I Love Naptown

BeanRushTeaCookie

Annapolis has been so good to me this Summer.  More importantly than that, Naptown has been good to so many of us.  For me, this will go down as the Summer of Annapolis. But I don’t want Summer to end.  I don’t want my sentimental experiences and discoveries in Annapolis to end.  I won’t allow it.  I hope in the coming months, I will have uncovered plenty of other amazing finds in our state capital.

The amount of driving and walking, in the area, I’ve done recently has skyrocketed.  I’m drawn to this town.  We’re like magnets to each other.  One part that is still foreign to me is the Village of West Annapolis.  More times than not I would pass through and never stop. Why wouldn’t I stop? There’s no rush.  And speaking of rush…Ah I’m corny.  But one day recently I decided to park and take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s a happy town within a happy town.  It’s another universe.

BeanRushWest

After a few minutes walking around this heavenly setting, I knew a cafe of some sort had to be around.  No I did not do any research ahead of time.  I wanted to go in without any knowledge of  what was around.  Playing lost tourist is a preference.

Bean Rush Cafe had my heart from the get go.  It’s somewhere I’d frequent regularly if I lived in the area.   And seriously, I would be here everyday.  It had the most welcoming signage, pictures, and outdoor setting I can remember.  I’vet yet to even walk in or even talk about a tea, and I’m raving about it.  Yes tea was purchased.

There’s a lot going on inside.  They sell tea, tea instruments, loose tea, and of course coffee.  I did order a coffee to go but that’s for another blog, if ever.

The staff was incredibly friendly to the point it was scary.   There’s an abundance of great people in the world, but this was on another level.  Their story explains so much.

I wanted a chilled tea since the weather called for it, so they suggested their Peach Green Tea, that is their most popular.  So I decided to follow the crowd, and I’m glad I did.

BeanRushTea

The floral arrangements hit my nose immediately.  This wasn’t as sweet to me as the team member said it would be.  And I’m good with that.  A little sweetness goes a long way. As time went on the sweetness began to permeate.  The cup had time to settle and open up, and it got better by the minute.  This was fantastic to say the least.

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I was able to snag a chair outside, and the views made my tea that much better. Great ambiance is always important, but this was out-of-this-world.  And as I mentioned earlier this was another world.  I knew i was in Annapolis, but I felt insulated and I felt safe.

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A multitude of pictures were taken but after that, the cameras were off and I stayed here for a while.  And when I mean a while, I mean at least an hour.   This an experience to be savored.  In so many ways, I felt it was too good for me to even write about.  But this needed to be shared.

If you get a chance, definitely swing by.  I don’t know if what I’m saying does this place justice.   I will be back and I’m hoping that return is soon.

You may notice I had a sweet treat to go with my tea.  Recognize the chocolate pieces?  This is a tribute to the Olympics that have since concluded, and one of the great commercials of all time.

Here’s their Annapolis menu, their contact information, and yes they have a mobile cafe! That’s so cool!  And they also have a location in nearby Crownsville.

My previous Annapolis based posts can be found here.

What else can I say?  It feels great, it feels inspiring, it feels like home.    I love being home.

BeanRushDog

Kindest,

Ideen

Organic Olympics Party, I Think

WegmansTeaLemonSalad

It’s not hard to believe,  but we’re in the homestretch of the Olympics.  Time is flying and ordinarily I’d be sad, but I’m ok this go around.  In addition, I have so much to keep me occupied, including my blog.

With the limited amount of time this event provides us, I wanted to take advantage with some posts that somehow connect to this storied and iconic spectacle.

WegmansTeaLemon

My summer tea posts would not feel complete if I didn’t incorporate lemonade.   I wasn’t aggressively seeking it out, more so I was hoping it would it present itself without it feeling like a chore.   Thankfully, while I was at my local Wegmans, I noticed this display case which just looked like lemonade to me.  Upon a second look it was a tea & lemonade duo, and as an added bonus, we have an organic combination.   The Tea It Up (which I find quite charming) is as refreshing and delicious as it presents itself to be.

I’m always hesitant of the organic label.  It doesn’t guarantee a product tasting any better, and it in many cases it may have the reverse effect.  But I liked this so much, I had to stop myself from overdoing it and getting an unnecessary sugar high.

To counterbalance my glass, and to keep the healthy theme going as best as possible, I paired my drink with some healthier eats.  At least that was my intention.

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As an appetizer, we have some pretzel thins brought to us by our same grocery gurus. Wow I just said that.  Initially, I was hoping for a little more salt, but I preferred this. The duo worked well of of each other and I had to stash the bag away or the whole thing would have never had a chance.

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I wish I could say I made this salad.  I can pretend I did but that would take away from the authenticity of what I’m presenting.  To complete the trifecta, this is from Wegmans salad bar, which if you’re not careful, will hit your wallet.  At upwards of $10.00 a pound, you could easily find yourself purchasing a meal at double that amount.  Luckily, yours truly is fiscally responsible and got mine at three digits.   Go Team!

Actually there was no team, this was a party for one.  Maybe next time I’ll gather some more folks but this was impromptu, which is how some of the best parties turn out.  The salad (which featured buffalo chicken) turned out alright, yet not my favorite, but nevertheless, in the spirit of the Olympics, I seek for the positives wherever I can.  I’ve had plenty of dishes from the salad and hot bar, that one misstep is not going to stop me from coming back. It’s been overall a magnificent experience.

This tea/lemonade is simple and quite delicious.  You might think the black tea and lemonade may clash but this works here tremendously.  Throw in a few ice cubes and you’re golden. And speaking of which, does it win a similar medal?  That’s up to you to decide.

If you’re like me, you get lost in Wegmans and find yourself there as much as possible. There’s a store minutes from me, and that tends to happen every time.  For a store near you, click here.  If you’ve never been I’ll think you’ll find it a magical place.  It may not be quite the hysteria of the Olympics, but there’s plenty of inspiration.

Here is my original post on one of my favorite stores.

I hope you’ve getting your fix of the Olympics, while enjoying some great tea and accompanying eats.

All The Best,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Olympic Tea Party!

TJOlympicGroup

I’m a softy for the Olympics.  I’m sure many of you may share that same sentiment.  It just makes me feel good.  What makes feel so warm and fuzzy?  I want to believe there’s still genuine competition and sportsmanship on an international level.  In a way by saying that, I’m showing my cynical side.  Most certainly.  But I’m an idealist at heart.  I’m enjoying an inspiring event as I write this.  I sense the good vibrations, the good energy, and I feel the love.

You know where else I’ve always felt love?   Trader Joe’s has always been good to me.  It’s been so clutch to this (for more TJ posts click here) blog.  And even if the results have not always been the most positive, I still find many without trying too hard.

TJTea&Popcorn

An Olympic themed tea was not necessarily what I was seeking out.  Though that would be nice.  Maybe I’ll get to that next week.  My visits to this store have shrunk and I need to fix that.  So I fixed it today and a lovely display rack of their Sweet Tea and Bollywood popcorn did the trick.  Yes you read that right, Bollywood popcorn  with Vegan Tikka Masala seasoning.   I didn’t know any of this existed.  I grabbed a bag of course.

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This pairing may not make sense but if their featured in front of the store then why quibble?  If Trader Joe’s says its ok then who am I to dispute?  There is a hint of sarcasm here. Not to be outdone, as I strolled around the aisles I discovered Mango Coconut Popcorn.   This looks scary and potentially habit-forming.   However,  if you’ve noticed my posts I’ve been in a mango kick this summer.  And I don’t see why not. Oh how I love summer. And I’m loving the Summer Olympics.  And we’re only getting started.

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None of this screams the Olympics.  None of this is remotely good for you.  I put my little spread together and started feeling gross.  These athletes are in shape and inspiring.  This is not quite like going to the movies but it’s a monumental event that only happens every two years.

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I’ll get the negatives out of the way.  I’ve never loved sweet tea.  This will hardly change that.  But, pure cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup could lead me to change my mind at some point.  Many of you are going to love it.  But this isn’t me.

But both flavored popcorns’ are so bad for you and oh-so habit forming.  Be careful, the caloric and fat content is high.  I already feel like more of a non-athlete versus these Olympians.  This Olympics party spread won’t do anything to dispel that.

I put most of it back in their bags.  But beforehand I took some fun shots, and even some of my animal friends joined, and were looking for some foodies.  They slowly crawled their way to get some eats but this wouldn’t be right.  But just like any athlete, they never gave up.  They put up a fight.  But I did them a favor.  The most important fact that should not go unnoticed is that they worked together.  They looked out for each other and motivated each other every step of the way.  This is the true spirit of the games of the 31st Olympiad!

But yeah, the tea and snacks should only  be taken in small doses.

And who puts iced tea in a mug?  Well I think this particular mug would be a viable exception.

Next time you’re at your local Trader Joe’s be on the look out for these treats.  I think most of you will enjoy.  And speaking of enjoyment, we have two weeks of thrilling Olympic coverage.  I hope you get a chance to be captivated.  I already have been.  And more is coming.

If I can keep the Olympic Spirit going, I’ll continue next week.

Best,

Ideen

Pure Ambrosia

GreenberrysTeaUpClose

Some time ago I walked into  Greenberry’s Coffee, in Charlottesville, VA to be exact.  It’s been a few years, but I most likely grabbed a cup of coffee and a snack to go.   It wasn’t the most memorable experience simply for the fact that how many times do we get grab some java and go on our merry way.

Knowing now, what I didn’t know then, I would have appreciated the small town charm of the cafe. Maybe I did for a moment, but I was in a rush. Why was in a rush?

This brings me to a visit to one of my favorite Virginia communities, Mclean.  And when I’m in a place I don’t frequent enough, it’s time to discover something fun.  To my pleasant surprise, they had shop minutes up the road from where I was.  I had no idea Greenberry’s had multiple locations, mainly in VA and DC, until yesterday.  Charlottesville was the original store, which in hindsight was what I would like to be writing about.  All in good time.

My idealism could be naive but I always thought of McLean as one of those parts of Northern Virginia, that still had most of their historic buildings and character in tact. When I was younger and living nearby, I would go out of my way to drive through this and similar areas, to get a more scenic and down-to-earth vibe.. As I’ve gotten older that sentiment grows.  I like big cities but the charm of a smaller community just feels right.

The Mclean location has that feel, but I can sense a change is coming, not so much with the store, but with the town itself.  The energy and happy feeling I got from when I parked to walked in, remained.

GreeneberrysTeas

It’s August, that means more iced tea.  Anything else would be a slap in the face to my favorite season.   The Ambrosia tea stuck out.  A lot of them did, but that name with its positive connotations, is what I was feeling.  I’m glad I did.

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This is traditionally drank hot, and I’m all for tradition, but lets toss that aside. It’s once again time to break out of my comfort zone, and  I went ahead and ordered the tallest glass they had.

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Black currant, apricot, and mango flavors makes this a crowd pleaser.  I was pleased for sue.  It didn’t start off strongly for me but this was a grower.  I realized I was sipping just a little more than the previous one each time.   It was getting better by the minute.  I sat for a good 30 appreciating my glass and the community feel around me.

I’m not an iced tea drinker by nature.  It’s not me but for the time frame, it’s only appropriate.  But I truly enjoyed this. The tastes expanded over the course of my time there and I was highly satisfied at the end.   I bet this tastes even better hot.  I hope to get the opportunity to have a cup in traditional fashion.

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They made me so much, they had to give me the rest in another cup.  I find that very endearing.  The staff could not have been nicer by the way, even in the midst of being overwhelmed with patrons.

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My teacake was hard to finish.  This had more to do with the weather.  It was an ambitious choice.  Again, when the timing presents itself, I bet I enjoy this much more.   But how charming are those owls?  Where can I get those plates?

I didn’t see the Ambrosia listed but here’s a list of their teas if you’re interested in purchasing.

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There were a lot of people that seemed to know each other.  I got the sense this is one of those places where you run into someone, catch up for a few minutes, then the next time you’d see ’em would be right back here, if not before.  I dig that.

As neighborhoods rapidly expand development, I get mixed feelings.  Some things are inevitable but the community businesses have a place and deserve to have a place.  From talking to folks Greenberry’s has kept up with the times.  And as you can see here, they’re growing in stores.  As long as they (and stores likes them) can maintain their integrity and charm, that’s ok.   But there’s something to be said about the local business culture.   I’m drawn to it.  I don’t like to speak for everyone else, but I suspect many share that sentiment.

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I look forward to coming back again.  I love local.  Lets do it again soon.

Best,

Ideen

 

Everyday Can Be Ice Cream Day

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If it were doable I’d have every post be an homage to a holiday, birthday, or some other occasion/event.    I’m gonna change it up again, while still keeping the integrity of the tea discussion intact.

This leads me to the belated celebration of National Ice Cream Day, which was on the 17th. Yes I’m a week or so late.  But as the title says, any day is the perfect day for ice cream. And the title says so, so you must believe it.  That’s a bit of sarcasm for you.

As an added bonus, it’s National Ice Cream Month.  I could go on rambling about how every month can be ice cream… well you get the idea.

HaagenGreenTea

You may have heard of this company, Häagen-Dazs, and they produce said ice cream. Several weeks ago I went searching for their Green Tea flavor at a multitude of grocery stores, to no avail.  What I did find, you can read about here and it was fantastic.  This time I wasn’t even looking and while lumbering along the frozen food aisle, it magically appeared.  Yes I find it magical.

So with all that pedestal raising out of the way, I had high expectations.   I haven’t tried any of their flavors of anything in a couple of years.  It could be more, but it’s never on my radar.  Not for any particular reason, other than I like to support my local ice cream parlors and independent brands, where I can.

And more reviews of some local flavor may be forthcoming.  But I’ll say this, if I did a blind test, I would not guess this is green tea.  It tasted like vanilla with an added dimension of something unknown.   It would take a while to get to Matcha.    So I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy.  Even with this scorching heat and a refreshing treat (hey, that rhymed!) I was dissatisfied.

HaagenGreenTeaIceCreamUpCloseIt’s not terrible, it’s just not as advertised.  The nutrition facts tell a story of high fat, sugars, and green tea listed at the end.  I may be reading way too much into this, but I find that hilarious and ironic.   This is why you shouldn’t always expect the best, even if their reputation speaks for itself.

However, my hope for you is that you enjoy your favorite flavor of ice cream, not just during this month-long event, but all year round.  It pains me to say that while summer accelerates, we still have time to relax outside with our favorite drinks, food, and company to go along with it.

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Even if what you might be noshing or sipping on may not be the best, the place you’re in may be able to compensate for that, as was the case for me.

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It’s been feeling and nearing triple digits for the past few days, that may be unbearable for some.  I have found myself wanting to remain inside as well but I will never complain about this heat because before you know it, it’ll be gone.  And I want to enjoy every moment of this season I can.

I’m wishing everyone a happy and healthy next couple of days as we remain near record highs.  Stay safe, stay hydrated, and hope you enjoy some comforting teas and ice cream.

Back to my regularly scheduled posts next week. Maybe🙂

Stay cool,

Ideen

 

It’s The Holiday Season

NumiWithScone

I make myself laugh sometimes.  Which holiday?  It’s almost becoming comical the signs I see all around me.   You might see  them too.   On the date of this post will be a full moon. You can’t write this stuff folks.  Well actually I’m gonna write anyways.  More on this in a few paragraphs.

Additionally, maybe you’re away on vacation or as some pals call it, holiday.  It’s the Summer, enjoy.  We should enjoy all year round even if the occasion doesn’t match the weather or the time frame.  This leads us to my second annual Christmas In July post.  I can’t just reference an anniversary without leading you to last years inaugural post.

Yes I couldn’t resist.  When I was younger I thought it was a nice way to remind us to be good to each other, not just during the holidays, but all the time.  And what better time then when the sun is shining brighter than ever.  Why am I bringing up Christmas? Once again, keep reading…

NumiRoosterMoon

A little while back, I found myself driving through beautiful Hagerstown, MD.  And when I’m far away from home, I must avoid the chains and find some local flavor.  This brings me to Rooster Moon.  Yes I said moon. Does that get any better?

First let me say that the staff was so down-to-earth.  In a peaceful town like this, I wouldn’t expect anything less.   It seems like the perfect meet-up place for friends to catch up where they otherwise may not.  I was happy being an outsider and absorbing the positive energy.

NumiTeas

Numi Tea has always exuded that aura for me, and that’s just from the labels and packaging itself.  But there’s just something about it.  It looks like art.  When I’m at my local supermarket I’m hesitant to buy any.  Well part of that is because my tea cabinet is over capacity.   And even more so, they to be pricier than comparable brands.

My visit to this shop was in June and at the start of this lovely of seasons.   Of course I went with the Amber Sun.  Of course I did.   This tickles me.

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With this aura of invincibility I placed on this brand, I expected to be mesmerized.  This was likely my first foray into Turmeric Tea, and this is just the beginning.  I didn’t taste much.  I honestly thought it was a stronger rooibos.  The part I was right now.  We got a little bit of that.  I didn’t taste any honey, cinnamon, or apple.  But that could be in part because I had a splendid cinnamon and brown sugar scone.  It hit the spot.  It may have detracted from the tea.  I can’t say for sure.

I sense I will be sampling more of their teas and expecting to be blown away.   With nothing to compare the Amber Sun too, I’m not sure what the water mark is.  I wasn’t wowed by this tea but Numi has such a reputation, it could be just my taste or it’s only going to get better from here.  And I welcome the adventure.

Either the holidays are starting early or these guys forgot to take their trees down.  The proof is in the amber, or the scones.    Trust me, I’m not complaining.  The view was great inside and out.  This was a charming day all around.  And I dug being on the outside looking in of this strong community.

Whether you celebrate the sun, the moon, or the holidays prematurely, hopefully it will be with some resonating tea and loving company.

We’re just getting started.

Best,

Ideen

 

Bakers Is Beautiful

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Over the course of the year-and-a-half I’ve been doing these posts, I’ve been professing my love for Annapolis.  We learn a lot about ourselves when we’re writing or sharing our thoughts, in whatever medium we see fit.   The subject matter is tea but it’s also about finding the good in every situation, no matter how difficult it may be.  This won’t be a challenge.

Bakers&CoStoreFront

My visit to Bakers & Co. was one of the most enjoyable.   I didn’t want to leave.

A couple weeks prior I was driving through the Eastport neighborhood of Naptown, and saw this hidden gem nestled within a gorgeous set of houses. This was out of production set, and I hadn’t even walked in.  I just drove by second-guessing myself after a while. Why didn’t I just walk in?  Would I be back and in an organic fashion?  Two weeks later…

There are signs all around us.  There’s good people and good spirits in this universe to guide you in your journey.   And someone was looking out for me as I naturally arrived here and made it a point to park my car nearby and stroll right in.  And stroll I did.  This area is even more spectacular than I envisioned.

I was hoping in the back of my mind, there would be an obscure tea to write about. Otherwise, a coffee would suffice.  After poking around for a few seconds, I noticed a sign in the back for a special in-house tea.  I asked the friendly staff member what that was. She mentioned it was their homemade black tea with pineapple, orange juice, and spices.   On a 90+ degree day I actually asked if I should have it chilled or warmed.   Moving right along…

The pastry set-up was stunning.  Even on a smoldering day, I had to get something to pair with this exciting new tea I was about to have.   After passing on the almond croissant (which is extremely popular), I went with the blueberry oat bar.

I’ll get right to it after all this dramatic build-up. The tea refreshed me to my core. And my blueberry sweet treat complemented my cup perfectly.

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I took my sweet (see what I did?) time with everything.   I took a lot of pictures and wish I could post them all.  Literally across both side of the street were homes.  I imagine the values of these properties are high and not close to my means.   Maybe in the next life.  But I felt so comfortable and so at home with these surroundings.

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Some memories and stories are too good be shared.  They’re meant to be kept internal.  I debated on whether or not to write about this but I think I’d regret it if I hadn’t.

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My main reason is my love for local businesses has been heightened with this blog.  I’ve always preferred family run shoppes versus the big box stores.  I imagine many people share my sentiment.    For as long as I can recall it’s always been my modus operandi.

Along those lines, my attachments and affinity for small towns, beautiful streets, and a sense of community is what I yearn for.  Bakers and Co. encompasses all of the above, and then some.

The people working the counter were amazing.   The quaintness of this all is worthy of romanticizing.

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If you’re in the vicinity, I cannot recommend this place enough.  There’s comforting outdoor seating as my photos have hopefully captured.  And my intent was to show the beautiful surroundings.    I can only hope I did it justice.  And I can only hope that future visits will be just as inspiring.

Take good care,

Ideen