Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING Season Is Back!

October has just started and yes, I have already had a pumpkin-inspired tea.   Around this time, my friends and I stalk the haunted houses, indulge in pumpkin-flavored products, and gorge enough candy where we regret ever committing to a diet in the first place.   We always hear about PSL (thank you, Starbucks), but did you know that there are plenty of healthy teas that are also pumpkin-themed?   Take a look below!

It’s Pumpkin Time! – Family Food Blog

Pumpkin Pie – Made by Premium Steap – A Lifestyle of Tea

I first found out about Pumpkin Pie from a coworker, who was kind enough to bring me a cuppa while we worked endlessly on a project (yay for that project finally being completed!).   It was my first day meeting her, and the topic of tea came up (of course it did).   She told me about this magical Pumpkin Pie and I tried it.   It warmed every sense within, and the taste was divine.   Seriously, I know I rave about tea, but I often sort of shy away from some of the more specialty flavors since sometimes, they just overdo the hype.   But the blend contains pumpkin, cinnamon, and other spices without leaving a gritty or powdery taste in it.   And the best part?   You actually taste the pumpkin!

Pumpkin Chai – Made by DavidsTEA

One of the things that I love about DavidsTEA is that it is environmentally conscious.   Bring in a reusable container, they will fill it up with tea.   You don’t need to drain your pocketbooks buying their air-tight containers (spoiler alert, they are quite awesome and you should keep your tea in an air-tight container regardless, but that’s another story) and their tea is mighty tasty.   One thing to keep in mind though, I tell everyone that their tea is not “pure” in the sense of it ONLY being tea.   They usually have add-ins, and Pumpkin Chai is no exception.   Doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but it does mean you might be getting some sugars that you would not otherwise get in your cuppa.   This tea is spiced with caramel, pumpkin candies, cinnamon, and cloves and advertises as being great as a latte.   Move over, Starbucks!

Sweet Harvest Pumpkin – Made by Celestial Seasonings

My heart is always torn with Celestial Seasonings.   On the one hand, I ADORE their herbal fruity teas.   On the other hand, they sometimes fall short.   This tea is a black tea, automatically making it a bit stronger, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, roasted chicory, natural pumpkin flavor, and more.   So the good news is, the strength is there, not like their peach blend.   Plus, it is also a bit different from the others which streamline to be pumpkin spice thrown into a tin of black tea and then calling it a day.

Bad news about all of these?   All of them are black teas, so all contain caffeine.   If you are looking to watch your intake for whatever reason, stick to a nice cinnamon apple.

Be Nice To Your Baristas

While sitting in Barnes and Noble last week, sewing away, I watched two older women, possibly in their fifties, leaning against a display case of brightly-colored ceramic coffee mugs and tumblers.   While chatting on her cell phone, one stopped paying attention and knocked down a ceramic Wonder Woman tumbler, sending it to the ground and shattering in tiny pieces.

The woman on the cell phone who knocked over the item picked up the largest of the pieces and threw it away, still chatting on her cell phone.   One of the employees, a pleasant barista named Rachel, came quickly with a broom and dust pan, sweeping up the extra pieces.

Wonder Woman Apparently Wasn't So Wonderful After That Fall

Wonder Woman Apparently Wasn’t So Wonderful After That Fall

Why bring this up?   Because I watched appalled as this woman kept chatting on her cell phone, never once said sorry nor offered to pay for the piece, and walked away with her friend after a minute or two of watching Rachel clean.

This honestly did upset me a bit.   Did she really just have the nerve to not even apologizing for breaking something, doing something that was clearly her fault?   She didn’t offer help, nor compensation.   Just a cell phone chat, a stare and a walk-away.   For this post, I want to share with everyone how to be nice to your baristas, a concept near and dear to my heart since I am friendly with the baristas at my Barnes and Noble.   This applies to tea drinkers, coffee drinker and anyone that has ever sat in a cafe, watching the world go by.

If you can tip your barista, please do so.

These people have gone through training to serve you the best drink that they can, worked hard to find out what would best suit your taste buds and your wallet and manage to keep track of your grande-skinny-low-fat-low-sugar-macchiato with an affogato shot, three pumps of hazelnut syrup, two more shots of espresso with a chocolate whipped cream on top.   They know how to brew your tea and steam your milk.   These people deserve at least a few cents in tips.   Keep in mind that not all companies allow you to tip your baristas, as I have found out.   However, if you can, I’m sure that it would be appreciated and you will be greeted with a much friendlier smile the next time around.

They’re people, first and foremost – treat them as such.

So, your drink order did not come out exactly right.   Maybe they’re going too slow for your taste and you have a big business meeting in five minutes.   Or maybe your drink is slightly hotter than what you expected.   Please don’t take it out on them!   Any screaming, scolding or irritations expressed otherwise do not belong in the line.   Unless your complaints are merited, such as your barista talking on their cell phone or ignoring you for friends, understand that they are doing the best they can.   If they aren’t, then take it up with them quietly or with their managers, not a public hen-pecking.

If you spill something, help.   If you break something, apologize.

I went to Barnes with my friend and, as she spoke with her hands, making her wild movements, she managed to hit her tea off the table and onto her lap and on the floor.   After checking herself over for any burns, she and I got to work right away grabbing napkins, looking for paper towels and getting help to clean up.   When the barista came over with his mop, we apologized to him.   He took the apology and even offered to re-make the drink for my friend.

Notice anything about this story?

I’ve known this particular barista, Mike, for quite a bit now, torturing him with questions like what are the letters of the Greek alphabet and what items contain gluten that my Celiac friend should avoid.   He has been nothing but helpful and friendly and I always enjoy seeing him behind the counter.   Because we keep friendly, help him out and chat with him, he treats us in kind.   It’s amazing what that small token of kindness can do.

Small actions matter.

Reusable mugs are wonderful.   They help save the environment and they add a bit of pizzazz to the drinking experience instead of sipping from a cardboard cup.   The same with eating a warm cupcake off of a ceramic plate as opposed to a plastic take-out container.   However, those plates and mugs don’t clean themselves.   If you use any of them, do your baristas a favor and bring them back.   It seems simple but it saves your baristas from having to run around the store picking up after you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

When I went to Barnes and Noble, I went up to Steve, one of the baristas, completely exhausted and on a budget.

“Hey, what’s up?” he asked, recognizing me as the tea lady.

“Question for you,” I said.   “What is the most caffeinated drink that you can get me in a tall for $5?”   After a few basic questions and a bit of rumination, we arrived at my perfect drink order for the day.

This sounds like it can be annoying when, in fact, you’re giving the baristas a chance to flex their drink prowess, showing off their knowledge of the beverage counter and giving you their recommendation.   I see that as a great form of flattery.   Not only that, each person will have their own opinion of what would be your perfect drink, keeping your palate refreshed.

Keep these handy tips on your mind as you order your next drink and add to it, if you would like.   Feel free to even comment with your own additions!

Your barista will thank you.

Celebration for Seattle

Oh, to live in Seattle!   As much as I love my little town o’ Cranford, New Jersey, Seattle seems like the place to be for tea right now.

Why, do you ask?   Seattle is home to Starbucks, which is now opening up a Tazo tea store with over 80 varieties of loose tea!   Come October, you can go into this shop, mix your own tea with the help of some tea experts, and purchase your creation by the ounce.

This store will be an expansive 1,700 square foot area.   Traditional drinks, like iced tea and tea lattes, will still be sold.   But the blending stations are really what makes the store stand out.   Imagine the smells, the looks, the taste of all this fresh tea in one store and your own personal “partner” helping you choose the perfect blend for your tastes.

I Can't Wait For This Mermaid to Start Pushing Tea!

I Can’t Wait For This Mermaid to Start Pushing Tea!

As of right now, Starbucks is coming out saying that they don’t plan on opening more of these stores.   Obviously, I would absolutely LOVE them to open more.   However, if the opportunity presents itself and the store proves to be a success, I would personally bet that they would open up a few more.   And why not?   You can find a Starbucks at practically every street corner.   They’ve even taken over India, a nation that is ready to declare tea its national drink!   Branching out into another relaxing hot beverage just seems natural.

This store is a huge step in the right direction for tea.   The popular coffee company has seen the worth and quickly rising popularity of tea and is starting to invest in it.   News articles are starting to churn out more and more stories about the miracle properties of rooibos, green tea and white tea.   Specialty stores like Teavana are popping up in malls and gaining followers who never realized how sweet a cuppa could be.   Fanatics are even going as far as to have Mad Hatter Tea Party-themed weddings!   Obviously, we are in the midst of something big, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

So, tea readers, sit back, relax with your cup of tea and witness the revolution in the drink world.   Perhaps tea will once again be bigger than coffee in the US?