Same As It Ever Was…

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Rockville, MD has seen so many changes in recent years.  These changes in these once historic towns are inevitable, necessary, and at times heartbreaking.  We can take comfort in the way things used to be, but also embrace what’s arrived, and that more is coming.

As many things do change, one of the constants (which has evolved to something special, but I haven’t attended in years…) is Rockville Hometown Holidays which celebrates Memorial Day with live music, food, street vendors, a farmers market, the parade, and all the other stuff that makes any festival, community, and party magnificent.

I have such fond memories of going with my family, to at least the parade part.  It was something to look forward to on the calendar every year.  It was the simplicity of just being at the parade, and appreciating the marching bands, the floats, the people, and the community groups of this fare city.

Yes, it’s more of a city now, then a town.  And so much has changed.  People grew up, got older, moved away, and moved on.  Yet there’s still a soul and spirit that remains.  The historic parts and older looking neighborhoods are still the majority and not there in spite of anything.  There’s still lots of character, all the while all these new places have shown themselves.

My family embraced that change.  They’ve been here in some form or another for nearly forty years.  So instead of fighting it (there’s nothing to fight really…), I welcome the change, because much of it is great.

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This includes the ever so charming Lavande Patisserie that opened several years ago, in one of the newer parts of Rockville, that is involved in this evolution.

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The outside is just as welcoming as what’s going on indoors.  The pastry list is a joy, tremendous and I’ve shared many with my dad on the most random of days.  One  thing that has always stood out is their tea list.  If you aren’t paying attention you won’t see it.  They’re known for their coffee, which I will try down the line, but for the sake of this discussion, and the season, I went with something beautiful.

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The Matcha Lemonade is an absolute joy.  It was per the suggestion of the staff, and it was more so along the lines of what I wanted.  And while the teases of Spring and Summer are here, so are the change in teas.  This was wonderful.

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One thing I forgot to do was stir.  The matcha is on the top and the lemonade is on the bottom.  I adore that.  I didn’t have my straw all the way down, so the first thought was why am I drinking this iced matcha.   This is why one (meaning me) should take their time and not rush things. So I take the straw a little further down, like a normal person would, and got that sweet lemonade taste.   I could have finished this in one sip, but this is not the point.  It should never be the point.  This is one to be savored, appreciated, and cherished.

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I love this tea so much.   The lavender shortbread cookie that I was drawn to (or was drawn to me) was meant to be.  I almost didn’t want to eat it, it looked so pretty.  Those lavender pieces are a sight for all eyes.  What a joy this was.

The benefits of lavender in times of uncertainty are something else.  This place, this matcha, and this lavender, it all just found me.

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I noticed looking across the street something so familiar.  There was a family connection, that only hit me as I started writing this story.  It’s the street where the parade I mentioned about earlier still takes place, after all this time. I get a laugh out of that, and then a feeling of sadness as well.

Life goes on, and as there’s much to be embraced, there will be much to miss.

Tell the people you love, that you love them.  As much as you can.  That you love them so much.  And when they pass, you will miss them so much.

Yet, you’ll always love them so much.

I love you so much.

I love you…

Love,

Ideen

That’s The Island Greeting…

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This post is long overdue for several reasons.  First, a friend brought me a couple of boxes of Hawaiian Islands Tea Company, and while I sampled them, I just never gave myself the opportunity to write about them.  That, or the timing didn’t seem right.

For more on purchasing Hawaiian Island Teas, click here.

Speaking of timing, a recent visit right after Christmas, to the ever-so-charming Café Latte da in the beautiful Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, told me the timing was just right.

I met up with a friend on a truly random day, which are always my favorites.  The intention was coffee, breakfast, maybe a pastry, and who know what else.  But intention and attention to things change.  Yes there was coffee, but I recall fondly how charming their tea display was.

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While you see a familiar brand in full display, off to the left was the Hawaiian Islands that have alluded me for far too long.

It was meant to be.  It’s really that simple.  I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I detached myself from the universe, whether I realized it or not, and the tea was just waiting for me, in plain sight.

The tea I’m actually going to talk about is the Coconut Macadamia Herbal Rooibos tea, that I’m actually sipping on currently to make this post a little more authentic.  I may do more of this in the future, if I can gain even some more inspiration reminiscing on the past sipping experience, and how I feel in the present, and as I write this.

Considering that this was a little under a month ago, and still technically in the holidays, a lot of feelings and emotions are already in place, and even more amplified because of the season.

For all the melancholy, there’s always much to be grateful, hopeful, and to be happy for.  Just the fact that I’m able to write this out is a blessing.  And the fact that you, me, or anyone else has a gift to express themselves is another one.  I could go on and on.

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How was the tea?  While it may not make sense to drink it during the colder months, it made all the sense to me.  It makes all the sense.  That’s what’s so great about tea, you can have many of them, hot or chilled, and many during any time of year.

This was a great tea.  And Roobios continues to be impress me and make me so happy.

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The flavors of coconut and macadmia are enough, more than enough, to make you smile, feel good, and feel relaxed.  As the synopsis says Rooibos is known to help with digestive issues and nervous tension, which is something I’ve been dealing with for quite some time.  And while I think most natural teas, have so many health benefits, it’s good to know that Rooibos is exactly what I need more times than not.  No matter I’ve been so drawn to it.  That’s no accident.

You know what else helps with tension?  Good company, a quiet space, and plenty of time to listen to what’s going on with the friends in your world, in a setting that I yearn for.

 

HITeaCoconutMacadmiaTeaSantaI haven’t been to Latte da since, and I almost in a way feel that’s fitting.   I’ll go back for a coffee, a pastry, a breakfast item, and time will go on, and I won’t think about things.

But another magnetic force, a sign from the universe, and something much bigger than I can describe will bring us back here for another momentous day.   I might be sound dramatic, but these are the experiences that better me as a person, humble me, and remind me that it’s ok to feel whatever it is I’m feeling.

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I hope I’m forgiven for posting these holiday images a little late. Haha.

I want to believe the universe loves me, forgives me, and is here to look out for me.

It looked out for us on this day.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

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

Sunday In The Summer Tea Party

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The calendar still reads September.  My love affair with Infused Tea Company concludes (for now) with what have been my favorite of the three.  Actually I can’t say that for sure. Each visit over the weekend told a different story, yet it also told something similar.

After knowing what to expect, my third visit was anything but ordinary and predictable. I just love not knowing what I’m going to order ahead of time.  A large menu with so many options helps.  It helps with expanding my palate, my horizons, and ultimately making this another endearing and perhaps out-of-body experience.

Saying I love tea is an understatement.   It’s been a part of my life since the beginning.  It will always be a part of me.  Whoever invented tea and the whole experience has created a way of life, that is way past the point of cultural.  It’s just a part of so many of us.  It’s become commonplace that I’m hoping the majority of us appreciate how beautiful the ritual is.  Because tea with friends, with family, with snacks, or with nothing at all is something so genuine that words will not always paint a picture of this joyous thing.

What also brings me joy is Matcha.   And over the past couple of years, via this blog, and other wonderful situations, it’s also become a staple of my life.

And this leads me to the conclusion of what has been a Summer to remember.  This was back in June, but the Infused Tea Company of my other adopted city St. Petersburg, FL.

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I didn’t even need to look at the menu this time.  On display for everyone to see (well it was kind of understated all the same) was a sign for Matcha Lemonade. I may have seen it the day before and kept it in on file, or this was a spontaneous and welcome surprise.

What a surprise this was.

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You might think that the dichotomy of flavors with how the powdery green the matcha tastes against the sweetness of the lemonade would be a disaster.  Not even close.  This blend worked perfectly.  And it worked that at least for me, it’s not something you’re going to drink quickly.  I took enough sips and enjoyed my time outside, that it felt like time stood still, I could do this all day, and I think I did do this all day.  Timeless..

I got another pastry to for display, and to complement my enchanting beverage. Seriously, how photogenic does this all look?

And once again the views and the weather could not have been better.  We’re in the 80’s to 90’s on this June day, which ironically wasn’t technically in the Summer.  Not that big of a detail but now that we’re in Autumn, the temperatures are basically the same, and will be like this for a while.  So while here in Maryland, lemonade and iced tea may begin to phase out, in beautiful Florida, you can have everything.  And everything is everything.

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But this Matcha Lemonade was one of those spiritually healing and invigorating kinds of drinks.  Again, I don’t know the exact words to give it, but this was special.  I can imagine having this at home, or somewhere local, still finding it special but maybe not having the same memorable experience.  Not everything is nor should it be.

This was my last day of vacation.  It was bittersweet (and I don’t mean the lemonade) but also a feeling of calmness came over me.  It was time to go home.  I saw some great friends, did some great things, ate some yummy food, and have some of the best tea experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

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The bikers I mentioned from last week were back and the crew looked bigger.  That’s a great life and that’s how I’m told the Gulf Coast does.  It’s all about outdoor activities and living a healthy lifestyle.  I was living vicariously through them, but in a way I was living vicariously through myself.   Oh man… I miss this city so much.

That’s it for now.  If there’s time I’ll throw in another post from this amazing place.  I love St. Petersburg so much.  I love Infused Tea Company so much.  I’m so glad I was invited to visit, and so grateful I got to experience such an amazing tea scene.

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I’ll be back and can only hope the experiences I’ve had thus far (my Florida experiences can be found here and here), can come close or maybe even exceed what I’ve seen thus far.

Here is the link to purchase their awesome teas, their accesories, and their location for those local or visiting.

Thank you so much Infused Tea Company, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.   It’s been a glorious time.

Fall and pumpkin themed teas as we head towards October, begin next week.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Another New Years Special

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Love,

Ideen

 

Father’s Day Special

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I hope everyone enjoyed their Father’s Day. This post is a tribute to my dad and one of his favorite teas.  As I’ve stated before, he’s the main reason I have a passion for all things tea.

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Ahmad Tea is a very popular tea all over the world and for good reason.  They have a multitude of varieties and flavors. It’s too much to process quite honestly.    There’s so many that I could do a separate blog on just them.  There’s also so many that they have a separate USA website.

Over many visits with my pops, we’ve indulged on many a tea and many a flavor.  In particular the Ceylon Tea has been the drink of choice.  And it’s got some pop.  Pun intended.

There’s another layer to this.  As you can read, the Ceylon comes in three grades, in loose and bagged format.

This package contained the red band.  If you look closely, you can see the orange tint in the leaves.   I think that’s a nice touch.   It adds a little flavor aroma that makes this tea go down smooth, with a little bitter taste at the end.  But I think it’s just right.

For more on their story you can click on this link.   What always makes me feel good is reading about the charities these tea companies are actively involved in.  It makes me want to do more and play my part.  And it feels great to support them.

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We enjoyed our feast with some delicious Iranian food.  We had some ghormeh sabzi, which is a traditional dish from our country. And we finished it off with some incredible pasties, which included baklava and other charming sweets!

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In honor of him and the holiday, I treated myself to another cup.  My dad, having the sense of humor that he has, packed me some tea in a medicine bottle.   I appreciate the recycling and comical aspect of it all.

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Back by popular demand, the Tovolo is back! For the inaugural post on this thing of beauty, click here.

As always, I love the prepping, infusing, and steeping process.  So the photos of this journey are shown below.  Can you see the orange and red leaves in the infuser? Magnificent!

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If you look close at the picture below, you can see a bubble on the left hand side.  That sequence was going on for a few minutes. Very cool.

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And how great is that color?  The red-orange hue really shows.  That’s a work of art right there.

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I enjoyed this masterful beverage with one of my dad’s favorite treats, dried figs.

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I can’t wait to enjoy another cup and meal with you again.  Here’s to you pop!

Cheers,

Ideen