These Are The Words…

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Summer means a lot to me.  I know it means so many things to many different people, from all different walks of life.

For me it takes me back to when there were no worries.  As a kid my biggest dilemma in the summer was whether I go to summer camp, or stay at home and do nothing, and daydream.   As time has gone by, I find myself in a similar situation.  I’m not sure how many of you may be going through your own trials and tribulations.

Not all of this is bad.  It’s a time of rebirth, reawakening, and rejuvenation.   Perhaps it’s a time to reflect.  Where do we go from here?   As much time has passed there’s still so much left to look explore, look forward to, and to accomplish.

When preparing (or not) or contemplating what tea stories to elaborate on (and some to leave unsaid), I tend to make it more dramatic and complicated than it has any right to be.  For me, or for any of us who enjoy writing, it’s a personal thing.

Memories are so beautiful, and so many are meant to be kept to ourselves, and those close friends and family that we shared them with.  To that I say, some are so amazing, that it’s best to write them or say that out loud, so for where we can capture or recreate details and memories that otherwise we’d forget.

This takes us back to before the long holiday weekend, yet a weekend of companionship, conversation, and doing as much relaxing and being in nothingness as possible.  Nothingness is a good thing in this instance.

I love going to friends’ house and enjoying a day and night in (often more times than a night out now) and knowing that the night has already been made, and there’s no worries or cares of the outside world.

We had plenty of snacks, treats, vino (more on that here), and some of my favorite animal friends and the freshest are there is.  Just what everyone can use, in times of joy or otherwise.

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I couldn’t think of a better place to continue the story of one of favorite entities in general, The Spice & Tea Exchange.

Here’s the link to shop online, their store locations, contact information, and my past stories on their incredible teas.

I want to thank Denise from the Annapolis, MD location for all of her assistance and support.

For the Summer, for National Iced Tea Month (even though this was in May, but I don’t think anyone is going to write me a demerit), and most of all for you and me, I’m honored to discuss their most recent releases and limited time teas, the Blue Raspberry Crush, and the Get Up & Goji.

Both have endearing names, and have endearing qualities that have stuck with me as I write this.  That can only mean I will keep loving these teas more and more over time.

 

Just the colors on the Blue Raspberry are going to win you over.   When it looks this good, I can only hope that the scents and tastes will mirror what you see at first sight.

That’s exactly right.

 

I only wish I added lemon to see the changing of colors.  I’ll have to revisit this again later in the Summer.  Thankfully there’s so much left…

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I think it’s only fitting that my friend prepared this tea hot, but we made it iced and served in the most perfect of glasses.

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This tea was shared among so many other food and drink, but it never got lost in the shuffle.  It was a day and night of indulgence, celebration, peace, and all the emotions in between and book ending.

 

The Get Up & Goji was for the next day.  And after everything has settled, this was the perfect sip for a rebirth, and to get the day going.   Once again, iced or hot, you can’t go right or wrong.  There’s no right or wrong.  It’s all just so magnificent.

 

I’m constantly exhausted lately, so this tea,with the sun shining the way it did, felt like someone or something was watching me, looking out for me, and telling me everything was going to be ok.   You can substitute ‘me’ for ‘us’ or with ‘you’, and it all applies.

 

I don’t recall the sun ever looking so beautiful in my entire life.   I don’t think that was an accident.

 

The company of my friends, and these amazing dogs I’ve had such a history with, made these two days so perfect.

This is why you share these stories, or at least write them out to yourself in diary or however form you like.  You realize the little things or those big things.  And those big things are whatever you want them to be.

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It’s all important.  And with that said, I still left details out (some on purpose), because while stories are meant to be shared, parts of it are not easy to share, just yet, if at all.

And some are just meant for you, for me, and for anyone you want it to be.

I’m so grateful the teas of one of my favorite shoppes, Spice & Tea Exchange, were featured at this vulnerable and emotional moment in time.

It’s good to be back…

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

Love That Blue!

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The Spice & Tea Exchange continues their run of making amazing teas, limited time or not.  I mean you’ve got to be kidding me.  I mean we throw terms around a lot; calling things incredible, legendary, iconic, that we maybe shouldn’t.   Where am I going with this?  I don’t know.   But I would say at least one of the teas I’m going to discuss fits the mold of awesome.

This almost didn’t happen either.  Every tea, every discussion, and just about anything for that matter, can have a a backstory, if you allow there to be one, or if you pay attention.  I’m all for things just being or to ‘just be’, but not today, maybe next time.

I always look forward to a new season, which usually means the Spice & Tea Exchange is going present to us their Limited Time Offer Teas.  And is just out of this world, and out of this stratosphere, literally.

I know I don’t get to the point right away.  And that happens a lot.  But as I say that, I will attempt to shortly.  A serendipitous return to their Annapolis location, meant good times, good vibrations, and hopefully a discovery of their seasonal teas.

And I got ’em down to the wire.

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I was told that they were down to what was left on display, and they had only had them for a short while.   Maybe I lost track of time, not realizing that they’re already in preparation for their summer teas.  I know Summer sounds great.  Everything about it is great.

But first things first.  And yet I completely understand…

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The Aurora Blue Herbal Tea is one of the cosmos.  Yes I said that on purpose.  After seeing it, smelling it, and staring in awe, I wanted to love this that much more.  And this is way before prepping, steeping, and infusing.  I wanted magic, and I got magic.

And with this new Stainless Steel Tea Mug Infuser I purchased, everything fell into place, just like it was always going to.

The ingredients are presented to you up above, and here,  so I don’t need to elaborate too much.  However, what can be said about this color?  Even when I originally got a smell of it at the store, I sensed something incredible was going to come of this.

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That’s what I’m talking about.

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The fact that there’s a tea that can mimic the colors of the Aurora Borealis, is stunning on so many levels.  It’s hard to comprehend and fathom, but then it doesn’t see, crazy.   We’ve seen amazing teas, amazing things in general, amazing anything that we throw out that word ‘amazing’, that it loses it’s value and shine.  But this is magic, and yes it’s amazing.

The transformation while infusing in the tea mug is magical.

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The love is blue, and the love is golden.  Holy moly seriously, who came up with this?  Am I overrating this?  I don’t think that can be applied here.  This is five stars and then some.  Who knew butterfly pea flowers would be the reason for all this.  I would be lying to you if I told you I knew what those were before last week, but be that as it may, I’m not giving this tea enough credit.

My words won’t be enough.  The citrus and ginger are understated yet there that it makes this blue concoction that is one to worship, that will resonate, and will make you coming back for more.  Hurry before its gone.  I should’ve bought more than I did.

So how does the Lemon Drop Mate Tea follow up?  It’s almost not fair, as it’s put in the  come down position.  I went by what I saw first, purchased first, and in a nerdy sense, alphabetical order.  So fun and funny I know.

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When I got my first scent, it was candy, more akin to a lemon Jolly Rancher, so that was exciting.  My next sentiments were this would be just as good cold, as hot.  And I was right.  And while it’s not quite on the level of the Aurora, this has its own charm, its own identity, and a beautiful yellow tint that will leave its own lasting impression on you, if you let it.

If the Aurora is five stars or ten out of ten, the Lemon Drop is no worse than a 9 or a 9.5.  The combination of green tea, Matcha, and Yerba mate (which all make me happy) with a understated amount of lemon, is a a dream sequence.   My own worry was the lemon I smelled before steeping, would be too much in taste, but it was the complete opposite.  Everything became absorbed and one with my cup, and with myself.

What else needs to be said?

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These are both fantastic teas, and I’m so grateful that I got the chance, at almost the eleventh hour, to try them.

Spice & Tea has been so good to me, as you can see my my past write ups of them here. and I’m fortunate to be a part of something so wonderful for several years now.  I only hope it continues.

For more on The Spice & Tea Exchange, here are their teas, which are available for purchase online; their growing list of store locations, and their contact information.

More is coming.  It’s always coming.  But for now…

I wish you a Happy Holiday weekend, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful For The Spice & Tea Exchange

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Well here we are.  Thanksgiving has passed, and we’re well into this most beautiful of times of year.   And when it comes to tea and beautiful times of tear, that can only mean the fine folks of The Spice & Tea Exchange.

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The Spice & Tea Exchange go hand in hand with all that is good about tea, and all that is good about the holidays.  They’ve been so good to me throughout this blog, it’s only fitting that the first ‘official’ teas I review post Thanksgiving into Christmas is in honor and tribute to them.  It would’t be right otherwise.

Here is my ever growing with this iconic and mesmerizing brand of tea.

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With amazing tea, comes the most work and thought put into it.  As with the holidays, a lot of heavy lifting, shopping, card writing, errands, the parties, and everything else in between is going to rear it’s holiday head.

It’s up to me, to you, and the universe to appreciate and savor these moments, or rush everything to the point of not living in any one moment.  I’ve been guilty of that continuously.   So for that reason and many others, I took my time here.  I really took my time here.

The prepping, steeping, brewing, display set up, and all the other minor details took an hour or so.  In the past I may have rushed things.  But what is the rush in life?  It’s life, it’s the holidays, it’s time to savor every moment possible.  It’s plausible I may rush through the teas I’m going to review but I really don’t want to.  I want to tell you how beautiful and charming this experience was.  Because it was.

And I’m so happy and grateful that I’m able to visit their many locations.  This past week it brought me back to their most charming of stores in historic Downtown Annapolis.

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With the Christmas Spirit in the air, and another heartwarming visit to one of my favorite towns, it’s time to review their three teas for this season.

And you will see of old friends along the way, that I’ve used as infusers before.  You could call them the ghost of infusers past.  Yes I really just wrote that.

First, is the Winter Granola Herbal Tea.

What I love about this is while it smells amazing when you first open this bag, and the aromas really hit you, it’s not as strong upon actual prepping.  And while that may sound like a bad thing, or bait-and-switch, it’s exactly what you want.

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My old pal the ManaTea is what I used, and initially it was a struggle.  I only blame myself.  I think this infuser is perfect for certain loose teas that don’t have as many solid pieces.  Get what I’m saying?   But I wouldn’t let that deter me.   Like I said, I remained patient, and wanted this to be as memorable and perfect for me as possible.

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Yes I took my time, and finally we got that color to shine through.  However, as I was saying, maybe this is how it was going to turn out regardless of whatever infuser I used.

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It’s light and has the perfect balance of maple, apple, orange, and cinnamon.  Yes this goes perfectly with breakfast.  I broke out some old pumpkin oatmeal I got off clearance, and it was a match made in holiday season heaven, or something.  Yes, it was beautiful.  This is a well crafted and constructed tea.  But I don’t think I could drink it outside of morning time.  And that’s exactly what’s intended.  Beautiful.

Second, is the one a few of my friends were most intrigued about, the Chocolate Candy Cane Tea.

Again, it’s so powerful on the nose that you would expect it to be too sweet (ha) when you sip.  Oh no, it’s refreshingly light on the tongue and it’s a still a black tea at heart.  And it’s so good to my heart and soul.  And the Pink Pig Infuser was ready to step up and steep.  And my cup got dark in a hurry, which is what made me initially think this was going to sweeter to the point of uncomfortable.

Again, it was the most pleasant of surprises.  And the lightness of the chocolate, the peppermint, and the candy cane makes this a blessing for those who find the candies of this season, that this tea represents a bit too harsh.

I put those said candies on display but strictly for display purposes.  Well maybe I indulged in a few.

Last and certainly not least is the Gingersnap Herbal Tea.

This was my favorite, simply because it’s most like a tea I could drink all year round.  I love ginger and it’s the most distinct taste in this tea.  While you have vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and lemongrass, you still have ginger, and that makes so happy.  The smell of the bag will make you think of those tasty gingersnap cookies, and who doesn’t love that?

This is tea I can have all the time, and I think my ducky friend would approve.   And I think he brought some company.  This one is feeling a bit festive right?  I love that.

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There’s the cookies but you really don’t need anything with this tea.  It’s a caffeine free and herbal gem that I want right now.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

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Oh man, I went into this thinking this would be the heavy lifting portion of my holiday tea posts.  I don’t know.   It seems The Spice & Tea Exchange makes the love of tea so joyous, so effortless, and reminds me why I keep doing what I’m doing.  I’m so blessed.

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I’m happy to present these to you while it’s still November.  But I also think that all the posts that proceed this have a lot to live up to.  If time allows, during the month of December I will try to throw in some more than weekly posts.  I tried that for the last couple of weeks and happy with how that turned out.

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But for The Spice & Tea Exchange I’m going to savor this for a while, into next week, and beyond.   Just when I think I’ve run out of things to say about them, they just create a whole new world of joy, and happiness.

That’s the true spirit of the holidays.

For all your shopping needs, click here, here is their list of locations, and contact info.

This will be a repeated message, but I wish you and yours a happy, safe, and most amazing of holiday seasons.

Peace be with you.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn In Annapolis

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This is where we get to my favorite time of year when talking about teas.   With the iced teas somewhat behind us, it’s time to focus on fall and all the adorable flavors, aromas, spices, and the other glorious entities that come with the change of the seasons.

I’ve stated countless times my love for Annapolis, and it’s not something I will grow tired of.   Walking around Main Street makes me so happy.  It’s been like this since I was a kid, and as I’ve gotten older, I still feel like one at times  It has that colonial, European, and authentic feel that is slipping away in many other parts of the area.  But thankfully the heart and character remains.  And I hope that integrity remains forever, or close to it.  Whichever comes first!

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The Spice & Tea Exchange has a centrally located and charming location in Downtown Annapolis.  They’ve been so good to me over the course of my blogging.  My past stories can be found here.

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I always look forward to the changing of the seasons, because they always have a few limited time teas that embody all that’s good about the time of year and where we are.

I’m going to split this into two parts.  If I really wanted to milk this, I would cut it into fourths, but that would be serious overkill, and before you now it, it’s…. Nah Not yet.

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There’s no sequential order or preferential treatment being given to one tea over the other.  But the two I’m going with this week, will be the more conventional teas (on paper).  Heck they’re all unique, and if this week is any indication, they’re all going to be tremendous.

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But I will get to all the teas and the infusers, this week and next.  I promise it’ll be worth it!

First up is the Spice Orchard Oolong.  All the ingredients are shown above.  What really stands out for me is how understated this tea is.   I’m willing to bet this will be one of the more simple fall-like teas I’ll sip this season.  And with all the creative flavors out there, this will be ironically refreshing in hindsight.

But in foresight it’s fantastic.  Yes I had a feeling this and all these teas would be glorious.  Yes there’s a bias but there’s so much more to Spice & Tea Exchange than the tea itself.  It’s become a part of me and something I look forward to when the seasons change.

Plus, I just adore Oolong tea.  With the flavors of cinnamon, pear, and ginger, along with apple pieces, this is a charming segue of the change of seasons.  Those apple pieces are charming in itself.  Yes I had a dry piece of two and got a guilty pleasure out of it  No need to feel guilty.  It’s beautiful.  This tea is beautiful.

And it was brewed beautifully too.   In my love of affair with this place, I can’t help but get more infusers.   The Tuffy Steeper expands and contracts to your liking and brewing purposes.   I wonder if it had any bearing on how great this tea tasted.  Every element of the universe helps.

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So what about this endearing blue crab mug?  I want to thank Sara from Local By Design for suggesting something so wonderful.  It may not fit in with the season, but it fits with the Annapolis theme.  Both stores are footsteps of each other on Main Street.

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Local By Design is just its own universe of a store.  I can’t describe it.  I mean I can but I wouldn’t do it justice.   I added some photos this week, and more will come next week.  A little teaser now… Seriously, this place makes me so happy.

I also want to thank my dear friend Rebecca who provided this magnificent Annapolis themed mug and this adorable spoon, also from Local By Design, to add some pizzazz to this next tea.

Well here we are. I’m embracing all the pumpkin stuff.  I swear it start earlier every year.  Before you know it, pumpkin season will start as soon as pumpkin season ends.  And with all that’s going on, I’m happy with that right now.

The Pumpkin Chai Latte is not as overpowering as I thought it would be.  When you think chai latte, you might thing too much flavor.  No.  This had just enough.   And having a tea with cinnamon back-to-back seemed like the only way to go.  It’s glorious, gorgeous, and full of pumpkin fun.  This simple black tea with all its additions is a winner from now until this tea goes out of circulation.  Yes these are limited time offer teas.

I thought I tasted a little whip cream too.

When I saw four teas were being sold, I knew that buying three would mean I get a free sugar.  And in serendipitous fashion I grabbed the Pumpkin Pie Sugar. To add a little kick, I added some to this tea, and what a difference it made.  It’s a concoction of pumpkin on pumpkin that once again might not be put into words.  I loved it and I’m pretty sure you will too.   And surprise, suprise it has cinnamon as well.  Add in some nutmeg and ginger and welcome to Autumn.

I’m embracing it and I can’t wait to see where next week takes us.

I want to give a huge thank you to Jessica at Spice & Tea Exchange for being so courteous during my most recent visit.

The cookies that you see are just another way of celebrating the change of seasons.  Happy Fall Everyone!

To purchase these teas click here.   And to purchase any of the fine teas click here.   Yes, shopping online is a beautiful thing sometimes.

For more on Spice & Tea Exchange, here is their story, all their items, and to find a location hopefully near you.

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And for more on Local By Design, here is their story, and items available to purchase online.  But if you’re local to the area, I highly suggest a visit. It’s one I’ll always remember and look forward to visiting again.

It’s early October and we’re just getting started.  I got two more teas and more local stuff to embrace and celebrate.

I look forward to it.

XOXOXSpoon4

Peace Be With You.

XOXOXSpoon5

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tropical Tuesday

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The weather has been breaking and the teas that are coming into my life could not be more appropriate.

For this one we go back to a company that has provided some creative and inspiring flavors, The Spice & Tea Exchange.   And it’s going to be a good one.

I’m grateful that this blog has reached my friends, including ones who don’t find tea to be the most fascinating of subjects.   I had some pals recently travel to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and they thought to get me a specialty tea.  And how about it, they found themselves at their Forth Worth location.   It’s funny how life works out.

To my pleasant surprise, I was presented with their White Tropical Tea.  This is something to behold.  A lot of pictures are in this post and it may not be enough to capture this brilliance of this flavor.  Oh my goodness I’m in love.

TropicalTeaOpenPineapples, peaches, and passion fruit.  Ah you can’t make that alliteration up ladies and gentlemen.  I’m in heaven.  As soon as I saw the packet I knew I was in for something special.  Upon opening I was spot on.  

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The aromas of the aforementioned fruits blindsided me, and in the best way possible.   I hope you can see the pineapple and peach pieces within the white tea. This is the equivalent of art.    I would love to see the process of how this comes together.  I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it as I write this.

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You know when it looks this good, and smells this good, it’s almost a recipe for disappointment.  Thankfully, the tea tasted and moved me in all areas.

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As customary with all brewing parties from the Spice & Tea Exchange, the Tovolo Tea Infuser is the backbone.

Never was there any doubt I was going to love this.  The brewing and steeping process always builds anticipation and excitement, maybe even for teas I’ve had on a regular basis. There’s just something about the journey.

Four minutes was the suggested steeping time and it’s as if the infuser knew that, because it plopped down in my cup as soon as the timer stopped.  Yes I have a countdown clock. It’s just as exciting as it sounds.

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In all seriousness, the color and the flavor matched if not exceeded what I hope to get and what I saw pre-brew. This was perfection. I can’t find any flaws and why should I?  This is a tea that has so many strengths.  I think it would be perfect heated or chilled, especially as we approach the warmer months.

Speaking of which, I had a little fun and paired my cup with some coconut chips and strips. I did no research to find a potential marriage of the food and beverage, but figure and island and summer theme would suffice.

I received a card with my sample pack.  The owners wanted a mention and they’re going to get one.  Thanks so much Mr. Jerry McBrayer and Mrs. Nancy McBrayer for being the long distance new friend to this blog.  If i ever get the opportunity to visit, I’ll come by and say hello.

I find the location above these sample packs so charming.  I’ve been to a few myself but mainly locally.  And adding on to that, I see this chain is expanding rapidly.  I don’t remember this many locations even a year ago.  It’s good to see. This store is going to grow at an unstoppable and exponential rate. There is no ceiling.

For more on The Spice & Tea Exchange, to contact them, or to purchase their products, you can click here.

Here is a link to find my previous reviews of their teas.

I can’t wait to try another from this wonderful company.  As the weather gets exciting and the skies are beauteous, I believe that will be happening.

Stay awesome,

Ideen