Festively Flavored

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I teased it last week and knew I was going to go back for a couple more from my old pals at Trader Joe’s.

When browsing their tea section, and looking for anything new I can get my hands on,  something told me to just walk around some more.  And when you’re at a store as captivating as Trader Joe’s, that’s not hard to do.

But after grabbing some free samples, at the corner of my eye in in the refrigerated beverage area, I spotted something new, something hopefully something inspiring, and most important of all, something perfect for the holiday, and the season.

They have recently introduced Kombucha to their already impressive repertoire of teas, and for that matter many of their food and drink products.   It was only a matter of time.  It never crossed my mind to think they would carry Kombucha until now.

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When I saw the two on display basically begging to be purchased, I didn’t hesitate one second.

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I will admit that when I saw the Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea, I thought it read Gently Gingerbread, which would be quite ambitious.  Could you in theory make gingerbread flavored Kombucha?  Of course you can.  But that’ll have to wait.   This is…

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This wasn’t good.  This is about as flat as a Kombucha I’ve ever had.  And it’s not that it was terrible.  Take out hoping that this would taste like the flavors of the season you love so much, it doesn’t take like much.

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If you’re not into fermented drinks, this is not where you want to go.  These are meant to be sipped, savored, appreciated, and and drank slowly like you would have a cup of tea.  But this was a struggle.   I usually save my Kombuchas for a while if they’re in protected packaging.  This is the first I’ve had in a can, and I don’t think that’s anything to really expound upon, other than the fact is I’m going to have a hard time wanting to drink this again.  But if was able to be sealed I may give it another chance.   And  you know what, I still might?

You taste ginger but it’s light, it’s lacking, and it’s missing the heart and soul I want from a tea and now the Kombucha I drink.   This was about $2-$2.50, so I wouldn’t dissuade you from not trying it.  You might love it.  But I would say proceed with caution.

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The Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s you see here and in the next display of sweet treats are mainly for display, as I still want to celebrate all the deliciousness that Trader Joe’s has to offer.

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All is forgiven and all is glorious, because their current offering, just in time for the holidays, the Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha represents everything that’s right with the world, and that includes Christmas.  Especially Christmas and the holidays.

This makes me so happy.  The color tells one story, but the combination of cranberry juice, apple juice, and cinnamon within this black tea work-of-art is just what you want this month.  I would say you could have this year round.  Yes you can.

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Again, while this one is easy to drink, it’s one you take your time with.   The amount you see poured here is the amount I had.  Yet this one was kinder to my stomach , so you know the probiotics are working! I can’t rave about this one enough.   And at a little under $3, it’s worth splurging a bit on this.

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Can’t forget those Peppermint Joe Joe’s.  Again, this is not really a pairing but more so an homage to all the joys of this holiday.

This will not be it for Trader Joe’s, as my history has shown, I will always be on the lookout for whatever awesome item they will introduce next.  Just when I think I’ve done it all, I know I never will, nor do I want to.

This is a journey, it’s a marathon, and anything but a race.  It’s not a race against time or anything else.  Though the holidays may feel like all of the above and then some, it’s about enjoying all the moments you can, with amazing food, drink, and of course the people.   We’ve got a lot holiday left and I look forward to what’s next.

Peace Be With You.

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

Sipping Joyfully

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I love fall.  I also love that I have all this time between now until the holidays to revel in all of these wonderful teas.  And believe the best is here and the best will still be coming.  It’s going to be a perpetual thing.  Well unless I find a stinker.

And this week is anything but a stinker.   But while I tend to do a decent amount of repeats from some of my favorite teas and companies, I’ve forgotten about my go to’s and my old reliable’s.  Old reliable’s sounds like such a demeaning term.  But that’s not what I’m intending at all.  But how on earth that the last time and only time I talked about Tazo was in January of 2015.

Just become something is so accessible and available doesn’t mean we should take it for granted.  As we know, Tazo is most likely in a store or shoppe minutes from you, and that’s something to be celebrated and appreciated.   I’m going to show my appreciation for two beautiful teas that I just discovered over the weekend, the Organic Baked Cinnamon Apple and the Sweet Cinnamon Spice. Yes these two gems not express what’s good about fall, but what’s good and beautiful about life.

First up, the Cinnamon Apple, once again demonstrates how good rooibos is as a tea.  My ever growing of rooibos teas posts can be found here, but before I digress, I want to explain just how amazing this tea is.   Not only is there rooibos but that other charming taste is chamomile.  To blend these two teas together to create something so delightful is a work of art.

But of course you can’t forget the two featured flavors, apple and cinnnamon.  If you’re into these flavors as a part of your daily breakfast, say via oatmeal, an apple on its own, or throwing cinnamon on top of anything (I absolutely adore cinnamon and try to add it to whatever I possibly can within reason), this is another reason to celebrate.

I enjoyed this in the comfort of my friends’ house, with no added treats necessary at all.  I’m all for pairing a tasty snack, pastry, or yummy piece of food with my tea, but sometimes a tea is best had alone.   I let the bag steep for a while, and kept in my cup, while drinking,  The chamomile and rooibos are the perfect counterbalance for the apple and cinnamon.  This tea is magical.

Not to be outdone is the Cinnamon Spice.  This one I liked but it had a little more kick to it, where it was one of those semi-rare instances where I had take the bag out of my cup because it was a little sweeter than I expected.  And don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this for different reasons.  This is perfect for the colder weather months as well.  And I suspect I will have a newer found appreciation for it then.   But it still warmed my heart, my stomach, and my soul.  There’s rooibos in here too, along with a whole bunch of other goodness such as licorice root, orange peel, almond extract, and of course, the cinnamon.

I think I would give the edge to the Cinnamon Apple just for the simplicity of it.  But I would highly recommend either for your peaceful, change of temperature, or any other celebration that makes you feel good, and makes you feel at peace.  Both of these teas did just that.  And being in the friendly confines of a pals house with some lovely company of dogs will make any tea that much better.   No dog pictures here.  I’ll save that for a Pet Blog, if I feel inspired to do so.

Tazo has so many incredible teas that there’s no time to get them all.  Well maybe there is.  But it won’t be that long before I get to them again.  If I discover some more gems that fit with whatever time of year it is, I’ll be sure to give them their proper due.

Here is more about Tazo, all the good that they do, and their contact information.

I adore fall, and I can’t wait to see what I get into next week.  I look forward to sharing it with you.

And never mind what I said earlier, here’s some fun dog pics!

Take good care and have a blessed one.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn In Annapolis 2.0

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Time just keeps on moving.  It’s really starting to feel like fall, with a few days feeling bright and sunny.  That sounds like Maryland weather.  That sounds like a return engagement to Annapolis.  Well it’s actually just part two of what I started last week…

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I wish I could write about Spice & Tea Exchange every week.  I’ve written about them quite a bit (those stories can be found here), and it never gets old, and their seasonal teas, along with all their teas, continue to amaze, dazzle, inspire, and inspire some more.

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This week I change up the infusers and this one seems a little more light hearted, less serious, and will make anyone feel good.   The Duck Infuser is one you want to put in your pocket for safe keeping, because it’s just so adorable and so worthy of protection.  And it’s adorable resting spot is fit for a king, or a duckie!  Yay!

But it also provided one of the most effortless and enjoyable steeping and sipping experiences I can recall.  They’re all fun but this one seemed to flow just all the more organically.

First up is the Caramel Apple Tea.  This once again first presents itself as a tea loaded with fruits and spice that you might think would take away from what a tea is all about.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  When I initially smelled this tea I smelled loads of cinnamon and apple, but didn’t take into account this is a black tea from China and India combined.

This was absolutely stunning, visually and on sipping.    How pretty is that color?  I got more of the black tea then any of all the fall flavors.  And that’s just fine with me.  It makes sense, since there’s loads of caffeine, which is helping the thoughts and ideas flow a little quicker and with more alertness.  And it’s all natural my friends.

This was appropriately served with an apple round danish.  More for display but it tasted great too, and fits perfectly with the fall theme.

Next up, is the one that intrigued me the most.  But not in a way that outshines the other three limited time teas.  It’s just that the Custard Tart Herbal Tea is a melange of fall and those colors that you would hope would match the picture.  This is quite yellow.   That would be the butternut squash pieces along with maybe a few other things.   I dig that there are pecans in it.   This is creativity at its finest.

And no my tea did not brew as yellow as a butternut squash soup.  It didn’t actually smell as bold as when I first smelled the jar at their Annapolis store.  But when you’ve gotten so many scents from not just the teas, but getting a whiff of their sugars, the spices, and seasonings, can cause your mind may go delirious, it may think you’re getting something you’re not.  This is not a knock, this is just my observation and experience.

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Nevertheless, this was another enjoyable one.  There’s a lot going on here, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger.  persimmon, orange, allspice, among so much more.  Everything brings value, even if you or I aren’t able to taste anything and everything at once or after reach respective and upcoming sip.   With all this goodness, it would make me sad for anything to get lost in the shuffle.

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A coconut custard danish was served for this round.

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With that being said, I felt inspired to add a little Pumpkin Pie Sugar I talked about last week, to my cup.  And it blended perfectly.  Fall and life is all about adding fun stuff to the equation.  I wouldn’t ordinarily add anything on top of my tea, but I wanted to experiment, and the Spice & Tea Exchange is so good with ideas and suggestions.  This one fell in my lap.  And I’m grateful for that.

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But what I’m most grateful is my friends helping out with the accessories.  Once again thanks so much to my dear friend Rebecca for providing the Annapolis based mug, and my new friend Sara who works at one of the coolest stores in town, Local By Design, for suggesting the Blue Crab Mug.  They’re pictured this week as well as featured in the other two seasonal teas I reviewed from last week.

To learn more about  Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you. Thankfully, you can order everything online, if there isn’t  a shoppe near you.

And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  If you get a chance to visit, either if you’re local or on vacation, I think this is well worth a visit.  You can get lost easily, as I did, as there’s so many levels and rooms to this place.  It’s loaded with substance on the surface and in a spiritual sense.   As promised I’ve added more picture for your visual pleasure.

It’s so early in the season.  I have some idea of where we go from here, and got lots of time and lots of teas to figure out what’s next.  This was so fun, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from the gems of Annapolis.

I sincerely hope you’re enjoying your fall, your day, your week, and everything in general.  This is that warm and fuzzy time of year, that might make you feel, well…

Have a blessed one, and take good care.

CustardTartXOXO

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Times The Cozy

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The last time I wrote about a tea sipping experience in Ellicott City, it was one of those transforming events that can’t ever be replicated.  It was almost too good for words. Actually it was and I went ahead and wrote about it anyways.

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You can’t compare one over the other, and it looks like I just did before I even began, but, the Bean Hollow nestled in perfectly in Old Ellicott City has the charm and panache of what makes this neighborhood so great.

I’ve been here several times before but under different circumstances and right before I started doing this Tea thing that I do.  If I had known now what I knew then, this would become a fixture.  And it just might be.

The place is so inviting, so cozy, and will charm even the most grouchy and dopey of patrons.  Well maybe not, but I think so.    There’s nothing that’s going to jump out and scream overly pretentious at you, and this is what most of us want.  We want a local shoppe that makes you feel at home even when you don’t know anybody.

You don’t have to now anybody.  But in this community, at least for this moment, it seemed like friendly folks knew each other or knew of each other.  And in the most positive and warm of ways.  As an outsider, I want to believe that.  There were several random smiles and hellos from people I’ve never seen before (maybe I have hmm..) and it’s still always a pleasant surprise to me.  It should be the rule and not the exception.  I think that made sense.

All I intended to do was to come in here for breakfast and maybe grab a coffee or tea (yes tea!!) to go, and keep on doing whatever I was doing.  I’m not sure what that was, but unless it’s something dire, was there really a rush?

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I was set on what turned out to be a delicious breakfast sandwich and noticed a bunch of teas on the counter from Montana Tea & Spice Trading llc.

Never heard of them.  Not sure how else I would discover them but I’m happy it happened here.

There were packages for sale but I kindly asked the staff if they sell these teas individually for sipping.  And they kindly said yes.  Yay!   I went with the Cherry Almond Green, and honestly it likely tasted better because of the setting.

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What I mean by that is if I drank this at home or on the road it may have just felt like any standard tea.  Not that there would be anything wrong with it, but I’d likely forget about it as soon as it over over.    But because I sat down, had a lovely breakfast, and my tea was presented in quite the charming cup, the results were likely so much different.

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Otherwise it tasted like a standard green tea with some cherry flavoring added to it.

And I took my time too.  By knowing I’m not always here, and not sure when I’ll be back, I took a few photos of my food and tea and then turned the camera off.  This was peace that is (by mainly our own doing) harder to come by.

Many coffee and breakfast shoppes are charming yet they all have similar and sometimes bland characteristics. This one had a little more to it.  I know my love affair with charming towns like this one have much to do with it but regardless this tea likely tasted infinitely times better because of where I was and how I was feeling.

In addition, I would absolutely try more of their teas in the future if the opportunity presents itself.  And I hope and I know that it will be at Bean Hollow, which makes me so happy.  I can’t wait to go back.

Here is more on Montana Tea & Spice along with their contact information if you’d like to know more.

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If you’re in the vicinity I would definitely stop by Bean Hollow and maybe you will find a source of rest and relaxation here as well.

Take good care,

Ideen

 

 

The Perfect Everything

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I want the posts throughout this Spring and beyond to focus on teas that are enjoyable, accessible, and approachable.  There will be the occasional forays into iced teas, tea ice cream, and who knows what else.  But I looked back at some of my posts and while I do all these articles (or whatever we choose to call them) out of love and joy, I do find myself coming off a little too serious at times.  I just can’t help myself.

This is why I will intend to have the titles, the stories, and everything else to resonate in the most spiritually positive ways as I can.  If a tea is disappointing then I’ll elaborate as to my thoughts on to why, but still focus on the positives where I can.  Some teas and some scenarios are beyond help, but hopefully those will be few and far between.

With that said, I will see how it goes and hope I can stick to what’s most important and celebrate my love of tea.  And what better way to keep this going then by sharing my thoughts on two spring themed and fruit forward teas by my one of my long time staples, Bigelow.

I was all set to discuss with you some of their newer creations, but the universe had other plans for me.  And I hope to get to that next week.  So this looks like a two-parter or back-to-back with one of the most recognizable and available teas in all the land.

Here are previous stories on this great company.  I’m surprised I haven’t written more. Well more is coming.

But without any further buildup I’m thrilled to share my thoughts with you on the Wild Blueberry Acai and the Perfect Peach.  With names like that, you know they take themselves seriously while not taking themselves seriously?  Do you know what I mean? Or maybe I’m reading more into this than I should.  I tend to do that.

I’ve had a couple of their herbal teas before but not these.  And I’m glad it wasn’t until yesterday that I got to try both.

First up is the Perfect Peach.  What I have found out about Bigelow in general is that steeping needs to be short and sweet.  It only takes a couple of minutes to get the all the flavors you’re hoping for.  In addition, the color permeates your cup almost instantaneously.  Sometimes certain brands take a few seconds or a minute or two to get that intended tint.  And even more than a few minutes to get all the flavors.  This is not a question of quality or anything like that.  It’s just what it is and my interpretation.

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The Peach is just fun.  It’s not going to blow you away or win any awards.  It’s just an enjoyable tea that promises as delivered.  I didn’t expect to taste a peach pie, and I’m not sure if I did.  And to tell you the truth it doesn’t matter.  It’s a tea that can be enjoyed heated, and I can only imagine how good this would be iced.  I’m detecting a theme of revisiting like I mentioned last week.   A huge positive to take from this is it doesn’t taste like an artificially sweetened peach pie or tea, or what have you.   I may not detect all the fruits, hibiscus, and flowers mentioned in the ingredients.  But what I do taste is a lightened and heightened peach based tea that evokes feelings of Spring and feeling good.  That’s all that matters.

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I could have stopped right there.  But if you thought the color of the Peach was quick, the Wild Blueberry Acai is a perfect shade of purple.  Oh and it sips well too.  Just like the Peach I expected the Blueberry as opposed to the Acai to be the main attraction in my cap.  I can safely say that I tasted both and the combination is fantastic.  And thankfully it’s light, and as a dear friend said, delicate, just like the Peach that it can appeal to any sensibility and even the most discriminating of tea lovers may like either of these teas.  I lean a little bit towards this one, but would recommend either.  And the benefits of blueberry and acai are your friend.

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I’m grateful some of my cat friends pictured throughout wanted to share in this experience with me.

Both the teas are my friend and can be yours too.  They are available in just about every grocery store and local shoppe where you secure your favorite teas.  And I’ve seen their 20 count boxes at $3 or less.  And sometime even below $2.   You will be getting your money’s worth and then some.  And if you don’t, I think a couple dollars to try some new teas was worth the stretch.

If you can’t find their teas near you, here is their link to purchase online.

I’m hoping to continue this next week with a sampling of Bigelow Benefits.  Now I just need to find them myself.

Blessed,

Ideen