I Felt Transformed, Transported…

SPORTeaOutside

Some time ago, I had stumbled upon SPORTea at one of my favorite places, Baltimore Cofee and Tea Company, and it was on a display table along with many other teas to select for your brewing and steeping enjoyment.

It just didn’t feel right at the time.  Sometimes it just doesn’t.  It didn’t stand out to me.  I drank it hot.  It literally felt like a tea that was just there to me.  I ordered it, I drank it, and then I left.  Maybe it felt forced.  If it sounds like I’m talking badly about it, I don’t mean to.  There’s a reason I never felt compelled to write about it.  I have so many teas like this on backlog, and these stories will sadly (or not) never see the light of day.

But then something magical happened…

BaltimoreCoffeeTea

A couple of weeks back I stopped in at Baltimore Coffee and Tea’s newest location, at the Annapolis Towne Center, I already knew I was going to walk into something special.

I could tell from the outside looking in that this has that place to be kind of vibe.  And I don’t mean in a pretentious sense.  I mean in a place to feel like you’re in your world world, or your own universe, but still feel same to be near your home or loved ones.

In typical fashion, I stopped in alone and already felt at peace about things.  It’s all your perception, and I could have felt like I was just there or in a funk, like I was in a previous visit I alluded to, but I felt good.  The gentleman at the counter literally read my mind.  I asked for an iced tea recommendation and without any hesitation, he said SPORTea.

There was a blast from the past and a flashback but right away.  I had heard that name from somewhere, but it didn’t register right away.

All you need to know about SPORTea can be found here & here.  I’ve done my job and now I’ll just tell you how great this tea is.  The dichotomy is like night and day.  This is meant to drank iced.

I don’t think words can describe how healing and uplifting this drink is.  It hit the spot on so many levels, and I don’t have the words for that either.   Being in a good mood and in a good place helps.

BaltimoreCoffeeTeaTheTeas

I started off admiring the inside, but a drink like this and a place like this screams sitting in the courtyard that faces the Towne Center and the rest of the world.  But inside I felt safe, I felt protected, and I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  I’ve often said this in previous stories, but it’s true.

SPORTeaOutside

The skies and the sun were looking picturesque, and it was a perfect day for doing nothing or anything you want.  That can apply to just about any day if you think about it, or better of not.  This felt like a go with your own flow kind of day, and I’m grateful I ended up here.

Baltimore Coffee & Tea has always displayed the best, brightest, and most inspiring stories to me, for not just tea, but life life in general (previous visits from all around the area can be found here) and for this to be in Annapolis (My past Annapolis memories for your viewing pleasure are right here) makes it that much sweeter.

SPORTeaWithCake

Speaking of sweet, I can’t help myself but include a sweet treat with my teas, but SPORTea can be enjoyed alone or with anything you want.

SPORTea4

I’ve yet to see SPORTea outside of Baltimore Coffee & Tea but this link to shop online seems like a good start.

I hope you have a great one and as always, peace be with you…

Love,

Ideen

 

The Heart of Annapolis

BerryBerry1

There’s this calming feeling when you go back to a place for a second time, especially since it’s been nearly two years since the prior visit.  Bean Rush Cafe has the coziness of Annapolis tucked away in an even more quaint and peaceful part of town, if that’ even possible.

BeanRushCafe

My continuously growing history of a place I love so much can be found here.

Yes, there’s always happiness layered upon happiness if you know where to look, or maybe not look so hard.  It’ll just come to you.  I think I wrote about a similar experience here back in August of 2016. It sounds dream like when I say it like that.  It does feel like two years ago, but then again where did two years go?

BeanRushCafeSign

Two years and many visits to one of my favorite towns in between compelled me to come back to one of the more charming and welcoming coffee shops (here is more about them and their contact information) I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming to.

It’s July, it’s summer, and it’s one of those be careful what you wish for deals.  While it’s gotten uncomfortably hot for many, in many ways we’ll miss this when it gets colder.  I’ve never been one to complain about the heat.  I love this weather, and I stay hydrated, stay safe, and stay spiritually whole.   It’s easy to do.

BerryBerry2

Iced tea is the only thing on my agenda at this and will be for a while.   Per recommendations from one of the friendliest faces and voices behind the counter, I went with the Berry Berry Iced Tea and a Raspberry pastry.   Why pastry?  Why not?

They complemented each other well, and I’m all for a lovely display.  The colors and tones fit the summer.  So do so many, and many other themes will be coming in the next few weeks, if not sooner.

BerryBerry4

This tea is fun.  Where have I heard that before?  I found a spot on the porch, which felt familiar and divine, well yeah, I sat here two years ago.  It’s not that mysterious and surrealisitic, but it’s still fun to me over-the-top dramatic.

I love this place so much.  I felt like I was at a friend or family’s house, and even felt more comfortable than that.

BerryBerryIcedTea

People were saying hello to one another, holding doors, and there was lots of smiling.  This made me so happy.  Where am I?  I’m in the most peaceful and serene place I’ve been in some time.

BerryBerryPastry2

The flowers in the vicinity, the refreshing tea, and harmonious surroundings makes me feel nostalgic, relieved, and wanting more of this.  I love more of this and I love Annapolis so much.

I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to move, so I didn’t.  I sat there for a while and just breathed some fresh air, soaked up the most beautiful and brightest rays of sunshine, and just appreciated being.  This is where the phone and camera was turned off.

BerryBerryPastry3

For a few moments I was the only person on Earth, and that’s a feeling I sense will be coming back in symbolic and necessary doses, when the timing is right.  Certain spirits will throw in reminders when they feel it’s right.

BerryBerry4

A place that has been so good to me for such a long time, is going to get a lot of love and support from me over the next few weeks, if not more.   There’s so much to celebrate, and while the wording and themes may be similar, the stories will all have a touch something new.   It’s all relative, it’s all constant, but it’s all love.

My heart will always be with Annapolis.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

Add To Wishlist

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplayWithDog

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplayWithDog2

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplay2

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

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

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

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconut

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

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

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutSachet

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutUpClose

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

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplay

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

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

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

HarneyGreenTeaCoconutDisplayWithDog3

This is a tea for now, and for….

Blessings to you..

Ideen

Love That Blue!

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaDisplay

The Spice & Tea Exchange continues their run of making amazing teas, limited time or not.  I mean you’ve got to be kidding me.  I mean we throw terms around a lot; calling things incredible, legendary, iconic, that we maybe shouldn’t.   Where am I going with this?  I don’t know.   But I would say at least one of the teas I’m going to discuss fits the mold of awesome.

This almost didn’t happen either.  Every tea, every discussion, and just about anything for that matter, can have a a backstory, if you allow there to be one, or if you pay attention.  I’m all for things just being or to ‘just be’, but not today, maybe next time.

I always look forward to a new season, which usually means the Spice & Tea Exchange is going present to us their Limited Time Offer Teas.  And is just out of this world, and out of this stratosphere, literally.

I know I don’t get to the point right away.  And that happens a lot.  But as I say that, I will attempt to shortly.  A serendipitous return to their Annapolis location, meant good times, good vibrations, and hopefully a discovery of their seasonal teas.

And I got ’em down to the wire.

Spice&TeaExchangeSpringTeaDisplay

I was told that they were down to what was left on display, and they had only had them for a short while.   Maybe I lost track of time, not realizing that they’re already in preparation for their summer teas.  I know Summer sounds great.  Everything about it is great.

But first things first.  And yet I completely understand…

AuroraBlueHerbalTea

The Aurora Blue Herbal Tea is one of the cosmos.  Yes I said that on purpose.  After seeing it, smelling it, and staring in awe, I wanted to love this that much more.  And this is way before prepping, steeping, and infusing.  I wanted magic, and I got magic.

And with this new Stainless Steel Tea Mug Infuser I purchased, everything fell into place, just like it was always going to.

The ingredients are presented to you up above, and here,  so I don’t need to elaborate too much.  However, what can be said about this color?  Even when I originally got a smell of it at the store, I sensed something incredible was going to come of this.

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaOpen

That’s what I’m talking about.

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaInfuse

The fact that there’s a tea that can mimic the colors of the Aurora Borealis, is stunning on so many levels.  It’s hard to comprehend and fathom, but then it doesn’t see, crazy.   We’ve seen amazing teas, amazing things in general, amazing anything that we throw out that word ‘amazing’, that it loses it’s value and shine.  But this is magic, and yes it’s amazing.

The transformation while infusing in the tea mug is magical.

AuroraBlueHerbalTeaReady

The love is blue, and the love is golden.  Holy moly seriously, who came up with this?  Am I overrating this?  I don’t think that can be applied here.  This is five stars and then some.  Who knew butterfly pea flowers would be the reason for all this.  I would be lying to you if I told you I knew what those were before last week, but be that as it may, I’m not giving this tea enough credit.

My words won’t be enough.  The citrus and ginger are understated yet there that it makes this blue concoction that is one to worship, that will resonate, and will make you coming back for more.  Hurry before its gone.  I should’ve bought more than I did.

So how does the Lemon Drop Mate Tea follow up?  It’s almost not fair, as it’s put in the  come down position.  I went by what I saw first, purchased first, and in a nerdy sense, alphabetical order.  So fun and funny I know.

LemonDropMateTea

When I got my first scent, it was candy, more akin to a lemon Jolly Rancher, so that was exciting.  My next sentiments were this would be just as good cold, as hot.  And I was right.  And while it’s not quite on the level of the Aurora, this has its own charm, its own identity, and a beautiful yellow tint that will leave its own lasting impression on you, if you let it.

If the Aurora is five stars or ten out of ten, the Lemon Drop is no worse than a 9 or a 9.5.  The combination of green tea, Matcha, and Yerba mate (which all make me happy) with a understated amount of lemon, is a a dream sequence.   My own worry was the lemon I smelled before steeping, would be too much in taste, but it was the complete opposite.  Everything became absorbed and one with my cup, and with myself.

What else needs to be said?

LemonDropMateTeaDisplay1

These are both fantastic teas, and I’m so grateful that I got the chance, at almost the eleventh hour, to try them.

Spice & Tea has been so good to me, as you can see my my past write ups of them here. and I’m fortunate to be a part of something so wonderful for several years now.  I only hope it continues.

For more on The Spice & Tea Exchange, here are their teas, which are available for purchase online; their growing list of store locations, and their contact information.

More is coming.  It’s always coming.  But for now…

I wish you a Happy Holiday weekend, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

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