I came to tea early on in life after watching everyone around me drinking it for every occasion. Rise and shine: tea. Up too late in the night: tea. Got an ‘A’ in the exam: tea. Neighbor dropped by for a few minutes: tea. Friend’s father’s brother’s daughter-in-law’s mother died: tea. And I’m bored and there’s nothing to do and I’d much rather not eat: tea.
None of this tea was served with tea bags in mugs. We’re talking tea kettles, tea pots, tea cosies, tea strainers, and fine bone china cups and saucers. Tea-drinking was taken seriously when I was growing up, so it comes as no surprise that those very same accoutrements sit on my kitchen counter today.
It’s not that I have not drunk bagged, ground-up tea. I have. Gallons of it. But the taste of full-leaf tea is vastly different, and the search for well-sourced tea is an ongoing passion. So I was especially pleased to discover Adagio Teas nearly two decades ago. They make it easy to try new flavors from nearly a hundred different offerings, which they sell in small five-cup sample sizes to 16 oz. bags. You can choose from black teas, white, green, oolong, matcha, rooibos, herbals, and so on.
As we go into fall and winter in the northern hemisphere, I have visions of crackling fires, warm cups of tea, and books dancing in my head. What better idea than to see which book invokes which flavor of tea and vice versa? Here are some romance novel and tea pairings from AAR staff.
~ Keira Soleore
This story where a shy wallflower finds sparkling self-confidence, joy, and love through a shared passion for filmmaking pairs perfectly with the zesty orange tea whose sweetness and tartness is quite refreshing.
This book blew into my humdrum life in February and brightened it up with its smart plotting, complex characters, and whimsical storytelling. It pairs perfectly with the Virgo tea that I reach for many mornings to brighten up my day with hints of lemongrass mingling with rose and apricot flavors.
The Parfit Knight by Stella Riley with Adagio’s Wild Strawberry tea
This tea with its sweet strawberry and sugared rhubarb aroma makes me smile every time I drink it, just as I smile through every re-read of this book. An ill-natured parrot, a gentle, lovely lady, and a kind, wise rake, who are sequestered together for a week during a snowstorm, emerge with a story sure to warm your heart.
Copious amounts of tea are drunk in Regency romance novels, but I particularly love to pair Ms. Balogh’s work with Earl Grey Tea. Why? Because Balogh got her start writing traditional Regencies and still writes traditional style stories today. Tea flavored with bergamot (which is what Earl Grey is) has been known in England since at least the 1820s, so it’s a traditional tea but is believed to have been popular for several years before that, which would put it squarely in the Regency era. Earl Grey Lavender is perfect for this book since it combines a traditional tea with one of the heroine’s favorite colors.
A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian with Adagio’s Masala Chai
“Who’s aye for chai?” heroine Leila asks in this novel. She believes “anytime was a good time for a chai break.” Her romance with Suneel (Neel) Sarath, a doctor working in America, takes place within the confines of an arranged marriage. It takes till the end of the book for these two to reach their HEA but their long journey is worth the payoff. I would pair this book with Masala Chai because Leila’s descriptions of making masala paste and cooking with it always left my mouth watering for Indian food.
I absolutely adored Peckham’s début, and one of my favorite aspects was that the main character, Poppy, is a gardener. The descriptions of her gardens and greenhouses are so lush in the book that I think it would pair wonderfully with a complex, floral tea like the Secret Garden signature blend.
I love all things fall and Halloween, and it is very rare to find romance novels set around Halloween. Reisz’s book is cute, romantic, and sexy so I think it would be excellent paired with a cup something hot and spiced. I don’t drink coffee, so no lattes for me, but Pumpkin Spice tea is the next best thing.
When I see pearl teas, I often think of Mary Balogh’s The Secret Pearl. I guess readers can’t help play word association games. Adagio offers a Jasmine Phoenix Pearls tea that seems fitting to the story’s main characters. The heroine, Fleur, resorts to prostitution out of desperation. Her first customer takes her virginity in a shocking scene — and the customer becomes the unexpected hero. Adam, a scarred hero, is trapped in a miserable marriage. Despite what he did to Fleur, he is a gentleman, and he tries to make amends by hiring her as a governess. The two characters are able to rise above the circumstances that nearly destroyed them.
When I saw Fiery Cinnamon Spice, I wanted to drink some. Also, scores of heroines ran through my head, from the Anne of Green Gables to Nancy Drew with her “titian” hair. But the “fiery” part interested me more. What about Lady Nicholaa of Julie Garwood’s The Prize? She sent three Norman knights packing, and knocks the hero to the ground with a makeshift sling on page 1, then escapes him. Not for long, of course — but that’s when the fun begins. Another fiery heroine was Jurra of Jude Deveraux’s The Maiden, who could have fit in a fantasy romance.
Caroline Grayson, the heroine of Adele Ashworth’s My Darling Caroline, wants to become a botanist. Her botanical and mathematical abilities have made her an outcast, but nothing can stop her. She had already bred a lavender rose, and she was planning to find some way, any way, to secretly attend a university…until her father marries her off to Brent Ravenscroft, the Earl of Weymerth. To her shock, Brent truly admires her abilities and even lets her take care of his estate’s books. Caroline is not perfect, sometimes letting her passion for botany and science get in the way. But in honor of the many heroines (real and fictional) who were forced to put their love of science aside, I salute Caroline with Summer Rose Cream tea.
Glitterland by Alexis Hall with Adagio’s 40 Winks tea
After a fast and furious, flirtatious, eye-opening day with Darian, introvert literary Ash could wind him down with 40 Winks Tea to promote sweet dreams for both of them.
I’m sure David Cyprian would never need to apologize to his Lord Richard if he presented him regularly with Earl Grey Bravo Tea whilst sorting out his life and problems as he always does.
Al has the soul of an angel and a heart to match, but he is big, muscular, and scares people a little. He is also intellectually childlike with a pure simplicity of thought. Larry is a university professor who sees the angel under the muscles. They would need a complex but sweet tea like Golden Monkey with roasted apples, walnuts, cocoa, and spice.
English Breakfast is the tea blend I drink most often. It’s strong and gets me going in the morning, but it’s also comforting. And there’s just enough going on there to keep me intrigued. I immediately thought of pairing this tea with an English historical. I tried several, but none fit quite right in my mind, and then suddenly, it clicked. Patricia Gaffney’s The Wyckerley Trilogy would be perfect with this tea. Wyckerley feels familiar and comfortable, but there’s more than enough going on in this not-as-traditional-as-it-looks English village to keep one interested.
The citrusy, light flavor of Ceylon tea is the tea flavor of my childhood, so it’s a comfort drink for me like Kelly is a comfort read. Drink it hot in honor of her Regency heroines like Mrs. Drew of Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand who is caught in a snowstorm or iced for Beau Crusoe where her sailor is stuck in the tropics.
This South American tea is brisk, herbal, and refreshing. In South America, mate is as traditional as the London theater scene showcased in Parker’s London Celebrities books. The tea and the books are bright and full of energy, and you will be, too, after experiencing the caffeine in the former and the sparkling relationships in the latter.
Rooibos literally means “red bush” and grows in the mountains, so it pairs best with our favorite band of mountain man heroes with bushy red beards, the Winston brothers, in the Beard series.. Rooibos is herbal and caffeine-free, which is perfect since these books can keep you up on their own.
In the midst of World War II, Dutch Whitney, a Canadian RAF pilot, finds himself injured and face-down in a cold bog, and he’s desperate to determine if he crash-landed in British-friendly Northern Ireland or in the neutral south where only imprisonment awaits. Nan O’Neil answers a late-night knock at her door to find a stranger with compelling blue eyes, a terrible Irish accent, and an inability to stay upright. If she’s not very careful, aiding this man will land Nan in prison, but her nurse-midwife instincts have already kicked in.
While she tends to his wounds and gives Dutch a secret place of refuge, the two form a mutual affection. The plans for Dutch’s escape and the inherent dangers of disregarding the law of the land set the stage for a love story both sweet and deep, as Nan tries to move on from her past and Dutch provides an example of steadfast love on which she can rely.
In every turn of the story, there is tea – as comfort, as a greeting, as a social ritual, as fortitude. Irish Romance tea, one of Adagio’s signature blends, is perfect to sip while reading this tale of adventure and love.
And there you have it: Tea and Book pairings from AAR Staff. Which books would you pair with which teas? And which of the books and teas mentioned above are you now interested in trying? If you’d like to try some of these delicious teas, just click the relevant link and you’ll be taken to the relevant page at Adagio.com.