stuff.

Ideen

 

Brew Good, Do Good

BuddyBrewBrownie4

That’s the motto of what is a coffee shop institution in the Tampa, Florida area, Buddy Brew.

BuddyBrewSign

This was my first, and hopefully one of many, visits to this side of the sunshine state.  I literally got to town and my dear friend had a few places we thought we should go.  And Buddy Brew was on the list.  But which location?

BuddyBrewTea2

I honestly don’t remember which of the shoppes we were exactly but I believe this was the third Buddy Brew that we came to and decided this would work.    I honestly was just grateful and happy to be a part of something new and hopefully something special.

BuddyBrewTea2

When you go away, you want to get as much in as possible.  But at the same time you don’t want to go too crazy that you don’t fully appreciate what is going on.

BuddyBrewTea

This was my first tea related experience on my trip, and will be nowhere close to the last. I have so much to write about but I had told myself and my friend that this would be the first and it would be going up today.

BuddyBrewDisplay

Of  course leave it to me for another coffee shop (which does carry their own selections of tea, more on that in a bit) to be my first of many tea experiences, that will hopefully be conveyed properly.  Some are going to be loaded with enthusiasm.  Actually many of them will.

BuddyBrewTea4

So will this one but maybe not at the heightened level it deserves.  I just got here, I have no idea what I’m doing.  But in honor of National Iced Tea Day which was on June 10th, I decided to do one of many belated celebrations here by ordering myself a glass (or plastic to go cup) of Iced Sweet Mango Tea.   Should that all be capitalized?  Well I did it anyways.

BuddyBrewTea5

The tea was sweet, but not overly sweet that it you might think wouldn’t be genuine.   But honestly, I was sweating, I was thirsty, and just about anything within reason would be refreshing.  I also sampled coffee and pastries at a couple of places prior (there’s the part about not doing too much already rearing it’s something head) so maybe my taste buds and mind were all over the place.

BuddyBrewTea7

But in all seriousness I enjoyed this tea.  I tasted enough mango mixed in with black tea that I appreciated this greatly.  It’s hard to truly appreciate and review iced tea though. It’s a different beast then drinking teas hot and fully immersing yourself in all the flavors, the leaves, the dried fruits, and all the scents it has to offer, versus an iced tea which leaves it open to interpretation even more so.

BuddyBrewBrownie3

Or maybe we shouldn’t take it too seriously and enjoy the chilled tea, enjoy the spring, the summer, and the warm weather.

I make it a point on my trips to live in the moment, appreciate life and the surroundings all around me without sharing too much with the rest of the world.  I took pictures yes but then I turned my camera off, and put the phone down to just feel good about where I was.  I had great company, a great iced tea, and was already on a roll and I had just landed.

BuddyBrewBrownie2

The pastry is a gluten free vegan brownie that tasted exactly as advertised.  And in this inviting and welcoming weather, it paired perfectly with my tea.

BuddyBrewBrownie

This is only the beginning though.   My early fandom of Buddy Brew is only just beginning.  I mean look at their logo.  How can you not love that?  Happy looking dogs, cats, and just about any other animal will always win me and many others over.

I didn’t get an additional coffee, but my friend did, and it didn’t stick out with me as anything out of this world.   But I will gladly try another cup again.  This is a tea blog so that isn’t too much of a concern.

BuddyBrewTeas

But what I must do, because I didn’t give myself a chance on this go around, is to sample their own teas, either by ordering online, or by making a return to one of their locations, which I’ll hopefully remember next time.

And of course here is their coffee selection.

I’m just getting warmed up.  I’ve got to come back here and talk about other things.  I’m just excited to recant bits and pieces of my getaway.   I want to profess my love for Buddy Brew because I know there’s so much to love.

But like with any trip, no need to do (or in this case say) everything.  Oh man but I love where this is going.

BuddyBrewBowl

I will be back again…

Ideen

Everyday Can Be Ice Cream Day

HaagenGreenTeaIceCream2

If it were doable I’d have every post be an homage to a holiday, birthday, or some other occasion/event.    I’m gonna change it up again, while still keeping the integrity of the tea discussion intact.

This leads me to the belated celebration of National Ice Cream Day, which was on the 17th. Yes I’m a week or so late.  But as the title says, any day is the perfect day for ice cream. And the title says so, so you must believe it.  That’s a bit of sarcasm for you.

As an added bonus, it’s National Ice Cream Month.  I could go on rambling about how every month can be ice cream… well you get the idea.

HaagenGreenTea

You may have heard of this company, Häagen-Dazs, and they produce said ice cream. Several weeks ago I went searching for their Green Tea flavor at a multitude of grocery stores, to no avail.  What I did find, you can read about here and it was fantastic.  This time I wasn’t even looking and while lumbering along the frozen food aisle, it magically appeared.  Yes I find it magical.

So with all that pedestal raising out of the way, I had high expectations.   I haven’t tried any of their flavors of anything in a couple of years.  It could be more, but it’s never on my radar.  Not for any particular reason, other than I like to support my local ice cream parlors and independent brands, where I can.

And more reviews of some local flavor may be forthcoming.  But I’ll say this, if I did a blind test, I would not guess this is green tea.  It tasted like vanilla with an added dimension of something unknown.   It would take a while to get to Matcha.    So I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy.  Even with this scorching heat and a refreshing treat (hey, that rhymed!) I was dissatisfied.

HaagenGreenTeaIceCreamUpCloseIt’s not terrible, it’s just not as advertised.  The nutrition facts tell a story of high fat, sugars, and green tea listed at the end.  I may be reading way too much into this, but I find that hilarious and ironic.   This is why you shouldn’t always expect the best, even if their reputation speaks for itself.

However, my hope for you is that you enjoy your favorite flavor of ice cream, not just during this month-long event, but all year round.  It pains me to say that while summer accelerates, we still have time to relax outside with our favorite drinks, food, and company to go along with it.

HaagenGreenTeaIceCream

Even if what you might be noshing or sipping on may not be the best, the place you’re in may be able to compensate for that, as was the case for me.

HaagenGreenTeaIceCream3

It’s been feeling and nearing triple digits for the past few days, that may be unbearable for some.  I have found myself wanting to remain inside as well but I will never complain about this heat because before you know it, it’ll be gone.  And I want to enjoy every moment of this season I can.

I’m wishing everyone a happy and healthy next couple of days as we remain near record highs.  Stay safe, stay hydrated, and hope you enjoy some comforting teas and ice cream.

Back to my regularly scheduled posts next week. Maybe 🙂

Stay cool,

Ideen