…The Highest of the High…

LandofKushDisplay3

If you don’t know then I’ll say it, The Land of Kush is a masterpiece in all areas.

LandofKushFront

It took me over 3 1/2 years from discovering this gem, to actually walking and enjoying myself and my life.  What took me so long?  I have no answers, other than I wasn’t meant to go there until right around this past Christmas.  I honestly don’t know after that, but the universe had other plans for me now, and now the universe has brought me here.

This wasn’t a meal I was ever going to write about or share with you necessarily across this blog or wherever else I may write about things. And it wasn’t for any negative reasons, it just did’t come across my radar.  I was going to enjoy my meal, likely give a great review across multiple sites, then hopefully romanticize it enough to the point I’ll set myself up for a letdown the next time I came back.  That last sentence was a joke by the way, but I think you know what I mean.

Your first impression is the lasting impression, and like I said, I didn’t think I was going to be able to share with you.  But that was until…

LandofKushSorrell

I saw their Sorrel (or Sorrell) on the drink menu which is fresh brewed hibiscus leaves, and nothing else.  And my favorite kind of drinks are the ones with the fewest ingredients.  And this was joy to drink, and it’s best drank cold.  You can see the pictures for yourselves and just picture how magnificent this is.  And it’s exactly that and all the other good vibrations that comes with it.

And I’ll have more good vibes to talk about shortly.

LandofKushCurryChickun

I kept it simple with my order, which is something I’m guilty of when going somewhere new.  I got the Curry Chickun, vegan mac and cheese, and rice and vegetable medley.  And the meal is incredible.  I can only say so much, the pictures say it all.

I so badly wanted to like this based on what friends of mine had shared with me, and the aura of prestige that I bestowed upon this place, just because the years started to pass by and I still had yet to set foot in the restaurant.

LandofKushDisplay1

Damn this was good.  I didn’t expect to finish it all right then and there.  But I took my time and found myself in the most peaceful place I’ve been in some time.  And with all the commotion of life, the holidays, and and everything else that comes in our direction, any kind of peace and tranquility is welcome.  And I was so out at peace, I was so happy, and I was just so happy with everything.

This place felt so Baltimore, felt so local, but also felt unfamiliar, yet familiar all at once.  The feelings of familiarity and doing this somewhere before in a previous life were there.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I was transported myself into a different universe and felt transformed all at once.  And when I go to the next level; it’s not always about the food, and at many times it’s bigger than anything related to the restaurant itself.   It’s something bigger than us, out of this body, and out of this world.

LandofKushDisplay2

For about an hour, I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  And that’s a feeling that isn’t narcissistic, self indulgent, or any other bells and whistles like that.  It’s more of a feeling of calm, of zen, of what makes this life so great.

This food was so great, the simple service, the amazing staff, and that incredible music are all the perfect complement to one another.   Everything was vibrating off the charts in a way I haven’t felt in some time.

And about the music..  I haven’t heard a quality sequence of songs anywhere in years.  That includes going to bars, lounges, even live concerts, and the occasional pretentious club I’ve been to.   The latter part is kind of a joke but somewhat serious, ha.  But give me great beats, hip hop, neo soul, or whatever you want to call it, from the 90’s, and I’m a happy guy.

LandofKushSorrellDone

I was already done with my food but the hits just kept coming one after another.  At this point I was afraid to leave.  I was afraid I was going to miss a song I hadn’t heard in years.  And truthfully, I didn’t have that big of plans later in the day that I had to leave.  I was happy where I was, I was grateful where I was, and I was where my feet were.  And it was a beautiful place.

This is a beautiful place.

LandofKushMenu

For more on Land of Kush, here is their story, their menu, upcoming events, and their contact info.

It won’t be three plus years until the next time.

Thank you Land of Kush.  This is a memory I’m so grateful for.

Happy New Year.

Ideen

 

 

The Joy and Peace of the Season

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay

I used a similar title once before (right here), in a different universe, where I was in a different place.  I was in a place of peace, of happiness, where I was younger (even though it was only three years ago), and everything seemed like it would go on forever.  All the while knowing that the life I’m living can’t go on forever.

And I’m not talking about a life full of partying, going crazy, and living in the fast lane, or whatever these cheeseball terms are.  I’m talking about spending time with the ones you care the most about, whether it’s over Christmas or any time of year.  We’re grateful for the moments and the time we have, feeling that time may stand still, we could do this all day, we want to do this all day, and we want to be where we are.

I’ve had so many moments like that in the past year, with the awareness that nothing lasts forever.   The fact that I’m expressing my thoughts about this is that I still haven’t come to terms, or made peace with this.  If I’m being vague, well that’s the point.  But the fact that I’m aware at least shows that I’m at least trying to come to terms with things in my life.

The peaceful, the relaxing, and the calming parts of the holidays will always be there, but for me, it’ll take on a whole new trajectory.   I feel like I’ve outgrown a few things that I maybe should’ve done a while ago but such is life.  And while I outgrow certain aspects, I embrace the simple, the companionship, the love, the community, from friendship and family that has always been, and will always be there.  At least I hope so.

This leads me to another community.  The Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company has been so good to this blog for the duration, (previous posts can be found here), and a much needed visit, which was again unplanned, to their Timonium location, brought upon me some much needed Christmas Cheer.

BaltCoffeeChristmasSpirit

And that Christmas Cheer lead into some Christmas Spirit, aha!  The Eastern Shore Christmas Mint Tea from the Eastern Shore Tea Company came at the right time, in a time where my this holiday season has been a bit off for me, and has seen so many rapid fire changes around me, that I wasn’t sure I would be able to cope with.

But we learn to adapt.  Whether it’s because we have no choice, fight or flight, or we just learn through experience, somehow life goes on.  And it’s going on my friends.

With all the commotion of the holidays, the running around, the shopping, the parties, the eating, the drinking, and all the other frenzy that comes with it; there’s these reminders in life to slow down.  I for one wish I didn’t need reminders, and should always live in as harmonious and as peaceful of a place as possible.  It’s more than doable, and while external situations can’t be helped, there’s still more than enough room for peace, that should be embraced and never taken for granted.

So what’s what I did here.  It was a busy day, but after I purchased my tea, I found a seat, and just was happy with where I was, nothing more, nothing less. Actually more yes.  More happiness and peace is good.  I brought a few chocolates, more for display than anything else, and got some photos with my new friends.

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay2

But before I continue to lose sight of the point of this blog, the tea is tremendous.  But then again, in the place I was in, the mood I was in, and with this setting, just about any tea would be making me feel like a new man.  But this China Black Tea, with hibiscus and peppermint made me feel so warm inside, was so kind to my stomach, kind to me, but most importantly was kind to my soul and spirit.   For this window of time, I felt the joy and peace of the season, and it’s something we all yearn for and it’s not that we deserve it, but we deserve to be good to ourselves, to be good to our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community, and this universe.

After I stopped taking a few pictures, I just sat there, no phones, no distractions (well I maybe did take a picture of their beautiful Christmas tree), and a whole lot of just being,   This is not necessarily an art form, but it does take precision and practice.

What I got from this day is while things may be tumultuous at times, confusing at times, and trying at times, that I’m still here, I’m still breathing, and I have value to give to myself, my surroundings, and this great big world of ours.

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay3

Even if this wasn’t the most amazing and beautiful of Christmases for me, it was still enjoyable at many points.  And maybe down the line I’ll look back at 2017 and realize this was more of a pivotal, transitional, or maybe life altering year then I even realize.

For more on Baltimore Coffee & Tea Company, here are their locations, their story, and their list of teas as well as coffees available for purchase online.

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay4

I hope you guys had a Merry Christmas.

Ideen

 

Oh Christmas Tea

alexandriateaoutside

I’m sad Christmas is officially over. From my perspective it felt like it went at a steady and solid pace.  With all the parties with family and friends, the food, the shopping, errands, and everything in between, it felt just right.  For me it felt like time stood still at times. And I’m all for that.  Time is always relative and for the most part it’s been moving at such a rapid pace, we often forget where the time goes.

alexandriateafront

I envision that for at least the next few weeks the tea discussion will pertain to the holidays, and at the very least winter.  But for now I feel I can safely talk about the Christmas Tea from one of my new favorite tea shops, Old Town Coffee, Tea, and Spice.

christmastea1

Yes indeed my travels bring me back to the town where I was born, Alexandria, VA.  And usually I get the opportunity to be here during the holidays, and even though this was post-Christmas, I feel that the universe had a different plan for me.

Some months ago a good friend of mine had wanted to bring me to this shoppe, which was at another location, only to see that it was closed.  The timeline could not have been more bizarre.  I came to find out that it was literally within their transition to their new shoppe. And the new location is literally footsteps from the old location.   How these things work out is something else.   I was not meant to experience this store until now.  Call it one of those Christmas Miracles or whatever, but I will always remember this holiday season for many things, but my time here (albeit brief) is one I will always treasure.

Even if other folks don’t find the sentimentality with this place, I can.

What I mean is, the place was busy.  Customers wanted their cups of tea and coffee in a hurry.   Maybe they’re regulars or just people shopping nearby looking for a quick pick me up.  If I wanted a coffee at a coffee shop I may be inclined to temper my excitement as well. But the teas and all the tea gifts, gadgets, and gizmos in stock made me feel like a kid in a tea shoppe.  Did you expect me to say candy?  I’ve had more than my share this Christmas.

You can’t help but be in awe of all the loose teas in house.   I mean we’re talking hundreds. I wanted a holiday or Christmas themed tea, and just when I thought I was going to give up, I see near the top their Holiday Tea.  Unfortunately it was sold out.  However, the gentleman working the counter, countered (see what I did there?) with an idea of mixing chocolate, peppermint, and raspberry teas, and calling it a holiday a tea.  That’s quick thinking and a man who is a master at his craft.   He said he can call it anything he wanted. I’m wowed by everything this happening right now.  He thought I wanted a bag.  For now, I was going to just get a cup.

christmastea2

And just when I was going to get this blend, I see the Christmas Tea Blend, and of course I went with that.

alexandriateaoutside3

How he brewed this tea I will never know.  It felt like a millisecond between opening the tea and heating that I never saw how he brewed this cup.  And I wish I got a picture of this, but he held the tea back with a toothpick.   He said the steeping time needed to be two minutes max or the hibiscus would become muddled.  This was all such a fascinating experience.

alexandriateaoutside5

I didn’t get a chance to ask what was in it but I suspect orange peel and cinnamon upon viewing and sniffing.   And with a sweet treat it only came out to a couple dollars and change.  I was just amazed by what I just witnessed that I almost didn’t want to share this. It’s a constant reminder that my love of a tea is also a forever learning process.

alexandriateaoutside4

It also made gave me a little closure on Christmas.  When one door closes, another one opens.  And I’ve opened quite the door.  This was my first, but nowhere close to the last time I visit this tea shoppe.

alexandria

If you’re in the area, and have never been here, I strongly suggest you visit.  It’s got this cozy and unpretentious vibe that reminds me why I love Old Town Alexandria so much.

And I don’t know how long their Christmas Tea blend will be available, but as you can see they had more than enough to go around.

There’s photos from the shoppe all across this post.  In addition, I’ll leave you with some photos of the surrounding area and some of the fun Christmas decor this city bestowed upon its citizens.

I love this town.  I love this shoppe.  And I love Christmas.

Hopefully your Christmas was awesome as well!

P.S. I loved this tea.

Merry and Happy to you!

Ideen

A Christmas Tea To Remember

paristea4

How did we get to the end of the year so fast?  Well as of this post it’s a mere five days until Christmas.   Now usually that would lead to feeling sad that the season is fleeting. And I would be lying if I would say otherwise.  But this has also been a time where time has felt like it’s moving at a reasonable place, neither fast nor slow.  It’s just been as is.  And that lends itself to appreciating every moment I can, whenever possible.  Now that may be easier said that one.

As we often do, we’re busier this time of year than any other  And that is on top of our already busy lives.  The things to do just pile up to the point where we’re on the verge of being no longer being able to handle it.  But that’s the funny thing about life.  It gives us just enough of what we can handle.  We reach our threshold and then some.  I also think that the hectic nature is just a part of Christmas.  It’s inevitable.  And either go big or go home, adapt or fall behind.  And I just don’t mean all the shopping.  There’s so much more to Christmas than shopping.  But isn’t it fun to give to the people you love?  I’m starting to ramble like I usually do.   When it comes to the holidays I could ramble on forever.  I’m a softy.

From talking to friends this year there seems to be this added pressure to get everything just right.  Whether it’s meeting up with all the friends and family you see seldom, making your rounds at all the holiday parties, or just catching up on all the usual day-to-day aspects of everyday life, it can drive you bonkers.  For me, at least this year, it’s been about balance.  It’s about keeping it simple.  And that means an added focus on spending the holidays with the people you care about the most and vice-versa.  And to slow it down and make a few hours for those people at a time.  That may be easier said than one but I adapted.  And because of that, I’ve gotten so much more enjoyment out of the holidays.

And with that comes with one of my favorite traditions of the year.  It’s a simple gift exchange with close friends that has been going on for quite a number of years now.  The location has changed but the sentiment remains the same.

Gifts were handed out, snacked were nibbled on, and there were plenty of libations.  But one of the most important aspects, and one of the highlights was the tea.  And what tea did we have this year?  This wonderful tea would be the one and only, Christmas In Paris from the underrated Stash Tea.

paristea13

But this tea will be anything but underrated.  This carried an intense and uplifting aroma immediately upon opening. Here is my Stash Christmas Post from two years ago.

paristea3

The peppermint and cocoa shells permeated the whole house that the term Christmas Spirit took on a life of its own.  I’ve been waiting to say that all season.  There’s a wine hiding back there, and for more on that fun bottle click here.

And the way that tea brewed was a sight for all eyes.  It’s some of the most beautiful brewing I’ve seen in some time.  That color is something else.

paristea5

This all made even better by present company.  I imagine I would enjoy this alone but a tea like this, with the Christmas connotation is meant to be enjoyed with the ones you love. This is one that can be enjoyed all winter for sure.  The chocolate and peppermint vibes well with everything December.

There were plenty of treats that paired with this tea.  And this can go with anything holiday.  But just as important, this is an herbal tea, so the caffeine levels are low, even with the cocoa.  So this is more for soothing, calming, and relaxation.

paristea2

And this is what the spiritual and peaceful part of the holidays is truly meant to be.  A quaint, cozy, and harmonious environment is what most of us want.  It’s what we all seek. It’s not that hard too find and can be almost anywhere.  We don’t even have to look that hard for it.  That’s the other fun part of the holidays, and life in general.  As hectic as things are, the simple things, like good friends, good eats, Christmas movies (good and bad), and that incredible cup of tea.

paristea7

I don’t need to get into the specifics of the gifts or anything like that.  What’s more important is that this season has an organic energy and vibe, that only comes this time each year.  I’ll miss it.  I’m getting nostalgic already. But hopefully many memories to come.

stashteaspread

To find this and all of the Stash Tea collection at a store near you, click here.

This’ll be a tea and Christmas to remember.

Merry Christmas!

Ideen