I’m So Grateful For This

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There are days where I feel lost, and have no idea what I’m going to write about.  In some instances I’ll start to worry that maybe it’s not meant to be this week.   That has only happened sparingly.  Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything.  I still do it knowing it has no benefits.  If that’s part of what keeps me going and motivating then that’s what I’ve created and is what I’m used to.

The positive contrary is relaxing, letting things come to you, being at peace, and being on with the universe, with myself, and everything.  I think I just repeated myself.

Leave it to Trader Joe’s to help with that peace.  The store that has brought me to so much joy way before writing about all this always comes through when needed, and when I’m not looking.

A few days ago another random visit (sometimes that’s how it is) brought me to my beloved store, and while scanning the tea section, I noticed something….

I’ve written a lot about them and for a split second felt like there was nothing left at this time.  At least in terms of the season.

But I didn’t sweat it.  What is the point in sweating any of this?  It’s not that serious even though I tend to make it as such.   The stories and my love of tea (and your love of anything) is about enjoying life and enjoying everything possible.    Putting yourself out there, while allowing entities to find you is the most beautiful thing.  And it happened again seconds later.

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Their seasonal kombucha aisle is perfect right now and perfect so many other right nows, and thens, and futures too.  The timing was perfect because I’m not sure how much longer the Organic Mango or the Pomegranate Hibiscus will be at a store near you.

Just like I feel I got in those holiday themed kombuchas down to the wire, I’m grateful to be sharing my thoughts with you on two that just echo what makes this Summer so great.

And some sweet treats never hurt either.

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The Organic Mango is so beautiful in all the beautiful ways.  It’s easy to drink, easy to look at, and easy to appreciate.  That color is gorgeous.  I sincerely mean easy to drink because some kombucha beverages may be too much for some.   The cultures, the probiotics, and the fermentation may be a combination that might be too harsh.

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This is anything but harsh, even though I haven’t had many I didn’t like.  I will say that at least for me, it takes time to drink this.  A bottle can last me a few days.  And it can last you a while too.  That’s the beaut of this.

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I seemed to get more of the mango taste then I did of the pomegranate but that’s reaching for a complain where they really shouldn’t be. The latter also radiates with such a beautiful color that you really can’t go wrong with either.  You can only do right by both.

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I had some fun here, pouring them into fancy teacups.  That was about all I needed for today, based on what I was saying earlier.  This is to be savored.

Savoring is what I did with charming cookies that don’t necessarily pair with said beverages, but it doesn’t matter.  Like I was saying earlier, this is fun, this is joyful, and it’s blissful.

Drinking savory tea and kombucha is one of those simple and heartwarming things that almost shields me from things.  It’s a source of protection, comfort, and a feeling of home.  I love happiness and this makes me happy.

At under $3, this is as affordable as you’re going to find, when comparing to similar beverages.

I’m so grateful about all of this.  All it took was a little faith, some trust in myself, the universe, and to feel good about things.   This means a lot now but as time goes by, the stories I first share with myself but then with close friends and an audience is going to feel timeless.

Yes I get sentimental while in the moment, but I can’t think of a better way to appreciate the moment.  I’m overstating the obvious but it’s one of many instances I must tell myself that things are ok.

It’s more than ok…

Stay healthy,

Ideen

Mochi Ice Cream Party! Yay!

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I’m glad I discovered this now.  But what took me so long to notice or even try Mochi ice cream.

To be late to the party is ok, I did show up.  I have friends that raved about this decadent dessert for a number of years (or so they told me), and it either never registered, or it just didn’t register.

It didn’t resonate.   And I’m all about trying new foods, new beverages, and new anything.  This is what life is all about.   A always joyful and welcome drive to Trader Joe’s (I may have written about them once or twice…) means sampling some new food and drink (the free sample area used to be called the Tasting Oasis, yay free samples!), and of course purchasing so many of their great items, usually brand exclusive to them.

Then there’s the Buono Group, which I had also never heard of until a few days ago.   I thought for sure they were exclusive to TJ’s (find one near you), but if you do a search (couldn’t find on their site), there in more stores than just the one.   It’ll always be at where I found it to me, along with this incredible aftertaste that’s still with me after a few hours later.

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Strawberry and Matcha Green Tea were the flavors available and I was happy to grab both…

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All the info is presented to you in the pictures above, so there’s no need to me to go on an elaborate diatribe about the texture and depth of Mochi Ice.  I love so much about this.  What a great dessert idea, and in a world of unlimited ideas and creations, this is well done on so many levels.

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Both are Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free.  Vegan, no trans fats, and made with coconut milk.  If I ate both of these without knowing that, I wouldn’t notice the difference, aside from a lighter and healthier feeling, so maybe.

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But I loved these both so much.  The strawberry tastes exactly how you would want it to, and it’s lower on calories and all the bad stuff that there’s no guilt and only pleasure in eating this.  Not that you should ever feel bad about eating something that makes you feel good, as long as it’s done in a fashion that makes you feel good.

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The matcha as always is an acquired taste.  There’s a sweeter element to this that takes that (to some) rough green tea taste and makes it all the more merrier.

Speaking of merrier, the packaging and pictures will charm anyone.  I find these images adorable.  Everything about this is fun, and it’s the big and little things that always make a an experience that much more memorable.  It separates the meals from the out of this world experiences.  This one leans towards the latter for me.   There’s a first time for everything and I’m grateful this was my first encounter with Mochi Ice Cream.

Of course while we’re in the summer, this is something for now.  Yet it’s something for any time.  This is it to be enjoyed, be entertained by, and appreciated.

It’s all in the same of good food, good times, and feeling good.

This was fun.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Awaken, Invigorate, Revitalize

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All roads lead to something, and some other roads lead to something, wait I just said that.  I was going for more of that dramatic stuff, but if and when I get to more, then so be it.

I’m writing this as there’s a little bit of mixed precipitation.  That’s been the theme of this and what seems like last year’s winter.  We get teases of things, only to get nothing.  But in that regard, I take it as a sigh of relief.  We had our cold days, our windy days, and our hints of the warmer weather to come.  But as always, it’s best to live in the moment.

So this takes me back to a recent memory, where I was on my own mini vacation.  I was staying at a home of some dear friends’, while I took care of their dogs (who are so dear to me), and I had the blessing to write about some of the teas in their collection (a few that are in mine as well), and to share it with you from a different perspective, a different vantage point, and with different props.  I love props.    I may have alluded to all this last week.

I don’t view one tea brand as better than another, but I do have my favorites.   Trader Joe’s will always be a favorite.  My ever growing encyclopedia of my Trader Joe’s tea recaps can be found here.

So it helps that while I’m away, to still have some familiar friends nearby.  And the TJ’s tea I’m talking about is the Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea.

The teas that actually aren’t tea (no leaves to be found), are some of those fascinating.  This is why we call them tisanes aka herbal tea.   Beautiful.

I think of this tea as an all in one kind of tea,  It rebuilds, it rejuvenates, it reinvents.  And it does all those things I list in the title, and so much more.  That seems like a cheesy plug for something, but it’s true.   My dear friend suggested I get to this tea as soon as I can.  I had the the time, I had the space, the setting, and all those other little things that are the big things too, that make a tea and the experience that much more exciting.

You see, any entity can be great, but when surrounded by certain elements that make you feel good,  it’s that much better.  This is not covering up any deficiencies, because there aren’t any.   This is just making this the most memorable experience, for me, that I can make.

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I knew when I was brewing the water, opening the tea packet, and steeping, I was on the verge of something great.

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I’m running on a string of great teas, as if you read my posts you can tell, and I hopefully don’t see an end in sight.  There may be a hiccup or roadblock or two, but it just says that the level of teas is off the charts by so many companies.

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Maybe it’s the competitive marketplace, the interest in tea drinking going up, or maybe there’s room for everyone and everything.  I’d say it’s combination of all of the above, and then some.

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I’ve said so much without saying a lot about the tea itself.    And that guy in the picture does seem a bit creepy no? Ha.  Those are animal crackers since you were asking.  Oh yes, the tea, finally…

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The turmeric and ginger are easily detectable, based on appearance and on taste.  That golden color can only mean one thing.   I didn’t realize until after reading the synopsis, that that other powerful spice was black pepper, and not so much the licorice root.  Add some orange peel and orange oil, and you have an entirely organic experience, literally.

I’ve been spoiled and blessed all at once.  This tea did everything it said it would, and to call anything the best or the greatest makes those terms lose their luster.  So I’ll just say the tea was great.  Because it really is.

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And as the weather begins to break, this is the perfect for now, and for a little while longer.  Actually for any date, time, and season you want.   And those are the best teas.

Those are the best anything.

It’s almost Spring.   More is coming.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Festively Flavored

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I teased it last week and knew I was going to go back for a couple more from my old pals at Trader Joe’s.

When browsing their tea section, and looking for anything new I can get my hands on,  something told me to just walk around some more.  And when you’re at a store as captivating as Trader Joe’s, that’s not hard to do.

But after grabbing some free samples, at the corner of my eye in in the refrigerated beverage area, I spotted something new, something hopefully something inspiring, and most important of all, something perfect for the holiday, and the season.

They have recently introduced Kombucha to their already impressive repertoire of teas, and for that matter many of their food and drink products.   It was only a matter of time.  It never crossed my mind to think they would carry Kombucha until now.

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When I saw the two on display basically begging to be purchased, I didn’t hesitate one second.

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I will admit that when I saw the Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea, I thought it read Gently Gingerbread, which would be quite ambitious.  Could you in theory make gingerbread flavored Kombucha?  Of course you can.  But that’ll have to wait.   This is…

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This wasn’t good.  This is about as flat as a Kombucha I’ve ever had.  And it’s not that it was terrible.  Take out hoping that this would taste like the flavors of the season you love so much, it doesn’t take like much.

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If you’re not into fermented drinks, this is not where you want to go.  These are meant to be sipped, savored, appreciated, and and drank slowly like you would have a cup of tea.  But this was a struggle.   I usually save my Kombuchas for a while if they’re in protected packaging.  This is the first I’ve had in a can, and I don’t think that’s anything to really expound upon, other than the fact is I’m going to have a hard time wanting to drink this again.  But if was able to be sealed I may give it another chance.   And  you know what, I still might?

You taste ginger but it’s light, it’s lacking, and it’s missing the heart and soul I want from a tea and now the Kombucha I drink.   This was about $2-$2.50, so I wouldn’t dissuade you from not trying it.  You might love it.  But I would say proceed with caution.

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The Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s you see here and in the next display of sweet treats are mainly for display, as I still want to celebrate all the deliciousness that Trader Joe’s has to offer.

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All is forgiven and all is glorious, because their current offering, just in time for the holidays, the Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha represents everything that’s right with the world, and that includes Christmas.  Especially Christmas and the holidays.

This makes me so happy.  The color tells one story, but the combination of cranberry juice, apple juice, and cinnamon within this black tea work-of-art is just what you want this month.  I would say you could have this year round.  Yes you can.

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Again, while this one is easy to drink, it’s one you take your time with.   The amount you see poured here is the amount I had.  Yet this one was kinder to my stomach , so you know the probiotics are working! I can’t rave about this one enough.   And at a little under $3, it’s worth splurging a bit on this.

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Can’t forget those Peppermint Joe Joe’s.  Again, this is not really a pairing but more so an homage to all the joys of this holiday.

This will not be it for Trader Joe’s, as my history has shown, I will always be on the lookout for whatever awesome item they will introduce next.  Just when I think I’ve done it all, I know I never will, nor do I want to.

This is a journey, it’s a marathon, and anything but a race.  It’s not a race against time or anything else.  Though the holidays may feel like all of the above and then some, it’s about enjoying all the moments you can, with amazing food, drink, and of course the people.   We’ve got a lot holiday left and I look forward to what’s next.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Walking In A Winter Wake Up Tea

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I honestly thought I went through so many of the teas at Trader Joe’s, that I thought it would be a while till I got around to talking about one of my favorite stores in any capacity.   My fear is that this would go past the holidays and they would be left out in the cold.

Not a chance.  And there’s no need to worry.  Everything is going to be alright.  After all it’s the holidays.  This is where magic, hope, joy, peace, prosperity, and a universal feeling of love means the best of what’s around.  Yes I did just quote someone.

Here’s my Trader Joe’s history lesson.

Maybe a break was needed.  There’s so many teas from so many companies I’ve yet to get around to.  I may never get around too.  I have my favorites, I have my sentiments, and I have a soft spot for traditions and celebrations around this time of year.  Sometimes I share tea with the ones I love.  For this one, I went at it alone.   Well there were plenty of props and snacks too.

These two debuting teas are the Apple Cranberry and the Winter Wake Up.

But with the holidays that also means loads of sweet treats, unhealthy eats, and hopefully no feelings of guilt.

You will see some of the sweet treats I purchased pictured below.  Not all of them were used with these teas, and they may be used at a later time.  I just wanted to share with a little sampling of how creative and charming the flavors of the season can truly be.

In honor of the full moon that was this past weekend, I will be working backwards, but not really, as it only makes sense.   I think (no I know) the full moon had me going a little cuckoo as well.

First is the Apple Cranberry.  What stands out is that this is not actually tea.  The description even says so.  Yet it’s all natural and full of such life.  It tastes like hot autumn, but I think this would work chilled, and if you felt the need to add a little libation to it, that would work too.  But I didn’t tell you to do that.

No tea leaves are used, so there is no caffeine.  It’s the perfect drink to relax with and maybe even ease you into a lovely nap or deep sleep.  I feel quite comfortable as I write about this now.  Not quite tired but peaceful just the same.    The combinations of apples and cranberry stand out to make this a winner.  Throw in a little cinnamon and this screams autumn, the holidays, and all is right with the world.

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Well at least in the world of tea, this is the best non tea I’ve ever had.  It might be the only non-tea, tea, I’ve ever had but that’s besides the point.  As of this past weekend I saw this at my local Trader Joe’s, but it seems to headed towards clearance if not already.  So get on it if you have a chance.

The chocolate stars are a perfect complement to your home, and for any gathering.  Mine were simply for display.  Well maybe I had one or two, oops.

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And yes this display you might as well call Christmas Commotion!

The Winter Wake Up tastes and feels like breakfast, but could be had any time.  I’d be lying if I said I had it in the morning.  But it tasted good just the same.  Yes this is more in line of your traditional black teas with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, and licorice.

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This is a great tea, but I’ve had so many recently, that I don’t know where to rank this.  It’s not fair to rank it.  What I’m saying this, if I had this in a different context, I may think this is up there with all the awesome teas I’ve had this year, and especially this season.  I may be over analyzing a bit, but I think I’ve been spoiled.   Nevertheless, I’ll be drinking this a lot this year.

And as soon as I say all this, the flavors that came out from this cup when shared with these Speculoos Cookies made this an incredible combination.  So in a way everything I said in the previous paragraph becomes augmented to a significant extent.  These cookies are incredible, and I need to revisit these again while paired with another Trader Joe’s tea or some kind of holiday themed beverage.

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We go from Christmas Commotion to a more relaxed affair.  But both teas helped relaxed me, but I found myself settled a bit with this display.  Hence the full moon and working backwards stuff I was referring to.

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So if you can get your hands on either of these teas, and I’d say grab a few.  At $2.50 it’s not going to hurt you too much. Hopefully there is a Trader Joe’s near YOU.

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With that being said, I’m hopeful and in all likelihood going to explore a couple more tasty delights from this store I love so much.   There’s a lot of time and a lot of holiday themed teas and drinks to explore, from Trader Joe’s and many other magical places. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

I hope you’re having a great holiday season up to this point, and wish you many great days ahead.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

I Love Trader Joe’s

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A couple of things.  If I try too hard to come up with a creative title, it’ll likely end up feeling forced, inauthentic, and insincere.  And that has happened.  So I kept it simple. Because I love Trader Joe’s.  It has my heart and its had it for years.

So when I look back at my past posts and realize I’ve gone over six months (so nothing in the Spring up to now) without writing about them, it’s been long overdue.

What’s also been going on is like you, like me, like everyone, we get busy.   The places we love to go to, the things we want to do, and the people we want to see become a bit more challenging because life happens, it goes on, and new interests, new places, new things, and new friends emerge.

But a friend like Trader Joe’s you never want to take for granted.  It’s been there for me in the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, and all the good stuff in between and peripherally.

I’ve been back several times recently to do some shopping of course, seek inspiration for future posts, and to soak in all the good vibes.  Because it’s always been about the good vibrations.

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You know what always draws people in?  Free samples.  And TJ’s is always so generous with a charming sample of foods, coffee, tea, and a tea lemonade.   This is what introduced me to their Organic Tea & Lemonade.  And with its ever-so-charming golf inspired label, how can you not be drawn to it?

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The reasons for the golf design are fairly obvious.  But even if you or I wasn’t aware, the art is still mesmerizing.  And you got some nifty golf terms on the back to impress some people with.  It’s all new to me!

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And how was the drink?  I mean it’s not going to set the world on fire.  But that’s just a personal opinion.  It’s a refreshing, filling, yet light summertime and anytime beverage.  I wanted to go this in town while its still Summer because it only makes sense.  But as long as you’re going golfing, or just enjoying life in general, this is as good as beverage as any.

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This is premature, and a bit sad in a way, but it may have been too soon for the Five Seed Almond Bars to be paired with this beverage, or any.  If you read the ingredients this will make sense.  I know to some that’s exciting, but to me its bittersweet in a way.  I love Summer, and wish it could go on forever.

As a bonus, I also discovered the Organic Green Tea Lemonade, not on any special display, but hidden in plain sight with a whole bunch of other tea and tea inspired beverages, that I hope to get to periodically.   I keep thinking that I”ll run out of idea and things to talk about when it comes to this store, but I should never doubt.

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I think I liked the Green Tea Lemonade even better.  Simply for the fact that it’s more my speed.  It’s not as sweet as the aforementioned Tea/Lemonade, and it had that genuine green tea taste that we’ve all grown to love.  Mix that in with a lighter (at least to me) tasting lemonade, you’ve got a winning combination.  No, not the most creative of labels, but this is why you should never judge anything by its over…

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…well unless you judge the Honey Butter Potato Chips, because they look even and taste even better than its portrayal on the bag.  What a perfect complement to a beverage that I think is even more custom made for all seasons versus the Tea Lemonade.

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Nevertheless, both drinks are only $3.00 for these 64 oz. bottles, so you’re not risking much for such a great reward.  The chips were only $2, and the almond bars were about $5-6.

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Ah this is so exciting. Oh how I’ve missed you and missed writing about you Trader Joe’s.

To find a store near you, click here.

Drinks like this, posts like this, and visits to one of my favorite grocery stores is always a treat and can be invigorating.   More is always coming and who knows what the future holds.   Who knows what next week holds, who knows what tomorrow holds.

More to come.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

Charming Candy Canes

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This post is due in part by a suggestion from a dear friend.  They had mentioned I should compare the Candy Cane Green Tea from Trader Joe’s versus the Candy Cane Lane I reviewed nearly one year ago from Celestial Seasonings.  That review can be found here.

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It felt like weeks, not years ago where I was celebrating holiday themed teas throughout December.  Time flies when you’re having tea I guess.   And this week it’ll be of the decaffeinated variety.

I’ve mentioned it numerous times before.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I felt like it was meant to write about this and write about this today.  I’m a lover of the holidays and welcome this time of year.  I love that it spring up on us so quickly, but would also like time to slow down so I can enjoy every moment of it.

Trader Joe’s and the holidays have always gone hand-in-hand for me.  Each time I walk into one of their stores I love seeing the flyer items on display, which always coincide with the time of year.   I did grab some sweet treats for display.  I’ll get to that in a bit.

I made it to the tea section and to my pleasant surprise, I found one of the last boxes.   The way the season is going, a lot of items I’ve been looking for are not always available when I want them.   Of course, more tea would resurface with each new shipment, but I, along with so many others adore our holiday themed anything.

My intent was to find a fresh package of Candy Cane Lane so the comparison would be fair and untarnished.  The dilemma was that I actually never bought this tea from the get go. This was a gift from Celestial Seasoning’s as part of an amazing care package after I reviewed another one of their teas, and they sent me a variety of their holiday-themed teas to try and review.   I look back fondly at those times.  And after a search of a few local grocers and shops, I couldn’t find the Candy Cane Lane anywhere.

It didn’t matter because even a year later, the Candy Cane Lane has aged well.  Can a tea age well?  I  think so.  And when the best by date isn’t till late Summer 2017, I think this is a safe comparison.

Where as the Celestial Seasoning’s version is still a pleaser, the Trader Joe’s version tastes just a tad sweeter.  I told my friend that it was like drinking hot liquid peppermint bark. And that’s not an insult.  It tastes like this time of year.  I cherish this time of year.

I literally took photos side-by-side of the two teas from open to final brew.  And if you look closely, the same exact ingredients are in both.  Yet, the Celestial Seasoning’s version seems like it was prepared with just a little more soul and feeling.  Maybe that’s all in my head.

And that’s not to say that TJ’s version is bad.  I actually like it a lot, but it didn’t blow me away like previous Trader Joe’s holiday selections I’ve tried.  But I’m glad it’s part of my tea collection and I’m grateful that Trader Joe’s continues to come up with new teas for me to try.  That’s all I can ask for.

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The Celestial Seasoning’s candy cane tea also seems more balanced.  All the flavors mesh well together and nothing overpowers one where another ingredients gets lost in the shuffle.  That’s where my peppermint comment on the Trader Joe’s version applies.  I feel that sticks out and not much else shines through.  I do taste some cinnamon but not much else.  But that’s being a bit more picky than necessary.  I did both but I’d give the edge to Celestial.

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I incorporated some of the sweet treats I purchased from Trader Joe’s to pair with both.  I have to laugh because in my post from last year you can see one of those same treats.  This may not be the biggest source of serendipity or clairvoyance.  But the holiday spirits and connections are not an accident.  So that makes me feel good.

If you tries these teas, I hope they make you feel good too.  They’re perfect representatives of what this season is all about.

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The packaging on both are hits on all fronts.  The comforting images of animals will always draw people in.

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We got loads of time so I hope more inspirational and spiritual selections will be presented to you, starting next week.

This is my history with Celestial Seasoning’s and Trader Joe’s.  A lot of good stuff for the season can be found there, and is still relevant today.  I get goose bumps looking back on it. Ah the holidays can strike a chord with us in so many ways.

Here’s hoping you’ve been having a happy and blessed holiday season,

Ideen