Springtime Feelings In The Middle Of…

WegmansJasmineGlobeTeaDisplay2

So this felt quick.  Well when you do three posts in three days, it feels about right and it fells relative.  But I think I’m just getting started.

After the first two posts (you can find them here and here respectively) from one of my favorite places of all time, Wegmans, (click here to find a store near you).

I’m feeling a tad emotional. Why I don’t know.  I just tend to get emotional.  It’s not like the teas and store is going anywhere. If anything this is only beginning.   I feel like we use that term, ‘it’s only the beginning’, or ‘we’ve only just begun’ a lot, but it’s true.   There’s so much tea and so much time to talk about it.

Absolutely.

The Jasmine Globe Tea is exactly that.  It’s shaped like a globe and during steeping it blooms into a flower.  Well that was the intent.

WegmansJasmineGlobeTeaBeautiful

I just love the look of this tea.  It’s almost too beautiful for it to be brewed.  But then again, I can always save another piece or two to admire.  I mean look at this thing. How this was fused in the way it was is a marvel.  I bet it wasn’t that difficult, but I like to think this was done with such precision to get every herb, flower, spice, and everything else to look like perfection.

It smelled like perfection.  However, during infusing it didn’t quite break up to be like the flower it was meant to be.  I tried with and without the infuser.  Maybe it was me, maybe the water wasn’t hot enough, or maybe it was something else.

WegmansJasmineGlobeTeaDisplay3

But the smell of jasmine takes me back to my childhood.  I just recall it being in parts of potpourri, air fresheners, and even parts of various foods my parents could cook up.  It’s those scents that remind me of you holidays and celebrations past.  It’s not always the best of memories, but this one reminds me of many other people, not just relatives, going back in time.   I’m sure you have familiar scents and tastes that remind you of something from growing up, or maybe even more recently.  That’s my take on it, and this tends to manifest itself more so this time of year.

WegmansJasmineGlobeTeaDisplay

The taste was not at profound as the aroma, but it was just right.  Too much jasmine might not work on the mouth at times.  This was meant to be exactly how it was intended.  I celebrate that spring time feeling with one of my favorite cups and we segue and tease future holiday celebrations with some more of my favorite decor, and some pumpkin spice oatmeal.

WegmansApplePieChaiDisplay5

One of my most favorite birthday presents ever, the beautiful black labrador retriever plate, is back for an encore.  It should be part of the main set and every encore!

WegmansApplePieChaiDisplay6

Last and certainly not the last (for now), is the Apple Pie Chai Rooibos.  Try saying that a few times without messing that up!

WegmansApplePieChaiBag

This was the only tea that listed the ingredients on the bag.   Did every other tea have nothing except what was in the tea itself?   I still enjoy the vague, wine like descriptions of these teas, and will always find unintentional humor in them.

There’s ways to describe tea and then there’s ways to describe tea.

The Apple Pie might have had my favorite tint after completion.  It looks more orange but that’s due in part to orange peel and orange lemongrass.   The inclusion of apple pieces, cinnamon and hibiscus flowers make this the happiest of teas for the season.

WegmansApplePieChaiDisplay

I love this one so much.

WegmansApplePieChaiDisplay2

I didn’t have any apple pie but some apple cider and pumpkin pretzels is just as viable as an alternative.   There will be more mentions of apple cider and similar teas as we progress.

WegmansApplePieChaiDisplay3

But right now there’s still plenty of time to celebrate autumn, November, Thanksgiving, and all the good that comes with it.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and the celebrations that will ensue makes me warm inside.  It gives me butterflies and makes me thankful for good family, good friends, and good health.

WegmansApplePieChaiDisplay4

I hope you enjoyed this trilogy.  This is it for now.   But there’s so much time for me to seek out some more approachable and welcoming holiday teas.  The traditional weekly post will be back, but not just yet.

I got a few more things in mind starting this weekend, into next week, and leading in to the big day.

I wish you good health and a happy holiday season.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Always Go With Your…

HexFerments2

I hadn’t even thought to do a post related to Earth Day.  This may or may not be it.  But I’m going to go with it.  There’s so much good to write about HEX Ferments that I didn’t know where to begin.  But I did go with my gut (hmm…) in more ways than one and the results were glorious, beauteous, and illustrious.

Whenever I have the opportunity to talk about a local business, it’s a blessing, it’s a joy, and it’s a one of the main reasons I do what I do.  I love local and to me it’s the soul, the conscience, and backbone of society.  It’s truly of the most authentic things we have in a world that may be running out of that authenticity.

HexCounter

So another couple of visits to Belvedere Square Market, where HEX is located, left me never any doubt I was going to try their Kombucha and try I did.

I ask myself this question after having something so amazing.  Why did it take me so long?  Well there’s no answers.  There’s so many uncovered gems in the world of tea, and the world of anything for that matter, that I haven’t tried them all.  But that’s the joy of the journey.

HexFerments

No I didn’t try all their Kombucha’s, but I did get to have two.  Yes, the two pictured above.  And these two are something I’m going to savor for a long time.  And even for the short time as they’re both still sitting in the refrigerator staying fresh because that’s how Kombucha works.

Fortunately, I had a friend for the first visit to help with suggestions on what to try.  We had different ideas which led me to wanting to have what they had the second time.  And that’s exactly what happened.

HexBasilDisplay

First, the Basil Jasmine.  This was a seasonal item that is no longer well, in season.  But I still have some.  And even though it’s a little bit past best by drinking date, it’s still magnificent.  And it’s the one that’s easier to savor and drink slower.  Because of that, I gave this the wine treatment.  Yes that’s right.   The bottles by the way are $15, yet $5 of that is refundable if you bring it back.  And yes that goes towards another Kombucha. This is beautiful stuff I know.  And that’s the stuff of Earth Day lore and living that I love so much.  And speaking of beautiful, yes this Basil Jasmine is giving me goose bumps as I write about it.

HexBasilDisplay2

That golden honey color is mesmerizing.

HexBasilGlass

I can’t put into words how amazing this is.  I said ‘is’ because I want hold on to this as long as I can.  I don’t know when it’s coming back.  Well yeah I did, most likely next Spring.  This is no sipping tea.  It’s something to take your time with.  Is it the honey, the basil, the Kombucha Culture, or the cane sugar.  I just reeled off everything.  It might be all of the above.  But all of the above is absolutely awesome.   I just wish it was still available for you to try.

HexButterfly3

Now comes the Butterfly Lime, which is always available.    This one, which is easier drink quickly, is wonderful as well.  For simply savoring reasons I’d give the edge to the Basil Jasmine, but this no knock on the Butterfly Lime.  I mean look at the purple?  This looks picturesque in any setting.  How did they make this look so good?  This is art, and it’s art to drink.   The butterfly pea flower tea and lime juice combination makes the perfect sense, yet I don’t know how it does.  And maybe I don’t need to know.  This one is always available yet I still have mine to savor and drink over time.  Honestly, I’m craving both right now.  They’re so close yet so far.   My mouth is watering.

One detail I must mention with both of these bottles is when you first unseal them, there is a fog or a steam that emanates upon first opening.  To me, this is even more exciting than popping open a bottle of champagne.  And I tried my best to capture a picture of this.  Maybe it’s the kombucha culture?  Maybe it’s the all natural ingredients opening up in celebratory fashion?  Yay nevertheless.

HexButterflyOpen

If you live in and around Baltimore, I highly suggest coming to Belvedere Square Market (here is another post I made from this heralded market) to find HEX Ferments easily visible in the right in the middle of the market, nestled in the back.  It’s worth what may seem like a hefty cost.  But it’s really not.   And you can get a class of any of their goods for $6.  Oh and they have other goods!

HexButterfly2

If you’re interested in finding them elsewhere, this link might be a friend to you.

For anyone with digestive issues these beverages are also a friend.

And here’s there list of Frequently Asked Questions you might have.   And finally here is their contact information.

This is only the beginning.  I need to come back here and soon.  HEX deserves all the praise in the world you can heap or anyone or anything.  I sincerely mean that.

Let’s do it again soon.  It’s Spring, so soon is highly possible.

Best,

Ideen

Another New Years Special

SadafTea1

Well actually this takes us back to August and a family party I’ve written about before.  However, sometimes it’s always good to save some for the most appropriate of times, seasons, and situations.

SadafTeaPastries3

Like I was saying last week sharing a joyous experience that revolves around your favorite people, favorite sites, foods, and for this so go around, tea, is what this life is all about.  It can’t always be articulated or quantified in words.   Nor should it always be. Those amazing memories are sometimes meant to be retained internally and with the people you love.  You know what though, sometimes internal is enough.   I hope that makes sense.

SadafTea2

Taking photographs is so important to these memories too.  I had to go back into the archives to restore these pictures, and then ask my cousin how this amazing tea was concocted.    The tea was an Earl Grey masterpiece from Sadaf.

No photos were taken of the pre steeping or the packaging in general.  This is all information I needed to dig back in the archives of my brain and through asking extra questions.  And come to think of it, I’ve been enjoying this beautiful tea pre or post-dinner on many occasions.  It’s not something I take for granted.

And I think the pictures of the tea themselves can do the talking.

This isn’t just Earl Grey tea.  Real jasmine was added to give that extra kick that made an already delightful tea all the more delightful.

SadafTeaPastries

I miss this tea.  I miss how it was created and I miss the company that partook in the tea drinking.  For some it’s a tea with close friends and family.  For me it’s something so meaningful and sentimental to me.

PersianPastries2

And how can you not like a little sweet pastry to go with that tea.  My family is always going above and beyond with the sharing of food and drink.  And everyone brings something to share which only makes this experience of community and family all the more spiritually magnificent.

PersianPastries3

What this has also done is inspired me to try to add some unique flavors to a black or Earl Grey tea if the inspiration comes to me.  I’ve always been so simple when it comes to that.  I like my tea with nothing to little added as possible.  And it’s usually the former.

SadafTeaPastries2

I appreciate how the entire time I’ve been drinking this tea it included the added jasmine and I had no idea.   That’s a credit to the tea, my cousin, and also shows that we don’t get every flavor and scent right away.  And that’s definitely ok.

SadafTeaPastries5

As I write this it’s making me miss these fun times.   I know we all can be so busy with our lives, and sometimes that includes meeting all kinds of (hopefully) wonderful people. What I’ve found out is I’m meeting lots of great people that wanting to spread that mutual love can become difficult.  It’s a good problem to have.  And you can never have enough great family and friends in your life.

I need to tell myself to spend more time with family and close friends, because it honestly it can never be enough.   If you’re sharing an amazing cup of tea and a delicious treat to go with it, everything becomes that much more indelible.

So if you have a tea you like and are thinking of adding jasmine or something else you might be inspired to include, I say go for it.   I will be hoping to do the same.

And I will be hoping for more amazing times with amazing people soon.

For more on Sadaf and to purchase online, click here.  Otherwise there’s a reasonable chance you might be able to find it at your local Iranian or Middle Eastern Market.  Here is their contact information.

This will not be the last time I write about them.

SadafTea1

Love,

Ideen

 

Jasmine Pearls

vin909tea4

You sometimes don’t know where the best teas will come from.   I could go on some long winded rant about how the best teas could be loose, or in bags, or from other source.  And I might also say the best of the best may find you.   When you aren’t looking it just comes your way.  I’ve gone on and on about the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of tea drinking.  It’s a subconscious and conscious experience all at the same time.

The team I’m going to write about here is from a company I’ve never heard of, and it was sipped at a place I’ve never been to before, and in a place I would least expect.   Actually it wouldn’t be near the last place I’d expect, but it’s fun to say that for dramatic purposes. But it was at a place where it only seems fitting.

vin909tea7

I’m happy to say that the Haiku White Tea from The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company is one of those teas I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

vin909tea9

What makes this even all the more special is this was after appetizers, after wine, and after a fantastic dinner at Vin 909 in gorgeous Annapolis, MD.  And this location is as cozy, charming, and welcoming as it gets.  But more on this awesome restaurant later in the week.

vin909tea11

But this tea oh my goodness.  Maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the ambiance, the location, the meal, the energy, and the everything.  It doesn’t matter.  Good tea is good tea and great tea is even better.  This was on another level.

vin909tea6

I don’t talk about white tea enough.  I’m grateful I got to write about a expertly crafted one here. The white with natural peach, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean flavors makes this a unique medley of flavors that I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of having altogether before. Throw in orange peel and rose hips (which I couldn’t taste since I was mesmerized by everything else) and this is a tea I strongly recommend, but only wish was available at a store near me.

The good news is you can purchase this tea among so many selections online.

vin909tea10

To me, this tea is a throwback to so many I’ve had in the past.  It felt like a culmination of something.  No, not the culmination, or else that’s even more over-the-top, and I’m just getting warmed up.

The majority of restaurants we go to do have tea. But not like this.  And the tea offerings are usually along the lines of the most standard label, which usually means a black tea, and anything but herbal.  And there’s nothing right or wrong about that.   Higher end (which is what I consider Vin 909 to be) restaurants don’t (and for good reason) consider their after dinner menus as well thought out as I’ve seen Vin 909’s.    And this is part of what I forgot to mention earlier.

vin909tea1

You usually get this presentation at tea shops and cafes, so this gave me that warm and happy feeling.  Anytime I see a teapot with infuser, I’m super excited.  Yet, I try to keep that enthusiasm to myself or I may be asked to leave the premises.

vin909dessert2

The tea paired with a heavily rich Chocolate pot de creme.  It was comfort food for a time of comfort.  It’s January, we’re still in a bit of the holiday hangover.  This is the time to be practicing healthy eating and drinking habits.  Apparently this was the last thing on my mind.

For more on the wine pictured below, click here.

vin909tea5

The dessert was an interesting counterbalance to the tea.  I split it with company, and still could barely eat any.  But the joyous tea was one I was thrilled to split 50/50.

vin909teapot

I’m craving a pot all to myself right about now.    But I would be a fool to say that everything else leading up to this was tremendous, that it made the after dinner experience that much better.

Where is this going?  I go to a farm-to-table restaurant/wine bar and all I write about is the tea?   I keep my universes separate, but this will all make sense as the week progresses.

In all honesty, depending on where the next posts go, the tea one might have been the easiest or most difficult to right.  How about that for a bold prediction?

If you are in or around the Annapolis area, I cannot recommend Vin 909 enough.

vin909teadessertmenu

Here is their menu, their wines (more on this this later this week), and a little more about them.

I was happy to learn that owner and general manager, Alex Manfredonia is a big supporter of my dear friend’s organization, Anne Arundel County CASA.

It makes me happy to support a great restaurant that supports a greater cause.

This will all be elaborated on later.

For more on the incredible and incomparable Jasmine Pearl Tea Company, click here, more about them, their story, and of course where to buy.

It’s a Vin 909 kind of week.

vin909front

To be continued…

Ideen

One More For Philadelphia

raysdisplay1

That title sounded open-ended enough, that there will be more from just one of my favorite cities.   So tis the season for fun, for friendship, friends (wait what), family, food, and frenzy!

And there’s always room for tea.  Because tea encompasses everything I stated above, and so much more.

Several months back, I went on a tea shopping spree in Philadelphia (you can read about them here and here) and the experiences were awesome overall.   And I saved a few gems for later.  When I was going to get to them all depended on timing, whether the content was relevant, and how the holidays would influence my posts.

rayscafefront

However, if I waited too long, my visit to Ray’s Cafe & Tea House in Chinatown may feel more like a footnote than a proper review of a charming experience.

There’s no thrills to this place.  If you look on the outside, one might presume exactly that. And that’s a good thing.  Many of the businesses in the neighborhood follow the same pattern on the outside and from within.

The interior had a standard counter for ordering, with all the teas on display in the back, and just a few tables for sitting.  It felt cozy enough to feel like I was in a friends’ living room, without feeling too cramped.  My initial thought was the tables were bunched up together.  No, it was just right.

But I came for tea, not for critiquing the showroom.

I love my seasonal teas this time of year.  Actually I love ’em any time of year.  I equivocate that too the Soup of the Day or the daily special at my favorite restaurant.  It can be an exciting surprise, and a change of pace versus ordering off the menu.

raysteas

Much to my hilarious surprise the seasonal Green Tea I went with tasted a bit too familiar. Where have I tasted this before?  Could it be that’s it actually the tea listed below, the Jasmine Green?   I can trick my mind into otherwise, but the taste is too overpowering too ignore.

raysdisplay5

No I’m not complaining.  The tea was wonderful.   The pot and overall display was overall magnifique.  And what is seasonal to you and me, might be seasonal to someone else.  Maybe I ordered the Jasmine and not realized.  Maybe their seasonal tea is a play on that too.  Maybe they were making fun of me.   I would be too. The manager saw me taking photos.  I was in awe of this set-up.  Many have been posted for your viewing pleasure

raysdisplay3

And how can anyone complain about getting a free cookie?  That’s a holiday special in and of itself

raysdisplay2

The tea was divine.  The energy inside was divine. The tea never stood a chance.  I sipped it in proper time.  After I did my photos, I enjoyed myself for a long while.  I was in my zen pose.  No, I actually wan’t posing.  I was just at peace.

I did this place.  I will be back and maybe order something off of their extensive menu.  But for now, I’ll savor this experience.

raysdisplay4

If you’re in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia, give them a visit. It’s a tranquil experience in a city that doesn’t always attract that kind of calming.

This was the perfect segue into the holidays.  I look forward to what December will bring. But I truly appreciate Ray’s for what it was. It’s simple, soothing, and the tea was sensational.  If you find a better synonym (oops) that starts with ‘s”,  I’ll change it.

More alliteration and awesome (ha) tea reviews to come.

Happy Holiday Season,

Ideen

Enjoying the View

I visited New Orleans recently and of course I’m going to seek out places to drink tea.  Now if you’re reading this, and you live in this beautiful city, or have visited, you may think there’s some obvious choices.   Well I’m not always about the obvious.

P&GDoor

After a gorgeous day of sightseeing and wandering, I come upon a charming coffee shop, Pulp & Grind.    How I ended up in the Warehouse District, I don’t know.  But that’s the fun of visiting a city with little to no planning.  I discovered a gem of a spot.

Of course I was in the mood for tea.  There’s never a bad time for a cup.  And it was a bit humid out, so a little refresher was in order.

Since I’d never been there before, I took a little more time perusing their menu items on the big board.  I’ve had Wheatgrass shots before and getting one here was the perfect way to rejuvenate me and get my day doing again.  I wish I had taken a picture.

In researching their shop, I see they’ve only been open a few months.   They had some fruit and pastries on display, but I didn’t have the biggest appetite.

I was in New Orleans and all I’ve been doing is eating some amazing dishes.  So all I could take was a piece of small chocolate at the register with my cup.

PulpDailyDose

So I got the White Jasmine.  I’m going to believe it’s either a tea that is sent to them or from some magical place.  Well I’d really like to believe the latter.   The city itself is magical and full of a unique energy I have never felt before.

PulpTeaUpClose

The tea was just fine.  It wasn’t anything special or blew me away.  But for where I was, I didn’t care.  I sat and enjoyed my snack and hot cup, and enjoyed the view outside.  I wasn’t in the touristy part, near Bourbon or Frenchmen Street.  That would take place before and after this tea break.     But aside from these few photos, I just sat and admired the scenery for at least a good 30 minutes.

PulpOutsideViewOutside

The tea soothed me, the view outside soothed me, and  being in a vibrant and amazing city soothed me.

P&G

I will add the staff and locals inside were very nice, all smiled, and said hello.  It’s not something I’m used to.  I’m usually very friendly but it’s not always reciprocated.   A friendly response make everything look, taste, smell, and feel better.

And I felt so good.

All The Best,

Ideen

Grateful For This Gift

WMTeaHappySetUp

WMTeaPotPrePrep

I was fortunate to receive another great birthday present from friends last week.  And I have been waiting to put this to use. I am ecstatic.  I’m in love with this thing.

The Red Cast Iron Teapot Set from World Market is a joy to have and to use!

It makes me feel good that my friends appreciate my love for tea, and many share that same love for it as well.   And in that same vein, it’s a vote of support and confidence for my blog as well.

Included in the opening picture is the teapot, strainer (inside the pot), trivet, two cups, and a sample of their own Green Jasmine Tea.

This thing is a beauty and I am going to make good use of it.  So this will now be another staple of the blog.   And I’m elated.

I think it’s human nature that whenever you receive something new, as in a gift or anything, that you want to learn and read all about it right away. I’ve been guilty of that many times.  And I end up becoming frustrated and forcing the issue.  In this instance, I want to learn about this organically and naturally. Hopefully just like their teas are.

WMGreenJasmine

The tea was a very simple, yet very good one. I’ve had others with more flavor and potency to it.  But that isn’t to say this tea is a pushover.  It was so easy drink and a great introduction to using my awesome new tea setup!

In my usual exciting fashion, there will be a lot of photos.  The creation process is always so fun.  I find it just as enjoyable as the final process of sipping the cup itself.

The tea leaves themselves smelled great and looked beautiful when I grabbed a spoonful. Again, this wasn’t any fancy or avante-garde tea.  It was a great as a sample pack. I kept it simple and didn’t add anything to it.

So here is the inspirational brewing process in pictures :

WMCastIronPotSoloWMTeaPotOpenedTeaWMTeaPotSpoonfullWMTeaPreWaterWMTeaWaterWMTeaPotClosedWMTeaInCups

I’ve been into dry fruits lately.  And I delighted in my mini cups with some dried mango slices.

WMTeaPotWithMangoSlicesWMTeaPotMoreMango

I made an interesting discovery.  The cups may have an insulation that cools down the water rather quickly.  So if you find your water too hot, wait a few minutes.  I literally was away from it for less than five, and it tasted lukewarm.  Which is just fine.  I found it quite hilarious. I know that wasn’t the intention, but it made me laugh.  Oh the little things…

More to come with this gem of a present.

Best,

Ideen