Saturday Afternoon Tea Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like that.

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

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

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

Take good care.

Ideen

Friday Night Tea Party

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

And yes, it all revolves around tea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To be continued…

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Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

What A Great Summer

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I write that not saying that Summer is at its end (because we’re not even close), but it’s appropriate to get to the best of now.  And it’s one of those rare instances where I keep thinking a bonus post will come up, either on a Tuesday or another day.

The tea culture and the tea scene (I’ve said it before) in the Gulf Coast of Florida is just something so spectacular.  I’ve written about a few here and here, and honestly could write about a half dozen more stories if time, the season, the universe, and more importantly, myself allows.  I’m going to allow that.

My trip to St. Petersburg, FL and the surrounding areas in June just gives me more of a smile and more of an appreciation for an organic and just memorable experience.  Just for the tea alone, I’m so grateful for my time there.  It’s as simple of a cup of tea to make me smile and sometimes even give me more of a sly grin, then those warm and fuzzies, and as I write this, goose bumps.

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And the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park makes me so happy.  I say make because I’m coming back.  It’s over for the year but just means I have to come back.  I must come back.   Let me not get ahead of myself.

I promised to write about the three tea experiences I had at the market, and this is number two (number one can be found here), and they all stand out for their own blessed and harmonious reasons.

For this one I’ll write about the vendor I saw seconds from within walking in.

The Bay Coffee & Tea Company embodies what a market, supporting farmers, and supporting local is all about.   After I purchased my Mango Berry Iced Tea I did some research about this company, and took some mental notes, but when you’re on vacation you’re not going to remember everything and not going to experience everything you either planned or intended.  I didn’t plan for this but the universe brought me here with all the good intentions.  This makes me feel so good

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And the Mango Berry Iced Tea was truly refreshing.   With this climate, in mid June, this is exactly the kind of beverage that checks all the boxes for this kind of moment.  Well that might not be that kind of boxes but I think you know what I mean.  It’s a great iced tea and I should leave it at that.

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For a company known for their coffee (and I bet their coffee is excellent), they did right with the tea.  So the next time (yes…) this is revisited I will incorporate some coffee and hopefully another inspirational story to accompany that.  Here is their story and it’s so positive, that I want to be a part of something so beautiful and so heartwarming.

What’s also so beautiful is the Williams Park Market in general.   I got some of my best pictures on this visit.  I’ve had a renewed love for plants, flowers, and horticulture in general.  It’s something my dad got me into but has since been re-energized my taking care of my plants at home, and helping taking care of friends plants whenever I can.  It’s all about nourishing, taking care of our friends, and taking care of each other in general.

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The vibe at the Market seemed to tell that same story.   This is one of those little things that is anything but.  I’m grateful to be part of it, and I know I’ll be back again.  And as I promised, one more story is coming, but I’ll save it for Autumn.  Yes I just said that.  Oh man…

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For those in the Tampa and St. Pete area, you can find their coffees and teas here.    Here is their story, their blog, their contact information,  and their shop.

Until next time, thank you so much.

Ideen

 

 

Embracing Everything

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I thought my experience with Mother Kombucha would be a one and done.  Well that isn’t entirely accurate.  After this incredible experience last week, I thought the next time I’d sample and sip this fermented goodness would be the next time I return, which I’m tentatively thinking will be in the next couple of months.

Yes so this looks like this will be a trilogy, at least.  And I just love how this came together.

On my next to last day in beautiful Downtown St. Petersburg, I went for a run, because it’s beautiful out, it’s sunny, it’s glorious, and even though I was there for some rain, most of that held off and I could appreciate and embrace this new place that seems to embrace everyone in kind.  At least that’s how I felt.

And when I meant run, that means stop and appreciate how charming this location is.   I did a lot of walking, a lot of taking pictures, and enjoyed many of the sights, the sounds, and all this incredible energy I was feeling in and around downtown.

I had no length of time for how long this little mini journey would go.  Vacation is not about planning and having everything be formulaic.  It’s about organically experiencing all there is to experience.

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And without forcing the issue, it happened once again.   I ended up in this oasis, where everything around me is beautiful to begin with.  But the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park is one of those most glorious things I’ve ever experienced.  Yes I just said that a farmers market was as amazing an event or occurrence I’ve had the privilege of being a part of.  It’s the littlest things that are the biggest things, that resonate with me forever.

I took my time, appreciated the food vendors, the fresh fruits and veggies, the small businesses, and wouldn’t you know it, a whole host of tea vendors.  I could do at least two more posts from here, and I may get around to them.  But after a few minutes, the most inviting of booths was that of Mother Kombucha.

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I must reiterate how beautiful this park and market is.  Everyone seemed so happy.

We were meant to be meet again, attracting one another like magnets.  Life is funny and comforting that way.

The girl working the table could not have been nicer.   They had kombucha on tap and plenty of promos to sell and to giveaway.   I did take some pictures but most of all I got the Goji Grape, which is on par, with the Lavender Mojito from last week.

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If that sounds like a cop out or I can’t make up my mind, then fair enough.  But how do you compare two amazing flavors that are on another level from drinking your standard soft drinks with toxic additives and other substances no one should be touching?   I appreciate what I’m drinking for what it is.

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It’s something natural, healthy, organic, designed for us yet it comes from a place much bigger than us.

When it comes to Mother Kombucha, I don’t know what else to say.  Maybe nothing else needs to be to said.

And being in such a warm environment, yet not knowing anyone (recurring theme on this trip) felt good.  People at the market all seemed to know each other and a few folks nodded and said hello to me, like I was a regular fellow and one of them.  It’s that hospitality of the south and I felt even a different kind on the Gulf Coast.

It was all so beautiful and natural.  Yes I was on vacation, yet I felt like I belonged here.

Then after all this romanticizing, the rain came.  And it kept coming.  Yet it felt like it was only coming down at the market and no where else.  Across the street seemed sunny and as clear as day.

Maybe the universe was telling me something, telling us something, and what that is not quite clear.   Maybe I will figure that out when it comes to complete the trilogy.

And I say that with the understanding that I’ve been invited to check out the facility the next time I’m back.  It would be my honor and I look forward to making my return to a place that feels like home to me.

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I’ll see you soon St. Pete and I’ll see you soon Mother Kombucha.

For more on Mother Kombucha, click here for their story, their brew list,  where you can buy, and their contact info.

The Saturday Morning Market runs till August 26th, so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to support everything this beautiful space has to offer.

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To be continued, when is to be determined…

Thanks so much,

Ideen

 

 

This IS Living Tea.

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I didn’t know when or how I would write about Mother Kombucha, but it needed to happen now and the universe told me that today was the day.  Actually I had intended this after my kombucha post last week. So you can call this a segue or a continuation but I just call this a celebration of some of the best beverages Mother Nature has ever provided.  That wording was intentional by the way.

Nearly two months after visiting the great city of St. Petersburg, FL. I recall fondly how gorgeous, spacious, and welcoming Central Avenue was.  While visiting a friend who lived on that street, and meeting with friends throughout the week, I still had plenty of time to myself and to do my own thing.

There were hardly any plans (here is my tea history in the sunshine state thus far), other than knowing that I would love to try some tea, try something new, and try something fun, and then try some more tea.  I love going in blind and going in open-minded and seeing where life takes me.

I can’t say it enough, the tea culture and lifestyle on the Gulf Coast give me goose bumps.  It’s something truly special that I only hope to experience either back in Florida or somewhere just as breathtaking.

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Well what would you know, that this amazing coffee shop (which does have great coffee by the way) Intermezzo, which is footsteps away from where one of my closest friends now resides, would be where I discovered the Mother of all kombuchas.  Yes I could do this all day…

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I walked in on a gorgeous and supremely sunny day to this cozy and charming space not knowing what to expect.  When I walk into a coffee shop my curious mind always wonders about the tea list.  Now many also have their own loose leaf tea, or might carry a few standard label tea bags (which are perfectly fine by the way), maybe some more lavish brands of tea, or in this case the Lavender Mojito, which to say is incredible is a severe understatement.

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Before I could even let my the friendly server behind the counter finish her suggestions, like a boisterous child ordered the Lavender Mojito without any hesitation.

Thanks to my new friend (I humbly apologize for not remembering her name) she allowed me to take pictures of the inside, and enjoy my this iconic beverage outside on a peaceful day. While many others are working, I’m on vacation, so it was an early afternoon, it was a tad lonely, but in the same way it was needed peace and time to reflect.  If it weren’t for this blog I would hardly share this with anyone.

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There were no check-ins, no pictures, and no hints at the time that I was here.  And that’s just the way I wanted it.   I took my few pictures (or so I thought), and then I stopped. Because sipping something like this, being in your own universe, being around the sun, around random people saying hello, and enjoying my own company lies a feeling that everything is going to be ok.  It’s not just one of those things you have to believe, it’s one of those things you should believe.

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The thoughts going through my head were different than what I would feel at home.  I can’t explain it, I can hardly remember even what I was thinking about.  I did recall my tea was unbelievable.  It’s one of the easier ones I’ve ever had, and I would be saying this even if I had this on a regular basis at home.  But I rather make this larger-than-life, because it was.

The ingredients and information are presented to you below but all I can say is that if you live in a place nearby that sells this, do yourself a favor and grab yourself as much as you can.  That flavor, that color, that bottle, that label, oh my god.  What else needs to be said?  It’s ecstasy in a bottle.

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And the funny thing about being in your own ecstasy, I was the only one outside so for a while it felt like I was the only person on Earth.  After a while I noticed while taking photos a group of people drawing closer and closer to my location.   Then I noticed they all wore the same attire.  I don’t even remember who they were with or what they were about.  I hope someone can remind me.   But as they came near, if this were a bad movie or tv show the first thought would be to run.  However, this group was about spreading love, kindness, and hugs all around.  I got a bunch of hugs from people I’ve never met in my life and who knows if I will ever see again.  But it didn’t matter.  I was alone but I wasn’t, then I was alone again.  But I wasn’t lonely.  I felt good.   I took enough pictures that it may look like a flip-book or slide show for your enjoyment.

To say this made my Lavender Mojto Kombucha that much better would be one of those fabled understatements.

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After a little while I felt like it was the right time to go.  I’m grateful to Intermezzo for everything, and for letting me keep the bottle.

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I’m grateful for this experience, which will never happen this organically again.  It’ll have to be something else.  And that’s what makes this so beautiful.  This will continue next week, as this was not my only encounter with the Mother.

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Where I was staying was minutes from their headquarters, but they’re not open to the public for tours, as far as I know.  But I did get a picture anyways.  This is how I play tourist.

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But what I’ll get into next week is how a day after this awe-inspiring experience, was one at the Saturday Morning Market in Williams Park that I’ll only say is comparable in stature but how it comes out in my words will convey if it was just as awesome, or magical for other reasons.  I can’t wait to reminisce.  I had another dynamic flavor that I’ll leave as a teaser for you below.

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For more on Mother Kombucha, here is their story, where you can find their product, and their contact information.

This was beautiful.  More next week.  Thank you so much.

Ideen

TeBella For Two

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This is a continuation from last week where I discovered and fully embraced the beauty that is TeBella of Downtown St. Petersburg, FL.    As I said this was not a one-time thing, and I hope it’s not a one vacation thing.  I made a second visit in I think as of many days, and can tell a different yet at the same time the same beautiful experience at this beautiful venue.

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What I glossed over and did not specify last week (I blame my excitement and hazy memory) that Tebella is part of Station House, which is a beautiful and welcoming space that doesn’t have that stuffy and pretentious vibe that I’ve seen around town and elsewhere.  Once again, I may be romanticizing but everyone here either was friendly or kept to themselves.  I only felt good energy, good vibes, and some more good tea.

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I may have been a bit overwhelmed by the TeBella’s extensive and inspiring tea collection the first time, that I could make some generic proclamation that I was better prepared the second time.  That’s no fun.  The fun is losing yourself in all these teas.

This time I went through the White Tea list, and wanted to keep the Summer themed party going with the delicious and magnificent Blueberry Mountain Sunrise, iced of course.

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The synopsis says it all, the whole blueberries and pomegranate are not there to overpower the tea but to serve as an enhancement. I can imagine how great this would be hot as well.   But that color radiates and makes me smile, makes me feel good, and makes me truly appreciate the joy that is tea drinking.

For this sitting I took my time indoors, as this was afternoon, and there was a little more activity than my original visit which was right around the start of business day.  But again, business here is different than any other city I’ve visited.  It’s only part of the culture, but doesn’t seem to be the most important.

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And if this wasn’t awesome enough, I noticed they had a lovely display of Pineallas Chocolate.  Since its local and I was local for a few days it naturally made sense to buy some.  In hindsight I wish I got more.   The Cacao Orange was my perfect yet unconventional pairing with my tea.  But does it really matter?  The teas are there, the chocolates presented themselves like they were waiting to me purchased by me, and everyone else.  This was match made in tea and cocoa heaven, the universe, and all the beautiful stuff in between.

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There were a few other charming experiences and encounters during these two visits, that only seem fitting to keep internal, as anyone who goes on vacation and is sentimental is.  Some things are just hard or not meant to be elaborated in words that hopefully those hints are something we all can relate to and have experienced.  There’s little gems we can laugh about either with ourselves or with the company we were with.

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In these instances I was alone but I really wasn’t.  But then I was again.  And that’s what going away is all about, losing yourself and finding yourself all at once.    Somewhere in all this tea drinking are metaphors and analogies (or the other way around) of life.

As I finish this post I realize these were not so little moments.   There were moments of peace, calm, and just appreciating the moments that don’t need to be photographed or documented for the world to see.  I didn’t mean to be so vague.   I’m writing from the heart, as we all do from time to time.

These two tea experiences reminded me that life can be so wonderful, and all I did was drink some tea, have some pastry, and have some chocolate.  To me this is something bigger than all of us.

To purchase any of TeBella’s teas click here, more on how great TeBella is, and their contact information.

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I will be back.

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And here’s where you can find Pinella’s locally and a link to buy their chocolate online.

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I can’t say this enough, the tea culture in St. Petersburg is incredible.  As amazing as this was, I have more stories (another one can be found here and here’s another one!) to share.  I will get to them when the timing and feeling is right. It could be next week or could be down the line.  I truly believe that these posts will match these amazing experiences I’ve had in Florida so far.

I can’t wait to share them with you.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

TeBella Is Right

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St. Petersburg, FL has my heart.  I’ve been saying this before I got there, and now since I’ve been home.    I mentioned in a post two weeks ago how beautiful the people are, the way of life, the culture, and even more specifically, the tea culture is something beautiful.

For anyone that goes on vacation, perhaps we romanticize and glorify landmarks, places, events, and everything in between as much more amazing than they have any right to be. For locals or folks who have lived somewhere for years, maybe they take it for granted or are numb to their surroundings.   They may just be used to it that the excitement wears off, or maybe it was never there.  Maybe it’s just like anywhere else to them.  And to others, it’s just there or it just is.

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At least on my trip, TeBella was more than just a place.  It was my source of joy, happiness, and a time for solitude and relaxation.  It was so good I went more than once. And in a town where everything is so accessible, so compact, and approachable, I easily could have made another appearance.  And another appearance.

But I’ll start with this one.    And this was my actual first experience in St. Pete, so that is memorable in itself.

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This was morning, and while some folks were headed to work, others were likely working outside from the this tea shoppe, or maybe they were on holiday too.  Maybe they were just enjoying life. I say all this because the quiet and serene way of life is not something I’m used to, but I could get used to it real quick.   It wasn’t chaotic, it wasn’t the hustle and bustle you see in many major cities.   This is a city that’s growing but also I sense embraces a small town feeling, small town values, and a genuine sense of community.

My first exposure is how everyone is saying hello.  Random people on the street were just saying hi.  It was beautiful.   The staff inside was great too.  And the gentleman helping me with tea suggestions did it with sincerity and a genuine sense of joy.  He seemed happy to be here, and that’ll rub off on the patrons and those good vibrations had an impact on me the rest of the day.

Of course we’re talking tea.  So with all this build-up, this better be good right?

As you can see I had so many options to choose from.   The canisters behind the counter were a beautiful thing to see.   It’s nice to have choices, but it can be difficult narrowing it done to one.

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I went with the Tropical Breeze Green Tea.   I figured for where I was, it only seemed appropriate.   The funny thing is, I ordered it hot.   To me it’s not that humorous but I think you know what I’m getting at  It’s early in the morning, some people life their coffee (and I love it too), but I needed something hot.

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The weather would dictate something chilled and something iced (and I’ll get to that next week), but I’m not thinking conventionally here.   Green tea is something I prefer warm. I just feel like how one of the greatest teas and greatest beverages in general is better served.

And this was a joy.  The tastes of pineapple, mango, and papaya scream this season.  I mean what else is there to say.

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I probably could have ordered just about anything, and I might be saying the same thing. But this was a great tea.  How does it compare to others?  I honestly don’t know.  And it doesn’t matter.  I got myself a seat outside and enjoyed the view, enjoyed the quiet, and enjoyed my life.

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Whether you’re on vacation or not, a good sip of tea, a nice complementary pastry, and a joyous state is sometimes all you need.   And that lemon thyme scone was the perfect pairing with my tea.

When you’re on holiday, or whatever you prefer to call it, you take pictures.  And a lot of them.  I took some but then I stopped.  It’s about appreciating where you are in fleeting moments.  Because these moments, they come and they go.  But if they’re a memory worth holding on to, it’s going to get better with time.

Yes this is what’s happened here.  I was here less than a month ago but my two visits to TeBella were even more special than I realized.  And all I did was order tea in a town I’ve never been too.  But spiritually there’s something else going on.

I only hope next week I can convey a similar, yet different perspective on the same place, yet a different time, and different dynamic.   Perhaps it won’t be that different at all.

This was beautiful.  And as much as I love the company of good people, the times on my own have give me some of my favorite memories of all.

For more on TeBella click here,  and here’s their link to purchase their massive selections of tea online,  their story, and their contact information.

TeBellaMap

Part 2 Next week.  I’m already feeling nostalgic and looking forward to it.

Thank you so much.

Ideen