The Clock On The Wall Is…

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At Baltimore Coffee and Tea (here’s their tea collection and list of locations) there never seems to be a clock.  Not that I’m looking for it.  It’s more than when I’m here, I feel an  ease and calm I don’t get everywhere.

The visits are always by happenstance (or are they?), where I don’t think about going, unless I think about going.  The latter part is due to circumstances beyond my control?  Maybe.   If I’m in the vicinity of one then theme music might be going off in my head, and I hope to see the light…

The many visits before (stories can be found here) might tell of cozy and community feeling experiences.  That’s exactly right.

They might also tell of enjoyment in solitude.  That would be the case as well.

There’s happiness where it’s the simplest.  What goes on here is also a separation from the commotion of the outside world.  I’m not in the city, there’s little to no traffic,  the noise is practically non existent, and all the cares and worries seem to disappear.

It’s like I’m the only person on Earth.  Feelings like that come more times than we realize.  Being selfish in that way is ok.  We’ve all had those feelings where the world revolve around us and no one else, but not in that narcissistic sense so much.  Just a feeling of we deserve and have earned a place to just be, and nothing else.

Forgetting when I was here at my favorite and original location in Timonium, while it always seems busy, it never seems crowded. There’s room for everybody.  They say that without having to say that.   Again, it’s just being.

Thanks again to Eastern Shore Tea Company for providing the tea this week, the Blueberry Lemon for my enjoyment, and hopefully yours.

The seasonal tastes of blueberries and lemons, is just right.  There’s not much else to it, and on a day where you don’t want too much, don’t ask for too much, and in many cases just want to be alone or left alone, this is perfection.

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My breakfast sandwich was just as yummy, and while that is for display, it also did go well with my tea.  Not so much for pairings sake, but for my sake.

While the friendly patrons seem to know one another, and it would be nice to be in the know, it’s ok to be anonymous.  In a world where we’re more and more connected, and everyone seems to know you or about you, it’s nice to remain hidden, even if it’s plain sight.  It’s easier said and easier done.   As small as the world it, it’s also so big.  Just like our spirits.

I wish I could make every experience and story this simple.  When I go back and look, they all tend to be.  The teas may change, the locations may be different, the arrangements might be altered, but the story remains constant.  I love tea, it’s a timeless joy that I enjoy partaking in and sharing with you.

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I can’t wait to see what happens next…

Take good care…

Ideen

Feeling Grateful – Part II

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This life is fun and funny at times.  What started out as any other day (and I don’t like days just being ordinary or like ‘any other day’), turned into one that was full of happiness, joy, hope, and many things to look forward to in the present, as well as the future.

But it’s always important to live in the present tense.

As one door opens, so does another, and a return to one of my favorite places in Historic Old Ellicott City, the wonderful Matcha Time Cafe.  I absolutely adore this place.

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I find it so wonderful, that a bonus post, outside of my usual Tuesday style, was absolutely necessary.  Actually none of this is necessary, but to me, it’s important enough to expound upon, especially as the Ellicott City Spring Festival takes place this coming Saturday.

It’s not like business will be slow, or this or any other business needs any more publicity or promotion leading into this weekend.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to promote positivity, support a local business, and support someone who I now consider a friend.

When I made the most incredible and memorable of discoveries back in November of 2016 (story can be found here), of this gift from the universe, I thought that if there is something bigger than us and bigger than this life, this is one way the other side would look like.

I hadn’t introduced myself to the manager, Hatsumi, at the time.  Actually maybe I did after I sat outside in the what was an unseasonably warm yet picturesque day, that gave me one of the best stories, on not just about tea, but about anything.  I got some awesome pictures too. And I say that with confidence, because I haven’t read it since.  I rarely read what I write.  Maybe I’ll go back and see how well that story, among others, has aged.  I bet it’s timeless.  I know it is.

So nearly a year-and-a-half later, my return visit tells a different story, yet it’s all relative, and all means so much.

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I had given a heads up that I was on my way and was greeted with open arms.  That made me feel so good.  On a day where everything felt unique and uncomfortably fantastic at times, it was good to see a familiar face.

After a several minute chat, that became much longer, I got to sample some of the new teas for the season.  I also see that they make dumplings in house, along with so many other amazing foods.  I forgot it’s more than just a cafe.  There’s a delicious and nutritious element to their menu, that must be revisited again.  And no it won’t be another 18 months till the next time.  That’s a guarantee.

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After a few moments of deliberation, I was presented the Masala Chai Latte, and as an added bonus, a gluten free chocolate cake.  Yes it’s as rich as it gets ladies and gentlemen.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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The latte is as gorgeous and splendid as it looks.  It’s a bit heavy and rich, like I said, so sip carefully, slowly, and in peace.  It’s going to wake you up.  And on a day or string of days where I’ve been perpetually exhausted, this was as welcome a beverage as any.

 

ChocolateCakeAnd that cake.  I didn’t know it was gluten free until I was basically full from my tea.  I first thought there’s no way I can have all this.  When I found out it was GF,  there was this open sigh of relief. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

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I enjoyed my cake later, and once again, as beautiful as it looks, it would be a shame not to eat.  It was beautiful.

Everything about this visit was beautiful.

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I’m glad I arrived when I did, right before lunch, as business started to pick up, and the time for conversation was beginning to wane.  But a good hour or so was just enough.  And like I said, I’ll be back much sooner than later.

I see this being more than a trilogy.  I see this being a recurring story, with no timetable, no expectations, just a good time with good people, and some more amazing teas and tasteful bites.

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The way I write this might feel like a transition. And maybe it is.  Maybe I’m projecting, but my intent is to project the good I’m feeling based on not just this visit, but the first one, and so many other invaluable experiences, all for the love of tea.

For more on Matcha Time Cafe click here.

I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

Have a good one, and peace be with you…

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Springtime Feelings In The Middle Of…

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So this felt quick.  Well when you do three posts in three days, it feels about right and it fells relative.  But I think I’m just getting started.

After the first two posts (you can find them here and here respectively) from one of my favorite places of all time, Wegmans, (click here to find a store near you).

I’m feeling a tad emotional. Why I don’t know.  I just tend to get emotional.  It’s not like the teas and store is going anywhere. If anything this is only beginning.   I feel like we use that term, ‘it’s only the beginning’, or ‘we’ve only just begun’ a lot, but it’s true.   There’s so much tea and so much time to talk about it.

Absolutely.

The Jasmine Globe Tea is exactly that.  It’s shaped like a globe and during steeping it blooms into a flower.  Well that was the intent.

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I just love the look of this tea.  It’s almost too beautiful for it to be brewed.  But then again, I can always save another piece or two to admire.  I mean look at this thing. How this was fused in the way it was is a marvel.  I bet it wasn’t that difficult, but I like to think this was done with such precision to get every herb, flower, spice, and everything else to look like perfection.

It smelled like perfection.  However, during infusing it didn’t quite break up to be like the flower it was meant to be.  I tried with and without the infuser.  Maybe it was me, maybe the water wasn’t hot enough, or maybe it was something else.

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But the smell of jasmine takes me back to my childhood.  I just recall it being in parts of potpourri, air fresheners, and even parts of various foods my parents could cook up.  It’s those scents that remind me of you holidays and celebrations past.  It’s not always the best of memories, but this one reminds me of many other people, not just relatives, going back in time.   I’m sure you have familiar scents and tastes that remind you of something from growing up, or maybe even more recently.  That’s my take on it, and this tends to manifest itself more so this time of year.

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The taste was not at profound as the aroma, but it was just right.  Too much jasmine might not work on the mouth at times.  This was meant to be exactly how it was intended.  I celebrate that spring time feeling with one of my favorite cups and we segue and tease future holiday celebrations with some more of my favorite decor, and some pumpkin spice oatmeal.

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One of my most favorite birthday presents ever, the beautiful black labrador retriever plate, is back for an encore.  It should be part of the main set and every encore!

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Last and certainly not the last (for now), is the Apple Pie Chai Rooibos.  Try saying that a few times without messing that up!

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This was the only tea that listed the ingredients on the bag.   Did every other tea have nothing except what was in the tea itself?   I still enjoy the vague, wine like descriptions of these teas, and will always find unintentional humor in them.

There’s ways to describe tea and then there’s ways to describe tea.

The Apple Pie might have had my favorite tint after completion.  It looks more orange but that’s due in part to orange peel and orange lemongrass.   The inclusion of apple pieces, cinnamon and hibiscus flowers make this the happiest of teas for the season.

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I love this one so much.

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I didn’t have any apple pie but some apple cider and pumpkin pretzels is just as viable as an alternative.   There will be more mentions of apple cider and similar teas as we progress.

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But right now there’s still plenty of time to celebrate autumn, November, Thanksgiving, and all the good that comes with it.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and the celebrations that will ensue makes me warm inside.  It gives me butterflies and makes me thankful for good family, good friends, and good health.

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I hope you enjoyed this trilogy.  This is it for now.   But there’s so much time for me to seek out some more approachable and welcoming holiday teas.  The traditional weekly post will be back, but not just yet.

I got a few more things in mind starting this weekend, into next week, and leading in to the big day.

I wish you good health and a happy holiday season.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Feeling Grateful

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Every experience is just that, an experience.   For some, getting a cup of tea or any beverage, like a cup of coffee, or a meal is just standard operating procedure. For me, the tea drinking experience is one of the most spiritual of all.   I see it as more than just drinking tea.  There’s a sense of zen and calming that usually happens for me, especially when I’m not looking for it. This isn’t always case.  But more times than not a feeling comes over me.

If I’m feeling down or bummed out about something, a cup of tea can slowly lift my spirits and re-energize my soul.  It’s a gradual process.  If it’s rapid, it’s only because the experience is pure.  Otherwise it’s inauthentic and unnatural.  And that contradicts the journey of a tea lover.   So this post really embodies why tea means so much to me.  And I knew it was going to happen as soon as I found….

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How fitting that I get to write about Matcha Time Cafe just days before Thanksgiving.

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Once again my travels bring me to one of my favorite parts of the state of Maryland, Ellicott City.  I’ve made mention recently about my love for this town and I’m blessed and thankful to have another opportunity to write about EC and as an added bonus, this remarkable  cafe.

For all the times I’ve been in town, I’ve never actually been here.  I’ve never noticed it. Nestled in the heart of town (and I mean heart) almost seems fitting.  It’s in the center where some other charming shoppes and restaurants are located.  It’s the epitome of the beautiful small town settings you read about, or sometimes seen portrayed positively in television shows or cinemas.  Here I go again raving about a place and I haven’t even walked in and tried a thing.

But like I said earlier.  I knew this would be special.   After literally getting goose bumps walking towards Matcha, I finally walked in.

I figured that based on the name and the decor, that the store is Japanese owned and operated.  This adds an authenticity you don’t get everywhere.

I wish I talked to the manager more.  She was as friendly a person as I’ve ever come across. She and the friendly person at the register let me sample their seasonal teas.

Tis the season, so holiday themed teas are a must.   My first scent was the Cinnamon Plum and without any hesitation that’s what I went with.  I ordered a pot because I figure let me take this all in.  I’m not in any rush.  The rush will come as we approach Christmas.  Right now (well it should be like this most of the time) is a time to rest, relax, and be at peace with myself and my surroundings.  And that’s exactly what I did.

I had a few minutes before my pot would be ready.  So I did some browsing…

There’s a beautiful gift shop within the cafe.  I took pictures for your viewing pleasure.  For those local to the area, keep that in mind for your small business shopping.  I intend to be back soon.

Before I completely digress I want to make mention that I’m fascinated with Japanese culture so I felt right at home and not everything looked unfamiliar to me.  I don’t want to make this too much about me but what did this do is enhance this experience.  And yes this is all without having a sip of tea.

My new friend had asked me where I wanted to sit.  It was nice enough outside that I gladly found a seat on the front patio.

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This is where charming goes to a whole new level.  She gave me a timer with a countdown clock, essentially telling me that after 5 minutes the tea will be perfect enough to drink. Otherwise it may get lost with how hot it would be.  This is taking customer service to a whole new level.  I was so happy in that moment.

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She even gave me a holder for my strainer after each cup was well, strained.  I got a good three plus cups out of it.  And I took my time.  I mean I really took my time.  I was alone but I wasn’t.   I felt like I was the only man on earth but I was with spirits.  Whether they were angels or something else I don’t know.  But I felt an energy field around me that words will never give it justice.  It’s one of those things that I almost left out.  It’s also one of those experiences that maybe I keep to myself and in my internal memory bank.

But no, this is a small business, this is Ellicott City, and this is a world class operation that deserves all the praise in the world.  And oh yes the tea was incredible.  The cinnamon and plum combination is one that rejuvenated me by cup number three.  Like I said before, it was organic and ethereal.  It’s something that can never be recreated.  I’m glad I took a lot of photos.  But after a while I said enough, this is for me.  It can be for you too.  It can be for any of us.  If you’re within driving distance, you’ve got to come here.

I think I was here a good hour, maybe more.  Where that time went I don’t know. Time stood still.  My vantage point was pretty awesome.  Some photos I will keep to myself but I’ll definitely post some to give you the impression of what I was feeling.

But what I said in the beginning rings true.  Every experience is different and can be similar.  It’s all what we choose to see.  I chose to see the best in this when it was already breathtaking to begin with.

As I was returning my pot and cup, the manager actually bowed to me.  It was so flattering, but all I could think is I should be bowing to her.  I know it’s Japanese tradition but it should have been me humbling myself to her.   So this is me bowing to Matcha and saying thank you, Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays.

Here is their menu, brewing info (which I’m mesmerized by), and some education materials.

And here’s another post I made on beautiful Ellicott City.

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It’s going to be a great holiday season.  On this experience alone, it’s already first class. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.

Ideen