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Bubbly, games, flowering teas make unique gifts

Cover story: Valentine’s Day


Special to Metromix.com

Valentine’s Day can be such a bore with the myriad chocolates wrapped in annoying red cellophane and those scarlet and pink roses that you can buy a week after the 14th for $9.99 but for some reason go up to $29.99 just to tick off the frugal consumer.

We’ve put together a list of some items under $50 from five different Tucson businesses that will be sure to make your sweetheart think you racked your brain searching for that unique gift to suit his or her personality.

Head to RumRunner’s shop, 3131 E. First St. (326-0121), for an array of food and drink.

We recommend Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne ($39.99), which comes in shiny red packaging (so it’s already in sync with the holiday theme) that doubles as an ice bucket to keep your bubbly cool and chilled throughout the evening. Pair it with Rum Runner’s Fontina ($15.99 per pound), a soft, creamy, approachable cheese to satisfy any palate.

To not only satisfy the palate but also the eyes, try Moet Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne ($49.99).

Special occasions call for special glassware, and Bohemia, 2920 E. Broadway (882-0800), is an excellent local place to shop for it. Celebrate with local artist Jeffrey Woods’ champagne and martini glasses. Woods paints the glasses and then sand-blows beautiful and colorful designs on them. At around $50 per pair it’s hard to hold back. After all, it’s art!

Wil Taylor is another local artist, and he supplies many of his black-and-white prints to Bohemia. Already framed, these pieces of art range from $30-$50.

Take a cross-country adventure with Ticket to Ride. The board game is a bit above our stated $50 max (it’s $55), but we gave ourselves leeway because it’s a staff favorite at Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s Toys, 4811 E. Grant Road (326-0188). With equal parts chance and strategy, two to five players (“more, if you’re creative,” the employees told us) try to visit as many North American cities as possible in seven days. (Don’t worry: That’s not real time.)

Master Builder Set ($50) is another fun, adult-friendly option at the toy store. Put together wooden replicas of architecturally famous buildings from throughout history. Great mind teaser and an intellectually riveting task.

With more and more people becoming health conscious, tea has become a booming industry. And Seven Cups, 2516 E. Sixth St. (881-4072), carries more than 100 Chinese teas that are impossible to find in Arizona, let alone the U.S., except for right here.

Teas range anywhere from $15 for a bag of seven flowering tea balls to under $7 for a bag of tea that’s on sale. Not only are flowering teas good for your health and peace of mind, but they’re also visually stunning. The tea balls are hand-sewn together so that when you pour hot water over them, they slowly “bloom” and all the components open for viewing and tasting pleasure.

“The fragrance of the tea makes me feel like I am doing aromatherapy,” says Yumiko Omata, 38, who has been working at Seven Cups for about six months. “It gives me a peaceful feeling.”

To accompany these health-conscious teas that relieve your daily stress with antioxidants, Seven Cups also carries an array of cups, strainers and teapots. They cater to any price range, with single cups ranging upward of $6 and teapots starting around $20.

“More and more people are becoming conscious about their health, and we are confident about the quality of our teas,” Omato says. So drink them in style.

For unusual Valentine’s Day gifts, try bubbly, games, flowering teas

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