The Sweetest Harvest

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This will likely be my last tea post before Thanksgiving, and the timing could not have been better.  After my stories that have involved multiple tea reviews in each, I wanted to scale it back down to one.

I wanted it to be as simple as can be.  I wanted it to be as approachable and welcoming as most of my posts are intended to be.

With that, I take back to an old friend, Celestial Seasonings.

I have a relationship with Celestial that goes back a ways.  Two years ago I dedicated the bulk of the holidays to a bunch of their different themed teas (you can find those posts along with my entire Celestial Seasonings archive here).

Here is where you can find them at a store near you, the online buying option, their contact info, and more about this great company in general.

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After all that, a time to talk about the Sweet Harvest Pumpkin has been long overdue and then some.

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While I may have rushed some of my other selections to make it by my self imposed deadlines, this simple and cozy tea was one I chose to take my time with.

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I have to laugh here.  I would likely lose count on the amount of times I’ve raved about a tea, and said oh there’s cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and natural (or artificial haha) flavors of pumpkin and all the joys of fall.  I’m a cheese ball I know.  I get sentimental and partial to the similar styles and ingredients that all these pumpkin teas contain.

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But you know where the difference comes from?  It comes from who provides the tea, and the soul behind it.  If it’s a company you’ve been sipping from for years, you’re going to have a bias.  And even if the teas aren’t always up to par, you’ll give a certain company the benefit of the doubt over the other.  How I’m writing this might make it seem like I’m going to cover up how I feel about this tea.

No, I love this tea.  And the other major difference besides my love for Celestial Seasonings is the addition of Stevia.  You may have heard of it.

It enhances this black tea with pumpkin (and yes all the joys of fall) combination to a different place.  I must say I truly like this, but it makes me wonder how the tea would taste without it.   Or have I missed the boat, and do all these teas use Stevia or something similar?  I almost feel lost here.

Well no need to beat myself up.  I’m going with the belief and education that this is just a tad different than the other pumpkin selections I’ve had the pleasure of drinking.  But because the taste is so pronounced, was this sweetener needed?

And that’s it for the serious questions.   I’m a fan of this tea and a have of what they’re all about.  Their brand is one of my go to’s in my house.  I’ll drink their teas even if they don’t apply to the season or weather.

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This leads me to my display that I’m quite proud of.  I threw some things together and I think it came out alright.  It’s another in the transition from one season to another, but not really.  This holiday season, at least for me, has blended together a lot better than I remember.

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I choose to be oblivious of the commercial and superficial part of the holidays.   For me, what’s most important, at any time of year, is focusing on the simple, the joyous, and the good.  Those are all synonyms of each other, and that’s my point.   This time of year is a time to reflect and appreciate all that you have, and all that you have.  You see what I’m saying?  I’m talking to myself when I say all this.

It’s the most beautiful and heartening time of year if you let it.  I know, for me at least and many others, it can be harder at times.  But it’s the storms before the calm as I like to say.

This tea is my calm.  This week will be a mix of storms and calms, with a whole bunch of food, people, and parties thrown in.  But this tea is my calm.

The representations of these beautiful dogs are my calm.   I always like to focus on the simple, but something is hitting me right now to be a little more humbled and appreciative than usual.   Ah this time of year.

I love this tea, and the fact that I’ve been afforded this opportunity to deviate from my weekly post speaks to the amount of amazing autumn and holiday teas there are.

This is going to continue, with what schedule I don’t know.   As I write all this I realize I’m going away from the living in the moment, being here now, and being where I am.

This is where I’ll go back to having my cup of the sweetest harvest pumpkin, and being in awe of my tribute to my animal friends, and all the other things that make me happy.

I’m happy that one cup of tea and the place I’m in got me to write so much.   For that I’m grateful.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

‘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

Happy Thanksgiving Week…

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Three is a number.  I did three posts last week,  and I’m compelled to do it again.

As we march towards Thanksgiving, the amount of tea I tried, and want to keep trying got a little overwhelming.  Some brands I will try to revisit after turkey day, if time and the place permits.  I’ll make time.

But for now, I’m recapping three from Republic of Tea.

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The Pumpkin Spice, Caramel AppleCaramel Apple, and Hot Apple Cider teas were all unique and had something to offer for all the same and for different reasons.  I purposely listed the teas in that order as it’s a segue from one holiday season to another.   I know, we got here to fast.

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While three distinct teas, they all carry an aura of familiarity compared to the other.  It could be that drinking so many in a short of time, may dilute the flavors.

It’s also rapid fire time.  I’ll tell you, in the time I’ve been doing this, there will never be enough time, there will never be enough teas, and thank goodness for that.   I also got lost in how many teas came to me without even looking.  There might be a week where I have no idea what I’m doing, and I make a discovery at the final hour.  Sometimes I do better at the last minute.

But when I find blends that add to an already growing list, I find that even more of an adventure.  How much more effort do I put into these teas, while I have time to take pictures, set up displays, and take more careful sips.

In the end it always works out.  But it looks like this will be another week of multiple posts.  And what’s the holidays without a little more excess?  Oh man I’ve been watching too many dopey holiday cinemas already.

So here are the three, in sequential order, with some snacks and displays to go with each.

First, the Pumpkin Spice.

With all the cans, the immediate aromas after opening are all the pumpkin you can handle, and I adore it.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all the other joys of autumn.   I was initially worried when I saw the water turn blurry almost immediately after dropping the bag in the cup.  That may be the signs of a defective bag.  But all fears vanished immediately.

Black tea and pumpkin, with all these other magical flavors, is a match made in tea wonderland.  I also just love black tea right now.  It reminds me of growing up, being around good people, around family, friends, and enjoying myself.  At the time I was drinking this, it was just the tea I needed.

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Thankfully these tins are in 50 count bags, so I will be enjoying this after the new year.   That’s exactly right.   As you see, some friends joined the party and helped me indulge in some holiday chocolate treats.

The Caramel Apple is the simplest of the three.  And that doesn’t mean it’s any less in quality.  While I’ve grown to love Rooibos, and love it some more, this wasn’t my favorite.   While I still enjoyed it, nothing about this made me go crazy over this tea.  Personally, caramel doesn’t always work for me in certain situations.  This is a matter of taste and acquired taste.   Less  is more, and while this is a good tea, it wasn’t the best I’ve had.

In a different setting, with different people, or in a different frame of mind I might be giving you another story.   And perhaps in a little while, I may give you another story.

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Was there meant to be a turkey in this setting? Haha oops.

The Hot Apple Cider is created in a way to mirror how cider would taste in its natural form.  Those aren’t my words, they’re in the description. Well maybe I’m overanalyzing.

This one is fun, and in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  That’s how I feel about all three of their teas.  There’s a lot of care put into it without being too pretentious.  And the aura of this company gives one of a a regal nature.

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The flavors of apple, cinnamon, and the many other fruit and fall flavors, make this a joy to drink into the holidays, late into winter, and good for many other situations.  This is a a tea for now and forever.   Wow that was dramatic, but I mean that.

These teas are symbolic of what’s good in the world and what’s good about the holidays.  And you can’t ask for much more than that.   There’s no need to.

I found these teas already at a discounted rate at my local grocery store, so hopefully if you’re in the market for some of these, you can find them.

For more on The Republic of Tea, here is their story, their social responsibility, and contact information.

I wrote about them some time back, and will not wait this long to do so again.

Their teas are available for purchase online.  And while their teas are mainly $10 and up, for a count of 50 and then some, I think you’re getting your monies worth.

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you.  I hope it’s an enjoyable one for you and your loved ones.

Ideen

 

 

 

Springtime Feelings In The Middle Of…

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

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

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

Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I love this one so much.

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

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

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

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

I wish you good health and a happy holiday season.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Trying To Carry On Tradition…

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Literally right under my nose has been this incredible display of loose teas from Wegmans itself (some under the ITO EN umbrella), and until earlier today, I didn’t pay it any mind.  Shame on me, but also I understand that maybe there was a reason it took so long to get around to trying their loose teas.

The reason might be that I’m dedicated the next three posts, over the next three days to six of their teas total.  So this is where the bonus posts are going to start showing up.  There’s so many holidays and only so much time.

As Christmas displays begin to take over the front display cases and several aisles in not just your local Wegmans but many a store,  I want to live in the moment.  We’re still over a week from Thanksgiving, winter is over a month away, and it’s still November, so let us celebrate that before we look too far ahead.

Over the next three days I will do six total teas.  So two a day.  I wish I could do more, but time and the sake of brevity may not allow that at this time.   Coming up with the right teas for the right time of a year is only challenging if you let it.  Well I let it.  There’s so many teas I want to talk about, that I will do my best to get to them this week and next week.  And then it will be time for the winter, Christmas, and all the other holiday themed teas we look forward to.

Well there I go maybe not living in the moment.   But the moment is now

First, I want to give the proper acknowledgement to Wegmans for allowing its customers to put as little or as much loose tea as we want to put in these respective bags.   Some of my bags cost under $1.00.  That’s service with a smile and at a price we all can agree with.

First up is the Salted Caramel Pumpkin Dream.  Now like all these bags, they all smelled good initially.  The aromas will stay with you even after steeping and boiling.  Yet this tea was my least of the bunch.   Nothing about this translated any further.  It had no body, no structure, and not much to offer.   It felt like an easy sipping tea that doesn’t really inspire.  It’s a tea that serves its purpose but not much else.  To call it a tea that’s just kind of there would be apropos.  And whenever pumpkin is involved, that’s even all the more disappointing.

I didn’t taste much in the way of caramel.  It was more chocolate like to me.  I just felt like there wasn’t much substance to it.

The antithesis of that would be the Creamy Vanilla Pumpkin. Not only did it tasted like it smelled, but it’s a splendid tea that I could have all year round.  And thankfully as these canisters tend to near its end for the season, I saved a bunch in these bags for me.  And this one I will look forward to enjoying even after the season passes.

And in my many ways the season passes before it ever really begins.  It almost seems that were already preparing for pumpkin season next year.  What is the rush in life?  Lets enjoy now.  This is a tea to enjoy now and quite honestly forever.  The same could be said about many teas.

Yes, some people are purists when it comes to pumpkin season.   I might be one of them.  I love the traditions.  The title of this post says so, so it must be true…

But in all seriousness, if you can get your hands on the Creamy Vanilla Pumpkin, I would encourage you to do so.  It’s possible as we get closer to Thanksgiving, you might even be able to get it at a discount rate.  I wish I would elaborate on what the ingredients are, but sometimes things are better left to interpretation.  It’s a fantastic tea and maybe there’s no need for any more than that.

And it went nice with some pumpkin O’s.  Yes any chance to find anything pumpkin I’m all for it.  My pantry is loaded with pumpkin stuff that I may eat into next year, but don’t tell anyone ok?

But I said live in the moment, not tomorrow, not next year, but the here and the now.  And while people tell me to be where I am, I need to remind myself of that fact.

So during these next few posts you will see teases of Christmas but also a celebration of now, Thanksgiving, and various cups, treats, and displays that not only make me happy now but all year round.  It’s a celebration of so many things, which is what the holidays are all about.

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I look forward to this part of the journey and I’m so grateful to change up the posts and shake things up a bit.

To find a Wegmans near you, click here.  And here’s my history of posts from this iconic and landmark grocery store.

Have a blessed one and you’ll be hearing from me tomorrow.

Ideen

Hoping There’s Time

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This week I may be cheating just a little, or I’m just pushing the boundaries oh what exactly constitutes a tea, and every now again I’ll throw in a cup of coffee.

So how fitting is it that I take it back to another familiar face and friend, Baltimore Coffee and Tea.

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This week I take it to the Odenton, MD location, which is a first time for me.  The area is quiet, it’s connected to residencies and is part of one of the many towne centers you see popping up in every town or any location that has enough people that developers see the need to justify a towne center.  While many look the same, this location and it’s surroundings does feel a bit more charming and cozy.  There’s lots of green and trees in the vicinity, which is always a good thing.

The beverages I’ll be reviewing today were based on a simple question, ‘have you tried these?’  Two out of three is pretty good, and before today that number was zero.

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I’ll save the Hot Apple Cider for later in the year, if there’s time.  But the Dirty Pumpkin Chai is something I had to try.   It’s early November, the time is now or never.  More on that in a second.

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I like the chai but it’s not setting the world on fire.  There’s truly no need for any analysis. You know what you’re going to get.  I assume black tea and milk since it’s a chai.  But it could all coffee for all I know.  I’m willing to wager zero dollars that I tasted some cinnamon, nutmeg, and all your other fall essentials.  I enjoyed it with a pumpkin biscotti.   It’s great for now and it’s great until this limited time beverage ends.  But I know there’s better out there.

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The Salted Caramel Mocha was way too rich for me.  I mean it’s coffee with stuff that I don’t usually have.   For the sake of trying something new, I wanted to try something new, but I could barely get any sips in before my stomach and my head began to ache.  There’s a lot more sugar in there than I can handle.  But again, just because I don’t care for it, doesn’t mean you won’t.  And I imagine I would be on the minority on this one.  No biscotti, or any pastry, was going to work with a drink like this.  But my cranberry and pistachi biscotti tasted great on its own.

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But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if these drinks are going to work for you or not.  I’m looking at the cup half full here and knowing that Baltimore Coffee and Tea has been good to me many times over the years, (previous stories can be found here) that a minor hiccup is not going to change that.

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For their coffees click here, their tea list is here, and their growing list of store can be found here.

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I made a comment about time earlier.  Because I feel (and I’m inclined to believe many others such as yourself might too) time is moving rather quickly, and there’s so many teas I want to talk about..  I may make more than just my weekly post as we head towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ve been introduced to different teas, discovered different teas, drinks, and similar entities that I feel a weekly post may not be enough.  So I hope to take this further if I can make the time.  And that’s something that can be easily done.  Yet I still have to make the time for it.

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And I will…

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

London Fogging

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I have a muse (or a dear friend rather) who I will turn into when it comes to tea suggestions.  You would think with the season we’re in, that it wouldn’t be that difficult.

And it really isn’t.

But I’m grateful for ideas and suggestions, because that’s what tea and the love of tea is all about it, informing, sharing, educating, and most important of all, sipping.

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So when my friend suggested I write about a couple of teas from Starbucks, I was intrigued and surprised.

I’m immediately thinking pumpkin this and pumpkin that.  And while there is a pumpkin pastry included with my two teas, the pumpkin teas will return at a later time.

It’s all about chai and this is quite the chai my friends.

My friend had asked me if I ever tried the Chai Latte or the London Fog Tea Latte, and suggested I write about one or the other.  The answer is right in front of me.  How about both?

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I was reminded that I may have had the Chai Latte before, when we used to frequent Starbucks on a regular basis.  I know frequent Starbucks on a regular basis.  I’ve become accustomed to local tea and coffee shops.  It’s where my heart is and it’s the symbolic gesture I feel I need to be doing.   Nevertheless, the Chai Latte is fine.  It’s just what I remember, if this is what I had before.  If you can get what I’m saying, it’s not that memorable.  And I’ve grown to like Chai’s in the past few years, partially because of this blog, and because I’m all about expanding my horizons.  This isn’t anything special.

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The pumpkin cream cheese muffin that I had with my chai, either became tainted because of my chai or it wasn’t that great on its own.  I love pumpkin and I didn’t get much pumpkin here.

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And I love cinnamon, cloves, and milk.  This screams fall and would hopefully scream success.  I know many love it, and will love it if they haven’t tried it.  To me it’s just a latte you could have anywhere, and not spend as much on it.    It’s not that it’s even that  sweet.  It’s just that I’ve had better.  And the black tea, which is the most important part of it for, seems to be lost in the shuffle with everything else.  And it’s not like there’s too many moving parts.  This would usually come together well in another setting.

And before you think I’m being hard on Starbucks…

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Then there’s the London Fog.  Oh my goodness, now we’re talking.  I knew it was great before I even ordered it.  And it’s because my friend told me that it’s not on the menu.  She told me if you mention London Fog, they will know what it is.  Now that’s a friend. And this is a tea.  This is a tea latte.  This is art.

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The ingredients are here, and this take on Earl Grey is giving me chills after I write about it.  It was a joy to sip and was so kind to my sense, my taste buds, and my spirit.   I adore the way bergamot smells and tastes, and it’s the highlight for me even with the lavender, vanilla syrup, and milk thrown into the mix. They’re all perfect complements of each other that enhance the Earl Grey.

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You can see why I prefer this more.  The integrity of the tea remains intact while everything plays its part perfectly.  This paired perfectly with their Caramelized Apple Pound Cake.  A match made in tea and autumn heaven.

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I must mention that the Earl Grey is from Teavana, which I happily wrote about some months back.

 

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I will gladly come back and order the London Fog a couple more times before the season changes.  And this is something you can have through the winter, so there’s plenty of opportunity.    I highly recommend it if you’ve never had this before, and it’s a different take on a classic tea.    Tremendous.

In the past I’ve mentioned that Earl Grey was likely the first tea I ever sipped.  And knowing myself, I appreciated the simplicity of it.  I’m not big on adding anything to my tea.  If a tea is that good it doesn’t necessarily need milk, honey, cinnamon, or anything to overcompensate for a tea, whether it’s good or bad.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t try or embrace teas with those same additions.  I’m all for trying something new.  I’m happy the London Fog worked out.

More to come as I feel rejuvenated and have so much more in the world of teas to talk about.  It just keeps on getting better.

Peace be with you.

Ideen