Giving Thanks…

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Some people have had their fill   No not me.  It’s early November and I’m still here celebrating all the good from not just pumpkins, but cider encompasses more of the holiday season.  I did just say those magical words.

I love all the colors, the scents, the flavors, and most of all, the images of what this time of year has to offer.  There’s good in all facets of life, in all times of year, and life in general.   But this part of the calendar can or could lead to a million and one emotions.  You know what I’m talking about here.

Even with potential obstacles, challenges, and hopefully the best memories possible rising to the surface, there’s so much to love about this time of year.   That includes a gem of teas from one of my favorite places The Fresh Market.

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Their pumpkin spice tea was down to its last few canisters that I only felt it was right to snag one.  So for that this review may be a few weeks too late, but with Thanksgiving being a bit of a ways away, I don’t see the rush to get into the winter teas just yet.  Yet we’re seeing more than hints of all these holiday favorites.   So there may be one or two more fall like posts that need to be dusted off, within all the pending commotion.

There’s a lot to love about this, yet it’s so simple.  In a constantly busy time and world, simple is always welcome.

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I have so much pumpkin tea stored away, that I drink it all year round.  It may defeat the purpose, but why waste such great tea? Why waste tea anyways?  That’s right…

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When discovering this immaculate fall display, I just had to buy the exquisite pair of pumpkin spice and apple cider cookies from Dewey’s Bakery.

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At 12 calories a piece (I know right!), you can get carried away in enjoying them.  But that is what this season and life can be all about.  If you’re enjoying these moments, these experiences, and the joys of fall, then there’s no need to feel bad or guilty about any of this.  Indulgence on your own or with loved ones can lead to some of the best memories of all.  That can happen any time of year.

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Warning, these cookies are habit forming.  Paired with this tea, it’s a winner.  I only wish I got to talking about this much sooner.

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If time and the universe allows I may dust off a couple of more gems from the fall.  Maybe in retrospect.  There’s just so much to choose from, and so many can sadly get lost in the shuffle through no fault of their own.  With all the greatness of fall and the wide away of foods and teas to choose from, I wish I could dedicate more time to all of this.

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Happy November, Happy Holiday Season, and I wish you much happiness!

With that being said, more to come…

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And maybe more from The Fresh Market (locations here)…

Oooo I see cider up there!  Yes free samples are the best!

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

An Attitude of Gratitude…

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The Living in Gratitude Kombucha from GT’s is some of the best you’re ever going to taste.  I’m confident enough in saying that.  I wanted to get this recap in before supplies ran out.  And there’s a small chance that in some places (find a store) it may already be out.  That’s not based on any expert analysis, other than we you see and taste something this amazing, the term limited edition is an understatement.

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Perhaps it’s the color that evokes feelings of fall and change.  Perhaps it’s the flavors of apple, turmeric, carrot, and that oh so yummy cider.  But like I tend to say, perhaps it’s something much bigger.  This was created with everyone in mind…

Kombucha (more about GT’s here) is not for sipping, well it can be, but it’s intent like most things is to be savored, and enjoyed in small to moderate doses.  That sounds about right.

But something about the Living in Gratitude made me want it all in one sitting, or in one setting if you will.  It’s a lot lighter, at least to me, and has that comforting feeling just as the weather starts to turn cool and crisp.  What a perfect complement to the other.

Additionally, when you see words and images of gratitude, appreciation, love, and kindness, you’re going to be drawn to it, like a magnet.  Sometimes we don’t realize it’s happening, and there are no words for it.  But those thoughts and feelings, even if they come an go, bring you joy, bring you harmony, and bring you closer to… (fill in the blank).

I had no doubts that this would be incredible.   I had a sense it would be out of this world, or even out of this universe.  Sometimes you just know.    I sensed it right when I discovered it at a familiar place, Trader Joe’s.   Oh how I love Trader Joe’s and I love GT’s.

A drink like is meant to be enjoyed however you want it, and however you prefer. For me,  I would rather have it on its own.   Yet Trader Joe’s is loaded with so many fall offerings, familiar and new, that I had to pick up an old staple, Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s.

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The pairing is for entertainment purposes only, but a food and drink pairing is whatever you want it to be, and whatever makes you happy.  I know there are more unlikely duos than this, and that can be so much fun.

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But this Kombucha (even more love here), you’ve got to be kidding me.  Every flavor and every ingredient (which isn’t many, precisely, and they all have value) come together to form something so symbolic, something to genuine, and something so loving.

I should have grabbed more than one.  And hopefully there’s more waiting for me, and waiting for you too.

A drink like this brings upon feelings of all that’s good in the world, and as the days get shorter and the weather goes the way it’s going, we always can use more love.  No matter the season, no matter the occasion, and no matter your situation, there can never be enough love, never enough gratitude, and never enough kindness.

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This was comforting and a blessing on so many levels, that words may not be enough.  All I can do is sing its praises and tell you how this made me feel.  It made me feel…

…grateful…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Feeling Grateful – Part III

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That doesn’t mean I’ve only been grateful for three visits on this journey.  That would defeat the purpose of what’s happening here.  Matcha Time Cafe is one of my favorite places to visit (Part 1 and 2 can be found here) anywhere.  It’s more than just my love for Ellicott City, (even though that only enhances experience) it’s a love of local business, and a the people behind it.

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The space and time between this and the last visit was much less, and I suspect that this will continue.  For this visit, it was a quiet Friday afternoon, unplanned, and in some ways my favorite of the three.  But they’ve all been my favorite.  Something about this had a feel, just like most experiences area.  Something just felt safe, felt secure, felt even more safe, and felt like home.

This was just that much more safe, it was essential, and it was one of those feelings that can’t be explained.

We’re all in weird places from time to time.  Hopefully for the most part we’re in harmonious ones that when we go somewhere safe and happy, that feeling is that much more amplified.  Otherwise, a place like Matcha is just that much more needed.  I don’t like that word ‘need’, because it represents lack.  But sometimes those lacks need (oops) to be filled.  That comes from within, but it helps to get assistance from friends, from good food, of course good tea, and sometimes from people you don’t even know.

You know when things are comfortable and great when you can relax and the owner (who is also a friend) is working off to the side, and we can enjoy some conversation, but even better in some instances, silence.    I mean of course there was tea.  Let me get to that now.

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Ah it’s now really fall, and that means these endearing lists of teas, coffees, and ciders.  And there’s is as charming as it gets.    Funny how I’ve never had the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Matcha before, so let’s do it.

I had multiple cups and each one just tasted better than the other.  And that speaks to the power and quality of the loose tea itself.  If you can get multiple cups with lots of flavor remaining, all is good with the universe.   I took my time with each cup.  Then somewhere along the way…

Let’s have some chicken curry.  What a perfect dish for this time of year.   It was still bright enough outside and there’s this crisp coolness that just feels right, but also tells you that well, yeah not yet….

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This food and tea combination felt like a home cooked meal.   But in so many ways I felt like I was at home.  This was happiness.  I got comfortable, and maybe too comfortable, but is that such a bad thing?

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I shouldn’t have to question joy.  No one should.   I’m in a place of healing and it take a while, maybe forever to be healed.  Yet there’s always time to feel good and to feel better.  I felt so good here.  I lost track of time.  I felt like I was here 20 minutes, yet I was here nearly three hours.    That’s when you know peace.  We’re capable of attracting so much peace and harmonious feelings regardless of what the outside world presents itself.

The view of the outside world on this day was pretty amazing.  There was an outdoor wedding about to be held.  It was cool to see the set-up to the start of the ceremony.  Across the way live music was about to take place.  I forgot this was a Friday, and fun things like that tend to happen.   I could have stayed here, but maybe it was time to join the outside world.  Well that and they were about to close.

I like to think they stayed opened longer so I could feel as safe as long as possible.  Maybe I left before closing.  I don’t remember.  But I know I could have stayed there for a while.  I did but you know, a while…

My friend gave me a hot apple cider to go, and it was beautiful.  Cider is one of those comfort drinks that I should drink more often, but then maybe it wouldn’t feel so special. Again, happiness should never have an arbitrary amount of or anything like that. No.

I joined the concert with my cider, and I didn’t know a single soul, and it felt wonderful.  I felt connected to everyone while not knowing anybody.  Maybe somebody was going through something similar.  Maybe because I’m a in a place I’m not a regular, that people smiled at me just to say, everything’s going to be ok.  You’re ok.  I hope so.

This day was more than ok. It was one of my favorites.  My favorites are always the simplest ones, with a lot of good conversation, then a lot of peace, and that leads to inner peace, and inner joy.   That’s the season for you.

There’s a lot of beautiful moments to come.  I can feel it.  No event is ever the same nor should it be attempted, but I can only hope for more amazing ones down the line.

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I’ll treasure and savor this one forever…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

A Better Way To…

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Way back in time, I wrote about Wawa, and all the goodness that it brings.   Kids of all ages that have ever visited one of their stores (locations can be found herelocations can be found here) or heard about one, know of the aura that Wawa has.  There’s no overstating this, I find happiness here, that I don’t find just anywhere.  And there’s happiness to be found anywhere and everywhere…

WawaMenu

I would have to give myself enough time to write about every tea, coffee, latte, and everything in between that Wawa has to offer.  And that’s just counting for the fall season, let alone everything else.  The photo above is just the beginning, and everything else is great too.  Yes, this story will be loaded with heavy biases, and I’m proud of that fact.

On average I’m here at least five times a week.  That isn’t an exaggeration.  I’m fortunate to be near a half-dozen or so stores/filling stations just within driving distance, and many more in the area, that I’m never without my Wawa.

Three plus years was way too long to get back to talking about one of the best places in the whole wide world, so let’s get to it…

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The Hot Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea is more on the lighter side, and that’s just the way I wanted it.  In many past stories I’ve elaborated on why I feel this can be too rich and too aggressive for my tastes.  As we approach comfort food, comfort drink, and comfort everything this season, a little richness never hurt anybody.  But when it comes to chai I want it light, I always want it light, and I want it just like this.

What’s beautiful about the drink choices (and pretty much most of the food choices as well…) is that it’s built to order at your fingertips.  I know a lot of places have instituted this, but I would like to think Wawa was first, and the greatest of all time.  I warned you about biases!

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You have your options of milk and whether or not you want whip cream.   Their recommendations are shown to you, but you can come up with whatever makes you happy.  Almond milk makes he happy. Yay!  With the chai I kept it real simple as opposed too…

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The Iced Pumpkin Maple Harvest Latte is full on commotion and chaos, no not really, it’s a heavy drink.  I got it iced and with whip cream on top.  And if you think I finished this one in one setting, you would be right.  Actually no, this one took a long time and my stomach said no thank you.  But the truth is, it’s good, but it’s not for everyone.

Maple has somewhat caught up to pumpkin in terms of all the fall concoctions that you can make out of these two autumnal entities (not sure it that made sense).   This isn’t a knock on the drink at all.  I ordered this deliberately to counterbalance the chai tea.

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While I like it, and it’s not necessarily for me, it easily could be something you will enjoy.  I’m all about trying something different.  And their menu has something available for all to enjoy.

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I love Wawa.  Wait, did I already say that?  But it’s the truth.  Since the first time I set foot into one up to earlier today, I always enjoy a visit.  I get excited when I drive past one or a see a sign on the highway for one of my favorite places.  I still get the warm and fuzzies, and feel like a kid in this store.  And this is before I even walk in.

These warm feelings of love are heightened as we are officially (maybe?) into the fall beverage season, and fully appreciate right now and what’s to come.

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I look forward with what’s to come, but for now, I love Wawa.  Always have and always will.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Grateful For The Spice & Tea Exchange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, is the Winter Granola Herbal Tea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last and certainly not least is the Gingersnap Herbal Tea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the true spirit of the holidays.

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

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

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

‘Tis Tea Season

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Oh yes it is, and we’re just riding along this train till I run out of tea to try, which will never happen.    I promised myself, you, and the universe, that I would get to as many teas for autumn and naturally let the blend from season to season.

With this I will reviewing two teas from Stash, which has been a friend to me and this blog (previous posts can be found here,  over here, and one more right…here…) and I don’t write about enough.  I could say that about a whole plethora of companies, and their finest of teas.

The Pumpkin Spice Decaf really got me good.  Without trying too hard I figured out that this was natural pumpkin flavor and not that artificial and synthesized coloring and flavoring that many of these companies add to their teas, to make it sweeter when it’s better off being left alone.

But this was fun.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (oil in this instance which I found intriguing), and cloves really make this a powerfully packed tea that seemed so effortless to produce.  I think black tea and pumpkin is a winning combination if done right.  You could actually apply that to just about anything  If things are blended together properly, with some good soul and feeling behind it, it’s going to be a winner.

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This checks of all the boxes.  How about that beautiful color? Decaf or not, I wouldn’t know the difference, this is a great tea.

The Maple Apple Cider is fine except for the maple flavor.  This is a matter of taste.  Maple doesn’t always work for me.    It’s natural maple flavor and it’s possible that’s where I’ve thrown off.  I’ve had plenty of foods with maple glaze that either taste too good to be true, or just don’t taste good at all.

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Aside from that, this had another melange of great flavors, that is slightly marred my the maple.  But there’s times where I feel the cinnamon, caramel, and apple is lost because of the strong presence of maple.  This is another in the line of rooibos that I’ve been trying, and this is a slight step back.

I will gladly give it another go since I’ve bought a package, but I wasn’t blown away this with this one.

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My snowman friends didn’t seem to mind.   They seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Yes I did just say that…

On their website, both teas are listed as a package deal.  I think that’s a fantastic gift for now, and the Christmas season that is fast approaching.

When it comes to Stash, I’m only just getting started.  They have so many teas for the  holidays, that I’m hopefully going to dedicate some more posts too.   Just from my observation, Stash is one of those companies that doesn’t get the publicity and headlines that it should.

I know some people close to me are huge fans, and make it a part of their daily lives, and morning routine.    I have to many teas to choose from, I’m not sure if there will ever be  a routine.  And neither situation is right or wrong.  It’s all beautiful.  It’s all in the celebration of tea.

We’re still in the heart of November, and there’s so much tea to try and share with you guys.  For some reason, I’m feeling a little more heart warmed today than normal.  Tea makes me so happy and this is some of the happiest times of the year.

More to share soon.

For more on Stash, here is where you can find their teas, their list of fall teas, more about the company, and contact information.

Thank you so much, and I’ll be back tomorrow…

Peace be with you.

Ideen