The Joy and Peace of the Season

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I used a similar title once before (right here), in a different universe, where I was in a different place.  I was in a place of peace, of happiness, where I was younger (even though it was only three years ago), and everything seemed like it would go on forever.  All the while knowing that the life I’m living can’t go on forever.

And I’m not talking about a life full of partying, going crazy, and living in the fast lane, or whatever these cheeseball terms are.  I’m talking about spending time with the ones you care the most about, whether it’s over Christmas or any time of year.  We’re grateful for the moments and the time we have, feeling that time may stand still, we could do this all day, we want to do this all day, and we want to be where we are.

I’ve had so many moments like that in the past year, with the awareness that nothing lasts forever.   The fact that I’m expressing my thoughts about this is that I still haven’t come to terms, or made peace with this.  If I’m being vague, well that’s the point.  But the fact that I’m aware at least shows that I’m at least trying to come to terms with things in my life.

The peaceful, the relaxing, and the calming parts of the holidays will always be there, but for me, it’ll take on a whole new trajectory.   I feel like I’ve outgrown a few things that I maybe should’ve done a while ago but such is life.  And while I outgrow certain aspects, I embrace the simple, the companionship, the love, the community, from friendship and family that has always been, and will always be there.  At least I hope so.

This leads me to another community.  The Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company has been so good to this blog for the duration, (previous posts can be found here), and a much needed visit, which was again unplanned, to their Timonium location, brought upon me some much needed Christmas Cheer.

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And that Christmas Cheer lead into some Christmas Spirit, aha!  The Eastern Shore Christmas Mint Tea from the Eastern Shore Tea Company came at the right time, in a time where my this holiday season has been a bit off for me, and has seen so many rapid fire changes around me, that I wasn’t sure I would be able to cope with.

But we learn to adapt.  Whether it’s because we have no choice, fight or flight, or we just learn through experience, somehow life goes on.  And it’s going on my friends.

With all the commotion of the holidays, the running around, the shopping, the parties, the eating, the drinking, and all the other frenzy that comes with it; there’s these reminders in life to slow down.  I for one wish I didn’t need reminders, and should always live in as harmonious and as peaceful of a place as possible.  It’s more than doable, and while external situations can’t be helped, there’s still more than enough room for peace, that should be embraced and never taken for granted.

So what’s what I did here.  It was a busy day, but after I purchased my tea, I found a seat, and just was happy with where I was, nothing more, nothing less. Actually more yes.  More happiness and peace is good.  I brought a few chocolates, more for display than anything else, and got some photos with my new friends.

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But before I continue to lose sight of the point of this blog, the tea is tremendous.  But then again, in the place I was in, the mood I was in, and with this setting, just about any tea would be making me feel like a new man.  But this China Black Tea, with hibiscus and peppermint made me feel so warm inside, was so kind to my stomach, kind to me, but most importantly was kind to my soul and spirit.   For this window of time, I felt the joy and peace of the season, and it’s something we all yearn for and it’s not that we deserve it, but we deserve to be good to ourselves, to be good to our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community, and this universe.

After I stopped taking a few pictures, I just sat there, no phones, no distractions (well I maybe did take a picture of their beautiful Christmas tree), and a whole lot of just being,   This is not necessarily an art form, but it does take precision and practice.

What I got from this day is while things may be tumultuous at times, confusing at times, and trying at times, that I’m still here, I’m still breathing, and I have value to give to myself, my surroundings, and this great big world of ours.

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Even if this wasn’t the most amazing and beautiful of Christmases for me, it was still enjoyable at many points.  And maybe down the line I’ll look back at 2017 and realize this was more of a pivotal, transitional, or maybe life altering year then I even realize.

For more on Baltimore Coffee & Tea Company, here are their locations, their story, and their list of teas as well as coffees available for purchase online.

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I hope you guys had a Merry Christmas.

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

 

 

 

This Makes Me So Happy…

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When anyone gives you a gift, either by delivery or in person, it touches your soul in a way that can never get old.  It’s a wonder why we don’t give gifts to each other more often.  But if we did that, would it lose its shine and not feel as special?   I don’t know.  Gifts of all kinds, whether or not it’s a physical item, never gets tiring.  A simple gesture, a message, a thank you is usually all we need.   But in this instance, this was above and beyond.

I want to thank a dear friend of mine for sending me two of the most wonderful teas I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.  And it wasn’t just about the tea itself, but it was everything behind it, the meaning, the feeling, and the reasoning.  I’m so blessed.

My pal went to Japan recently and post some photos and videos periodically during his visit.  But what stood out to me the most was his visit to a tea house and he got to see the how Japanese Green Tea is created, brewed, steeped, appreciated, and all those other good things.

To say I was envious is an understatement.  But more so, I was happy for him, and happy he got to be a part of something that not many of us can say we will ever partake in, let alone go to a country not all of us will ever get a chance to visit.  That sounded more dramatic than I intended to be.  But it’s ok to live vicariously through someone.  It gives us hope and a reason to experience something, to travel somewhere unique, but most importantly learn to be still, be at peace, and be one with the universe.

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I have no website or links to share with you.  I did a little research to see if I could find these two bags anywhere.  I looked up images, certain sites, and a few other places with no luck.  Maybe I didn’t try so hard, or maybe it’s not meant to be for now.  I don’t need to know exactly where this tea came from other than it came from a beautiful place with a spirit so big.   If I’m meant to find it, it may just find me.  That could mean a trip to Japan itself or something else.  I’ve always had a love for Japanese culture.  I’ve always had a love for any culture and all the fun traditions that are involved, which of course includes the food, the drink, the customs, and the tea.

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So more about this tea…

The green tea was incredible.   I had to break out the fancy teapot for this one.  And the instructions, which do come in English at the bottom, specifically state don’t brew with the bag too long.  And trust me on this, it’s advice to follow.   I let it steep just long enough in the teapot, and poured me a cup of something so beautiful in so many ways, I don’t know what to say.  That tint of green, the smell, and the taste are what tea is all about.   I can’t compare it to other green teas nor should I.  This was amazing by itself and there isn’t a place for how this fares against other teas.   It’s a tea all it’s own and what a special one at that.  It makes me so happy.  Yes just like the title says.

I imagine if I were at a Japanese tea house, or in Japan, or with a wonderful set of people, this experience would be magnified and heightened beyond belief.   But I settle for my own peace and my own tranquility, and it tasted amazing all the same.

Even more interesting was the Roasted Green Tea, also known as Hōjicha.  If you’re looking for a fall themed tea, this might be it.   I had a sense when steeping this would be more brownish and even more powerful than the green.  I was right on both counts.  And roasted is the perfect word for it.  If you’re thinking chestnuts roasting…. Too soon for that, but it’s along those lines because I sensed there’s more than just the tea.  There’s something else going on here, either nuts or something toasty.  This is one of the most comforting teas I’ve ever had.

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Once again, steep it briefly, because otherwise this is going to hit you.  I actually tried both the teas again with the bag steeping, and yes, these teas are so potent (in the most complimentary way possible) that the bags should be saved for later brewing.  Trust me, I got a few more cups out of this, that it’s well worth holding onto.

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I can’t say which one I loved more.  I loved them for different reasons.  But I think I loved them the most because they came from a dear friend, who knows much I love the tea and the culture.  I’m quite flattered, blessed, and fortunate.   And I’m so appreciative.

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Sweet treats persist in both pictures but truthfully no treats are necessary.  But as we’re in pumpkin season, a pumpkin related snack will never hurt.  But teas like this, to me, are best savored alone.

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And I was also gifted with a new friend who joined me for this tea party.    I honored my friend with a belated National Cat Day celebration, and you see my cat drinking mug return for an encore appearance.

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This was beautiful.  I don’t know what else to tell you.  I wish I could go on forever, but I’m so grateful for this experience.  Either I’m so sentimental that the aftertaste has resurfaced in my mouth or my mind is telling me I need more of this tea.

Yes I need more of this tea.

More autumn celebration teas are coming.  But this is to be celebrated.

Forever grateful.

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