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

 

 

 

 

 

Won’t You Be My…

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Happy Valentine’s Day.  This is a day with a mixture of emotions for people.  It shouldn’t be, but our manufactured societal pressures have placed more emphasis on this day than there really should be.  It’s one of those holidays that time doesn’t stop for.  The majority of us still go to the workplace and to the classroom like it were any other day. And if we treat this like any other day, than it will be over before you know it.  Actually it’ll be over no matter what.  That’s how days and times work.

Nevertheless, after the previous weeks post, I wanted to see if I had a little more holiday spirit in me.

Well it’s a different holiday than what I’m used to but I should appreciate the fact that my regular scheduled blog falls on this most polarizing of holidays.  I might as well make the most of it.  And chances are, I may not get this opportunity again.

And if you or I focus on love, in not just the romantic sense, but love of all, then it makes this and just about any other day that much better.  And you don’t need a specific day to show that love and embrace for what makes you feel good.

Do you know what makes me feel good? Well it’s not only tea, but it’s the love of all things natural.  I love animals, I love nature, I love plants, flowers, trees being out doors, and most of all our universe. This encompasses so many things, if not everything.  I’m grateful to present to you two more teas from a one of my favorite go-to’s Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.   And even more specifically, Eastern Shore Tea Company.

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The truly one thing about tea shopping is there will always be teas to fit a certain season, mood, place of healing, and love.

For the love of tea I went with two of the most apropos tea for the occasion.  But as you will see, with this tea, just like so many others, these are meant to be sipped all year round, not just in Mid-February.

First is the Chocolate Strawberry.  It’s simple, Black Tea with those two flavors added. What I noticed right away is how quick the effectiveness of the steeping came through. The color transformed into a chocolate brown cup at a higher pace than what I’m expected or what I’m accustomed too.  I would take that as a testament to the quality of the bags. Either that or I’m losing my marbles.  Well the latter is happening anyways, but it was entertaining to see regardless.

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At first I was hoping for more flavor than what I expected.  But I’m drinking this with the understanding that this is a dessert wine.  And if was too heavy on the chocolate and strawberry, would the whole tea be undermined?  Absolutely.  I’ve had teas rich in flavors t that could have benefited from a dialing back.  And then there’s others that weren’t flavorful enough, that could have used just a little more.  I’m leaning towards this wishing this just had a hint more.

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It was good but still I feel like that pop was missing.  But look what you see here.  Yes I really got goofy here and purchased specialty dipped chocolate strawberries.  This was strictly for show but figured one wouldn’t hurt.

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What I also figured is the tea and the chocolate strawberries flavors’ would bounce off one another, as well as intensify the other.  That’s exactly what happened.  One particular bite from the strawberry and a sip took this experience somewhere I didn’t imagine.  For that alone I would try this tea again.  But I wouldn’t rank it close to any of my favorites.

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Next up is the Cupid’s Arrow, after someone we may know.

This surprised the heck out of me, and in a good way.  I didn’t think it was going to be anything out-of-this-world to be quite honest.  The back tea with flavors of cherry, vanilla, and almond have all the recipes of turning into something legendary or a complete bust.  This falls on the former.  I wonder if its my slight trepidation of embracing this ‘holiday’.  That’s possible, but good tea is good tea.  And this wasn’t it. This was actually phenomenal.

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I made myself a second and third helping of this one.  You can taste these flavors a bit more distinctly without aid from from a sweet treat or other type of food.

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As you might be able to tell the color is not as strong or as overpowering as the previous selection.  It’s not like any of that matters.  It’s just an observation.  But this was something fun.  Maybe because those flavors feel more like winter and more like a year round tea than the aforementioned Chocolate Strawberry.

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However, as I said earlier most teas can be had year round.  There’s no rules to this.  It’s tea, it’s supposed to be fun.  Tea Is Fun is not the just the name of a blog but it’s how it’s supposed to be.

Most suppliers give around 20 bags per container for a reason.  We will try them again and again with what makes us feel good and feel inspired.  The Cupid’s Arrow is an inspiring one.  I felt so good after sipping this one in particular.  I felt healed.  And maybe that’s all in my head but this tea had  little more power than it really had any right to be.  Maybe it did.  Who am I to judge?   The cupcakes had nothing to do with any taste enhancing, like it did earlier, by the way.  But they look cool don’t they?

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And who are we to judge how one celebrates a certain day.    I spent more money on myself and this blog than I’ve had in years to commemorate Valentine’s Day.  But it was gift to me, to my audience, and to the universe.  It was my way of celebrating what I love; nature, animals, and of course tea.

These gifts I bought can be used more than once. These two new teas will last be a while, as well as my new drinking mugs, as well as those orchids.  Which are already outside and have been watered.

The sweets won’t last, but not because of me.  Someone else can have those.  But I’m going to hold on to the tea.  And maybe even those  new animal friends.

And those are just some of the things I love.  And I’m glad I can present tea in a spiritual way that combines many other things that make me feel love.  And this is not just one day a year, not a weekly post either, but as much as humanly possible.  And that’s the same love I will feel on this day, the next one,  and so many more.

Like I said last week, if you’re looking for a different kind of gift for a loved one, I think tea is a fantastic alternative.  And at only $5.00 per bags, it’s a fantastic deal.  And they’re ribbon bags too!  Beautiful.

This experience as beautiful.  And if you want to experience these and their massive array of teas click here.

Here’s my written history of the Eastern Shore Tea Company.

More love of tea and all else that is possible, next time.

 

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

Love of Tea, and Other Fun Things

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I had never done a Valentine’s Day themed post, and it really didn’t cross my mind to do one this year.  But after consulting my mentor, and realizing that next Tuesday is that day, which means there will continue to be tea posts every Tuesday, I figured it’s meant to be.

Now I’m not the biggest fan nor am I really opposed to this man-made holiday.  Well if you read the latter part, you might think I sway towards the negative.  You might be correct.

Love should be spontaneous, celebrated throughout the year, and displayed as much as possible.  What’s even more important is that love doesn’t necessarily mean between you and your significant other, or spouse, but in all forms.

I love my cat.  I love our animal friends.  I love my family.  I love my friends.    And I love my cat.  Oh wait…

I love tea. This is a tea blog.  So yes, I love tea.  And I love tea so much.  It brings me joy that is hard to put into words.  It shouldn’t be put into words.  I let the sipping and the reactions do the talking.

Yes, and I think many of us know we don’t need a special day to do just that.  But in honor of such an occasion, I will make the most of it.

Per my tea guru’s suggestion, I’m changing it up this week in a big way.

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If you’ve been to your local shopping district, then by now you know of Teavana.   They have taken tea, and essentially loose-leaf tea to unprecedented and transcendent levels.

I’ve been here many times before every writing about it, and many times since.  To say the store is still a bit overwhelming after all this time would be correct.  But overwhelming doesn’t necessarily mean bad.  There’s a lot going on and there’s so many new teas and instruments to discover and learn about.    There will never be enough time to learn about everything, and to try and do so would defeat the purpose of this journey.   But…

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I obviously don’t have time to write about it all here.  What I will say is that I’m happy that this is my inaugural post for Teavana, and this will not be the last.

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For this first go around it needed to be done big and done special.  Actually getting teas here is an experience.  So without further adieu, I present by suggestion from my muse, the Strawberry Blush Rose and Peach Tranquility Blend.

Yes, it couldn’t be just one.  And it had to be big for this time of year.     Ingredients and instructions for brewing are listed within the page.  I’ll let you research that on your own, or otherwise this post would go on till tomorrow.

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And it wasn’t even one.  It was actually three.  The staff member got me a festive tin, and along with getting the blend of the two teas, I also got them separate.  So I was already getting ahead of myself assuming the two were kindred spirits that could not be separated. Wait what?  Yes, all the love references are deliberate but are also flowing naturally.

Pictures of the tin standing and taken apart are shown here, as well as up-close shots of the tea.  Quite impressive right?  The process was truly exciting.  I’ll get to more about that shortly.

What I will say is that I’m in love.  This is masterful concoction of flavors that you would think might be impossible.  But no.  There’s heart, there’s soul, and there’s a true spirit behind this tea.

The brewing process was an absolutely joy.  The aromas from the tea were already getting me jazzed up for what I hoped to be a stimulating and inspiring cup.  And how about that tint?  I know I know.   The tea was a win.  The flavors of both worked together perfectly.  I could see why so many folks have regarded this so highly.  The after taste of rose hips was truly a highlight.  There’s also just about every fruit known to man and woman.  If you can discover them all then you’re a rock star.  I’m happy with it nevertheless.  And it paired nicely with some thin lemon cookies.

And if you notice, I show you what makes me happy, brings me joy, and truly brings out the love.   Yes, a miniature rubber ducky!  Ha. well that and my love for animals in all shapes and sizes.  And I obtained a certain special teacup to celebrate even more love.   I would be lying if I said the tea didn’t taste just a little bit better because of the props.  But I digress.  This tea would be awesome under any circumstance.  But hopefully it’s a joyous one.

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I did get a bit carried away.  Maybe I should have tried one of the flavors on its own first.   Well there’s a first and second time for everything.

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Even though I’m working backwards, I’m actually going in the order of the teas that were brewed.   Next up was Strawberry Blush by itself.

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I think I liked this even just a little more.  Maybe because it was the simplicity of it.  It was sipped in its own sans the blend, and even more flavors were able to be discovered on its own.  I would be lying if I said one was truly better than the other.  But for a personal thing, I give this the slightest edge.  And that color is just as beautiful.

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I got another teacup for this one too!

Maybe it was the simplistic aspect of it, or maybe it was the chocolate truffles that paired with this chocolate did the trick.  See I guess I’m a sucker for this holiday after all.  Well.

For me, this was a gift to myself, to the universe, from the universe, and hopefully someone reading will find this as a plausible gift alternative to the standard flowers, candy, and chocolates.  Well chocolates are good.  I just told you I had some!

And when I was done steeping I had a few pieces of strawberry and other random fruits. Yes you can do that.  That’s an added bonus I don’t think you’ll find on the website.

I want to mention that Teavana is on the higher end of teas.  This is significantly higher than your budget friendly teas at your local supermarket or neighborhood store.  But if you feel like splurging and buying a gift for a loved one, this is going to be different and I think it’s going to be a pleasant surprise to many.  And if your loved one is a tea lover, even better.

Because of the price level of these, it’s good to savor teas and brew in small doses and for special occasions.

Prices will vary based on weight, container, and the tea themselves.

I did not purposely leave out the Peach Tranquility Tea.  This is where I will push the pause button and resume at a later date.  I thin this is one I will have for the Spring or Summer.  I will remember this and promise you I will get back to it.  I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t. More importantly, my sense is that this would make an excellent iced tea during the warmer months.

It also gives me something to look forward too.  I also feel that Valentine’s Day is good because for many it’s a day of joy but also another sign that warm weather is right around the corner.  So I feel that the Peach Tranquility is the perfect segue to talk about down the road.

To find a Teavana near you, click here.

I wish you a happy early holiday, and will do another post next week, to celebrate this day for love of all kinds.

Love To Many, Love To All, and Love To You.

 

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Jam Session

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The sweet tooth bug has really hit me these past couple of weeks.  I have no explanation why.  Maybe it’s the sunny weather (or lack thereof), or maybe it’s some inexplicable and something that doesn’t need to be made sense of.  There I go getting all deep on you again.

I believe the choice of tea for this week is only fitting.   Oh and there’s cake too.

Random circumstances brought me back to the Timonium/Towson area and the stars aligned for me to return to a now familiar stomping grounds, Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

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With past posts I’ve been critical of their stalwart tea, Eastern Shore Tea.

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One of the many pleasurable aspects of this thing is that I get to be random.  If I see a tea that catches my eye or even one that looks ominous, I’ll give it a whirl.  As I referenced earlier, my knack for something sweet has been permeating.  So with that resonating in my subconscious, I went with the Berry Jamboree Tea.

I’ve mentioned this before.  There is something missing with these teas. There’s been some quality ones don’t get me wrong.  But the oomph and the pizzazz is lacking.

For sure, I thought one bag would be enough.  The jammy elements of strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry should have made this black tea magnificent.  I wanted to feel cozy.  And with this horrific rain we’ve had all month, it would only be so fitting.  The irony was that it wasn’t and it was sunny.  Go figure.  Even two bags didn’t multiply the fruit.  If anything this cup plateaued.

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Regardless, this tea was good enough to drink but it needs a thing or two to put it over-the-top.  The touch of hibiscus was unbeknownst to me until I read the synopsis.

There may be something to be said about location.   Towson has a feel but not the shame charm I remember.  The store nestled in an office park should scream anonymity and a sense of a tight-knit community.  That might be there but I don’t see it like I used to. Maybe my energy level was not at its best on this day or in previous incarnation, but there’s something more.

The first visit or first experience is always the most unpredictable.  You have no expectations and no preconceived notions.  Well there’s exceptions but I think you know what I mean.  My original visit to the Timonium location was special.  But honestly I have no memory of when this was, what I ordered, or whether I was with anyone.   But it was special.  Some memories stay so private and internal, even with the person who created them.

Annapolis, on the other hand, has my heart.  And there’s that small town and community feel I yearn for and that I love.  Oh and there tea variety is a bit more expansive.   I just have to go back and report from there again.

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I love local and love supporting this company.  Even though this tea was only good, but not a masterpiece, will not deter me from trying some more.  Something tells me this will be revisited this summer.

For more on their teas or to purchase, click here.

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To sunnier days ahead,

Ideen

P.S. That lemon cake was delicioso!

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