Brew Good, Do Good

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I will be back again…

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Matcha Tea Party

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Just when I think Trader Joe’s has done it all.  And just when I think Trader Joe’s has exhausted all of their tea options, or maybe I thought I exhausted all of their options, the gems just keep on coming.   I love it and hope it never ends.  TJ’s has been a big part of this blog, and I hope that trend continues with periodic write-ups for a long time to come.

Here is my ever-growing history of Trader Joe’s stories.

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My regular tea adviser suggested I go back and try out their brand new Matcha Green Tea Packets.  They’re new as in released only a couple of weeks ago.  So I feel thrilled to be one of the early guinea pigs (not not really) and one of the first on my block to try out something new, something special, and a different take on the traditional bags and loose leaf variety.

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Matcha is one of my favorite teas to begin with.  It just has this natural and rough (in a good way) taste, that didn’t take long to grow on me.  If you’ve had it then you know what I’m talking about.  It’s distinct, it’s natural, and it’s authentic.  And the aftertaste lingers for a while.  And that’s what you want with a tea and that’s how a tea becomes memorable.

This was memorable.

The trend of pouring powder into a beverage is way past the point of it being a trend.  It’s just become what it is.   But this might be my first time ever having green tea in powder form.  If my memory serves me correct it may be the first time I’ve had any kind of tea in this form.

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On the day I was to try this concoction, the sun was beaming and the weather was just becoming all out gorgeous.    The universe looked out for me and I decided to have a sample of the Matcha Tea in hot and iced form.  It may have been too sooner for the latter but Spring has shown up much earlier in the Maryland area than usual.  No complaints here.

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In heated form this is terrific.  It has the exact taste you’ve come to expect when drinking Matcha.  I’ve never been to Japan and hope to one day, but this is something I can enjoy on a regular basis there or of course at home.  It just feels out of this world and always feels like an honor to try.    The tannin level felt higher than a tea I’m used to.  But that’s Matcha and this is a tea I want to keep getting used to.

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How about that color?  Just the visual of brewing thing was a treat.  This is real.

And when the sun in shining the way it is, and it’s still just a little a chilly enough to truly appreciated a hot tea, this was one of my favorite experiences.  Actually any great tea sipping can be a a favorite experience.  But this was up there.  And then the only ingredient is Matcha Green Tea Powder, you know you’re getting the real deal.

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The iced version is more of a work in progress for me.  That harsh and natural taste (which I only mean in the nicest way) doesn’t translate as well when it’s chilled.  I let my heated tea kettle cool for a while, put in some iced cubes, poured that cooled water, and then my Matcha powder, and stirred it for a while.  Stirring is necessary or the powder will not dissolve properly.  I had a little leftover after my hot cup.

I first tried my chilled version with no sweeteners added and it tasted a little bitter.  This is one that need a little honey or sugar.   I added just a little bit to the former and now we’re getting going.  But for me, this version is more of an acquired taste.  And even in the instructions, mentions pouring it into a water bottle and shaking it until it’s blended, without mention of adding anything sweet. But of course we can create it the way we want it.  I’m a big believe in less is more but adding a little more will go a long way here.

 

The chocolate from Trader Joe’s as well worked perfectly with both teas.  Actually chocolate just works well with everything.  And at my local store they were placed right next to each other.  I don’t think that was an accident.

At $7 this was well worth it, even if there’s only seven packets per case.

I will be having more of this in the future and would love to write about it again if the circumstance, the situation (oh wait that’s the same thing as circumstance), and opportunity to share it with others in a different setting presents itself.

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I highly recommend this and I continue to be impressed with all the great new products Trader Joe’s continues to deliver.  Well done.

Absolutely well done.

 

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