This Culture Is My Friend

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Of course the culture I’m referring is the probiotics and all the goodness found in the Master Brew Kombucha by Kevita.

What else would I be talking about?

I have a few people to thank for getting me into Kombucha, and it has enhanced and expanded my horizons, and given me some more content for this blog.  And I’m all for new stories (here are my previous write-ups on Kombucha) and experiences

My mind was set on writing about this amazing beverage, but with which brand and with with flavor(s) was to be determined.  Even when I have some semblance of a plan, I rather still keep it fresh and as meaningful as possible.

So in browsing the natural and organic aisles of my local supermarket, I noticed the list of companies making Kombucha is rapidly expanding.  I’ve even met some folks that are in the process of brewing themselves.  That might be a topic for another time but let me not lose focus.

I had seen Kevita in many grocery store refrigerators, and paid it plenty of mind.  It’s been in head to sample a couple of there Master Brew’s to see if they’re in fact masterful.

For this post I decided to make it a two for one and try two of the more summery flavors. We still got a long season to go ladies and gents so I want to make the most of it.

First up is the Pineapple Peach.  Seriously, does it get any better?  It’s quite possible, no. Now many of us have had fruit cocktails or fruit punch drinks that tend to mix one or more fruits too many.  And that’s drinking unnatural and products likely high in sugar, among other nasty additives.  And with all that sometimes these big companies still tend to mess up something so simple.  Not here.

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This was awesome.  And this is one of those kombucha drinks that if you’re not careful, you can finish off rather quickly.  I’m of the belief that these drinks are meant to be savored, not chugged and rushed through.  My body is still getting used to drinking this, so I believe in taking it slow as it gets adjusted to change.  That’s just an opinion and observation I’m making for myself.  You may think and feel different, and that’s what makes this tea and kombucha journey so exciting.

Pineapple and peach were merged together to create something so colorful, so delightful, and so invigorating.  I had about half of my bottle.  The other half I will enjoy soon.  But I want to appreciate the beautiful color and texture of this Master Brew.   Seriously, isn’t this so radiant?

Kombucha can go with anything but sometimes I like to have it with nothing.  This time I had it (again slowly) with a couple of equally fruitful and powerful health bars, perhaps you heard of them.  Yes Larabar is awesome too.

Next up was the Raspberry Lemon.  This tasted more like what you’d expect from a kombucha.  It’s not as easy to drink in my opinion.  And while I still thought it was alright, it’s nowhere near the Pineapple Peach.  Some going are going to love it, but this is one that took a little more time for me.  And in a way that’s a major point of this.  It’s not supposed to be rushed, but something about this flavor combination didn’t hit me like the first one.  And that’s quite ok.

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This was more for display, but you can see the Raspberry Lemon is paired with purple heirloom chips.  The Larabar’s is what I truly feasted on.  They’re so yummy.

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Since the kombucha thing is still so new to me, I want to revisit Kevita much sooner rather than later.  They have a plethora of flavors I want to try, and there’s no time like anytime, or something.

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Kevita is easily accessible in your area and here’s the link to find it near you.

Here’s a little local culture for you, and the live stuff too.

This is all good stuff.  Culture can be your friend, and this is one instance where it absolutely is.  I’d love to go it again.

Come to think of it, there will be likely be more kombucha next week from a different source, and source energy.  And I’m so excited.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Artscape Has My Heart

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I tend to say this sometimes.  Not everything has my heart.  If everything did would there be room for anything else?  I’m not sure.  But I’m sometimes selective in what I place stock and loyalty in.   If not, the things truly of value, may lose some of well, there value.

Since my first Artscape in 2006, I’ve never not been back.  I fell in love with the aura, with the atmosphere, with the culture, with the food, and a new found love for the city of Baltimore.

I was late to the party, so I have no idea how the event was before.   But I do know it’s evolved with the times and so have the people.  For a while that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Everyone has their take but somewhere in the late 2000s to the up to a a few years ago, the event lost something.  The spark, the local food vendors, the local artists were put on the back burner in favor of more corporate, more generic, and more vapid food suppliers, artists, and literally everything else.

Certain parts of the festival were eliminated, bands were booked for the sake of filling a lot, and overall the event had an arbitrary feel.  It was done just to do.  And not much else.

It felt like any other festival,  carnival, or sanitized event that you could find on a weekly basis during the warmer climate months. It no longer felt special.  It was still Artscape but not the Artscape we remember.

Then something beautiful transpired.  Enough people spoke up and over time.  They wanted local,  and I mean they wanted everything as local as possible.  The feedback was massive and unanimous.  People wanted their old Artscape back and to feel like its a Baltimore thing and no one elses.  And not in a territorial sense.  But we’re here, it’s the city, and it should represent that.

Now I could be wrong with everything I’m saying.  It’s just a feeling and an observation, that is shared by many of my friends.

The past few years has seen a renaissance.  With few if any exceptions, the festival is local.  The restaurant booths were all proud displaying a Maryland location,  the artists just the same.   While national acts were booked, that’s different.  That’s always been part of the event. But now the artists seem to be there because it clicks with everything else and not just there to fill space and time.

For many it’s just a festival, and for others there’s a sentimentality.  I always have and always will look forward to walking around on my own and becoming one with this event. I’ll run into people sure, but this is one I’v always enjoyed going at it alone, especially that Friday day, when it’s quiet and I can take in so much more.

Of course I’ve joined friends but Artscape has taken on a life of its own that hits us all in unique ways.

With all that, I did want to talk about a serendipitous tea experience.

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For our pals in Baltimore, Zeke’s Cofee, also hits a sentimental nerve with many.  It’s local, it’s great coffee, and they’re easily accessible.

Now I’ve had their coffee and enjoy it like many others but that’s not my forte.

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So it was a wonderful gift to see that Zeke’s had a perfectly located booth (more on this shortly) at Artscape, and even better, they were serving the most splendid raspberry iced tea.   I think I had at least four over the weekend.

I’m not sure what else was in it and I didn’t care.  It was raspberry iced tea, and on what is traditionally the hotter weekends of the year, it went down like a tea is supposed to. And I kept coming back for more.

A place that’s known for their great coffee also has other things, as their menu states, but it’s a joy to know they’re in the position to make brilliant teas to boot.

What adds to everything is my good friend Rachel who owns Byrdie Jewelry (and her stuff is awesome) had just as ideal of location in the center and heart of everything.  Yes we were right by Zeke’s, we were near the main stage, we were near the folks handing out free peanut butter bites, and free samples of pizza, but like i said, the best of all was that it was in the epicenter of everything.

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My friends and I spent a lot of time there hanging out but did our share of walking around as well.  It felt like summer camp at times, it felt like a vacation (or staycation) in our own city, but most of all it just felt real.   And in a world that’s evolving and ever changing that is not as commonplace as once before.

I can’t go into every detail about all the amazing people I met, friends I ran into, incredible art I saw, or the stellar local foods I ate.  It was a lot.  There’s some stories better kept inside, and many of us like to hold stuff internal and to our hearts too.  I guess you can say I got nostalgic while already there.  That happens.

Every year tells a different story, and this was more focused on taking it easy, letting the awesomeness come to me organically, and being at peace with the universe.  That sounds like a theme I can embrace every year.

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For more on Byrdie, click here for their products, and where you can find them.

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For more on Zeke’s, here’s the link to buy online, and where you can find them as well.

I had a great time this year.  I’m grateful to have been able to do this again and look forward to not only this event, but hopefully others that will embrace their roots and focus on why local business is the best kind of business.

It brings out the best in everything.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

Tuesday Jam Session

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The sweet tooth bug has really hit me these past couple of weeks.  I have no explanation why.  Maybe it’s the sunny weather (or lack thereof), or maybe it’s some inexplicable and something that doesn’t need to be made sense of.  There I go getting all deep on you again.

I believe the choice of tea for this week is only fitting.   Oh and there’s cake too.

Random circumstances brought me back to the Timonium/Towson area and the stars aligned for me to return to a now familiar stomping grounds, Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

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With past posts I’ve been critical of their stalwart tea, Eastern Shore Tea.

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One of the many pleasurable aspects of this thing is that I get to be random.  If I see a tea that catches my eye or even one that looks ominous, I’ll give it a whirl.  As I referenced earlier, my knack for something sweet has been permeating.  So with that resonating in my subconscious, I went with the Berry Jamboree Tea.

I’ve mentioned this before.  There is something missing with these teas. There’s been some quality ones don’t get me wrong.  But the oomph and the pizzazz is lacking.

For sure, I thought one bag would be enough.  The jammy elements of strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry should have made this black tea magnificent.  I wanted to feel cozy.  And with this horrific rain we’ve had all month, it would only be so fitting.  The irony was that it wasn’t and it was sunny.  Go figure.  Even two bags didn’t multiply the fruit.  If anything this cup plateaued.

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Regardless, this tea was good enough to drink but it needs a thing or two to put it over-the-top.  The touch of hibiscus was unbeknownst to me until I read the synopsis.

There may be something to be said about location.   Towson has a feel but not the shame charm I remember.  The store nestled in an office park should scream anonymity and a sense of a tight-knit community.  That might be there but I don’t see it like I used to. Maybe my energy level was not at its best on this day or in previous incarnation, but there’s something more.

The first visit or first experience is always the most unpredictable.  You have no expectations and no preconceived notions.  Well there’s exceptions but I think you know what I mean.  My original visit to the Timonium location was special.  But honestly I have no memory of when this was, what I ordered, or whether I was with anyone.   But it was special.  Some memories stay so private and internal, even with the person who created them.

Annapolis, on the other hand, has my heart.  And there’s that small town and community feel I yearn for and that I love.  Oh and there tea variety is a bit more expansive.   I just have to go back and report from there again.

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I love local and love supporting this company.  Even though this tea was only good, but not a masterpiece, will not deter me from trying some more.  Something tells me this will be revisited this summer.

For more on their teas or to purchase, click here.

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To sunnier days ahead,

Ideen

P.S. That lemon cake was delicioso!

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One Love

I’ve wanted to find any reason to incorporate the things I love into my posts.   And fortunately, the iconic and legendary Bob Marley is near the top of that list.

I found out about Marley’s Beverage Company only a few months ago and was looking for the perfect time to write about it. Well the Summer is the right time to talk about anything cool.   I didn’t want to wait all the way to February on his birthday to write about it.

I could only hope that a grocery store or the like would carry a product with such a monumental and historic name attached to it.

I am grateful to say that was the case.   Even though there were only two flavors available, luckily they were both the bottled teas. And did they taste fun and yes, I’m feeling mellow.

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Of course there would be a bias and I was hoping they would taste at least satisfying.  It was all that and so much more.  I felt great after sampling both.  It became more than sampling.  I decimated both.   Thankfully they were decaffeinated or I’d be bouncing off the walls.

As I’m writing this and feeling so calm, I realize that on the products site, they list the 100% Natural Calming Botanicals and this feels more than a placebo.  I feel so at peace.

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First up is the Black Tea with Peach, Raspberry, and Passion Fruit.  That is quite the trio of fruit.   And the trio comes together for a masterpiece of flavors.  I felt so good drinking this.

Most important, the tea does not get lost in the shuffle even though these powerful fruit flavors are included.   I can tell a lot of soul and a lot of passion (pun not intended) is behind this beverage.

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And then we have the Green Tea with Honey. The tea and honey combo is terrific.  There’s an even balance that both complement the other so well.  I’m relaxing and enjoying life sipping on this one as well.

This is also a tea that should be savored and drank naturally. Neither of these feel like the usual chugging iced teas or cold beverages that other may seem designed to do.

In what is now becoming a tradition with my recent recaps, I opened up the bottled and poured them in glasses so you can get the beautiful tints and shades of both.

How gorgeous do they both look?

To see if their beverages are sold near you, click here. And to read more about this great company, click here and here.

I had so much fun trying these teas and talking up how great they were, that I hope I get the opportunity to do so again.

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One love.

Kindest,

Ideen

It’s a Summer Fest!

I can’t go the whole Summer without taking about one of the greatest places on the planet.

Wawa has brought me happiness for so many years.  And today I realized I hadn’t done their flavorful iced teas this season.

And I go here on a regular basis.  And when I mean regular basis, I mean almost everyday.   What’s the opposite of taking something for granted?  Well hopefully that’s my relationship with Wawa.  I love this place and I feel the love back.

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And speaking of love it’s Hoagiefest.  It’s one of the many and unlimited reasons I love this season. And it’s an event I always look forward to.  And their hoagies have always resonated with me.  Not only do they taste great but I always believe the soul and feeling behind is usually a good one.  I just don’t mean the person fixing it up themselves.  That’s one thing.  But I also mean the spirit of the franchise itself.

So during this fiesta, the food and everything else takes on a life of its own.

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In regards to the teas, I’ve always enjoyed their peach iced teas along with their half tea and half juice creations.   During the indoor festival other items are sold at lower prices, including many cold drinks! So with that I grabbed a couple of others I’ve never had, for this review.

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The diet raspberry tastes very light, hence being a diet drink.  It’s a very refreshing and tasty beverage.  This is not only for this year but I feel this can be drank all year round.

The blackberry is very sweet and since it’s a regular beverage is quite the dichotomy from the aforementioned diet raspberry.   It’s a unique taste but maybe a bit too rich for me. The higher sugar content would likely steer me away from trying this again anytime soon.   This wasn’t a favorite of mine. In the photo you can see it has a stronger shade or tint than the raspberry.

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I am really digging the raspberry tea.  And it paired well with a succulent oven-roasted turkey and swiss hoagie on their fresh baked whole wheat bread   What a great complement to one another!

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And from complements to compliments, I can’t praise Wawa enough.  I will throw them all the superlatives and support that I can. They were just named the best convenience store in the United States.

One of the my great joys of these postings is when I see these companies show their support for the community.  If

As of this writing, Hoagiefest runs for a couple of more weeks.  If you’re fortunate to be in an area where there’s a store nearby, I’d definitely check it out!

For my previous post on their hot teas, click here.

I think I will write about a few more of their iced and bottle teas this Summer.  They’re that meaningful and significant to me they deserve multiple posts.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen