Missing The Tropics

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Actually I don’t recall the last time I was in the tropics.  So this title is purely for show.

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However, a serendipitous visit to Coffee Nature in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, DC gave me a little piece of the tropics at home.

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As I’ve stated before on numerous occasions, the atmosphere, the energy, and everything else around you is just as important as the tea you’re drinking.  If someone rubs you the wrong way, say a friend, family member, the staff member of the shoppe/restaurant, or some random person, if can suddenly dilute even the tastiest of food and drink.  The opposite occurred here.

Tea houses are not as ubiquitous as coffee houses, so sometimes that’s where you’re going to find some hidden gems.  It may be their own loose tea, the standard tea bags you can find at your local grocer, or some obscurities that you would only find when you weren’t looking.  I wasn’t looking for anything. I’m guessing the Tropical Hibiscus from Rishi Tea falls somewhere along the latter.

Before I even walked in I got the sense that I was in for something special.  The shop is nestled amongst a neighborhood of charming homes.  It felt like home walking in.  I didn’t even need to do research afterwards to get the sense that this has that community feel that I always hope to find when discovering a new place for food and drink.

Now I don’t know anyone in the neighborhood but I imagine, even for a city like Washington DC, that some friendly bonds and comradery would materialize organically and rather swiftly.  That’s also up to the individual and the universe itself.

I was all set to get a more familiar tea for the day but then I saw smack dab in the middle of all these teas was that Tropical Hibiscus and I’m grateful I did.

I ordered a turkey wrap for no particular reason other than I was in the mood for some turkey.  I figured the avocado was enough to make believe I’m on a tropical island.  An armchair will do.

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To my pleasant surprise was the presentation.  My tea was brought to me with a silicone tea cover.  This also made the tea sipping experience that much better.  It may be a little thing but it’s a big thing.

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The tea has loads of orange and tangerine flavors.  That’s the true stand out here. For a tea of this magnitude it’s going to feel feeler than what you might expect. Lemongrass is always a welcome addition to any cup for me. And I just love the fact that hibiscus and rosehips are ingredients in so many of the teas I’ve come to love. This one in particular I’m intrigued by.

Why am I intrigued?  I can’t find it on the Rishi site itself.   I hope I’m wrong but if you do a search it doesn’t come up.  So I’ve posted third party sites, like this on here, where you can find this tea.

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The staff at Coffee Nature was laid back and welcoming.  Again, for DC I was surprised. Once again, it’s what you choose to see and what you attract.  Not everything in every cosmopolitan town is watered down and pretentious.  There’s a place for everyone. There’s room for everyone.   How funny that I’m the one who unintentionally had to write about one of the more obscure teas.   So I’m the jerk.

To find all of Rishi teas in your area (aside from obscure pick) click here.

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This photo was taken at a local grocer near me, Whole Foods.  Every Rishi tea known to man except the Tropical Hibiscus, oops.

If you’re in DC, check out Coffee Nature.  I hope to be back.  If I lived nearby I’d frequent it at least a few times a week.   And I love Rishi tea.  I hope to get the opportunity to talk about some more soon.

Here is my original post on their teas.

As we approach the chillier months, it’ll be most likely back to hot teas and complementary foods to go with.  If the weather presents itself, or I’m feeling unconventional, there will be a cold or iced tea review that will make a sporadic appearance.

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Thanks so much,

Ideen

Feeling Blue

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Blueberries that is. Philadelphia has been so good to me.  Each time I visit I do tend to be drawn to my regular spots here and there. But I’ll always make room for new things, new experiences, and new locales.   This journey brings me to Steap and Grind in Fishtown.

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A search for tea houses led me here.  One might assume that a coffee shop is going to have a limited amount of teas, or they may have the standard teas you can find at your local supermarket.   This place exemplifies the opposite.  I don’t like to give a label to a place. To me it just feels harmonious and a place to relax.

The several patrons inside were sitting off in respective corners, wanting to go unnoticed. Doesn’t really matter if they were studying, relaxing, or just off in their own universe. It’s a happy place to be.

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My visit technically took place while we’re still in Summer.  As of this post, we have two days until the Autumnal Equinox.  That was hard to type.  Well not that difficult but time is moving right along and I’ll do my best to move along with it.  So that’s part of why I’m feeling blue.

For that reason and the weather was beautiful, I went with the suggested Blueberry, Pomegranate, and Goji Berry Green Tea on Ice.  Words will not do this justice.  Saying it’s refreshing just isn’t enough.  After a few quick sips I realized it’s time to slow it down.  I was a bit dehydrated but I still needed to appreciate what was presented to me.  This is one of the best chilled teas I’ve had in some time.  And I’ve had many.

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And I love Goji so much.  It’s made the tea experience that much more amazing for me.

I envision this heated would be even more awesome.  But that assumption can remain as such until the necessary weather change.  Ah that makes me kind of sad to write.

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The blueberry cobbler bar I ordered with my tea was joyous as well.  You would think I may get another sweet treat to counterbalance the flavors but this was just fine. It was a blueberry kind of day and while I was feeling blue, I was feeling  hopeful.

After a few moments inside, I realized I was my own worst enemy.   The times of appreciating outdoor dining or professional chilling, or whatever you want to cal it, are still to be had.  So let’s take this outside.

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Much better!  After I got a few photos in, I enjoyed several minutes of appreciating my tea and pastry.  And my own thoughts.  Places like this lead to a lot of organic and natural contemplation about life.  Mostly good thoughts though.  The energy fields in here were at high decibels.  I can’t fully describe why.  Something just felt right.

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Some informative links for you : How To Steep and Tea 101.  This is a great site.

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The feel-good vibrations led me to hang out at the park which was footsteps away.  I even got a couple more photos in.   I could have sat here for hours, but I think I settled for one. And that’s an hour of my life I will look back on and say, I’m glad I walked in.  And I’ll be glad to come back.  Steap and Grind, thank you.

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Best,

Ideen

I Could Have Sat Here For…

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And I mean that.  I sat outside the back patio and garden area of The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop, for a good while.  It felt like an hour.  Actually it felt like time stood still and I was the only person on Earth, or at least the only person back here.

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Philadelphia has always feel full of enchantment and exciting things and places to come across.  This shoppe, nestled in the Northern Liberties part of town, ranks right up there with the best of them.

When I walked in I had to explain to Becky, the owner and Birdie who was working the counter about what I was doing.  I could’t be inconspicuous in such a cozy space like this. I’m glad I wasn’t.  Both could not have been more friendly and accommodating.   I took a bunch of photos of all the amazing wonders, artifacts, and teas on the wall.

Yes, I’ve heaped so much praise on this lovely establishment and I’ve yet to get into the teas I sampled.

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A the weather continues to be glorious, the House Sencha was recommended.  Of course I had it in iced form and as an aside, when I walk into most places for the first time, I usually go for the ‘house” anything or a similar strong recommendation from the staff. It may sound amateur or touristy, but that’s the fun of this.

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The honey I tasted from the sencha was incredible.  I was also dehydrated so initially I was taking much quicker sips than I should have been.  I need to take it easy and walk over to the garden, and that’s where I slowed down.

In between taking a few (well maybe a bunch) of pictures I just sat there.  All worries, all fears, all anything seemed to dissolve.  This was as relaxing and tranquil as could be.  And to say that all thoughts went away would be a falsehood.  I mean it did but then other thoughts and feelings presented themselves.  Many were positive yet many were contemplative.  As long as it’s a place of peace and de-stressing than you’re doing something right.  In this busy and hectic way of life many of us live, to find a place to sooth your soul is always welcome.  I’d like more please.  And then I’d like some more please.  And I took my sweet tea time with the sencha and appreciated it that much more.

Speaking of more, after a while, Birdie brought me a sample glass of their Red Berry Mélange.  What a joy this was too. It helps that this was free but I would gladly pay for the tallest glass in the place.  I love that the synopsis reads good for kids and grown ups alike. I felt like a kid and a grown up all at once while at this shop.  I adore this place.

If you believe in positive energy than this is going to be an uplifting and romantic experience.   I have romanticized places during my time of blogging and in my personal life for years.  I think that’s how it should be done.  A place that makes you feel good should be expounded upon as much as possible.

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This was my first time, and the first can sometimes me the most memorable.  But I sense that a recurring visit will lead to many great memories in the future.  This tea room is perfect for solitude or a relaxed time with a love one.  Maybe next time I’ll do the latter. But either way you’re going to be good.  The staff will take great care of you.

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Now here’s all the information you need, from their wonderfully user-friendly website.

Here’s their menu of teas, upcoming events, exhibits, and their menu, which is deliberately limited.  I love how they downplay serving food.  It really makes them stand out.  However, you may have seen a minuscule looking cookie in some of these pics.  Yes this is was a magnificent vegan rosemary shortbread cookie.  It complemented both of my teas to perfection.

Maybe most of important of all, you can purchase their teas online.  This is where things could become habit-forming if their first two teas I tried were any indication.

I love Philadelphia and I adore this shoppe.  It’s so approachable and I love the size.   It’s so understated, yet overwhelming initially, but oh-so-welcoming.   I look forward to be welcomed again soon.

Feeling Good,

Ideen

This Was A Good One

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But they all can be and should be.  However, this was more about the experience than anything else.   Otherwise I don’t know how good the Chamomile Tea from Stash truly is or isn’t.

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I can’t believe it’s September already.  Well yes I can as well.  Time just keeps on going. Yet for this post I’m going to take this back to June, when it wasn’t even officially Summer on the calendar year yet, but as you can tell by these pictures, the Sun was on our side.

This is one of those stories that might be too good to share, but also too good not to. I’m glad I waited this long to talk about it.  It’s gotten better with time.

The tentative plan was to grab some lunch nearby in Baltimore before I took a dear friend to the airport, in the Washington, DC area.   We gave ourselves ample time. However, there were signs all over that we should just drive closer to the final destination  and see where the wind takes us.

I had been to historic Herndon, VA a year prior on another random encounter, and saw nothing but happy and folksy people.  Like most historic locales you have your farmers market, museums, mom and pop shops, community centers, and independent restaurants. It was real and I soaked it all in.  It was with the understanding that right outside this epicenter is nothing but big buildings and gigantic companies that have infiltrated major cities.

One year later as we’re driving, that light bulb went off in my head.  I had investigated happy places to grab a bit to eat, in a cozy area beforehand, but realized that happy town was minutes away.

We found a great place to eat with outdoor dining, and took our time.  The town called for it.  It felt like we were the only people on Earth.  I don’t mean to overstate how amazing the Sun was on this day. Actually the heck with it, the Sun is our friend. The more I expound on this special trip, I realize how perfect everything was.

No rush, no running around, no beating the clock.  It was as close to Zen as you can get.

After a little walking around, a little tea and coffee seemed necessary.  Green Lizard Cycling, (yes a cycling place) came through in the clutch.  Yes I wrote that on purpose. Maybe it was one of those moments where I felt random, but after a hearty meal a hot tea was a must.  And my inspired thought was that Chamomile.

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Looking back at these pictures I realize how much that tea matches the color of the sun. The signs and the positive energy are all around us.  It just freaks me out, in a good way, how good this day was.  And all the intricacies and details that I overlooked have been presented to me months later.  This is what we call endearing.

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But like I said, on another day, I’m not sure how great this tea would be.  Chamomile has not always been my favorite flavor, but this might be a change of heart.

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Circumstances allowed this to be a lot better than I think tea might be.   But Stash has been one of those brands that I feel is overlooked versus some of the more household brands you see at the store.  This is not a dig but more of an observation.

I need to review more Stash teas.  They’ve always been good to me.  Here is the one time I did a recap of one of my favorite and inspiring teas by them.  Talk about a dichotomy. Again,  nothing but signs and serendipitous situations.

The specifics of this day are not necessary and sometimes your best memories should be kept from within, and I’ll leave some details out.  But I did add a couple of pictures of the town and outside the cycling shop to give you a feel for how peaceful and inspiring this day was.  I might be overstating how tremendous all this was but I don’t care.  This was awesome and yet all so simple.

The future is looking bright and full of hope.  A good cup of tea always brings hope. And joy!

Here’s to many more unplanned and inspiring events to come!

Kindest,

Ideen

We’ve Only Just Begun

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I was looking back at my previous posts from this Summer, and a little over a third of my write-ups have been Annapolis based.  If you’re not from the area that may not mean much to you.  And even if you are local, this may not resonate with you much.

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And whatever the reason this Summer for me has largely revolved around this beautiful town.   Beautiful towns mean beautiful cafes.  And just when I think I’ve done ’em all, here comes The Red Bean Cafe.

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Downtown Annapolis is full of so much activity.   I’ve mentioned this a multitude of times and my intent is not to repeat itself.  It has so much that you could do a daily blog of all the wonders this town has to offer.  I’m not giving myself any more ideas just yet.

It’s easy to get distracted and to get lost.  The organic and community nature of all this is what keeps bringing me back.  I would imagine that quaint locales all over the country, and the world for that matter, is the main allure for most people.  It hits us at its most genuine, and our most genuine.

And The Red Bean is a fantastic addition to the area.  I believe it’s been only open approximately a year.  The 2015 in their logo might give that away.  So any crack research I might have hinted at is out of the window.

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If the weather was a tad cooler, I’d opt for one of their loose and hot teas.  But present tense being what it is, I’m still embracing what amount of Summer we have left.  And to me, there’s plenty more to go.    Instead I noticed the Berry Cabernet Herbal Tea listed, and it came highly recommended.

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Hibiscus and berries is what sticks out here.  And drinking it over ice was a gem.  I’ve stated before that some teas work better for me warm.  I would say this is the contrary. I can tell this is organic because the flavor isn’t as overwhelming if artificial flavors and preservatives were injected into the tea.  It’s light enough to appreciate the flavors, and doesn’t give you a headache as some similar teas with more sweetener have done.

That might be what I nitpick about this. Maybe it’s lacking some more of what I expected. And this may all stem from my exposure to additives that have no business in a tea.   I didn’t love it at first but it was a grower.  And I wouldn’t even call it one of my favorites. But it was a grower and definitely an acquired taste.  A lot of this review is based on my limited experience of drinking iced tea,, and none quite like this.   That just means I need to try some more.

The staff was friendly, the environment was friendly, and the space is massive enough to have a quite conversation or to relax (or do some work, ew work) in solitude.

Their website is as accessible and approachable as it gets.  Everything is on the same page. I did the analogy, or could this be some meta?  Oooh.

Location, menu, and contact info is all there for your enjoyment. And this place screams enjoyment.   How about those views?    How about that pastry pal?

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Here’s a history of my posts in one our great state capital.

As I said they have a plethora of hot teas, so this is only the beginning.  I’ll be back soon.

Thank you Naptown as always!

Love,

Ideen

 

 

 

I Love Naptown

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kindest,

Ideen

Organic Olympics Party, I Think

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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.

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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