The Joy and Peace of the Season

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay

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

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

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

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

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

BaltCoffeeChristmasSpirit

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

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

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

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

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay2

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

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

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

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay3

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

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

BaltCoffeeChristmasDisplay4

I hope you guys had a Merry Christmas.

Ideen

 

It’s Beginning To Look…

StashHolidaChaiDisplay

Yes it is.  It’s less than a week till Santa, Rudolph, and all their friends will be bringing joy to folks like you and me.

StashHolidayTeas

And that includes some fine teas from Stash that perfectly embody what the holidays are all about.  Holiday Chai, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Morning are the three I decided to go.  I would’ve done more and I might later, but these teas scream fun, heartwarming, love, and all the joys of what makes this holiday season so bright.  The labels say so, so I have to believe it right?

This post may go the way of how many of our seasons are going, which is a frenetic pace with little rest.  However, if I find my stride it will settle itself.  And that truly applies to any time of year

Ha well here goes.

The Holiday Chai was different than the usual chai’s I’ve had in the past.  And that may sound like I’m reaching but after further review the ingredients speak for themselves.  Natural gingerbread and natural Jamaican rum give this black tea an added kick for the holidays.  Yet this can be drank at anytime.  I found this enjoyable and I’m not one to always find chai’s to be my favorite.  But this was really good.   And a little nutmeg never hurts either.

StashChristmasEveBag

We now fast forward to Christmas Eve.  There’s a deliberate order to this because I like y sentiments as cheesy as they might be.  Just like these cheesy mugs you will see throughout.  But when it comes to the season, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

StashChristmasEve

Just like with the previous tea, the Christmas Eve has cinnamon as well.   And while there’s orange, vanilla, and other flavors, the major problem here is the spearmint.  It was too overpowering for me.  I wasn’t a fan.  And while I may like spearmint gum (and that’s not my favorite either), this did not work for me.

StashChristmaEve2

And that’s a shame because I love Christmas Eve the day itself, but this tea didn’t work.  I envision some will like it, but I doubt I will be having this anytime soon.  It was, in my opinion, an ambitious effort that comes up short.

StashChristmasMoningBag

Now we go to what was my favorite, Christmas Morning.  How apropos.  Didn’t you love Christmas morning as a kid.  And I mean the day itself.  You loved the simplicity of it, the time with family, opening gifts, the smiles, the music, the food, the smells, and all the other little things you can’t put into words.

StashChristmasMorning

This is my kind of tea.  It’s a simple mix of black and jasmine green teas.  And while I love all the creativity of these tea blends with dynamic flavors, fruits, oils, and other essences of this universe; sometimes you just want a straight forward tea.

This is as straight forward and simple as it gets.

I remember drinking this thinking this is my dad’s kind of tea.  He got me into drinking simple black, Earl Grey, and eventually green teas.  This is just a blend of all those simple tea drinking moments with family.

This is the kind of tea that speaks to me.  Well all have things that hit home, in a spiritual sense that makes us something bigger than whatever it is that we’re eating, drinking, doing, and in this instance sipping.   I felt an out-of-body experience while having this cup.  And as I write about this, those feelings are coming back.

It applies to this tea, and I hope it applies to you and yours this holiday season.   This tea is beautiful and I hope the rest of your season is beautiful, through Christmas and beyond.

Here are my previous holiday posts on Stash, here and here.

For more on Stash Tea, here is their story, teas available for purchase online, and where to find their teas at a store near you.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Walking In A Winter Wake Up Tea

TJWinterWakeUp

I honestly thought I went through so many of the teas at Trader Joe’s, that I thought it would be a while till I got around to talking about one of my favorite stores in any capacity.   My fear is that this would go past the holidays and they would be left out in the cold.

Not a chance.  And there’s no need to worry.  Everything is going to be alright.  After all it’s the holidays.  This is where magic, hope, joy, peace, prosperity, and a universal feeling of love means the best of what’s around.  Yes I did just quote someone.

Here’s my Trader Joe’s history lesson.

Maybe a break was needed.  There’s so many teas from so many companies I’ve yet to get around to.  I may never get around too.  I have my favorites, I have my sentiments, and I have a soft spot for traditions and celebrations around this time of year.  Sometimes I share tea with the ones I love.  For this one, I went at it alone.   Well there were plenty of props and snacks too.

These two debuting teas are the Apple Cranberry and the Winter Wake Up.

But with the holidays that also means loads of sweet treats, unhealthy eats, and hopefully no feelings of guilt.

You will see some of the sweet treats I purchased pictured below.  Not all of them were used with these teas, and they may be used at a later time.  I just wanted to share with a little sampling of how creative and charming the flavors of the season can truly be.

In honor of the full moon that was this past weekend, I will be working backwards, but not really, as it only makes sense.   I think (no I know) the full moon had me going a little cuckoo as well.

First is the Apple Cranberry.  What stands out is that this is not actually tea.  The description even says so.  Yet it’s all natural and full of such life.  It tastes like hot autumn, but I think this would work chilled, and if you felt the need to add a little libation to it, that would work too.  But I didn’t tell you to do that.

No tea leaves are used, so there is no caffeine.  It’s the perfect drink to relax with and maybe even ease you into a lovely nap or deep sleep.  I feel quite comfortable as I write about this now.  Not quite tired but peaceful just the same.    The combinations of apples and cranberry stand out to make this a winner.  Throw in a little cinnamon and this screams autumn, the holidays, and all is right with the world.

TJAppleCranberryDisplay1

Well at least in the world of tea, this is the best non tea I’ve ever had.  It might be the only non-tea, tea, I’ve ever had but that’s besides the point.  As of this past weekend I saw this at my local Trader Joe’s, but it seems to headed towards clearance if not already.  So get on it if you have a chance.

The chocolate stars are a perfect complement to your home, and for any gathering.  Mine were simply for display.  Well maybe I had one or two, oops.

TJAppleCranberryDisplay4

And yes this display you might as well call Christmas Commotion!

The Winter Wake Up tastes and feels like breakfast, but could be had any time.  I’d be lying if I said I had it in the morning.  But it tasted good just the same.  Yes this is more in line of your traditional black teas with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, and licorice.

TJWinterWakeUp

This is a great tea, but I’ve had so many recently, that I don’t know where to rank this.  It’s not fair to rank it.  What I’m saying this, if I had this in a different context, I may think this is up there with all the awesome teas I’ve had this year, and especially this season.  I may be over analyzing a bit, but I think I’ve been spoiled.   Nevertheless, I’ll be drinking this a lot this year.

And as soon as I say all this, the flavors that came out from this cup when shared with these Speculoos Cookies made this an incredible combination.  So in a way everything I said in the previous paragraph becomes augmented to a significant extent.  These cookies are incredible, and I need to revisit these again while paired with another Trader Joe’s tea or some kind of holiday themed beverage.

TJWinterWakeUp2

We go from Christmas Commotion to a more relaxed affair.  But both teas helped relaxed me, but I found myself settled a bit with this display.  Hence the full moon and working backwards stuff I was referring to.

TJWinterWakeUp3

So if you can get your hands on either of these teas, and I’d say grab a few.  At $2.50 it’s not going to hurt you too much. Hopefully there is a Trader Joe’s near YOU.

TraderJoesLogo

With that being said, I’m hopeful and in all likelihood going to explore a couple more tasty delights from this store I love so much.   There’s a lot of time and a lot of holiday themed teas and drinks to explore, from Trader Joe’s and many other magical places. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

I hope you’re having a great holiday season up to this point, and wish you many great days ahead.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Warms The Heart…

WegmansHearthWarmerDisplay3

I love having too many teas to write about.  I just wish I had more time.   There will never be enough time.  I mentioned yesterday that this will be part of a trilogy.  In a proper sense, I would write about Wegmans loose leaf teas in a spaced out weekly fashion like I’ve done in these three years of post.  Oh my goodness, this blog is three years in.  It’s been long overdue to change up a few things.

But the more things stay the same, I still believe things are meant to evolve organically, naturally, and all in good time my friends.   But with a that being said (and I’m not even sure what I’m saying), it’s time to talk about the next two teas from my new favorite tea shoppe, the Wegmans loose leaf tea department.

The Sweet Cinnamon Tisane looks, smells, and tastes exactly how I envisioned when I first grabbed a whiff at the store.  I mean cinnamon should be a part of everyday life, and I imagine for many of us it is.  I have it with coffee, toast, breakfast, and with many of my teas.   To already have cinnamon, which has so many health benefits, infused into this herbal gem, makes me so happy.  And it’s decaffeinated to boot, so you can drink this at all hours of the day without fear or worry about staying up all night.  But this is a tea worth staying up all night for.   Wait, not sure if that impassioned statement kind of backfired but oh well!

Just that color and all the lovely melange of herbs makes me yearn for this time of year.  But this is an all the time tea and can be paired with anything or nothing at all.  After a sizable meal or eating loads of comfort food at an upcoming party this’ll settle you down.

WegmansSweetCinnamonTeaDisplay1

You know what else settles me down?  My love for animals.  And as I said yesterday, there will be hints of the holidays to come and a celebration of cups, mugs, artifacts, gems, and what have you of what makes me happy, not just this year, but any year.

Some dear friends of mine gave me this beautiful Labrador Retriever Dog Plate as a birthday gift.  I’m so grateful.

WegmansSweetCinnamonCookies

Throw in a few pumpkin cookies and I’m good to go.  I don’ t think I ate them though haha.

WegmansSweetCinnamonTeaDisplay2

I love animals so much, including my four legged dog friends, that I felt the need to honor them.  And I want to honor and salute them as much as possible.  They’re even more important to us during the holidays.

Next is the Hearth Warmer Blend, which up until a few minutes ago I thought was the Heart Warmer Blend.  So instead of changing my title, I’m going to own my clumsiness. Hey it’s the holidays, I get a pass don’t I?

I have to laugh at the synopsis of this one.  Lots of vague words like notes, aromas, flavors, and balance.  Oh and something about chocolate.

This tea was fine, but I don’t even remember how it tasted now that I think about it.  And I don’t even mean to say it as a bad thing.  Nothing about it stood out or told me, ‘oh man this is a great tea!’.  It’s one of those teas that I kind of don’t even want to try anytime soon.   I may not be making sense but I rather be an enigma just like the description reads.   I’m just realizing this now as I write this to you.

WegmansHearthWarmerTeaDisplay3

Maybe I’m just entertaining myself, or making more of a production than I intended.  But I’m in a festive mood, it’s the holiday season, and having fun with tea or anything is what life is all about.   Still with that being said, I’m not sure what to make of this tea.  Maybe I’ll revisit it down the line, and compare and contrast it to something.   To what I don’t know.

That’s pumpkin spiced cereal I got at Wegmans on clearance.  Yes pumpkin stuff was on clearance starting a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure what the rush was, and I shouldn’t complain. I got plenty of cheap eats and material to last a little while…

WegmansHearthWarmerTeaDisplay6

Even better than that, my love of my other favorite four legged pals, my kitten friends.  I love my cat so much, and I feel honored to celebrate her here.

This is the middle of this three part story.  The finale (well for now) comes tomorrow.  Maybe I’m in a funny mood but I think my love of animals on display may have blinded my love for the teas on this go around, especially that Heart(h) Warmer.    I’m still puzzled, and I shouldn’t be.   But that cinnamon is awesome.  If you can find some at your local Wegmans, I’d say go for it.

For more on these teas and their provider, go to ITO EN.

Like I said yesterday, you can grab as little or as much as you want.  Some of my bags were barely over $1.00.  So it’s good to experiment and prepare for what you may or may not love.  It’s a fun process and the journey is just as beautiful as the destination.

I look forward to that journey, and the forthcoming destination continuing tomorrow.

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

 

Saturday Afternoon Tea Party

InfusedTeaStrawberry6

This is not quite the go home post for summer and my (and perhaps yours) summer vacation.   We’re not seeing displays for autumn and the teas, snacks, and everything else that fits that mold.   But one thing at a time, and I’ve still got some sunshine and those happy things to talk about.

This is part two of what looks like another trilogy, that will either be completed next week or right before.

InfusedTeaFront

When I fall in love with a place, I tend to overstay my welcome.  At least in my head I think so.  I’m sure any business appreciates repeats business, and the Infused Tea Company can have take all my money and all my patronage it wants.  And especially if it keeps the amazing teas and just as important, the amazing energy going.

InfusedTeaCustomers

Last week I wrote about the night time scene in St. Pete, and how Infused Tea sits right in the heart of all the action, and all the atmosphere on Beach Drive.   Beach Drive and the charming streets nearby are just that, so charming.

Now my Saturday morning visit was self fulfilling and intentional.  I went for a run and I knew would stop over here, along with a few other places.  In what matter, in what route, or any other details would be presented to me as I drew closer.   Needless to say, I did get to visit some other shoppes, but I found a cozy, scenic, and spectacular view of Beach Drive.

InfusedTeaView

Even though the city is growing, there’s still plenty of parks, trees, green, and all the other good stuff that makes this planet great.  I felt so happy and felt as content as I’ve been in some time.

I said all this without actually talking about the tea, and pastry.  Yes, pastry!

InfusedTeaStrawberry4

I’m going solely on memory and romanticism.  The Strawberry Pear which can be found in the Fruit Blends category, is an all year tea, heated or iced.  The strawberry and pear is a beautiful blend of summer fruits.  I love pear and don’t have enough of it in general. The apple makes it perfect for the fall.  But in St. Pete, in Florida, this is fortunately a tea you can have year round, hot or iced.   As someone who can appreciate the changing of the seasons here in Maryland, I can also appreciate having a consistently warm temperature that allows you to eat and drink the same (or different) meals without having to adapt to much to the change in temperature.   But to each is own!

InfusedTeaStrawberry3

This was another awesome tea.  And being in a place of peace and harmony only made this that much better.   There were lots of people walking, running, and cycling in the area.  And many stopped over to enjoy some tea and hang out with their friends.  It doesn’t get any better than that.    The cyclists in particular had quite a large crew, and made me think about wanting to join a club like this.   Ah this is so fun.

InfusedTeaStrawberry2

I’m recalling so many cool things, details, and experiences within this hour plus span, that I nearly forgot if I hadn’t written this out.  And surely more things will come to mind, but some things are best to remain with me, with you, and within this thing called life that we can recall later and hopefully smile.

InfusedTeaStrawberry

This was one of those uniquely positive experiences that words are not going to do justice.  This was a different Saturday morning for me than I’m used to.  Well of course, its vacation.  I’m sure that magnified the intensity of what I was thinking and feeling, but I always want to think something bigger and magical is going on here.

I like that.

For my running history of this most inspirational of tea scenes in Florida and St. Pete, they’re all here.

As always, for more on Infused Tea, here is their story, their location if you’re local and/or visiting, and a link to purchase to purchase all their awesome teas online.

One more story in this trilogy is coming.   This will either be next week, or maybe even sooner.

Take good care.

Ideen

Friday Night Tea Party

InfusedTeaIced

I think I said last week (and throughout the past few months) that my admiration for the tea scene on the Gulf Coast of Florida (my growing fondness can be found here and here) can not be expressed enough in words, in thoughts, and in anything else.  It’s a time of my life I will always remember, and will find it hard to forget.  I will always appreciate this five days of my life that has brought on a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of joy.

And yes, it all revolves around tea.

Friday Night means different things to a lot of people.  For some it’s a night of rest before getting ready for a fun weekend of doing fun things, for some it’s happy hour. a night out, and in this instance it was one of the great tea drinking experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

It was my first time going with my friend to Downtown St. Petersburg.   Now St. Pete has a lot of charming places to check out, away from the small but growing downtown area. And after a couple of days me and my friend made the short and scenically awesome trek to Beach Drive.

InfusedTeaIced3

The intent was to check out a nice bar or two, or three, if you catch what I’m saying. Maybe a glass of wine, or a nice dinner.  I think my indecisive, restless, and adventurous spirit was thinking something else more organic on this night.

InfusedTeaSign

After doing a lap or two, my eyes were wide open and my excitement hit a whole different level when we discovered the Infused Tea Company.  This place made me so happy.

If I recall correctly, we made it with minutes to spare.  At this point I’m thinking it’s nearly 9 pm.  But I had enough time to take pictures, smell some loose teas, and appreciate all the teas, pots, kettles, infusers, pastries, and everything else I could absorb and revel in these few moments.

I want to thank our teaologist, Ang, for being so kind of patient with us.   I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for in terms of a tea.   In mid-June I was actually contemplating something warm.  What on Earth was I thinking?  It wouldn’t have been the worst thing. I would just have to have saved this post for later in the year.   But time is of the essence, as it was on this night.

InfusedTeaCans

Ang, per his suggestion mixed the Mango Tango and the Tahitian Dream for me, to make the most exquisite, refreshing, and enlightening blend of flavors, inspiration, and soul in this gem of an iced tea.   My friend agreed, the universe agreed, as did I.  Two thumbs up, five stars, and all the other superlatives you can throw at it.  Honestly, the tea could have been mediocre and probably would have tasted much better simply because of the service, the decor, the positive energy, and simply being a harmonious place I hadn’t experienced before.

InfusedTeaCanInfusedTeaCan2

The Mango Tango with its pineapple, mango, and orange pieces are perfect not just for the Summer but I believe any time of year.  And in Florida, all the time is an understatement.  The Tahitian Dream adds not only more pineapple, but passion fruit, and strawberry as well.  Does it get any better?  Maybe, but not on this night.

InfusedTeaDisplay3InfusedTeaBarInfusedTeaTheTeas

This is why I made two more visits to this amazing place during the course of my holiday. And if time allows, I will get to them in the following two weeks, or in a rare instance I may break tradition and post them on different days.  I’m preparing for the changing of the seasons while still wanting to honor how amazing all three experience were.  I’m so happy just thinking and writing about it.

This was at night, the day experiences are a surreal enjoyment all its own.

And I look forward to sharing those fun times with you soon.  But I can’t stress this enough, this was amazing, and I’m grateful I got to share with a close friend.  And I fondly remember my friend was happy for me as well.

For more on Infused Tea Company, here is their story. and their location for those close to the area, or will be visiting.

The good news is you can order their fantastic teas and accessories online.  Many of those accessories are displayed in this post.

I could go on all day, or I could just go on to the next post.   How about both?

InfusedTeaCard

To be continued…

InfusedTeaDoor

Peace Be With You,

Ideen