Tiki Tuesdee

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As of this posting Memorial Day has passed.  I know I know.  Time just keeps on chugging along and fortunately it’s the unofficial start of Summer.   It’s always about enjoying life, enjoying the things that mean the most to us, and of course the teas that are symbolic of the season.

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Last week I promised to do another two part celebration of the exclusive summer teas from the Spice & Tea Exchange.

If I sound like I have a bias towards them (in a good way) than you’re probably right. Ever since the first time I was introduced to them by one of my best friends, and I first saw those charming miniature sized packets that they came in, I immediately became a fan.   Just how they are, how they promote tea, and how they promote all of their products is a blueprint that I feel many should follow.

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This brings us to their other limited edition selection, the Tiki Punch Herbal Tea.

This one is another winner.  But this also turned into a bit of a challenge.  And I only have myself to either blame or to learn for the future.

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When the synopsis says steeping time of seven minutes take that very seriously.  Because when it came to the iced tea version of this, it didn’t even come close to the pictures you see here.

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After multiple attempts with different infusers the best I could get was more of a yellowish to orange tint.  This is more about my challenges than anything about the tea itself.  Maybe it was how I packed it, maybe it was the universe telling me it wasn’t time (I think it was time), or maybe it was just me.

Maybe I got too excited.  Then I got a bit nervous.  I even broke out another infuser.

Just in time for the party I broke out my new piggy friend from Tovolo, which is also available on the Spice & Tea site and all their stores, is now a new trusted ally and confidant when it comes to infusing.

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The hot tea was easy.  I took my time steeping it and the reddish hue was easily visible without any thoughts of what was to come.  The flavors of apple, papaya, coconut, blueberries, mango, among all the others may not be detected at once.  But with various sips you’re going to get the feeling of the islands, the tropics, the beach, summer, and all the stuff that will literally warm your heart.

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Herbal tea is a friend to begin with and this specific tea is now one I consider a close friend.

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The iced version is truly the way to go.  Like the warmed up version, you get those beautiful summer flavors but you even get more.

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It’s sweet enough that you may discover more of those enticing fruits that may not be found when steeped and toasted via a kettle.  But it’s not that sweet that you might be put off by.

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I could see teas like this really going off the rails and never having a chance from the get go.  This tea is setting highs marks for these Tiki and tropic themed teas that I’ve been told are becoming quite the trend.  I’m all for trying more of these as the Summer continues.

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But lets slow it down.  It’s time to sip, savor, and appreciate all the good that this season, or any season for that matter brings, and feel grateful for where we are.

I have a great feeling about this Summer.  Not in a forced or disingenuous way, but in one of hope, spirit, and a belief that lots of good is coming on top of the good that has already been presented to us.

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What makes me laugh is during the multiple times I tried to get a beautiful looking iced tea over this holiday weekend, it was always cloudy.  As soon as I walked away and chose to town my situation, it became sunny, beautiful, and gorgeous.   These are the things I laugh at.  That’s the universe telling me that it wasn’t my time just yet.

This is also a reminder in discipline and truly respecting the steeping time.  It’s about enjoying the entire process from start to finish.

I’m all about enjoying Summer from the start.

Get the Tiki Punch while you can. It’s incredible.    And the get the Peach On The Beach I wrote about last week.

Of course everything can be purchased online as well as in their beautiful shoppes.

Thanks to my friends at the Annapolis location for two weeks worth of masterpiece like teas.

I hope your Memorial Day Weekend was a good one and I wish you a happy, safe, and blessed Summer.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

 

Peach on the Beach

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We are days from Memorial Day and the holiday weekend here in the US of A.  How did we get here so quickly?  Well that’s life.  We’re busy and encompassed with so many things that while we may wish for holidays, we’re also so occupied with life and activities and everything else that days and events just creep up on you.

Here we go.  It’s the end of May and it’s time to celebrate.  It’s always time to celebrate. The party continues.  And of course that means the tea drinking party continues.

What better way to get this week and upcoming weekend going than a fateful stop to one of the great towns in Maryland and all of the United States, Annapolis, MD.

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The state capital has been so good to me and so good to this blog (here is a refresher), and so has The Spice & Tea Exchange.

Here is my cherished history of stories about this amazing company.

So I’m so fortunate to have ended up in Annapolis this week.  I always believe that nothing is by chance, and just as I was all set to have something else written up for this week, I find myself (or they found me) at their beautiful location on Main Street, which is centrally located to everything exciting in downtown Naptown.

I want to thank Gaby, the manager, for helping me find the correct teas for the season, the time of year, and for the story I’m telling.

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I will never try all their teas.  It just won’t happen.  Actually who knows, but their collection is so colossal that it’s just meant to be that there will always be a journey with this group, and not a conclusion.  I love that so much.

What makes them so sun is they always break out a few season and limited edition items at various times throughout the year.  Some I’ve presented to you over the past couple of years.

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This week I present to you the first of two of their limited time teas, the Peach on the Beach.  And it’s a grower for many reasons.  It smells absolutely incredible.

I think I’m going to like this even more as the weather heats up.  As of the day I brewed this, the skies were grey, the weather was lukewarm, and it wasn’t conducive to fully appreciating all that this tea has to offer.

 

Everyone’s palates and taste buds are different but I didn’t get all the peach and mango I was hoping for.  But after analyzing and preparing this tea hot and cold (yes both!), I understand.  It’s a black tea first and foremost, and I genuinely love that fact.  Black tea is what made me first get into tea before anything else.   This reminds me of teas I had growing up, sharing with my dad, members of my family, and now often with dear friends.

I fully think this is going to taste even better when shared with friends, shared with good times, shared with appropriate snacks (which isn’t necessary), and I fully think shared with sunny skies and glorious conditions.

Mine was sipped in solitude under murky skies and not the most ideal of spring or summer weather.

However, tell to that to my newest friend and newest tea infuser, Mr. Tea.  Yes, Mr. Tea from Fred & Friends, is also available through the Spice & Tea website or at all of their stores.

Mr. Tea is more than ready for the Summer, so he (I think?) might be making another appearance or two in the coming months if it feels right.  Which I know it will.

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So I said I also made it iced.   And not to be outdone by our beach bud Mr. Tea is another infuser and friend I made a couple of months back, ManaTEA.

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The ManaTEA is the perfect complement to any tea and infusing party, that I’m so grateful he decided to join us for this pre Memorial Day celebration.

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I want to add I used filtered water for both cups/glasses, and used plenty of ice for the iced tea.  Well yeah that would make sense.

Once again, I think under better days from the universe this is going to be incredible.  It was really good here but the atmosphere and the sky was not my friend on this day. Actually I shouldn’t say that.  This was how it was supposed to be.  It creates a different perspective for now and once the skies are perpetually picturesque, it’s going to make drinking this tea again all the more satisfying.

So what I did was add a little dash of Rose Sugar.  I don’t see it listed in their iconic list of sugars on the website, so maybe it’s exclusive to in store. Yes, for purchasing three tea packets you get a free bag of sugar.  I saw the Rose and didn’t look anywhere else.  Actually I did but the Rose stood out.  Just the color of the Rose petals and sugar looks like the most beautiful sand on the beach.

I love that this happened.  None of this was planned but it seemed pre-destined or pre-ordained.

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A little bit, and then a little more was added and it did add something to the tea.  I think the teas are perfect on their own but this was the perfect sweet kick to put this tea on another level of joy and inspiration.

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Speaking of inspiration, this company has been so great to me.  I’m a huge supporter of them and they have been supporters of this blog.  All I can hope is that I’m giving these teas their proper due.  Next week will continue with the Tiki Punch Herbal Tea.  Yes you read that right.  It smells amazing, I can only imagine what else it has to offer.

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Here is a list of the Spice & Tea’s Exchange locations, their link to shop online, and their contact information.

I wish you all a Happy Memorial Day Weekend.  Be safe, have fun, drink lots of tea, and then drink some more, tea that is.

Blessed,

Ideen

 

Have A Happy Holiday

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Does that title sound familiar?   Funny lines and song lyrics like that have been embedded in my brain since childhood.  They resurface at this time of year, and it feels good to dig into the archives of my brain, and recite lines like these?

Where is this going?  It’s the third annual tree decorating party with a group of people I’m proud to call my friends.   So the heartwarming, dopey, emotional, cheesy, and most importantly traditional Christmas Music will be playing, sometimes two or three times over.  And that (along with so many other things) is the fun and funny part.

When it comes to any holiday party, decorating party, or dare I say any party, comes plenty of food and drink.  And there was plenty of that.  Everyone contributed something to the cause.  Because that’s what the holidays and gathering are all about, everyone sharing and giving.   And what may you ask, did I contribute?

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Per a suggestion from a friend, I was told to review the Mulling Spices Tea from the R.W. Knudsen Family brand of products.  And it’s just a small part of what I brought to this Christmas Community.

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If the name rings a bell it may be because you’ve had their juices and other various beverages.

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I had no idea that this tea existed.  And from doing research, it looks like it has been around for a few years.   Why it took me this long to attract it into my life is one of those holiday mysteries.  But now I consider it a miracle.

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I adore this tea.  The hostess of the party had a cup herself and she concurred.   It’s good to disagree respectively but isn’t even more rewarding to enjoy the same cup with people you truly care for?  It adds to the spirit of the season.  And I can always use some more.  I would assume many would feel the same.

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And in this group setting the tea was necessary as a way to relax from all the commotion of decorating, eating, and the overall excitement of decorating a tree.   Oh and there was some champagne and mimosas earlier on (actually throughout) the day as well.  So the tea truly was a friend in settling the stomach and bringing me back down to Earth.

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What makes this tea so special is that the Mulling Spices is meant as a way to make hot spiced cider, blended with their Organic Apple Juice, of course.

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I will do that soon but as I’m into holiday traditions, I’m also very traditional when it comes to my tea.  I prefer adding nothing to my teas.  I think the true test of a tea is how it stands alone, with noting but hot water and the bag or leaf itself.

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This tea can be enjoyed in that form, and that’s an understatement.  I love this tea.  It went down smooth and I felt so balanced and at peace with each sip.  Again, I reiterate the importance of quality people around that makes the tea even that much better.   I got a few cups out of each bag, and the beauty of the brewing process only enhances that fact.

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The aromas of lemon peel, orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves upon opening hit a festive nerve that emit the joy and peace of the season.   The smells remind me of holiday parties past with friends and family.  The way the tea brewed, the colors changing, and the steam rising made me all warm and fuzzy.  That tint is gorgeous.  It made me so happy for that moment in time, yesterday, to appreciate the present.  I appreciate my friends, I appreciate the holidays, and I appreciate being able to share this with you.

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Everything about this day was right.  But it felt like it moved so fast.  That’s because it did.  Time flies when enjoying life.  And enjoying life with good people makes that time feel even more fleeting.   I’m grateful to have been a part of this day and look forward to doing this for many years to come.  And on top of that, I welcome any new traditions that unexpectedly present themselves.

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Some of the photos of the awesome food spread may look like they were taken from a blimp. That’s just my camera phone.  But I did feel like a blimp after eating all this yummy Christmas food.  And over-indulging on treats is another tradition that will be timeless.

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Speaking of time, these are moments in time I’m grateful to have captured and presented to you.  This party will be remembered for many things, and this tea will be near the top of this list.

Get this tea.  To find out where you can find all their fun products, click here.

To read more about all the good that R.W. Knudsen does, this link and this one should be of great assistance.

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At my local Wegman’s, the price was over $5 so that may be a bit steep for buying tea, but I think it’s well worth it.

To read about the 2nd Anniversary party, click here.

I love this and I’m glad there’s so much more of the holidays to celebrate.  I hope you’ve been doing the same with the ones you love, and that love you too.

This is such a wonderful time of the year and I look forward what the holidays bring next.

Have  A Happy Holiday,

Ideen

 

 

 

Bakers Is Beautiful

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Over the course of the year-and-a-half I’ve been doing these posts, I’ve been professing my love for Annapolis.  We learn a lot about ourselves when we’re writing or sharing our thoughts, in whatever medium we see fit.   The subject matter is tea but it’s also about finding the good in every situation, no matter how difficult it may be.  This won’t be a challenge.

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My visit to Bakers & Co. was one of the most enjoyable.   I didn’t want to leave.

A couple weeks prior I was driving through the Eastport neighborhood of Naptown, and saw this hidden gem nestled within a gorgeous set of houses. This was out of production set, and I hadn’t even walked in.  I just drove by second-guessing myself after a while. Why didn’t I just walk in?  Would I be back and in an organic fashion?  Two weeks later…

There are signs all around us.  There’s good people and good spirits in this universe to guide you in your journey.   And someone was looking out for me as I naturally arrived here and made it a point to park my car nearby and stroll right in.  And stroll I did.  This area is even more spectacular than I envisioned.

I was hoping in the back of my mind, there would be an obscure tea to write about. Otherwise, a coffee would suffice.  After poking around for a few seconds, I noticed a sign in the back for a special in-house tea.  I asked the friendly staff member what that was. She mentioned it was their homemade black tea with pineapple, orange juice, and spices.   On a 90+ degree day I actually asked if I should have it chilled or warmed.   Moving right along…

The pastry set-up was stunning.  Even on a smoldering day, I had to get something to pair with this exciting new tea I was about to have.   After passing on the almond croissant (which is extremely popular), I went with the blueberry oat bar.

I’ll get right to it after all this dramatic build-up. The tea refreshed me to my core. And my blueberry sweet treat complemented my cup perfectly.

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I took my sweet (see what I did?) time with everything.   I took a lot of pictures and wish I could post them all.  Literally across both side of the street were homes.  I imagine the values of these properties are high and not close to my means.   Maybe in the next life.  But I felt so comfortable and so at home with these surroundings.

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Some memories and stories are too good be shared.  They’re meant to be kept internal.  I debated on whether or not to write about this but I think I’d regret it if I hadn’t.

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My main reason is my love for local businesses has been heightened with this blog.  I’ve always preferred family run shoppes versus the big box stores.  I imagine many people share my sentiment.    For as long as I can recall it’s always been my modus operandi.

Along those lines, my attachments and affinity for small towns, beautiful streets, and a sense of community is what I yearn for.  Bakers and Co. encompasses all of the above, and then some.

The people working the counter were amazing.   The quaintness of this all is worthy of romanticizing.

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If you’re in the vicinity, I cannot recommend this place enough.  There’s comforting outdoor seating as my photos have hopefully captured.  And my intent was to show the beautiful surroundings.    I can only hope I did it justice.  And I can only hope that future visits will be just as inspiring.

Take good care,

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

Harney & Such

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It’s almost Spring. I feel it took a lot longer to get here than usual.    Finally, the days are getting longer and temperatures are getting higher.   However, while we’re still in the winter I’d like to write about some teas that are custom-made for this season.

I throw it back to one of mine (along with many others) favorites, Harney & Sons. Their hot cinnamon spice is one of their most popular and beloved flavors.  I can understand why.  This one hits the spot in a multitude of ways.

Most importantly, the health benefits of cinnamon have been documented.  And there’s so much to celebrate.

Secondly, it just tastes good.  Yet I wonder if the artificial flavors are what’s adding to the amazing taste.  Was it necessary?  I’m questioning out of curiosity.   I expect this to be stellar with our without the additives.   The orange and especially the cloves add a lot to an already masterful tea.

I got the largest cup I could, so I could savor each sip by the moment.  And I took my time.   Because cinnamon is so flavorful I felt one bag was enough.  That’s how I took my  tea initially.   Yet I can’t help myself.   Common sense dictates the largest size gets you double.  So I threw in the second and felt like I got hit with a bomb.  It opened up some tastes buds and senses that may not always get exposure.

This is where the artificial flavors might be justified.  A major positive is there are no sugars.   I purposely waited till later in this post to mention that.  I wasn’t trying to be ironic.

I’ve always preferred my teas with nothing added unless it’s natural.   For me, the whole point of drinking tea has been to enjoy it with nothing else thrown it to undermine its health benefits.    Yet throwing some cinnamon, honey, or other natural joys is something I’ve down from time-to-time.

I’m grateful to try a tea that has already included the appropriate additions like so many of the tremendous brands do.

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I enjoyed my cup with a not-so-healthy bagel sandwich.  Well it was a power sandwich. Since my sandwich was loaded with vegetables, and my favorite pesto spread. I tell myself everything is fine.  It’s still winter so I still love my comfort food.  Who am I kidding? Comfort is a year-round thing.

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It’s nowhere near as bad as ordering a super-sized meal with a diet cola.  Well that’s how I justify it.  Whoops.

I think I’m as crazy as this winter has been.  It’s a year with a leap month, so the goofiness ensued.  Another reason I’m thankful Spring is coming.  It’s been a season to remember but I’m ready for some sunnier skies and enjoyable outdoor activities.

The teas will represent the changes in weather and the lifting of our spirits.

For more on this amazing company, here is my inaugural recap.

Along with their site, you can go to these familiar links to procure their teas.

Happy first day of meteorological spring!

Best,

Ideen

Fall Favorites

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Well it’s Thanksgiving this week and why would I not continue the pumpkin panel! That panel only includes me and sometimes the universe. But it’s good to believe.

This week I take it even more local with a return visit to Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company and an in-person review of the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Eastern Shore Tea Company.

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I was just there a few hours ago so it’s fresh in my mind.  I wasn’t thrilled with it. Without looking I could tell it was black tea.  The taste is too obvious not to notice.  The ingredients included are cinnamon, clove, and something called pumpkin.

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I didn’t get much of anything.  I don’t expect every tea to be succulent and mesmerizing.  But I do want some flavor.  If you had told me this was a black tea with bergamot I would have believed it and not thought anything else of it.  It tasted that basic.

As you can see in the photos, the visual looks amazing.  The steeped bag evokes a lot of color and made me feel cozy being indoors.   For a moment I was fine with the cold weather.

I could definitely smell something separate from a usual black tea.  Maybe it’s the smell of fall and the holidays rapidly approaching.

I really wanted to like this tea but it’s just there.  I do think a lot of people are going to love it and add it to their tea collection.   I wish I could say the same.

This tea along with so many others are always on sale, not just during the final months of the year, so you can enjoy it any time.   Hopefully your experience will be a joyous one.

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I had my cup with a delicious pumpkin muffin.  As you can see the muffin never had a chance while the tea was not going down as quick.

I’ve had many teas from that I’ve adored and stashed in my collection.   And I look forward to many of those occasions happening again.  Even though this wasn’t the best, I know some spectacular teas will be delighted on down the line.

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Thanksgiving is just two days away so I’m not sure if this is the end of the pumpkin talk or not.  I sure hope not.   But as we approach that other major holiday, those types of teas will be talked about.

For my previous posts on this fantastic store, you can go here and here.

I’m thankful, grateful, and fortunate to be able to write about such a wonderful topic.  I love tea and I love the people who have been a part of this experience. That includes the assistance from the wonderful folks at their various locations.

I wish all of a you a safe, blessed, and joyous Thanksgiving.   And I look forward to doing this again.

Take good care.

Ideen