Feeling A Little…

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When it’s this cold here in the Baltimore and DC area, it can be a challenge looking at the glass half full.   It can be a time of hibernation, which is good or bad depending on how you look at things.  I’m all for peace at any time of year.  I’m all for a good cup of tea and some good conversation any time of year.  I’m all for anything that’s genuine, any time, any place, and anywhere.

But sometimes you appreciate a little solitude and with our busy schedules it may be few and far between.   However, with anything in life, if you want to make time for the ones you care about you will.  And that includes the one you need to look out for the most, yourself.  That’s not a selfish statement whatsoever.  It’s one of where if you can take of yourself, then you take care of others and look out for the ones you care for the most.  That’s anything but selfish.  It’s the most selfless thing there is.

This is why, back in November, I took some time much needed and in the place I was in, some desperately needed time for myself.  Exploring charming towns, seeing new sights, and appreciating the universe around you is what makes this life so glorious, even if it’s a short drive away.

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Caffe Amouri of Vienna, VA fits the bill of something different and a place where it seems like community is a way of life.  It’s in the historic part of town where upon inspection seems to be a lot smaller than it once was.  I could be completely wrong but it’s an observation based on other small towns I’ve encountered in my journey, not just for my love of tea but for everything.

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The decor with musicians past and present is a great touch.

Leave it to me to always want to drink tea in a coffee shop. A few close friends tease me for that, but all in good fun.  I love a good coffee, but that story can be reserved for another time and maybe another blog.  Maybe.

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For all the vibe of the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area being a bit stuffy, I didn’t get that here.  It’s all our perception and how we tend to view things, but I saw something beautiful.  And I can’t put my finger on it nor do I need to exactly.  Maybe as I keep writing it’ll come, but it doesn’t have to.

If I remember correctly, I actually had my sights set on a cup of coffee, but when I saw their collection of tea, I had to go in that direction.  How often am I here, and when would I actually be back?  So it’s funny that the tea that caught my eye was the Bourbon Street Vanilla.

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Where it came from I have no idea, but maybe this link or this one will help, if you would like to purchase some yourself.

You see, I went to New Orleans in the summer of 2015 and that vacation still has a profound effect on me to this day.  It was life altering that I’m still trying to come to terms with.  And by me writing this out, I still haven’t and maybe I’m not meant to, or maybe I’m afraid to.  Nevertheless, it was amazing.  But it’s not as if Bourbon Street itself was the highlight of the trip.  It actually wasn’t even near the top.  But when I find a tea that reminds me of something beautiful, because of the name or a picture, drawing, or something else symbolic, I have to try it for myself.

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The tea itself is fantastic.  I’ve said over the course of this blog that Rooibos teas have been such a joy to me, and if it wasn’t for these stories who knows if I would be such a fan.  It’s the discoveries I’ve made and the new things I’m learning about myself and my surroundings that have helped me grow, even if it’s been a slow process.

The almond pieces and vanilla flavor really made this tea a pre holiday treat.  And it’s perfect for these cold weather months and times ahead.  So there’s the half full part.  I was also in a place of peace and tranquility where I was able to relax, without a worry or care in the world.  Now that last part is temporary.  I do worry and I do care, maybe too much.  But at least for these few minutes, I was in an unfamiliar place, yet it felt like home.

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Home is wherever you want it to be.   Now I have some things to thing about…

For more on Caffe Amouri, here is their selection of coffees and teas (including the aforementioned Bourbon Street Vanilla) to purchase online, and contact information.

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

Walking In A Winter Wake Up Tea

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I honestly thought I went through so many of the teas at Trader Joe’s, that I thought it would be a while till I got around to talking about one of my favorite stores in any capacity.   My fear is that this would go past the holidays and they would be left out in the cold.

Not a chance.  And there’s no need to worry.  Everything is going to be alright.  After all it’s the holidays.  This is where magic, hope, joy, peace, prosperity, and a universal feeling of love means the best of what’s around.  Yes I did just quote someone.

Here’s my Trader Joe’s history lesson.

Maybe a break was needed.  There’s so many teas from so many companies I’ve yet to get around to.  I may never get around too.  I have my favorites, I have my sentiments, and I have a soft spot for traditions and celebrations around this time of year.  Sometimes I share tea with the ones I love.  For this one, I went at it alone.   Well there were plenty of props and snacks too.

These two debuting teas are the Apple Cranberry and the Winter Wake Up.

But with the holidays that also means loads of sweet treats, unhealthy eats, and hopefully no feelings of guilt.

You will see some of the sweet treats I purchased pictured below.  Not all of them were used with these teas, and they may be used at a later time.  I just wanted to share with a little sampling of how creative and charming the flavors of the season can truly be.

In honor of the full moon that was this past weekend, I will be working backwards, but not really, as it only makes sense.   I think (no I know) the full moon had me going a little cuckoo as well.

First is the Apple Cranberry.  What stands out is that this is not actually tea.  The description even says so.  Yet it’s all natural and full of such life.  It tastes like hot autumn, but I think this would work chilled, and if you felt the need to add a little libation to it, that would work too.  But I didn’t tell you to do that.

No tea leaves are used, so there is no caffeine.  It’s the perfect drink to relax with and maybe even ease you into a lovely nap or deep sleep.  I feel quite comfortable as I write about this now.  Not quite tired but peaceful just the same.    The combinations of apples and cranberry stand out to make this a winner.  Throw in a little cinnamon and this screams autumn, the holidays, and all is right with the world.

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Well at least in the world of tea, this is the best non tea I’ve ever had.  It might be the only non-tea, tea, I’ve ever had but that’s besides the point.  As of this past weekend I saw this at my local Trader Joe’s, but it seems to headed towards clearance if not already.  So get on it if you have a chance.

The chocolate stars are a perfect complement to your home, and for any gathering.  Mine were simply for display.  Well maybe I had one or two, oops.

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And yes this display you might as well call Christmas Commotion!

The Winter Wake Up tastes and feels like breakfast, but could be had any time.  I’d be lying if I said I had it in the morning.  But it tasted good just the same.  Yes this is more in line of your traditional black teas with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, and licorice.

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This is a great tea, but I’ve had so many recently, that I don’t know where to rank this.  It’s not fair to rank it.  What I’m saying this, if I had this in a different context, I may think this is up there with all the awesome teas I’ve had this year, and especially this season.  I may be over analyzing a bit, but I think I’ve been spoiled.   Nevertheless, I’ll be drinking this a lot this year.

And as soon as I say all this, the flavors that came out from this cup when shared with these Speculoos Cookies made this an incredible combination.  So in a way everything I said in the previous paragraph becomes augmented to a significant extent.  These cookies are incredible, and I need to revisit these again while paired with another Trader Joe’s tea or some kind of holiday themed beverage.

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We go from Christmas Commotion to a more relaxed affair.  But both teas helped relaxed me, but I found myself settled a bit with this display.  Hence the full moon and working backwards stuff I was referring to.

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So if you can get your hands on either of these teas, and I’d say grab a few.  At $2.50 it’s not going to hurt you too much. Hopefully there is a Trader Joe’s near YOU.

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With that being said, I’m hopeful and in all likelihood going to explore a couple more tasty delights from this store I love so much.   There’s a lot of time and a lot of holiday themed teas and drinks to explore, from Trader Joe’s and many other magical places. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

I hope you’re having a great holiday season up to this point, and wish you many great days ahead.

Peace Be With You.

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‘Tis Tea Season

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Oh yes it is, and we’re just riding along this train till I run out of tea to try, which will never happen.    I promised myself, you, and the universe, that I would get to as many teas for autumn and naturally let the blend from season to season.

With this I will reviewing two teas from Stash, which has been a friend to me and this blog (previous posts can be found here,  over here, and one more right…here…) and I don’t write about enough.  I could say that about a whole plethora of companies, and their finest of teas.

The Pumpkin Spice Decaf really got me good.  Without trying too hard I figured out that this was natural pumpkin flavor and not that artificial and synthesized coloring and flavoring that many of these companies add to their teas, to make it sweeter when it’s better off being left alone.

But this was fun.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (oil in this instance which I found intriguing), and cloves really make this a powerfully packed tea that seemed so effortless to produce.  I think black tea and pumpkin is a winning combination if done right.  You could actually apply that to just about anything  If things are blended together properly, with some good soul and feeling behind it, it’s going to be a winner.

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This checks of all the boxes.  How about that beautiful color? Decaf or not, I wouldn’t know the difference, this is a great tea.

The Maple Apple Cider is fine except for the maple flavor.  This is a matter of taste.  Maple doesn’t always work for me.    It’s natural maple flavor and it’s possible that’s where I’ve thrown off.  I’ve had plenty of foods with maple glaze that either taste too good to be true, or just don’t taste good at all.

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Aside from that, this had another melange of great flavors, that is slightly marred my the maple.  But there’s times where I feel the cinnamon, caramel, and apple is lost because of the strong presence of maple.  This is another in the line of rooibos that I’ve been trying, and this is a slight step back.

I will gladly give it another go since I’ve bought a package, but I wasn’t blown away this with this one.

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My snowman friends didn’t seem to mind.   They seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Yes I did just say that…

On their website, both teas are listed as a package deal.  I think that’s a fantastic gift for now, and the Christmas season that is fast approaching.

When it comes to Stash, I’m only just getting started.  They have so many teas for the  holidays, that I’m hopefully going to dedicate some more posts too.   Just from my observation, Stash is one of those companies that doesn’t get the publicity and headlines that it should.

I know some people close to me are huge fans, and make it a part of their daily lives, and morning routine.    I have to many teas to choose from, I’m not sure if there will ever be  a routine.  And neither situation is right or wrong.  It’s all beautiful.  It’s all in the celebration of tea.

We’re still in the heart of November, and there’s so much tea to try and share with you guys.  For some reason, I’m feeling a little more heart warmed today than normal.  Tea makes me so happy and this is some of the happiest times of the year.

More to share soon.

For more on Stash, here is where you can find their teas, their list of fall teas, more about the company, and contact information.

Thank you so much, and I’ll be back tomorrow…

Peace be with you.

Ideen

Warms The Heart…

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I love having too many teas to write about.  I just wish I had more time.   There will never be enough time.  I mentioned yesterday that this will be part of a trilogy.  In a proper sense, I would write about Wegmans loose leaf teas in a spaced out weekly fashion like I’ve done in these three years of post.  Oh my goodness, this blog is three years in.  It’s been long overdue to change up a few things.

But the more things stay the same, I still believe things are meant to evolve organically, naturally, and all in good time my friends.   But with a that being said (and I’m not even sure what I’m saying), it’s time to talk about the next two teas from my new favorite tea shoppe, the Wegmans loose leaf tea department.

The Sweet Cinnamon Tisane looks, smells, and tastes exactly how I envisioned when I first grabbed a whiff at the store.  I mean cinnamon should be a part of everyday life, and I imagine for many of us it is.  I have it with coffee, toast, breakfast, and with many of my teas.   To already have cinnamon, which has so many health benefits, infused into this herbal gem, makes me so happy.  And it’s decaffeinated to boot, so you can drink this at all hours of the day without fear or worry about staying up all night.  But this is a tea worth staying up all night for.   Wait, not sure if that impassioned statement kind of backfired but oh well!

Just that color and all the lovely melange of herbs makes me yearn for this time of year.  But this is an all the time tea and can be paired with anything or nothing at all.  After a sizable meal or eating loads of comfort food at an upcoming party this’ll settle you down.

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You know what else settles me down?  My love for animals.  And as I said yesterday, there will be hints of the holidays to come and a celebration of cups, mugs, artifacts, gems, and what have you of what makes me happy, not just this year, but any year.

Some dear friends of mine gave me this beautiful Labrador Retriever Dog Plate as a birthday gift.  I’m so grateful.

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Throw in a few pumpkin cookies and I’m good to go.  I don’ t think I ate them though haha.

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I love animals so much, including my four legged dog friends, that I felt the need to honor them.  And I want to honor and salute them as much as possible.  They’re even more important to us during the holidays.

Next is the Hearth Warmer Blend, which up until a few minutes ago I thought was the Heart Warmer Blend.  So instead of changing my title, I’m going to own my clumsiness. Hey it’s the holidays, I get a pass don’t I?

I have to laugh at the synopsis of this one.  Lots of vague words like notes, aromas, flavors, and balance.  Oh and something about chocolate.

This tea was fine, but I don’t even remember how it tasted now that I think about it.  And I don’t even mean to say it as a bad thing.  Nothing about it stood out or told me, ‘oh man this is a great tea!’.  It’s one of those teas that I kind of don’t even want to try anytime soon.   I may not be making sense but I rather be an enigma just like the description reads.   I’m just realizing this now as I write this to you.

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Maybe I’m just entertaining myself, or making more of a production than I intended.  But I’m in a festive mood, it’s the holiday season, and having fun with tea or anything is what life is all about.   Still with that being said, I’m not sure what to make of this tea.  Maybe I’ll revisit it down the line, and compare and contrast it to something.   To what I don’t know.

That’s pumpkin spiced cereal I got at Wegmans on clearance.  Yes pumpkin stuff was on clearance starting a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure what the rush was, and I shouldn’t complain. I got plenty of cheap eats and material to last a little while…

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Even better than that, my love of my other favorite four legged pals, my kitten friends.  I love my cat so much, and I feel honored to celebrate her here.

This is the middle of this three part story.  The finale (well for now) comes tomorrow.  Maybe I’m in a funny mood but I think my love of animals on display may have blinded my love for the teas on this go around, especially that Heart(h) Warmer.    I’m still puzzled, and I shouldn’t be.   But that cinnamon is awesome.  If you can find some at your local Wegmans, I’d say go for it.

For more on these teas and their provider, go to ITO EN.

Like I said yesterday, you can grab as little or as much as you want.  Some of my bags were barely over $1.00.  So it’s good to experiment and prepare for what you may or may not love.  It’s a fun process and the journey is just as beautiful as the destination.

I look forward to that journey, and the forthcoming destination continuing tomorrow.

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

 

Autumn In Annapolis 2.0

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Time just keeps on moving.  It’s really starting to feel like fall, with a few days feeling bright and sunny.  That sounds like Maryland weather.  That sounds like a return engagement to Annapolis.  Well it’s actually just part two of what I started last week…

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I wish I could write about Spice & Tea Exchange every week.  I’ve written about them quite a bit (those stories can be found here), and it never gets old, and their seasonal teas, along with all their teas, continue to amaze, dazzle, inspire, and inspire some more.

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This week I change up the infusers and this one seems a little more light hearted, less serious, and will make anyone feel good.   The Duck Infuser is one you want to put in your pocket for safe keeping, because it’s just so adorable and so worthy of protection.  And it’s adorable resting spot is fit for a king, or a duckie!  Yay!

But it also provided one of the most effortless and enjoyable steeping and sipping experiences I can recall.  They’re all fun but this one seemed to flow just all the more organically.

First up is the Caramel Apple Tea.  This once again first presents itself as a tea loaded with fruits and spice that you might think would take away from what a tea is all about.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  When I initially smelled this tea I smelled loads of cinnamon and apple, but didn’t take into account this is a black tea from China and India combined.

This was absolutely stunning, visually and on sipping.    How pretty is that color?  I got more of the black tea then any of all the fall flavors.  And that’s just fine with me.  It makes sense, since there’s loads of caffeine, which is helping the thoughts and ideas flow a little quicker and with more alertness.  And it’s all natural my friends.

This was appropriately served with an apple round danish.  More for display but it tasted great too, and fits perfectly with the fall theme.

Next up, is the one that intrigued me the most.  But not in a way that outshines the other three limited time teas.  It’s just that the Custard Tart Herbal Tea is a melange of fall and those colors that you would hope would match the picture.  This is quite yellow.   That would be the butternut squash pieces along with maybe a few other things.   I dig that there are pecans in it.   This is creativity at its finest.

And no my tea did not brew as yellow as a butternut squash soup.  It didn’t actually smell as bold as when I first smelled the jar at their Annapolis store.  But when you’ve gotten so many scents from not just the teas, but getting a whiff of their sugars, the spices, and seasonings, can cause your mind may go delirious, it may think you’re getting something you’re not.  This is not a knock, this is just my observation and experience.

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Nevertheless, this was another enjoyable one.  There’s a lot going on here, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger.  persimmon, orange, allspice, among so much more.  Everything brings value, even if you or I aren’t able to taste anything and everything at once or after reach respective and upcoming sip.   With all this goodness, it would make me sad for anything to get lost in the shuffle.

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A coconut custard danish was served for this round.

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With that being said, I felt inspired to add a little Pumpkin Pie Sugar I talked about last week, to my cup.  And it blended perfectly.  Fall and life is all about adding fun stuff to the equation.  I wouldn’t ordinarily add anything on top of my tea, but I wanted to experiment, and the Spice & Tea Exchange is so good with ideas and suggestions.  This one fell in my lap.  And I’m grateful for that.

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But what I’m most grateful is my friends helping out with the accessories.  Once again thanks so much to my dear friend Rebecca for providing the Annapolis based mug, and my new friend Sara who works at one of the coolest stores in town, Local By Design, for suggesting the Blue Crab Mug.  They’re pictured this week as well as featured in the other two seasonal teas I reviewed from last week.

To learn more about  Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you. Thankfully, you can order everything online, if there isn’t  a shoppe near you.

And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  If you get a chance to visit, either if you’re local or on vacation, I think this is well worth a visit.  You can get lost easily, as I did, as there’s so many levels and rooms to this place.  It’s loaded with substance on the surface and in a spiritual sense.   As promised I’ve added more picture for your visual pleasure.

It’s so early in the season.  I have some idea of where we go from here, and got lots of time and lots of teas to figure out what’s next.  This was so fun, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from the gems of Annapolis.

I sincerely hope you’re enjoying your fall, your day, your week, and everything in general.  This is that warm and fuzzy time of year, that might make you feel, well…

Have a blessed one, and take good care.

CustardTartXOXO

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Saturday Afternoon Tea Party

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This is not quite the go home post for summer and my (and perhaps yours) summer vacation.   We’re not seeing displays for autumn and the teas, snacks, and everything else that fits that mold.   But one thing at a time, and I’ve still got some sunshine and those happy things to talk about.

This is part two of what looks like another trilogy, that will either be completed next week or right before.

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When I fall in love with a place, I tend to overstay my welcome.  At least in my head I think so.  I’m sure any business appreciates repeats business, and the Infused Tea Company can have take all my money and all my patronage it wants.  And especially if it keeps the amazing teas and just as important, the amazing energy going.

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Last week I wrote about the night time scene in St. Pete, and how Infused Tea sits right in the heart of all the action, and all the atmosphere on Beach Drive.   Beach Drive and the charming streets nearby are just that, so charming.

Now my Saturday morning visit was self fulfilling and intentional.  I went for a run and I knew would stop over here, along with a few other places.  In what matter, in what route, or any other details would be presented to me as I drew closer.   Needless to say, I did get to visit some other shoppes, but I found a cozy, scenic, and spectacular view of Beach Drive.

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Even though the city is growing, there’s still plenty of parks, trees, green, and all the other good stuff that makes this planet great.  I felt so happy and felt as content as I’ve been in some time.

I said all this without actually talking about the tea, and pastry.  Yes, pastry!

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I’m going solely on memory and romanticism.  The Strawberry Pear which can be found in the Fruit Blends category, is an all year tea, heated or iced.  The strawberry and pear is a beautiful blend of summer fruits.  I love pear and don’t have enough of it in general. The apple makes it perfect for the fall.  But in St. Pete, in Florida, this is fortunately a tea you can have year round, hot or iced.   As someone who can appreciate the changing of the seasons here in Maryland, I can also appreciate having a consistently warm temperature that allows you to eat and drink the same (or different) meals without having to adapt to much to the change in temperature.   But to each is own!

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This was another awesome tea.  And being in a place of peace and harmony only made this that much better.   There were lots of people walking, running, and cycling in the area.  And many stopped over to enjoy some tea and hang out with their friends.  It doesn’t get any better than that.    The cyclists in particular had quite a large crew, and made me think about wanting to join a club like this.   Ah this is so fun.

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I’m recalling so many cool things, details, and experiences within this hour plus span, that I nearly forgot if I hadn’t written this out.  And surely more things will come to mind, but some things are best to remain with me, with you, and within this thing called life that we can recall later and hopefully smile.

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This was one of those uniquely positive experiences that words are not going to do justice.  This was a different Saturday morning for me than I’m used to.  Well of course, its vacation.  I’m sure that magnified the intensity of what I was thinking and feeling, but I always want to think something bigger and magical is going on here.

I like that.

For my running history of this most inspirational of tea scenes in Florida and St. Pete, they’re all here.

As always, for more on Infused Tea, here is their story, their location if you’re local and/or visiting, and a link to purchase to purchase all their awesome teas online.

One more story in this trilogy is coming.   This will either be next week, or maybe even sooner.

Take good care.

Ideen

Friday Night Tea Party

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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To be continued…

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Peace Be With You,

Ideen