Review: Cave restaurant

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Review: Cave restaurant

 

A few weeks ago, I listed a restaurant on my “NJ Health Food” post, and said it was on my list to try next time I was there. Well, I did–twice actually! Today is my birthday and I wish I could be there, but I’m grateful for the meals I did enjoy there.

Cave (I believe it is intended to be pronounced “ka-vay”) is a restaurant in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ. It is also described as “the first paleo restaurant”. Those of you who follow my blog might remember a previous review of Hu Kitchen, a paleo cafeteria-style eatery in NYC, but Cave is a totally different experience.

My first visit was with my mom and grandmother. My grandmother is a Red Lobster devotee, so I wasn’t sure how she would respond to a restaurant where there was no bread. My mom and I are paleo practitioners so we already knew what to expect (and we were eager to try this restaurant).

The inside of the restaurant is airy and relaxed; the white walls are lined with photos of the beach, and there are big front windows that let in lots of light. I was starving after our journey so I ordered chili (seasoned with cinnamon according to the menu) to split with my mom and a burger called “The Duck, the Chicken, & the Egg”. The burgers are bun-less as they should be to qualify as “paleo”, and are served with sweet potato salad. The burger was bison meat with duck fat, topped with a fried egg, avocado, and sriracha sauce, and was served sitting on a bed of sweet potato hash (this might sound like too much sweet potato, but it sounded good to me!). Served on a square plate and arranged with the slices of avocado perched atop the burger and egg and drizzed with sriarcha, it smelled amazing and I knew I wouldn’t be hungry for long.

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My mom ordered the lettuce tacos with grilled tuna, and I believe she ordered a sweet potato salad side as well. The lettuce was perfectly cool and crispy despite the hot tuna inside. In other restaurants, the lettuce tends to be soggy and the meat either overcooked or undercooked–here, that wasn’t the case. I tried some and enjoyed the refreshing taste of the lettuce paired with the perfectly cooked tuna.

My grandmother ordered the Pan Seared Baby Romaine salad. The presentation was beautiful, with the leaves arranged to look like a flower, and topped with bacon, pickled red onion, and mustard-shallot vinaigrette. Although she was initially thrown by the braising (she is, after all, used to the pile of romaine served at Red Lobster and other chains) she appreciated the flavors and took half back to home to have for lunch the next day.

Even though I was pretty full I had to try the chocolate dessert, a mocha bacon chocolate cake. They had me at mocha, but I was convinced by the combo of bacon and chocolate. If you can imagine chocolate mousse frozen, topped with bacon and with a texture somewhere between mousse and cheesecake, that would be the best description. It was very rich (not complaining!) so I took the other half home.

The meal was so good, we came back a few days later and I had the same thing, except I tried the daily special soup, asparagus, and my mom chose the chicken soup. Both soups were amazing, but I was especially impressed by the chicken soup, which was incredibly flavorful considering the simplicity of the ingredients. We also shared a salad, and shared the burger and dessert.

The location is convenient too; just several blocks up from the beach, my mom and I elected to park near the beach and walk to the restaurant the second time. It took us about ten minutes and it was a nice way to soak up the local ambience while getting a bit of exercise.

I hope to visit again for dinner, and will post a review (and more photos hopefully).

All in all, this is my new favorite restaurant. My mom and I had given up on eating out years ago after “going paleo” (and due to various food intolerances) but it’s good to know that there is now a restaurant catering to paleo guests. I highly recommend you stop by for a meal and enjoy a day at the beach while you’re there!

Friday Favorites: Healthy Beauty Products

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I have never really been a “makeup fan”, even though I am a figure skater. Although many think it is a requirement for figure skaters to wear a full face of makeup, the truth is I (can’t speak for my fellow skaters) only wear cosmetics when performing. I love how it looks on other people, but quite frankly, this is what I look like when I try to put on makeup:

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Just kidding; I needed an excuse to use this image.

 

Years ago, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that my sensitive skin could not tolerate typical makeup brands. I found out when I was applying lipstick for a show; when I took it off hours later, I had a rash around my lips and they had swelled to Angelina Jolie-esque proportions. While this might seem like a dream for some aspiring to that look, to me it meant something in the lipstick was inflaming my body, so I shouldn’t use that brand anymore. For a week after, my lips were still red and swollen, extremely chapped, and surrounded by a faint rash line which burned continuously.

So I had to find beauty products that would not only prove effective, but wouldn’t harm my sensitive skin.

Here they are!

HAIR PRODUCTS:

100 percent pure shampoo and conditioner

I love this company for more than just the hair products; I also use their makeup. The coconut and honey conditioner is just the right consistency for my hair without making it look “greasy”, and it doesn’t make my scalp break out, (which is always nice). I have also used the same variety of shampoo and liked it, as well as the scalp shampoo. I have nothing but praise for this brand!

Dr Bronners Castille Soap

I use this product for more than just shampoo; it makes a great soap for cleaning nearly every surface, washing dishes, and washing laundry (just use it sparingly, as a little goes a long way). But I especially love it as a shampoo and a face wash. However, I do acknowledge that it can be drying on certain hair types, so be careful (just because it works on my hair/face doesn’t mean it will work on everyones!). I love it because it is one of the purest ways to wash your hair and face. You can also read Dr. Bronner’s thoughts on life on the bottle. For more on him you can watch the documentary.

 Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil

I have mentioned coconut oil in previous posts, and it’s great for not only cooking, but for beauty uses and skin care. I use coconut oil on my skin (especially my hands) in the winter; since it’s anti-bacterial, you can also use it on wounds to clean and assist in the healing process. In terms of “beauty” I use it to remove makeup safely. Most people know the struggle of trying to remove eye makeup–I previously used castille soap on a q tip, which obviously was not pleasant if it seeped into my eye–but all I do now is apply a drop of coconut oil to a q tip, then use that to clean off the eyeliner. Some use coconut oil as hair conditioner, but be careful not to use TOO MUCH and wash it out well, or you will have greasy locks for a while. And of course you can use it for oil pulling, which supposedly whitens teeth as well as cleaning your mouth. Overall, coconut oil is an important staple to have.

100% pure eyeliner/mascara

I love this stuff. Even though I only wear eye makeup when performing, I enjoy this combination. As previously stated, it’s one of the only brands I can wear without negative reaction. The mascara is not too “goopy” and relatively easy to apply, and the eyeliner is…eyeliner. Both are comparable to major beauty brands, but the ingredients are pure.

100% pure lipstick

There are many varieties of lipstick/gloss by 100% pure, but I prefer the Fruit Pigmented Lip Glaze. The shade shown above is Sultry, and it is my favorite color. It’s close to a nude pink color, and on me looked unobtrusive (aka, it looked like my natural lip color but more refined). It is smooth and smells good, and best of all does not hurt my lips after wearing!

Do you have any favorite healthy beauty brands? Share them in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorites: NJ health food stores!

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(Note on the title: yes, contrary to popular belief, “health food” does exist in NJ…you just have to know where to look!)

I’m still in NJ, (until tomorrow at least) and since I have been taking mini trips throughout the state, I realize that there are some wonderful health food stores. Sometimes it’s hard to find health food stores when you are traveling.

One guidebook I relied on was “Healthy Highways”, a comprehensive listing of all the health food stores and restaurants in America (at the time of publication).

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Of course, if you are traveling in a more familiar place, you can find places yourself and remember them. I often use google maps when traveling to find health food stores, and sometimes I just stumble upon them!

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NEWTON, NJ–This co op offers a surprisingly comprehensive selection–I especially like the fresh, local eggs by Wood Sorrel Acres!

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PARAMUS, NJ–It’s chaotic and always busy (good luck finding a parking space) but this Whole Foods is the size of a supermarket and offers a great variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as packaged foods.

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VERNON, NJ–We found this by accident when driving through Vernon NJ . They have a comprehensive selection including hard-to-find brands, and an amazing juice bar. There are also vegetarian offerings at the cafe (I didn’t have anything because it is mostly grain based meals) but I know for sure the juice is awesome.

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AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ–Haven’t been here yet, but looks amazing! A paleo restaurant is even harder to find than vegetarian…next time I’m here, I want to try this place and will post a review.

 

5 Easy Life-hacks to Stay Healthy

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Hope everyone is having a good week so far.🙂

I’m still in New Jersey, since my departure was delayed for various reasons. So I have been passing the time doing yoga, working, writing on this blog, helping my grandmother, and trying to plan for the next few months now that I have some time to think. As always, I have lost a bit of weight from all the activity, which is always good. Since I “got serious” about three weeks ago about my lifestyle and diet, I have been feeling much better and thinking, as always, “why didn’t I do this earlier?”

Now that I’m writing regularly, I’m thinking about what information I would want to share with readers (if there are any of you)😉. Everything I write about I consider valuable and interesting, but of course I want to ensure readers feel the same way about the content.

Thinking about it, I realize that many people don’t make significant changes in their diet and lifestyle because they believe it would be too difficult or time-consuming. It is indeed  more difficult and time-consuming to prepare good food and take care of yourself, but in my opinion it is worth it. We only have one body, so we need to take care of it to the best of our ability!

However, there are some “life hacks” that can improve your health without taking too much extra time or energy. These are all small changes that can help your health in the long run, and help you build up to bigger changes.

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  1. Take a Vitamin D supplement

This is really important if you live somewhere where there isn’t a lot of sun, or during the winter months when it tends to be dark. In addition to other benefits, Vitamin D fortifies your immune system, so that’s another reason to make sure you take this supplement during winter months when everyone’s getting sick.

I recommend Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D, because they have no fillers. My doctor advised I take the 5,000 IU even though it’s more than the usual amount to compensate for the lack of sun (I spend most of my time inside, and the long winters make sun difficult to obtain).

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2. Keep hydrated

Drinking enough water (high quality water) will help keep you healthy as well.  I often thought I drank enough, until I realized that my constant tea-drinking could be dehydrating. My doctor recommended that in between each cup of tea, I drink a glass of water. I’m still working on that, but it’s a good way to regulate your water drinking habits.

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3. Use coconut oil (for multiple things)

Skin cream. Hair conditioner. Cooking oil. Lip salve. Teeth cleaner.  There are many uses for coconut oil, so it’s a dynamic staple to have on hand. During the winter I slather coconut oil on my hands and lips, use it for “oil pulling“, and cook with it all year round.

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4. Move

Everyone knows exercise keeps you healthy, but it’s the movements in between the exercising that can also be important. One hour of exercise is great, but if you spend the time in between sitting, it kind of defeats the purpose. I realize this is hard to do while at an office job, but taking small breaks during the day can help combat that sedentary necessity. Walking or biking to commute can help, or if you have to drive, parking further away from the door and taking the stairs will contribute to daily movement. Keep a movement journal for a week to see how much you actually do in between workouts. Every little bit helps.

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5. Use anti-inflammatory spices like Turmeric & Ginger

I love ginger, don’t really love turmeric, but I know both are great spices that combat inflammation, and ginger is especially helpful for boosting your immune system. Turmeric is also a powerful anti-fungal and anti-viral, so it’s good to enjoy these spices every day to reap these benefits. I know some recommend you reap these benefits with supplements, but I prefer to use them in my cooking instead. We always cook with turmeric, and make “ginger tea” occasionally by boiling water and ginger slices together to make a powerful tonic. Or you can try this turmeric ginger drink!

Do you have any “life hacks” that help keep you healthy? Share them with me in the comments!

Spirit Sunday–Gratitude

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There is so much to be grateful for, and most of us take it for granted. I know I do. Like many people, I have a lot of things in my life I wish I could change. This is why this week I am trying to focus on gratitude.

Once considered an insubstantial practice, the practice of gratitude has shown interesting benefits.

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.

-A Serving of Gratitude, New York Times (2011)

Of course, it also feels better than constantly thinking about what you don’t have; that’s what I try to remind myself, anyway. It is always tempting to worry and stress about what you don’t have, not realizing that the more you think about that, the more you are impeding your forward progress.

Believe me, I struggle with this myself. But I am trying to force myself to “look at the bright side”. Here are some methods for doing this:

1.Gratitude journal

It sounds so Oprah, (for the record, I applaud Oprah’s efforts to bring spirituality and “self help” into the forefront in popular culture) but gratitude journaling is not just a silly self help thing. There are indeed proven scientific benefits. Also, it’s a nice way to be mindful and connect with your life on a daily basis.

The list of things you are grateful for doesn’t have to be “big things”. It can be something as small as a great cup of tea, talking to friends, or nice weather.

Making the process fun is important. Granted, I don’t keep a gratitude journal (I stop and start one all the time), but I am working on it. One incentive that worked for me was finding a cool notebook/journal, a pen with just the right nib (I’m slightly obsessive about writing implements) and setting a certain time each day to write.

If you are a person who spends more time on their phone and more comfortable with apps than pen and paper, you can use the Gratitude Journal app, which for $2.99 will allow you to list five things you are grateful for daily, and allows you to configure reminders so you can continue the practice every day. I just downloaded it, and so far find it practical and visually appealing.

2. Meditate upon it

Allow the words you wrote to sink in. Think of the things you are grateful for and allow the feelings to wash over you. It’s one thing to write glibly, another to truly feel grateful.

3. Gain some perspective

When thinking about what you are grateful for, you can also think about what your life would be like if you didn’t have this. This can deepen your feelings of gratitude. For example, I think about what my life would be like without my mom. She is my best friend and confidant, so my life would be horribly lonely without her. Thinking about how much you do have can take focus off what you don’t have. It’s the little things that mean the most.

WHAT GRATITUDE TRICKS WORK FOR YOU? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!

 

 

 

 

Style Saturday: NJ edition

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Style Saturday: NJ edition

I love fashion. As a child, I aspired to be a fashion designer, until I realized all the measuring and precision involved was too much for my “creative brain”. I love to look at and wear stylish clothes, but when I’m at home I often fall into a rut where I wear sweatpants most days and leggings other days (when I’m not wearing skating clothes).

But when I go away, I am reminded once again that there is more to life than Hanes Her Way sweatpants, and clothing can (and should) be both comfortable and stylish.

Here are some pieces I love; admittedly, most of them are “athleisure” pieces (you can read more about the athleisure trend here, although it’s nothing new to me, I’ve been dressing that way for years) but since I spend most of my time working out or preparing to work out, it seems the most appropriate way for me to dress.

I called the title “NJ edition” because I tend to do most of my shopping when I visit family in Northern NJ, so most of these items were purchased here (and all on sale, which is what usually motivates me)!

For pre/post workout wear: 

Nike Women’s Rally Loose Pants

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I found these on sale at Lord and Taylor, and they are ridiculously comfortable. I love the “Just Do It” detail on the waistband but most of all love the fit and lining of the pants. My advice is to be careful when washing them, as they do have a tendency to pill if put in a load with too many other clothes; I use a pill remover to remove them.

Available at: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Lululemon Scuba Hoodie III *Terry

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Years ago I purchased a “1st or 2nd generation” Scuba Hoodie (grey sparkle pattern) and consider it one of the best-made garments I own. The fabric is so thick that when I washed it and hung it to dry, it would break a hanger. Now that’s good quality fabric! Thick sweatshirts like that are perfect for chilly Lake Placid spring and fall seasons (and sometimes, depending on the year, winter too).

Admittedly, the 3rd generation hoodies are not quite as thick, but they are still very substantial and a nice piece for pre or post workout. I’ve even worn mine skating a few times. What I love most is the hood, which fitting the name of the product, is much like an old fashioned scuba diver’s helmet that provides more coverage to help lock out cold breezes.

Yes, they are very expensive, but I purchased both my first and second hoodie on sale (otherwise I could not afford it)! I love Lululemon, but only shop there when I find something that I love and that fits on the sale rack. I still wear my first hoodie quite a bit and look forward to wearing my second hoodie (in a not-pictured pink circle pattern)!

Available at: Lululemon

Lululemon Studio Pant III

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I have yet to get a pair of leggings from Lululemon (they are never on sale when I’m here) but I picked these up thinking they would be a great pair of pants for going to and from workouts.

They have a soft waistband and a bit of stretch to them that is helpful for people like me with “skater quads/glutes”. The ones I purchased are navy blue, and these pants are unique because they have draw strings in the hem of the pants legs that can make them shorter or longer.

Available at: Lululemon 

Workout shoes

Nike Free 5.0 TR Metallic Training Shoes 

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I’ve had several pairs of Nike Frees, including a pair of customs, and I consider them the ideal cross training shoe. They are not the type of shoe for people who need a lot of support–they are designed to mimic the feel of bare feet, and the soles flex quite a bit–but for me, they are lightweight and comfortable enough to serve the purpose. These are my latest pair, and I’m looking forward to wearing them!

Available at: Finish Line (limited sizes), Sports Authority (limited sizes),  Amazon

Newton Women’s Distance Elite

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I purchased these Newtons a few years ago (on sale of course) at the Newton tent during Ironman in Lake Placid. I really like the format of the sole which pushes my weight further forward when running (I tend to heel strike when I run, which makes running even more difficult on my knees). Although it’s still difficult for me to run, these shoes help.

Available at: Newton online

Do you have any favorite pre/post workout items or workout shoes? Mention them in the comments!

 

 

Friday Favorites: Tea!

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I’m considering making Friday a day to discuss my favorite foods, products, or activities that I feel help me live the “paleo skater lifestyle”. This is the first “Friday Favorites” post, and I hope I can keep up this posting schedule to discuss more favorites!😉

Most of my friends know one of my favorite things is Tea. I have loved tea since I was a child, and despite my on-again, off-again love affair with coffee (right now I don’t have it AT ALL, for reasons mentioned in a previous post), I find tea to be the most fulfilling and healthy hot beverage.

But while I say ‘tea’ and think of my chosen variety of tea, many think of different iterations of it. Some think of Starbucks, or Teavana’s candy-like tea blends or tea lattes. Some think of tea bags. Others think of earl grey tea in a English tea service. To me, the most important thing is not the variety but the quality of the tea.

Over the years, I have learned much about tea, from why you should always choose organic varieties, to what has the most and least caffeine, (and how that happens), to the health benefits of different types of tea. I also learned what type of tea works for me.

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Here are my tips for finding the best tea for you.

  1. Is it organic and non-GMO?

It is REALLY important to get organic and non-genetically modified tea. Tea plants are one of the most heavily sprayed crops, so you definitely don’t want to steep chemical-covered tea in hot water to drink! The tea estates from which many big brands purchase from also practice unsafe working conditions for their workers, including child labor and horrible living and working conditions. Organic tea also doesn’t use sewage slush as fertilizer, which is understandably reassuring, since this practice often occurs in conventional crops.

Here’s the best summary of why it is important to get organic tea, from Divinitea, a tea shop and supplier in the Albany area and specialist in organic tea:

Certified organic tea is free of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Organic tea agriculture sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic tea agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.

2. Is it “loose” or in a bag?
Another thing that might sound trivial, but it’s still important. As Food Babe explains in her extensive post about organic tea vs. conventional tea, the tea bags that you buy are often composed of a “food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET)” or “PLA (polylactic acid)”, or paper treated with potential carcinogens. So the plastic bag’s molecules break down in hot water, the PLA bags are most likely derived from GMO corn, and the paper is coated with epichlorohydrin. Even the “high quality mesh bags” are made of the nylon type material, so despite marketing and packaging assurances that it’s the “best type of tea bag”, even that is not entirely safe.

That’s why I prefer to use loose tea and either a glass or stainless steel strainer for my tea.

3. Are there artificial colors/flavors in the tea?

Unfortunately, despite tea’s renaissance with brands like Starbucks bringing in Teavana teas to make tea drinks and loose tea, most popular brands have artificial colors/flavors, hence the sweet/artificial taste and aroma.

Years ago, I used to love Teavana tea, when the stores first started appearing in malls. I applauded the founders’ visions to bring teas of the world to America on a large scale. However, I started noticing that much of the teas available had artificial colorings/flavorings which effected me, and weren’t organic besides. I started getting sores in my mouth (an indicator for me when something has artificial colorings/flavorings) and the tea started to taste…artificial. That’s when I stopped.

But other brands use artificial colors and flavors, as Food Babe’s article will tell you. Steer clear of those and choose the purest tea with JUST TEA/HERBS as an ingredient.

4. How do you feel when you drink it? 

Many people overlook this important part of the tea (and food) experience, and focus just on taste or an idea of what they should be eating/drinking and not how it effects them personally.

For me, I feel better if I drink pure tea (tea without additives, including any type of sweetener or milk) that is organic and non-GMO. I also feel better if I don’t  consume a lot of caffeine. One cup (or half of a small pot) is fine, but if I have too much black tea I feel anxious and irritable. So you have to know what works for you, and stick to it!


 

If all else fails, you can refer to Food Babe’s handy chart (below) to see how your favorite brands stack up.

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As you will see, I recommend the following two companies because of the high quality of their products.

My favorite teas 

Now that I’ve just shared what NOT to get when purchasing tea, I will share the brands I love!

My personal favorite “every day tea” is Makabari Silver Tips. Sourced from the Makabari Tea Estate in India, which is the oldest tea garden in Darjeeling and was established in 1859, the tea is Certified Organic, Biodynamic and Fair Trade. This white tea is light and relatively light in caffeine, which is perfect for me. They also have many other types of tea, not just white, and I encourage you check them out!

I also love the tea from Light of Day Organics. They also have a wonderful white tea, but many other varieties as well. Based in Michigan, they are Michigan’s only certified biodynamic farm. According to the Biodynamics farming website, Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Their tea is also Certified Organic, Biodynamic and Fair Trade, and of course non-GMO. My personal favorite teas are their oolong, heartwarming cinnamon, kukicha, creamy earl grey (I do have caffeinated tea, rarely), and relaxation blend.

Hope this helps! Have any other favorite teas or tea companies that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!🙂