Pairing books with tea (Emma)

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Recently I finished reading Emma by Jane Austen. It wasn’t a reread, but a first read. I have to say, I’m not sure whether I’m a fan of Emma. She has a big heart and means well, but I wouldn’t be friends with someone in real life who is such a nosy busybody. Emma just can’t mind her own business. It’s possible she’ll grow on me in the years to come, I don’t know. For now, I must place her at the bottom of my Jane Austen heroine list.

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Now that I have my little rant out of the way, let’s pair a tea with this book. Since weddings seem to be the theme of this novel (as in every Jane Austen novel, of course), I thought it would be fitting if we paired it with Fortnum’s Wedding Breakfast Blend created on the occasion of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. I had it this morning and it was a delicious cup of tea.

I’d love to know your opinion of Emma.

Happy reading and tea drinking.

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Tea with Mr. Rochester)

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I’ve been making an effort to read more short stories. They pack a punch in just a few short pages. I’m left thinking and rethinking about the plot for days after I finish the story. Tea with Mr. Rochester is one such short story collection.

When I think of Mr. Rochester, I think of the character from Jane Eyre. If that’s who you thought of too, then you can probably guess the common theme of each story in this collection: love. Most of the stories don’t necessarily end happily. Or maybe they do, depending on your view. The beauty of a short story is that it doesn’t tell you how or what to think. You are left thinking and analyzing for days afterwards.

Take for example, the sixth story in this collection, Spade Man from over the Water. It takes place inside the drawing room of a married woman, Mrs. Penny, who is entertaining her new neighbor. The new neighbor, Mrs. Asher, hopes she can become good friends with Mrs. Penny. All we know at this point is that Mrs. Penny has a husband who travels often. He seems to never be in the picture. Her husband discourages Mrs. Penny from having friends, but she yearns for the friendship of women. Mrs. Asher and her children move into the cottage near Mrs. Penny. She too has a husband who travels a lot. When Mrs. Asher sees a picture of Mrs. Penny’s husband she grows quiet and mysterious. They end the evening proclaiming they will become good friends. But that never happens, much to the disappointment of Mrs. Penny. The cottage is emptied virtually overnight. Mrs. Asher and her children disappear, never to be heard of again.

This ending left me stumped. The only solution that I can come up with is that Mrs. Penny’s husband leads a double life with Mrs. Asher. This might be why Mrs. Asher disappears after seeing the photograph of Mrs. Penny’s husband.

For this short story collection, I’d pair Fortnum’s Fortmason tea. The tea is black, strong and heavily infused with orange blossoms. You’ll need a strong tea to get through some of these (very excellent, some sweet, some bizarre) short stories.

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (The Other Bennet Sister)

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Normally I pair tea with books I’ve read. Today is an exception because I haven’t read The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow yet, but I will. I’m currently half-way through Square Haunting and am looking forward to picking up The Other Bennet Sister.

The Other Bennet Sister is about Mary Bennet, “an introvert in a family of extroverts.” Janice Hadlow gives Mary, the sister I’ve always found annoying, a voice in a story that’s over 600 pages long. So it’s definitely a tome to get lost in and forget the troubles around us. And boy do we have a lot of troubles right now. I’m looking forward to reading Mary’s story and getting to know her better.

I’m going to assume, this being a Jane Austen continuation, there is a wedding. If not Mary’s wedding, then at least someone else’s. Fortnum’s Wedding Breakfast Tea would pair well while reading this book. What do you think?

xoxo, Jane

PS. Speaking of tea, if you love tea as much as I do, then stop by my Instagram where I post about tea (and books and flowers).

Pairing books with tea (Persephone Biannually)

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During this anxious time we are living in, I wanted to soothe my spirit and the best way I do that is by organizing my bookshelves. Well, during the organization I re-discovered my old copies of the Persephone Biannually.

If you haven’t read this magazine by Persephone Books, then you are in for a treat. It’s a literary magazine written and published by Persephone Books, a publisher that focuses on republishing forgotten female (and a few male) authors.

The articles in the magazine focus on their authors, the story behind the books and interesting details about their famous endpapers. There is no charge for the magazine (at the time of this writing) and if you are interested in their books, then you can sign up to be added to their mailing list so they can ship the magazine to you.

Today, I’m pairing a tea with this wonderful literary magazine. Which tea shall we pair? How about Harney’s Citrus Blend? It’s a black tea with an orange flavor. Light and citrusy, perfect for an afternoon of magazine reading. Enjoy!

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (The Mistress of Spices)

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I read The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni many moons ago. I was a college student and reading literary novels and essays and the required literary criticism, like all good English majors do. But I was bored and found myself fighting to keep my eyes open after reading yet another western, white male writer. Not that there is anything wrong with reading white male writers. But my life seemed to be consumed by them and I could not relate to any of them or their stories. (Except for the part where they locked themselves away in their studies, you know, those studies that are filled with overflowing floor-to-ceiling bookcases, where they whiled away the hours writing, which I envied.)

I never stopped to think about why it was that I was only given male authors to study and I hope today it’s different at universities across the country. But when I read the first few lines of The Mistress of Spices I realized I was missing something in my life: women writers who wrote interesting stories about the nuances of life and provided a satisfactory happy ending.

The Mistress of Spices is one such book. The main character, Tilo, is trained from birth to understand the magic of the spices. When Tilo’s training is complete, she is ordained as a Mistress of Spices. Tilo is magically transported to Oakland, California where she practices her magic while running a spice shop. Although she is young and beautiful, she is placed inside the body of an elderly woman.

I am a Mistress of Spices. I can work the others too. Mineral, metal, earth and sand and stone. The gems with their cold clear light. The liquids that burn their hues into your eyes till you see nothing else. I learned them all on the island. But the spices are my love.

Through Tilo’s spices, and her new identity inhabiting the body of an elderly woman, she begins to live her destiny, which is to fix the lives of others.

Each chapter is named after a spice. For example, one of the chapters is titled “Fennel” because fennel is the “spice for Wednesdays, the day of averages, of middle-aged people.” Tilo orders a customer in an abusive marriage to take a pinch of fennel, promising her that it will give her mental strength for what she must do. Tilo doesn’t say anything else. After all, no one must know what or who she really is.

One day Tilo meets a man named Raven who looks into her eyes and sees exactly who she really is. Raven knows that she isn’t an old woman and slowly they begin to fall in love with each other.  However, this is against the rules for Tilo and falling in love causes a catastrophe. It’s a wonderful, magical story that has stayed with me all these years.

Which tea shall we pair with this book? I think a chai tea pairs best. Tilo would certainly approve of all the spices that go into this Chai tea by Fortnum & Mason (my favorite purveyor of teas).

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Let’s Bring Back)

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Descriptions: The Huffington Post’s “Let’s Bring Back…” columnist, Lesley M. M. Blume, invites you to consider whatever happened to cuckoo clocks? Or bed curtains? Why do we have so many “friends” but have done away with the much more useful word “acquaintance”? All of these things, plus hot toddies, riddles, proverbs, corsets, calling cards, and many more, are due for a revival. Throughout this whimsical, beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of nostalgia, Blume breathes new life into the elegant, mysterious, and delightful trappings of bygone eras, honoring the timeless tradition of artful living along the way. Inspired by her much loved column of the same name and featuring entries from famous icons of style and culture, Let’s Bring Back leads readers to rediscover the things that entertained, awed, beautified, satiated, and fascinated in eras past.

Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By written by Lesley M. M. Blume is a charming encyclopedia of things that should come back in style. Such as bows and curtsies or town criers. I wholeheartedly agree!

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With 240+ pages and clever illustrations of forgotten things, this book is a fun, leisurely read. I recommend reading a few pages over breakfast every day. As such, the tea to pair with this book might be a breakfast tea. I recommend Tokyo Breakfast Tea by Mariage Frères.

Coincidently, one of the things that should come back in style is Tea Time. The author quotes Henry James, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Ms. Blume ends this entry with a thought, “And yet we’ve swapped it out for dreary Starbucks runs.”

I hope you’ve been well!

xoxo, Jane

 

 

Pairing books with tea (Writers as Readers: A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics)

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Writers as Readers: A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics is a book I’d categorize as slow reading. A book to be enjoyed with the seasons, not to be read in one sitting from beginning to end. It’s a lovely collection of wonderful writers writing about other writers.

Some of the writers writing about writers are Angela Carter writing on Charlotte Brontë, A.S. Byatt writing on Willa Cather and Penelope Lively writing on Edith Wharton. It’s a beautiful hardback. I love owning it and reading the entries.

I’d pair this lovely book with a good cup of Fortnum’s Countess Grey. Countess Grey is ideal because of its light and delicate flavor, which makes it perfect for slow reading.

Countess Grey goes with so many good books, doesn’t it?

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl)

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Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier is my favorite “French girls” book! I’ve had my weather-beaten copy since 2003 and it’s what inspired my very first solo trip to Paris. Even if you’re tired of these types of books, please believe me this one is a must read.

Debra Ollivier lived in Paris for a decade before returning home to the US. So she feels quite confident writing about that elusive ‘je ne sais quoi’ and how the rest of us can attain it.

The book has chapters on how to look stylish, how to shop like a French woman and how to feel comfortable eating by yourself in a Parisian bistro. How French women style their hair (spoiler alert: they keep it classic and simple and don’t alter their hairstyles as the seasons change, the way we do in the US.) How French women don’t chat up strangers and give away all of their secrets. There are interesting sidebars of observations about French women and society, fun tips and interesting quotes to live by. At times it feels like you are chatting with your closest friend. Which is maybe why the book is titled Entre Nous, French for between us.

So, have I found my je ne sais quoi? Probably not. I’m an eternal klutz and my hair won’t ever behave, no matter how hard I work at keeping it tamed. I can’t seem to master French, no matter how many classes I take and I seem to talk too much and overshare with the lady at the deli counter (all verboten in the world of French women).

But none of this stops me from living my best life, reading good books, attempting to look somewhat chic and returning to Paris as time (and money) permits.  Oh, plus I enjoy eating alone in restaurants. So, perhaps it’s mission accomplished after all?

Forget tea! Honestly, I’d pair a glass of French wine with this book. Voila.

à la prochaine, Jane

Pairing books with tea (All The Time In The World)

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All The Time In The World by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins is inspired by the medieval book of hours. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, a book of hours is a “devotional book widely popular in the later Middle Ages. The book of hours began to appear in the 13th century, containing prayers to be said at the canonical hours in honour of the Virgin Mary. The growing demand for smaller such books for family and individual use created a prayerbook style enormously popular among the wealthy. The demand for the books was crucial to the development of Gothic illumination. These lavishly decorated texts, of small dimensions, varied in content according to their patrons’ desires.

All The Time In The World, complete with whimsical drawings and filled with fascinating anecdotes and witty articles, is meant for reflection and leisurely enjoyment. The entries are to be read slowly, with the passing seasons.

The more than seventy-five articles are cleverly divided by the hour of the day. The first article (6:00 AM) is about the circus and the last article  (5:00 AM) is about the songbirds waking you up at dawn. Fitting.

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I’d pair an herbal tea with this book. Particularly Twinings Buttermint. Sipping a nice, steaming cup of herbal tea is perfect while leisurely reading the entries.

So let me ask you this, which drink would you pair with your current read?

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (The Scarlet Pimpernel)

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Who is the Scarlet Pimpernel? He is an English aristocrat who makes it his mission to rescue French aristocrats from Madame la Guillotine. He doesn’t do this alone. He has a secret league of 19 aristocratic young men assisting him in snatching French aristocrats from certain death and escorting them to England.  The league is so secret that even the Scarlet Pimpernel’s wife doesn’t initially know about her husband’s alter ego.

The first book in the series, The Scarlet Pimpernel, was written in 1901 and became a play in 1903.

“They seek him here, they seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That demmed elusive Pimpernel”

Baroness Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel

Which tea goes well with The Scarlet Pimpernel? I think a French tea would be perfect. The Scarlet Pimpernel is so good at evading the French authorities and saving the aristocrats from right under the noses of the French authorities, that I can imagine him drinking a cup of French tea while silently laughing to himself. Paris Earl Grey by Mariage Frères would be perfect. What do you think?

Happy reading and happy tea-drinking!

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Sophie Kinsella’s Christmas Shopaholic)

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I recently read Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. It’s the latest in her hilarious Shopaholic series featuring the hijinks of Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) and I talked about it here.

Christmas Shopaholic was a lovely, funny and festive read. As you know, I love pairing books with tea and in honor of Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) this book should be paired with a good English tea, preferably at a proper Afternoon Tea. All while wearing an outfit Becky would be proud to wear.

Since Becky is a certified shopaholic, the perfect tea pairing is the Harrods Earl Grey. Becky spent countless hours shopping at Harrods so it makes sense to also fortify ourselves with Afternoon Tea at the Harrods tearoom before continuing our shopping expedition.

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Image via Harrods.

And you can’t go to Afternoon Tea without a Becky-approved outfit. Ok you probably could, but why not deck yourself out? I think dressing for occasions makes life more funner. (I know that funner is not a word…)

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My outfit at a recent Afternoon Tea. I wore a navy polka dot dress by Eliza J, pink shoes and my beloved Karl Lagerfeld quilted shoulder bag.

Also, because I’m not ready to let go of Becky’s world, I created a Pinterest board for this book and tea pairing. Hope you enjoy it!

xoxo, Jane

PS. You can also find me over at Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Pairing books with tea (Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight)

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This week’s tea and book pairing is for a very sweet story, Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole. It’s a short love story featuring Agnes Moor, a black woman who has a position at the court of King James IV (Scotland) as the “favorite.” The King and Queen consider her their “exotic.” But Agnes is so much more than just something to show off. She is extremely intelligent, brave, beautiful and poised. She also speaks Gaelic.

This story has it all. There is a jousting tournament, a knight in shining armor (known as “The Wild Knight”) and a happily ever after. This is an interracial romance set in the Scottish Highlands and it’s really a must-read because I don’t know of any other story like it, plus the character Agnes Moor is inspired by a real woman.

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Tea image via Fortnum & Mason.

It was fun to decide which tea to pair with this book. I think Fortnum’s Breakfast Blend goes well with this story because Breakfast Tea was first blended in Edinburgh* and the story is set in Scotland.

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

*Queen Victoria enjoyed drinking this blend during her trips to Scotland and it soon became popular in England.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane