1, 2, What You Doing?

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I had something else planned for today, but my heart wasn’t feeling it.   That story will have to be told another day.  And like always, it’ll sort itself out and be better in the long run.

Wilmington, DE has a charm and aura about it that is bestowed upon many a small, yet growing and flourishing towns.  Not far from Philadelphia, and just a little north of Baltimore, it finds itself in its own world, a separate entity from anything else.  At least that’s how I look at it.

My last visit uncovered one gem (story can be found here), but this one tells a story that’s a little more relaxed, and one where I hope has at least a part two.

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First things first, Brew Haha!, aside from having a clever name, has such a warm and inviting energy, that you can’t help but find yourself inside.   Whenever I’m anywhere, if I think to, I will research a place nearby for tea.  I had heard and seen of Brew Haha! as it’s a growing coffee shop chain in our first state (locations can be found here), here is and I see them continuing their skyrocketing success.  Their story says it all.

The not-so-challenging aspect of a coffee shop, for tea lovers like you and me, are whether they have a tea list to begin with.  Then, is that list on your standard side, or a is that list a bit for expansive?   Here’s their menu.

Then when the manager mentions they have a couple of loose teas, my eyes light up and I’m reminded and bless of why I write about and love tea so much.

I love tea so much.

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The recommendation was the Cosmic Rose from Brandywine Coffee Roasters, which is beautiful on all sorts of levels.  It’s a local business, so local supporting local, and being supported by patrons and visitors like me is what makes this world so wonderful.

Here is Brandywine Coffee Roasters tea list available for purchase online.and their contact information.

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This tea is wonderful.  Just the visual alone in seeing the bag steep in an original Brew Haha! mug made me happy.

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Aside from the color there’s much to love about this; organic hibiscus, organic rosehips, organic rooibos, orange peel, rose petals, organic everything and everything that’s good in the universe.

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I enjoyed this with a vegan ginger scone, that if you weren’t told it was vegan, you may not know the difference.  It tasted lighter, healthier, and the ginger was the perfect complement to my tea.  A tea that would be perfect iced by the way.

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As always, I took a few pictures and then I relaxed for a good 45 minutes.  It might have been longer, but when I’m on a mini vacation or anywhere far away from home, time tends to operate on a different frequency.  And while I’m alone, and don’t know anyone, there’s a comfort in that alone time.   There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.

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In regards to that, I felt like a part of a community right away.  And Lydia, the ever-so friendly manager, made me feel like I was at home.  That’s immediately going to make my tea and food taste even that much better.  I noticed she knew many of the patrons by name, and how would that not make you feel good?  It’s always nice to be made to feel special and that you have meaning to someone’s life.  It’s a big thing, that we call the a little thing, but it’s all of the above.

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They had two of their teas available for serving, and for purchase.  I went with the in house suggestion, but ended up buying the Cosmic Rose and one for later, the Dreamers Sympathy, which has so many metaphorical and metaphysical implications to my life, and maybe yours, that I hope to get to this soon.   I’ll know when…

But for now I want to thank Lydia at Brew Haha! for making me feel like a regular on my initial visit.  I’ll be back and if you’re in the area I highly recommend you do the same.  There’s just something right about the neighborhood too.

Every story means something, and some are meant to be revisited sooner rather than later.  Some are meant to be a one time thing.  Only time will tell what this one will dictate.  In my heart I know how this will go.

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To be continued…

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

Love That Blue!

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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.

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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…

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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.

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That’s what I’m talking about.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Awaken, Invigorate, Revitalize

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All roads lead to something, and some other roads lead to something, wait I just said that.  I was going for more of that dramatic stuff, but if and when I get to more, then so be it.

I’m writing this as there’s a little bit of mixed precipitation.  That’s been the theme of this and what seems like last year’s winter.  We get teases of things, only to get nothing.  But in that regard, I take it as a sigh of relief.  We had our cold days, our windy days, and our hints of the warmer weather to come.  But as always, it’s best to live in the moment.

So this takes me back to a recent memory, where I was on my own mini vacation.  I was staying at a home of some dear friends’, while I took care of their dogs (who are so dear to me), and I had the blessing to write about some of the teas in their collection (a few that are in mine as well), and to share it with you from a different perspective, a different vantage point, and with different props.  I love props.    I may have alluded to all this last week.

I don’t view one tea brand as better than another, but I do have my favorites.   Trader Joe’s will always be a favorite.  My ever growing encyclopedia of my Trader Joe’s tea recaps can be found here.

So it helps that while I’m away, to still have some familiar friends nearby.  And the TJ’s tea I’m talking about is the Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea.

The teas that actually aren’t tea (no leaves to be found), are some of those fascinating.  This is why we call them tisanes aka herbal tea.   Beautiful.

I think of this tea as an all in one kind of tea,  It rebuilds, it rejuvenates, it reinvents.  And it does all those things I list in the title, and so much more.  That seems like a cheesy plug for something, but it’s true.   My dear friend suggested I get to this tea as soon as I can.  I had the the time, I had the space, the setting, and all those other little things that are the big things too, that make a tea and the experience that much more exciting.

You see, any entity can be great, but when surrounded by certain elements that make you feel good,  it’s that much better.  This is not covering up any deficiencies, because there aren’t any.   This is just making this the most memorable experience, for me, that I can make.

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I knew when I was brewing the water, opening the tea packet, and steeping, I was on the verge of something great.

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I’m running on a string of great teas, as if you read my posts you can tell, and I hopefully don’t see an end in sight.  There may be a hiccup or roadblock or two, but it just says that the level of teas is off the charts by so many companies.

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Maybe it’s the competitive marketplace, the interest in tea drinking going up, or maybe there’s room for everyone and everything.  I’d say it’s combination of all of the above, and then some.

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I’ve said so much without saying a lot about the tea itself.    And that guy in the picture does seem a bit creepy no? Ha.  Those are animal crackers since you were asking.  Oh yes, the tea, finally…

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The turmeric and ginger are easily detectable, based on appearance and on taste.  That golden color can only mean one thing.   I didn’t realize until after reading the synopsis, that that other powerful spice was black pepper, and not so much the licorice root.  Add some orange peel and orange oil, and you have an entirely organic experience, literally.

I’ve been spoiled and blessed all at once.  This tea did everything it said it would, and to call anything the best or the greatest makes those terms lose their luster.  So I’ll just say the tea was great.  Because it really is.

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And as the weather begins to break, this is the perfect for now, and for a little while longer.  Actually for any date, time, and season you want.   And those are the best teas.

Those are the best anything.

It’s almost Spring.   More is coming.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Have A Happy Holiday

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Does that title sound familiar?   Funny lines and song lyrics like that have been embedded in my brain since childhood.  They resurface at this time of year, and it feels good to dig into the archives of my brain, and recite lines like these?

Where is this going?  It’s the third annual tree decorating party with a group of people I’m proud to call my friends.   So the heartwarming, dopey, emotional, cheesy, and most importantly traditional Christmas Music will be playing, sometimes two or three times over.  And that (along with so many other things) is the fun and funny part.

When it comes to any holiday party, decorating party, or dare I say any party, comes plenty of food and drink.  And there was plenty of that.  Everyone contributed something to the cause.  Because that’s what the holidays and gathering are all about, everyone sharing and giving.   And what may you ask, did I contribute?

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Per a suggestion from a friend, I was told to review the Mulling Spices Tea from the R.W. Knudsen Family brand of products.  And it’s just a small part of what I brought to this Christmas Community.

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If the name rings a bell it may be because you’ve had their juices and other various beverages.

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I had no idea that this tea existed.  And from doing research, it looks like it has been around for a few years.   Why it took me this long to attract it into my life is one of those holiday mysteries.  But now I consider it a miracle.

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I adore this tea.  The hostess of the party had a cup herself and she concurred.   It’s good to disagree respectively but isn’t even more rewarding to enjoy the same cup with people you truly care for?  It adds to the spirit of the season.  And I can always use some more.  I would assume many would feel the same.

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And in this group setting the tea was necessary as a way to relax from all the commotion of decorating, eating, and the overall excitement of decorating a tree.   Oh and there was some champagne and mimosas earlier on (actually throughout) the day as well.  So the tea truly was a friend in settling the stomach and bringing me back down to Earth.

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What makes this tea so special is that the Mulling Spices is meant as a way to make hot spiced cider, blended with their Organic Apple Juice, of course.

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I will do that soon but as I’m into holiday traditions, I’m also very traditional when it comes to my tea.  I prefer adding nothing to my teas.  I think the true test of a tea is how it stands alone, with noting but hot water and the bag or leaf itself.

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This tea can be enjoyed in that form, and that’s an understatement.  I love this tea.  It went down smooth and I felt so balanced and at peace with each sip.  Again, I reiterate the importance of quality people around that makes the tea even that much better.   I got a few cups out of each bag, and the beauty of the brewing process only enhances that fact.

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The aromas of lemon peel, orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves upon opening hit a festive nerve that emit the joy and peace of the season.   The smells remind me of holiday parties past with friends and family.  The way the tea brewed, the colors changing, and the steam rising made me all warm and fuzzy.  That tint is gorgeous.  It made me so happy for that moment in time, yesterday, to appreciate the present.  I appreciate my friends, I appreciate the holidays, and I appreciate being able to share this with you.

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Everything about this day was right.  But it felt like it moved so fast.  That’s because it did.  Time flies when enjoying life.  And enjoying life with good people makes that time feel even more fleeting.   I’m grateful to have been a part of this day and look forward to doing this for many years to come.  And on top of that, I welcome any new traditions that unexpectedly present themselves.

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Some of the photos of the awesome food spread may look like they were taken from a blimp. That’s just my camera phone.  But I did feel like a blimp after eating all this yummy Christmas food.  And over-indulging on treats is another tradition that will be timeless.

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Speaking of time, these are moments in time I’m grateful to have captured and presented to you.  This party will be remembered for many things, and this tea will be near the top of this list.

Get this tea.  To find out where you can find all their fun products, click here.

To read more about all the good that R.W. Knudsen does, this link and this one should be of great assistance.

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At my local Wegman’s, the price was over $5 so that may be a bit steep for buying tea, but I think it’s well worth it.

To read about the 2nd Anniversary party, click here.

I love this and I’m glad there’s so much more of the holidays to celebrate.  I hope you’ve been doing the same with the ones you love, and that love you too.

This is such a wonderful time of the year and I look forward what the holidays bring next.

Have  A Happy Holiday,

Ideen

 

 

 

Bakers Is Beautiful

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Over the course of the year-and-a-half I’ve been doing these posts, I’ve been professing my love for Annapolis.  We learn a lot about ourselves when we’re writing or sharing our thoughts, in whatever medium we see fit.   The subject matter is tea but it’s also about finding the good in every situation, no matter how difficult it may be.  This won’t be a challenge.

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My visit to Bakers & Co. was one of the most enjoyable.   I didn’t want to leave.

A couple weeks prior I was driving through the Eastport neighborhood of Naptown, and saw this hidden gem nestled within a gorgeous set of houses. This was out of production set, and I hadn’t even walked in.  I just drove by second-guessing myself after a while. Why didn’t I just walk in?  Would I be back and in an organic fashion?  Two weeks later…

There are signs all around us.  There’s good people and good spirits in this universe to guide you in your journey.   And someone was looking out for me as I naturally arrived here and made it a point to park my car nearby and stroll right in.  And stroll I did.  This area is even more spectacular than I envisioned.

I was hoping in the back of my mind, there would be an obscure tea to write about. Otherwise, a coffee would suffice.  After poking around for a few seconds, I noticed a sign in the back for a special in-house tea.  I asked the friendly staff member what that was. She mentioned it was their homemade black tea with pineapple, orange juice, and spices.   On a 90+ degree day I actually asked if I should have it chilled or warmed.   Moving right along…

The pastry set-up was stunning.  Even on a smoldering day, I had to get something to pair with this exciting new tea I was about to have.   After passing on the almond croissant (which is extremely popular), I went with the blueberry oat bar.

I’ll get right to it after all this dramatic build-up. The tea refreshed me to my core. And my blueberry sweet treat complemented my cup perfectly.

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I took my sweet (see what I did?) time with everything.   I took a lot of pictures and wish I could post them all.  Literally across both side of the street were homes.  I imagine the values of these properties are high and not close to my means.   Maybe in the next life.  But I felt so comfortable and so at home with these surroundings.

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Some memories and stories are too good be shared.  They’re meant to be kept internal.  I debated on whether or not to write about this but I think I’d regret it if I hadn’t.

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My main reason is my love for local businesses has been heightened with this blog.  I’ve always preferred family run shoppes versus the big box stores.  I imagine many people share my sentiment.    For as long as I can recall it’s always been my modus operandi.

Along those lines, my attachments and affinity for small towns, beautiful streets, and a sense of community is what I yearn for.  Bakers and Co. encompasses all of the above, and then some.

The people working the counter were amazing.   The quaintness of this all is worthy of romanticizing.

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If you’re in the vicinity, I cannot recommend this place enough.  There’s comforting outdoor seating as my photos have hopefully captured.  And my intent was to show the beautiful surroundings.    I can only hope I did it justice.  And I can only hope that future visits will be just as inspiring.

Take good care,

Ideen

Oh Is For Orange, Oh Wait..

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I’m not sure what the title even means.  I’m not even sure how to explain the experience I had at Hard Bean Coffee and BooksellTEAers.   Yes, they have coffee and books.   But this has got to do with the tea correct?  Correct.  And this post will go to show that not everything in Annapolis, like last week, is rosy.   There’s a not so inside joke or pun there somwhere.

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I’ve been going to this place for quite a number of years but the experiences tend to deteriorate each time.   Perhaps the newness and cache of being in the neighborhood was enough to overcompensate for any deficiencies.    And my tastes have evolved as well as my empathy.

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But my last few visits have left so much to be desired.   In a pinch I’ve grabbed coffee and/or a snack to go.   For such a colossal space I’ve seen a decrease in the amount of patrons as I’ve grown accustomed to in the past.  Maybe I’m not alone in my sentiments?

Yet my own idealism and naivete leads me to give this place another go. And because I have to be so contrarian again to get tea in a coffee shop.  But they do have loose tea, so it’s not that eccentric of me

It was a sunny  and scorching day (I’m not complaining), so something remotely sweet and light was what I was looking forward to.   I went with the blood orange. Ordinarily I would be loving this but the vibe threw everything off kilter.

Maybe it’s the universe, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s everything, but the staff was even more disorganized and lackadaisical than usual.  I should have been more specific earlier but not only has service been slow but it’s been dismissive as well.  And it’s not something I take too personally.   I figure folks may have an off day but this has been a consistent narrative with this establishment.   The wait times for my food and beverage have taken much longer than necessary.  I get a sense that it’s deliberate.   This reinforces my point in how I see less guests here and more flocking to other more welcoming establishments nearby.

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What gets lost in all this is the tea itself.  The orange with what I can only assume has orange peels and floral components would ordinarily be masterful here, but the negative energy surrounding me brings this down several notches.  It’s dispiriting.   The whole point of all is this it to enjoy a cup, your surroundings, and most importantly yourself.  I would go with none of the above here.

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In the majority of situations I’d be singing the praises of this tea, but this was as mediocre and vapid as it gets.   I was so off-kilter at first that I started sipping and taking photos inside forgetting how nice it was outside.

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When I got my bearings together I found some solace at an outside table but it was too little too late.  I didn’t want any more.   I’ll definitely seek it out again, just somewhere else.  And if past experiences will dictate, it will be in a much more spiritual and energizing setting.

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You might be asking about the quiche that I paired with my tea.  An unusual pairing? The irony is that this was the most normal thing about this experience.  And that’s not saying much.

There’s a whole Summer for great sips and memories.   Here’s to better ones ahead.

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Best,

Ideen

An Oldie and A Newbie

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I have been championing Twinings Teas for as long as I’ve been drinking the beverage of champions.

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A blessing came into my life last week while staying at a hotel.   In the concierge area, they have a lovely spread of fruits and breakfast items.  But most important of all, they had an amazing spread of Twinings.   The display gave me goose bumps.  I’m not joking.

Several cups were enjoyed over my stay, however, I will go one at a time for the sake of brevity.  It’s good to give as much focus on one and save the others for another time.

The Honeybush, Mandarin, and Orange was my first brew and it was a rocker. The ingredients and brewing time can be seen within both tabs and are user-friendly for your enjoyment.  This tea was for my enjoyment.  I loved it and it keeps the tradition of how great these teas have always been and continue to be. It’s just a wonderful cup that helps alleviate any stresses in the world.   That’s tea for you.

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One of the reasons I picked this is because it reminds me or Spring and warmer months ahead.  Even the packaging would tell me as such.  It’s beautiful.  And beauty is only a few more weeks away.

Funny how the ingredients list honeybush, natural mandarin, natural orange, and then other natural flavors. Honey, mandarin, and orange, now that’s a trifecta I can get down with.  This isn’t that mandarin orange soda you had when you were a kid and didn’t realize the detriments soft drinks had.  This is natural.  And speaking of which, do you wonder what those natural flavors in this tea are?

When you look at your cell phone or cable bill, they’ll always list other fees at the end of your statement.  We question that but move on don’t we?  I tend to believe seeking of natural flavors has a much more positive connotation.  Interesting analogy I know.  Maybe the mystery and intrigue is what we want.   Either way it’s a winner.

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To keep it healthy, I enjoyed it with an apple.  This is my random take on a fruit salad but it worked.

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Well enough of the meta and more tea.  This is great and I want more.  And you can have more too.  It’s so easy to order online and locate at your nearby grocery store or shoppe.

Here are the links in the United States to purchase locally and online.

For my pals in the United Kingdom, here you go.

And for the rest of the world, this is an accessible link!

I think I will do another gem from Twinings next week.  For my original post on this legendary company, you can go here.

Thanks so much

Best,

Ideen