The Sweetest Harvest

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This will likely be my last tea post before Thanksgiving, and the timing could not have been better.  After my stories that have involved multiple tea reviews in each, I wanted to scale it back down to one.

I wanted it to be as simple as can be.  I wanted it to be as approachable and welcoming as most of my posts are intended to be.

With that, I take back to an old friend, Celestial Seasonings.

I have a relationship with Celestial that goes back a ways.  Two years ago I dedicated the bulk of the holidays to a bunch of their different themed teas (you can find those posts along with my entire Celestial Seasonings archive here).

Here is where you can find them at a store near you, the online buying option, their contact info, and more about this great company in general.

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After all that, a time to talk about the Sweet Harvest Pumpkin has been long overdue and then some.

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While I may have rushed some of my other selections to make it by my self imposed deadlines, this simple and cozy tea was one I chose to take my time with.

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I have to laugh here.  I would likely lose count on the amount of times I’ve raved about a tea, and said oh there’s cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and natural (or artificial haha) flavors of pumpkin and all the joys of fall.  I’m a cheese ball I know.  I get sentimental and partial to the similar styles and ingredients that all these pumpkin teas contain.

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But you know where the difference comes from?  It comes from who provides the tea, and the soul behind it.  If it’s a company you’ve been sipping from for years, you’re going to have a bias.  And even if the teas aren’t always up to par, you’ll give a certain company the benefit of the doubt over the other.  How I’m writing this might make it seem like I’m going to cover up how I feel about this tea.

No, I love this tea.  And the other major difference besides my love for Celestial Seasonings is the addition of Stevia.  You may have heard of it.

It enhances this black tea with pumpkin (and yes all the joys of fall) combination to a different place.  I must say I truly like this, but it makes me wonder how the tea would taste without it.   Or have I missed the boat, and do all these teas use Stevia or something similar?  I almost feel lost here.

Well no need to beat myself up.  I’m going with the belief and education that this is just a tad different than the other pumpkin selections I’ve had the pleasure of drinking.  But because the taste is so pronounced, was this sweetener needed?

And that’s it for the serious questions.   I’m a fan of this tea and a have of what they’re all about.  Their brand is one of my go to’s in my house.  I’ll drink their teas even if they don’t apply to the season or weather.

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This leads me to my display that I’m quite proud of.  I threw some things together and I think it came out alright.  It’s another in the transition from one season to another, but not really.  This holiday season, at least for me, has blended together a lot better than I remember.

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I choose to be oblivious of the commercial and superficial part of the holidays.   For me, what’s most important, at any time of year, is focusing on the simple, the joyous, and the good.  Those are all synonyms of each other, and that’s my point.   This time of year is a time to reflect and appreciate all that you have, and all that you have.  You see what I’m saying?  I’m talking to myself when I say all this.

It’s the most beautiful and heartening time of year if you let it.  I know, for me at least and many others, it can be harder at times.  But it’s the storms before the calm as I like to say.

This tea is my calm.  This week will be a mix of storms and calms, with a whole bunch of food, people, and parties thrown in.  But this tea is my calm.

The representations of these beautiful dogs are my calm.   I always like to focus on the simple, but something is hitting me right now to be a little more humbled and appreciative than usual.   Ah this time of year.

I love this tea, and the fact that I’ve been afforded this opportunity to deviate from my weekly post speaks to the amount of amazing autumn and holiday teas there are.

This is going to continue, with what schedule I don’t know.   As I write all this I realize I’m going away from the living in the moment, being here now, and being where I am.

This is where I’ll go back to having my cup of the sweetest harvest pumpkin, and being in awe of my tribute to my animal friends, and all the other things that make me happy.

I’m happy that one cup of tea and the place I’m in got me to write so much.   For that I’m grateful.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving Week…

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Three is a number.  I did three posts last week,  and I’m compelled to do it again.

As we march towards Thanksgiving, the amount of tea I tried, and want to keep trying got a little overwhelming.  Some brands I will try to revisit after turkey day, if time and the place permits.  I’ll make time.

But for now, I’m recapping three from Republic of Tea.

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The Pumpkin Spice, Caramel AppleCaramel Apple, and Hot Apple Cider teas were all unique and had something to offer for all the same and for different reasons.  I purposely listed the teas in that order as it’s a segue from one holiday season to another.   I know, we got here to fast.

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While three distinct teas, they all carry an aura of familiarity compared to the other.  It could be that drinking so many in a short of time, may dilute the flavors.

It’s also rapid fire time.  I’ll tell you, in the time I’ve been doing this, there will never be enough time, there will never be enough teas, and thank goodness for that.   I also got lost in how many teas came to me without even looking.  There might be a week where I have no idea what I’m doing, and I make a discovery at the final hour.  Sometimes I do better at the last minute.

But when I find blends that add to an already growing list, I find that even more of an adventure.  How much more effort do I put into these teas, while I have time to take pictures, set up displays, and take more careful sips.

In the end it always works out.  But it looks like this will be another week of multiple posts.  And what’s the holidays without a little more excess?  Oh man I’ve been watching too many dopey holiday cinemas already.

So here are the three, in sequential order, with some snacks and displays to go with each.

First, the Pumpkin Spice.

With all the cans, the immediate aromas after opening are all the pumpkin you can handle, and I adore it.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all the other joys of autumn.   I was initially worried when I saw the water turn blurry almost immediately after dropping the bag in the cup.  That may be the signs of a defective bag.  But all fears vanished immediately.

Black tea and pumpkin, with all these other magical flavors, is a match made in tea wonderland.  I also just love black tea right now.  It reminds me of growing up, being around good people, around family, friends, and enjoying myself.  At the time I was drinking this, it was just the tea I needed.

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Thankfully these tins are in 50 count bags, so I will be enjoying this after the new year.   That’s exactly right.   As you see, some friends joined the party and helped me indulge in some holiday chocolate treats.

The Caramel Apple is the simplest of the three.  And that doesn’t mean it’s any less in quality.  While I’ve grown to love Rooibos, and love it some more, this wasn’t my favorite.   While I still enjoyed it, nothing about this made me go crazy over this tea.  Personally, caramel doesn’t always work for me in certain situations.  This is a matter of taste and acquired taste.   Less  is more, and while this is a good tea, it wasn’t the best I’ve had.

In a different setting, with different people, or in a different frame of mind I might be giving you another story.   And perhaps in a little while, I may give you another story.

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Was there meant to be a turkey in this setting? Haha oops.

The Hot Apple Cider is created in a way to mirror how cider would taste in its natural form.  Those aren’t my words, they’re in the description. Well maybe I’m overanalyzing.

This one is fun, and in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  That’s how I feel about all three of their teas.  There’s a lot of care put into it without being too pretentious.  And the aura of this company gives one of a a regal nature.

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The flavors of apple, cinnamon, and the many other fruit and fall flavors, make this a joy to drink into the holidays, late into winter, and good for many other situations.  This is a a tea for now and forever.   Wow that was dramatic, but I mean that.

These teas are symbolic of what’s good in the world and what’s good about the holidays.  And you can’t ask for much more than that.   There’s no need to.

I found these teas already at a discounted rate at my local grocery store, so hopefully if you’re in the market for some of these, you can find them.

For more on The Republic of Tea, here is their story, their social responsibility, and contact information.

I wrote about them some time back, and will not wait this long to do so again.

Their teas are available for purchase online.  And while their teas are mainly $10 and up, for a count of 50 and then some, I think you’re getting your monies worth.

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you.  I hope it’s an enjoyable one for you and your loved ones.

Ideen

 

 

 

Warms The Heart…

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I love having too many teas to write about.  I just wish I had more time.   There will never be enough time.  I mentioned yesterday that this will be part of a trilogy.  In a proper sense, I would write about Wegmans loose leaf teas in a spaced out weekly fashion like I’ve done in these three years of post.  Oh my goodness, this blog is three years in.  It’s been long overdue to change up a few things.

But the more things stay the same, I still believe things are meant to evolve organically, naturally, and all in good time my friends.   But with a that being said (and I’m not even sure what I’m saying), it’s time to talk about the next two teas from my new favorite tea shoppe, the Wegmans loose leaf tea department.

The Sweet Cinnamon Tisane looks, smells, and tastes exactly how I envisioned when I first grabbed a whiff at the store.  I mean cinnamon should be a part of everyday life, and I imagine for many of us it is.  I have it with coffee, toast, breakfast, and with many of my teas.   To already have cinnamon, which has so many health benefits, infused into this herbal gem, makes me so happy.  And it’s decaffeinated to boot, so you can drink this at all hours of the day without fear or worry about staying up all night.  But this is a tea worth staying up all night for.   Wait, not sure if that impassioned statement kind of backfired but oh well!

Just that color and all the lovely melange of herbs makes me yearn for this time of year.  But this is an all the time tea and can be paired with anything or nothing at all.  After a sizable meal or eating loads of comfort food at an upcoming party this’ll settle you down.

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You know what else settles me down?  My love for animals.  And as I said yesterday, there will be hints of the holidays to come and a celebration of cups, mugs, artifacts, gems, and what have you of what makes me happy, not just this year, but any year.

Some dear friends of mine gave me this beautiful Labrador Retriever Dog Plate as a birthday gift.  I’m so grateful.

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Throw in a few pumpkin cookies and I’m good to go.  I don’ t think I ate them though haha.

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I love animals so much, including my four legged dog friends, that I felt the need to honor them.  And I want to honor and salute them as much as possible.  They’re even more important to us during the holidays.

Next is the Hearth Warmer Blend, which up until a few minutes ago I thought was the Heart Warmer Blend.  So instead of changing my title, I’m going to own my clumsiness. Hey it’s the holidays, I get a pass don’t I?

I have to laugh at the synopsis of this one.  Lots of vague words like notes, aromas, flavors, and balance.  Oh and something about chocolate.

This tea was fine, but I don’t even remember how it tasted now that I think about it.  And I don’t even mean to say it as a bad thing.  Nothing about it stood out or told me, ‘oh man this is a great tea!’.  It’s one of those teas that I kind of don’t even want to try anytime soon.   I may not be making sense but I rather be an enigma just like the description reads.   I’m just realizing this now as I write this to you.

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Maybe I’m just entertaining myself, or making more of a production than I intended.  But I’m in a festive mood, it’s the holiday season, and having fun with tea or anything is what life is all about.   Still with that being said, I’m not sure what to make of this tea.  Maybe I’ll revisit it down the line, and compare and contrast it to something.   To what I don’t know.

That’s pumpkin spiced cereal I got at Wegmans on clearance.  Yes pumpkin stuff was on clearance starting a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure what the rush was, and I shouldn’t complain. I got plenty of cheap eats and material to last a little while…

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Even better than that, my love of my other favorite four legged pals, my kitten friends.  I love my cat so much, and I feel honored to celebrate her here.

This is the middle of this three part story.  The finale (well for now) comes tomorrow.  Maybe I’m in a funny mood but I think my love of animals on display may have blinded my love for the teas on this go around, especially that Heart(h) Warmer.    I’m still puzzled, and I shouldn’t be.   But that cinnamon is awesome.  If you can find some at your local Wegmans, I’d say go for it.

For more on these teas and their provider, go to ITO EN.

Like I said yesterday, you can grab as little or as much as you want.  Some of my bags were barely over $1.00.  So it’s good to experiment and prepare for what you may or may not love.  It’s a fun process and the journey is just as beautiful as the destination.

I look forward to that journey, and the forthcoming destination continuing tomorrow.

Have a blessed one.

Ideen

 

Sipping Joyfully

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take good care and have a blessed one.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Family First

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Happy New Year and Happy Spring to everybody.  Happy New Year is for all of my Iranian friends who celebrate Nowruz.

I thought for sure, that after last year (here is the post) there would be another Iranian tea, either from my dad or from myself.  That may still come in a future post in April or soon thereafter, but for now I let my dad do all the work, and I get to relax a bit.  Well sort of.

Leave it to my dad to obtain a tea literally from obscurity.  But that’s what makes this so fun.  I wouldn’t and shouldn’t always be writing about teas that are easily accessible and easily well-known.   I take pride in trying something new in all facets of my life whenever possible.   With that said I’m so grateful to have had my first cup of White Tea & Blueberry from ManzaTe of Costa Rica.

It used to be that I would initially write-off and have presumptions, preconceived notions, and other nasty things to say about something before even trying it.  Just because something is unfamiliar doesn’t mean it should be frowned upon or put on the back burner.  It could easily be a treasure that otherwise would be forgotten.

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There won’t be much in the way of pictures of steeping and prepping, because, once again my dad broke this out with little notice.  I love when an idea falls into my lap when I’m not looking for it.

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What a thrill this was to sip.   Even if it were disappointing, I would still find so many positives about this experience.  Hanging out with family and the people you care about is always a positive.  And when the tea is great, it definitely is an added bonus.

Yes this tea is delicious.  It was so easy to sip and those blueberries taste natural, and not artificial.  Well at least I hope so.  There’s not much information about this specific tea online.

However, there are online stores where you can purchase their other flavors.  I have two links for you, here and here.

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But no Nowruz gathering would be complete without some sweet Iranian pastries that we have more than once a year.  Trust me.  We go overboard here.  We tend to have these at least once a month.  The honey based pastries complement the white tea and blueberries to a tea.  Ha I made myself  laugh with that one.

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If you would like to find out more about these sweet treats, here are the links for Jalebi, Bamiyeh, and Persian Baklava.   All of this is so good and so beautiful.

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This is a tradition that I hope goes on forever.  And I just don’t mean celebrating New Years and enjoying a meal, a cup, and some sweet treats with my dad and other family.  I would like it to happen as much as possible.  And not all of them are meant to be shared.  As some are meant to be kept internal between yourself, the people you shared them with, and the universe.

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If time permits and the opportunity presents itself I would like to write about another tea in another of Iranian New Year.  I figure I have a window of a few weeks to write about a Persian tea if I get the chance.   I hope  I do.  I will hopefully make that happen.  But like with this experience, it will best come organically.

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And If I get another chance to write about ManzaTe, I will.  This was a wonderful first impression.  It was easy to drink, easy to appreciate the smells, but most importantly it’s about family and being around great company that you appreciate and that appreciate you back.

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This is what life, at any time of year is all about.

I look forward to what April brings.   But for now Happy New Year and Happy Early part of Spring.

Ideen

Matcha Tea Party

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Just when I think Trader Joe’s has done it all.  And just when I think Trader Joe’s has exhausted all of their tea options, or maybe I thought I exhausted all of their options, the gems just keep on coming.   I love it and hope it never ends.  TJ’s has been a big part of this blog, and I hope that trend continues with periodic write-ups for a long time to come.

Here is my ever-growing history of Trader Joe’s stories.

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My regular tea adviser suggested I go back and try out their brand new Matcha Green Tea Packets.  They’re new as in released only a couple of weeks ago.  So I feel thrilled to be one of the early guinea pigs (not not really) and one of the first on my block to try out something new, something special, and a different take on the traditional bags and loose leaf variety.

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Matcha is one of my favorite teas to begin with.  It just has this natural and rough (in a good way) taste, that didn’t take long to grow on me.  If you’ve had it then you know what I’m talking about.  It’s distinct, it’s natural, and it’s authentic.  And the aftertaste lingers for a while.  And that’s what you want with a tea and that’s how a tea becomes memorable.

This was memorable.

The trend of pouring powder into a beverage is way past the point of it being a trend.  It’s just become what it is.   But this might be my first time ever having green tea in powder form.  If my memory serves me correct it may be the first time I’ve had any kind of tea in this form.

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On the day I was to try this concoction, the sun was beaming and the weather was just becoming all out gorgeous.    The universe looked out for me and I decided to have a sample of the Matcha Tea in hot and iced form.  It may have been too sooner for the latter but Spring has shown up much earlier in the Maryland area than usual.  No complaints here.

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In heated form this is terrific.  It has the exact taste you’ve come to expect when drinking Matcha.  I’ve never been to Japan and hope to one day, but this is something I can enjoy on a regular basis there or of course at home.  It just feels out of this world and always feels like an honor to try.    The tannin level felt higher than a tea I’m used to.  But that’s Matcha and this is a tea I want to keep getting used to.

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How about that color?  Just the visual of brewing thing was a treat.  This is real.

And when the sun in shining the way it is, and it’s still just a little a chilly enough to truly appreciated a hot tea, this was one of my favorite experiences.  Actually any great tea sipping can be a a favorite experience.  But this was up there.  And then the only ingredient is Matcha Green Tea Powder, you know you’re getting the real deal.

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The iced version is more of a work in progress for me.  That harsh and natural taste (which I only mean in the nicest way) doesn’t translate as well when it’s chilled.  I let my heated tea kettle cool for a while, put in some iced cubes, poured that cooled water, and then my Matcha powder, and stirred it for a while.  Stirring is necessary or the powder will not dissolve properly.  I had a little leftover after my hot cup.

I first tried my chilled version with no sweeteners added and it tasted a little bitter.  This is one that need a little honey or sugar.   I added just a little bit to the former and now we’re getting going.  But for me, this version is more of an acquired taste.  And even in the instructions, mentions pouring it into a water bottle and shaking it until it’s blended, without mention of adding anything sweet. But of course we can create it the way we want it.  I’m a big believe in less is more but adding a little more will go a long way here.

 

The chocolate from Trader Joe’s as well worked perfectly with both teas.  Actually chocolate just works well with everything.  And at my local store they were placed right next to each other.  I don’t think that was an accident.

At $7 this was well worth it, even if there’s only seven packets per case.

I will be having more of this in the future and would love to write about it again if the circumstance, the situation (oh wait that’s the same thing as circumstance), and opportunity to share it with others in a different setting presents itself.

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I highly recommend this and I continue to be impressed with all the great new products Trader Joe’s continues to deliver.  Well done.

Absolutely well done.

 

Ideen

 

 

 

Olympic Tea Party!

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I’m a softy for the Olympics.  I’m sure many of you may share that same sentiment.  It just makes me feel good.  What makes feel so warm and fuzzy?  I want to believe there’s still genuine competition and sportsmanship on an international level.  In a way by saying that, I’m showing my cynical side.  Most certainly.  But I’m an idealist at heart.  I’m enjoying an inspiring event as I write this.  I sense the good vibrations, the good energy, and I feel the love.

You know where else I’ve always felt love?   Trader Joe’s has always been good to me.  It’s been so clutch to this (for more TJ posts click here) blog.  And even if the results have not always been the most positive, I still find many without trying too hard.

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An Olympic themed tea was not necessarily what I was seeking out.  Though that would be nice.  Maybe I’ll get to that next week.  My visits to this store have shrunk and I need to fix that.  So I fixed it today and a lovely display rack of their Sweet Tea and Bollywood popcorn did the trick.  Yes you read that right, Bollywood popcorn  with Vegan Tikka Masala seasoning.   I didn’t know any of this existed.  I grabbed a bag of course.

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This pairing may not make sense but if their featured in front of the store then why quibble?  If Trader Joe’s says its ok then who am I to dispute?  There is a hint of sarcasm here. Not to be outdone, as I strolled around the aisles I discovered Mango Coconut Popcorn.   This looks scary and potentially habit-forming.   However,  if you’ve noticed my posts I’ve been in a mango kick this summer.  And I don’t see why not. Oh how I love summer. And I’m loving the Summer Olympics.  And we’re only getting started.

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None of this screams the Olympics.  None of this is remotely good for you.  I put my little spread together and started feeling gross.  These athletes are in shape and inspiring.  This is not quite like going to the movies but it’s a monumental event that only happens every two years.

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I’ll get the negatives out of the way.  I’ve never loved sweet tea.  This will hardly change that.  But, pure cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup could lead me to change my mind at some point.  Many of you are going to love it.  But this isn’t me.

But both flavored popcorns’ are so bad for you and oh-so habit forming.  Be careful, the caloric and fat content is high.  I already feel like more of a non-athlete versus these Olympians.  This Olympics party spread won’t do anything to dispel that.

I put most of it back in their bags.  But beforehand I took some fun shots, and even some of my animal friends joined, and were looking for some foodies.  They slowly crawled their way to get some eats but this wouldn’t be right.  But just like any athlete, they never gave up.  They put up a fight.  But I did them a favor.  The most important fact that should not go unnoticed is that they worked together.  They looked out for each other and motivated each other every step of the way.  This is the true spirit of the games of the 31st Olympiad!

But yeah, the tea and snacks should only  be taken in small doses.

And who puts iced tea in a mug?  Well I think this particular mug would be a viable exception.

Next time you’re at your local Trader Joe’s be on the look out for these treats.  I think most of you will enjoy.  And speaking of enjoyment, we have two weeks of thrilling Olympic coverage.  I hope you get a chance to be captivated.  I already have been.  And more is coming.

If I can keep the Olympic Spirit going, I’ll continue next week.

Best,

Ideen