Friday Night Tea Party

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I think I said last week (and throughout the past few months) that my admiration for the tea scene on the Gulf Coast of Florida (my growing fondness can be found here and here) can not be expressed enough in words, in thoughts, and in anything else.  It’s a time of my life I will always remember, and will find it hard to forget.  I will always appreciate this five days of my life that has brought on a lifetime of memories, and a lifetime of joy.

And yes, it all revolves around tea.

Friday Night means different things to a lot of people.  For some it’s a night of rest before getting ready for a fun weekend of doing fun things, for some it’s happy hour. a night out, and in this instance it was one of the great tea drinking experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

It was my first time going with my friend to Downtown St. Petersburg.   Now St. Pete has a lot of charming places to check out, away from the small but growing downtown area. And after a couple of days me and my friend made the short and scenically awesome trek to Beach Drive.

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The intent was to check out a nice bar or two, or three, if you catch what I’m saying. Maybe a glass of wine, or a nice dinner.  I think my indecisive, restless, and adventurous spirit was thinking something else more organic on this night.

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After doing a lap or two, my eyes were wide open and my excitement hit a whole different level when we discovered the Infused Tea Company.  This place made me so happy.

If I recall correctly, we made it with minutes to spare.  At this point I’m thinking it’s nearly 9 pm.  But I had enough time to take pictures, smell some loose teas, and appreciate all the teas, pots, kettles, infusers, pastries, and everything else I could absorb and revel in these few moments.

I want to thank our teaologist, Ang, for being so kind of patient with us.   I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for in terms of a tea.   In mid-June I was actually contemplating something warm.  What on Earth was I thinking?  It wouldn’t have been the worst thing. I would just have to have saved this post for later in the year.   But time is of the essence, as it was on this night.

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Ang, per his suggestion mixed the Mango Tango and the Tahitian Dream for me, to make the most exquisite, refreshing, and enlightening blend of flavors, inspiration, and soul in this gem of an iced tea.   My friend agreed, the universe agreed, as did I.  Two thumbs up, five stars, and all the other superlatives you can throw at it.  Honestly, the tea could have been mediocre and probably would have tasted much better simply because of the service, the decor, the positive energy, and simply being a harmonious place I hadn’t experienced before.

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The Mango Tango with its pineapple, mango, and orange pieces are perfect not just for the Summer but I believe any time of year.  And in Florida, all the time is an understatement.  The Tahitian Dream adds not only more pineapple, but passion fruit, and strawberry as well.  Does it get any better?  Maybe, but not on this night.

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This is why I made two more visits to this amazing place during the course of my holiday. And if time allows, I will get to them in the following two weeks, or in a rare instance I may break tradition and post them on different days.  I’m preparing for the changing of the seasons while still wanting to honor how amazing all three experience were.  I’m so happy just thinking and writing about it.

This was at night, the day experiences are a surreal enjoyment all its own.

And I look forward to sharing those fun times with you soon.  But I can’t stress this enough, this was amazing, and I’m grateful I got to share with a close friend.  And I fondly remember my friend was happy for me as well.

For more on Infused Tea Company, here is their story. and their location for those close to the area, or will be visiting.

The good news is you can order their fantastic teas and accessories online.  Many of those accessories are displayed in this post.

I could go on all day, or I could just go on to the next post.   How about both?

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To be continued…

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Peace Be With You,

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TeBella For Two

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This is a continuation from last week where I discovered and fully embraced the beauty that is TeBella of Downtown St. Petersburg, FL.    As I said this was not a one-time thing, and I hope it’s not a one vacation thing.  I made a second visit in I think as of many days, and can tell a different yet at the same time the same beautiful experience at this beautiful venue.

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What I glossed over and did not specify last week (I blame my excitement and hazy memory) that Tebella is part of Station House, which is a beautiful and welcoming space that doesn’t have that stuffy and pretentious vibe that I’ve seen around town and elsewhere.  Once again, I may be romanticizing but everyone here either was friendly or kept to themselves.  I only felt good energy, good vibes, and some more good tea.

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I may have been a bit overwhelmed by the TeBella’s extensive and inspiring tea collection the first time, that I could make some generic proclamation that I was better prepared the second time.  That’s no fun.  The fun is losing yourself in all these teas.

This time I went through the White Tea list, and wanted to keep the Summer themed party going with the delicious and magnificent Blueberry Mountain Sunrise, iced of course.

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The synopsis says it all, the whole blueberries and pomegranate are not there to overpower the tea but to serve as an enhancement. I can imagine how great this would be hot as well.   But that color radiates and makes me smile, makes me feel good, and makes me truly appreciate the joy that is tea drinking.

For this sitting I took my time indoors, as this was afternoon, and there was a little more activity than my original visit which was right around the start of business day.  But again, business here is different than any other city I’ve visited.  It’s only part of the culture, but doesn’t seem to be the most important.

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And if this wasn’t awesome enough, I noticed they had a lovely display of Pineallas Chocolate.  Since its local and I was local for a few days it naturally made sense to buy some.  In hindsight I wish I got more.   The Cacao Orange was my perfect yet unconventional pairing with my tea.  But does it really matter?  The teas are there, the chocolates presented themselves like they were waiting to me purchased by me, and everyone else.  This was match made in tea and cocoa heaven, the universe, and all the beautiful stuff in between.

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There were a few other charming experiences and encounters during these two visits, that only seem fitting to keep internal, as anyone who goes on vacation and is sentimental is.  Some things are just hard or not meant to be elaborated in words that hopefully those hints are something we all can relate to and have experienced.  There’s little gems we can laugh about either with ourselves or with the company we were with.

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In these instances I was alone but I really wasn’t.  But then I was again.  And that’s what going away is all about, losing yourself and finding yourself all at once.    Somewhere in all this tea drinking are metaphors and analogies (or the other way around) of life.

As I finish this post I realize these were not so little moments.   There were moments of peace, calm, and just appreciating the moments that don’t need to be photographed or documented for the world to see.  I didn’t mean to be so vague.   I’m writing from the heart, as we all do from time to time.

These two tea experiences reminded me that life can be so wonderful, and all I did was drink some tea, have some pastry, and have some chocolate.  To me this is something bigger than all of us.

To purchase any of TeBella’s teas click here, more on how great TeBella is, and their contact information.

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I will be back.

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And here’s where you can find Pinella’s locally and a link to buy their chocolate online.

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I can’t say this enough, the tea culture in St. Petersburg is incredible.  As amazing as this was, I have more stories (another one can be found here and here’s another one!) to share.  I will get to them when the timing and feeling is right. It could be next week or could be down the line.  I truly believe that these posts will match these amazing experiences I’ve had in Florida so far.

I can’t wait to share them with you.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

TeBella Is Right

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St. Petersburg, FL has my heart.  I’ve been saying this before I got there, and now since I’ve been home.    I mentioned in a post two weeks ago how beautiful the people are, the way of life, the culture, and even more specifically, the tea culture is something beautiful.

For anyone that goes on vacation, perhaps we romanticize and glorify landmarks, places, events, and everything in between as much more amazing than they have any right to be. For locals or folks who have lived somewhere for years, maybe they take it for granted or are numb to their surroundings.   They may just be used to it that the excitement wears off, or maybe it was never there.  Maybe it’s just like anywhere else to them.  And to others, it’s just there or it just is.

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At least on my trip, TeBella was more than just a place.  It was my source of joy, happiness, and a time for solitude and relaxation.  It was so good I went more than once. And in a town where everything is so accessible, so compact, and approachable, I easily could have made another appearance.  And another appearance.

But I’ll start with this one.    And this was my actual first experience in St. Pete, so that is memorable in itself.

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This was morning, and while some folks were headed to work, others were likely working outside from the this tea shoppe, or maybe they were on holiday too.  Maybe they were just enjoying life. I say all this because the quiet and serene way of life is not something I’m used to, but I could get used to it real quick.   It wasn’t chaotic, it wasn’t the hustle and bustle you see in many major cities.   This is a city that’s growing but also I sense embraces a small town feeling, small town values, and a genuine sense of community.

My first exposure is how everyone is saying hello.  Random people on the street were just saying hi.  It was beautiful.   The staff inside was great too.  And the gentleman helping me with tea suggestions did it with sincerity and a genuine sense of joy.  He seemed happy to be here, and that’ll rub off on the patrons and those good vibrations had an impact on me the rest of the day.

Of course we’re talking tea.  So with all this build-up, this better be good right?

As you can see I had so many options to choose from.   The canisters behind the counter were a beautiful thing to see.   It’s nice to have choices, but it can be difficult narrowing it done to one.

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I went with the Tropical Breeze Green Tea.   I figured for where I was, it only seemed appropriate.   The funny thing is, I ordered it hot.   To me it’s not that humorous but I think you know what I’m getting at  It’s early in the morning, some people life their coffee (and I love it too), but I needed something hot.

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The weather would dictate something chilled and something iced (and I’ll get to that next week), but I’m not thinking conventionally here.   Green tea is something I prefer warm. I just feel like how one of the greatest teas and greatest beverages in general is better served.

And this was a joy.  The tastes of pineapple, mango, and papaya scream this season.  I mean what else is there to say.

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I probably could have ordered just about anything, and I might be saying the same thing. But this was a great tea.  How does it compare to others?  I honestly don’t know.  And it doesn’t matter.  I got myself a seat outside and enjoyed the view, enjoyed the quiet, and enjoyed my life.

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Whether you’re on vacation or not, a good sip of tea, a nice complementary pastry, and a joyous state is sometimes all you need.   And that lemon thyme scone was the perfect pairing with my tea.

When you’re on holiday, or whatever you prefer to call it, you take pictures.  And a lot of them.  I took some but then I stopped.  It’s about appreciating where you are in fleeting moments.  Because these moments, they come and they go.  But if they’re a memory worth holding on to, it’s going to get better with time.

Yes this is what’s happened here.  I was here less than a month ago but my two visits to TeBella were even more special than I realized.  And all I did was order tea in a town I’ve never been too.  But spiritually there’s something else going on.

I only hope next week I can convey a similar, yet different perspective on the same place, yet a different time, and different dynamic.   Perhaps it won’t be that different at all.

This was beautiful.  And as much as I love the company of good people, the times on my own have give me some of my favorite memories of all.

For more on TeBella click here,  and here’s their link to purchase their massive selections of tea online,  their story, and their contact information.

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Part 2 Next week.  I’m already feeling nostalgic and looking forward to it.

Thank you so much.

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Tea, Art, Happiness…

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I think my visit to St. Petersburg, FL came at the most perfect time.

The amount of items I could write about is going to be endless.   And I will be spacing them out.  Last week it was Tampa, this week and for the foreseeable future it’s going to be St. Pete and all St. Pete.  No not every week but sporadically through the summer I’m going to expound upon how incredible the tea culture is here.  And incredible might be an understatement.

I found tea places, I stumbled upon tea places, tea shoppes found me, and my reaction to a few were that of a kid in a candy store.  Yes it’s these little things (that are the big things) that give me natural and spiritual highs that words may not always do justice. I’ve made that proclamation before but I stand by that.  Sometimes words an pictures aren’t enough.  Memories are for us and all we can do is our best to share them in our own harmonious and sentimental way.

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With that one of my first stops in St. Pete was Pom Pom’s Teahouse.

I know, how awesome is that name?

And just as awesome is the place.  Everything about is, was, or whatever you want to call it a constant reminder of why this town is beautiful.  And why it now has my heart.

When I first arrived in town my friend guided me through St. Pete and I noticed so many amazing looking shops, restaurants, businesses, and everything else in between that makes this place (that’s on the rise) already look like it’s there (in a good way) and I wouldn’t want anything about it to change.  I probably put this paragraph in the wrong part of the post.  It’s as if I put the finish or the crescendo here, before I’ve even gotten into the tea and this incredible salad that I ordered.

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So let me get to that and see if I can come up with another finish with some big words that will enhance this experience that doesn’t need any more enhancing but deserves all the praise in the world.

Ok…

So I was there on a weekday afternoon, presumably on the tail end of the lunch rush.  If there is a lunch rush here it doesn’t mirror other major cities, and I found that so refreshing.  It was a mix of students, police officers, office workers, tourists, and overall a lot of people that seemed genuinely happy to be there.

I was happy to be there.

There was so much art adorning the walls, which is a point that Pom Pom’s wants to promote.  They’re all about local art, and creating and promoting art is one of the greatest things in this world and in this universe.

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After taking so many pictures of the inside, I requested to my friendly server, Brett, if I could sit outdoors.   He kindly obliged.  I was surprised that I was the only one out there. But how could I complain?  I was the only person on Earth for about an hour, or at least in that moment.

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I made a new friend outside, as you can see.  I felt as if he could read my mind.  And maybe he could.  I think he was saying everything is great, everything is going to be fine, and you’re on vacation, enjoy yourself.

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And I did…

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My meal comprised of a Kiwi Pear Iced Tea and their Seasonal Berry Salad, which may have been one of the best things I’ve eaten, not only on my holiday, but in a long while.  It almost looked too pretty to eat.   But those berries were heavenly.    I almost forgot there were almonds and peanuts in the salad.  It was that great.  The goat cheese and onions made for a simple yet artistic looking salad.  This really was a masterpiece.

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Those berries were something out of a smoothie or freshly made ice cream.  And on a gorgeous day in Florida, what could be better.

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The tea was the understated, yet still elegant part of my meal.  It was light and on this day this was a welcome treat versus something a little too sweet, since the berries were sweet enough.   I did wish I could taste a little more kiwi and pear, but really no complaints from me whatsoever.

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Brett, who like many of my friends I got to visit, is a transplant from Maryland.  I can see the appeal.  I can see why so many people like the mellow vibe and harmonious ways of being in beautiful St. Petersburg.

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More posts are coming and if they can match this experience than I’ve already succeeded.  My time at Pom Pom’s was one of joy, of peace, and of art.  Yes I did take many pictures but then I just sat, relaxed, and started off into the distance.

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I might have been there an hour, two hours, or somewhere that time can’t measure.  But this one hit my heart in a different way than many other tea and dining experiences. And I want to believe it was more than just being away from home, being somewhere else, and being one with the universe.  Well the latter part is great.  But I hope you know what I mean.

This was beautiful.

If you’re in the vicinity, or are a local and have never visited, I can’t recommend this place enough.

Here is more about them, their menu, the art, the buzz, directions, and their contact information.

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When I’m back in the area, and I will be back, how do I follow-up?  It may not be the identical experience, but I sense it will be spectacular, and will tell a different story of what makes Pom Pom’s and this town special to me and special to so many.

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Thank you so much.

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