tea for two and two books for you

Curling up with a good book and a strong, fragrant cup of tea sounds like a great way to spend some time… It’s probably not a coincidence that tea shows up in several of my clients’ books. In fact the following passage was one of many evocative scenes in Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon that kept me reading:


Adoulla leaned his face farther over the small bowl and inhaled deeply, needing its aromatic cure for the fatigue of life. The spicy-sweet cardamom steam enveloped him, moistening his face and his beard, and for the first time that groggy morning he felt truly alive.

And, courtesy of M.K. Hutchin’s blog, here’s a recipe: Cardamon Tea from Throne of the Crescent Moon

Tea makes a decided showing in Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts (coming out next week!) as well. Considering her well-known admiration for the beverage, this is not surprising.

Samarkar took the celadon porcelain tea bowl Payma placed in her hands and bowed her head over it. She could see at a glance the two or three wilted, translucent flower petals that rolled in the depths of the clear greeny-amber fluid. Sweetened with rose jam, in just the idiosyncratic manner Samarkar preferred when it was not served as a meal.

So, in celebration of tea, I am giving away a hardcover copy of Saladin’s Throne of the Crescent Moon and an ARC of Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts to one lucky tea devotee.

To enter: comment here about your most memorable cup of tea or visit to a tea house or favorite flavor of tea (please share details!)…

Contest runs from now until Friday, March 23rd, 5pm Eastern. One comment entry per person.

52 responses to “tea for two and two books for you

  1. Once upon a time, there was a girl who caught a cold and then couldn’t seem to shake it. Week after week, she kept coughing until one day she coughed so hard she broke her ribs.

    Then she discovered Celestial Seasonings Throat Soothers tea, and lo! It stopped the dreadful cough!

    She went up onto the internet to research the wonderous and miraculous qualities of her new tea, and realized that any kind of fennel tea would help keep her from coughing.

    And she drank fennel tea happily ever after.

  2. I love tea. I get mine from uptontea.com. I’ve been on a decaf kick for a few years and they have a great selection. My favorite is Apricot with Flowers, but the Sweet Orange is a close second.

  3. As a teenager, I started taking Japanese classical dance lessons. As I grew older, my lessons expanded to tea ceremony. I loved learning the nuances of each movement and the deliberateness of not only preparing the tea, but preparing the cup to receive the tea.

    I currently drink Jasmine and any variation of green tea.

  4. Oh, and I forgot to mention that if I ever get around to writing my second novel (still slogging through the first one), it will center around conversations held in a tea room.

  5. I love, love, love the Blue Flower Earl Grey at Tealuxe in Boston.

  6. I still remember the first time I had pu-erh tea at the Tao of Tea in Portland. A perfect ball of compacted, aged leaves, giving up their earthy, smokey flavour to fire and water, contained in the microcosm of a teacup. *sighs* Beautiful.

  7. My most memorable cup of tea is from my stay at a bed & breakfast in Victoria, B.C. on my anniversary, being able to walk into the library, sit next to a roaring fire with a good book and having the tea of my choice (in this case it was licorice) to calm my nerves. So relaxing!

    My favorite flavor of tea changes daily, but right now it is a vanilla white tea from Good Earth. When I can get it, I have a friend from Kenya who brings me a giant bag of loose leaf chai.

  8. My current favorite go to tea is Halmari Estate Assam, but I can be a bit of a traditionalist.

    My favorite tea memories involve my two sons really discovering the joy of tea. The best was when my younger and I went to a Chinese tea shop and the woman behind the counter sat him down and taught him the steps to drinking his tea properly. He fell in love.

  9. I make an absolutely wonderful 2-layer green tea cake with green tea infused frosting. You’ve never loved tea so much until you’ve had it in cake form!

  10. Recently, I attended a ryokucha (“green tea”) seminar held by representatives from the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, which currently produces about 45% of Japan’s tea production, and which is also on the cutting edge of scientific research on the health benefits of green tea. We learned of the history and culture of green tea.

    For example, we learned that in the 12th century, a Buddhist monk brought green tea seeds from China to Japan. Initially, tea was viewed more as a medicine and was primarily restricted to the nobility, but by the 16th century, tea drinking had begun to spread to the common people.

    We also learned how to properly prepare green tea, noting that different types required different water temperatures and steeping times. We tasted a few different green teas, including Sencha (“roasted tea”) and Genmaicha (green tea with rice). Overall, it was a fascinating glimpse into such a larger world of tea than many realize exist.

  11. I live within walking distance of an extraordinary tea-seller. I’ve never been anywhere like Tea Trader. It’s not a tea shop. There’s nowhere to sit and buy a cup of tea and drink it with some pastries. you get tea measured out in a plain brown paper bag and take it home.

    I’m devoted. I haven’t been in a tea house since. My staple India tea is an Assam blend. I use it to make masala chai, a blend that I buy from an extraordinary spice shop in the same neighborhood. I simmer water with the whole spices, bring it up to nearly a boil, and then steep the spice simmered water in a pot with Colonel’s Assam. It’s a rare event because of the time and the expense, so I usually save it for when I have a guest.

    Or a book I’ve been *dying* to read ever since I heard about it.

  12. I already have both those books! But I can’t resist talking about this. I was in Lincoln, and halfway up the very steep hill on top of which sits the cathedral – it’s called Steep Hill – is a tea-shop, Imperial Teas. And I needed to know (for a book I was writing) when tea made its way down the Silk Road from China to Istanbul, so I went in to see if they knew – and the guy behind the counter? Is an elf. He is my tea-elf. He has long dark hair that could easily be hiding pointed ears, and he has one of those ageless faces – he might be ten years older than me or ten years younger, or neither of those – and he gives a wonderful impression of walking more lightly on the earth than we mere mortals do. And we talk for half an hour about tea and the history of tea, and he lets me drink from his cup, where he is drinking a white Tea of Life. And I have been drinking that ever since…

  13. A luncheon at a restaurant isn’t complete without a cup of Earl Grey tea. I tried Earl Grey after reading about it, and found I liked it very much, and it’s perfect after a meal.

    If I had someone to make it for me and bring it to me (and remind me to not let it get cold) I’d drink more tea, but even when I do make it I get distracted and it grows cold.

  14. Memorable cup of tea?

    I am, if you forgive me, Jenn, go old school and virtual to give you an answer, because it amuses me.

    The classic Infocom text adventure game “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” has, as part of its plot, tea.

    You start the game holding the object “no tea”. If you do obtain tea, real tea, you wind up dropping “no tea” and picking up “tea”. You can also get nasty fake tea which doesn’t let you do this.

    Real tea in the game lets you do lots of things with the Improbability Drive. Even better, the plot of the game requires you become able to hold “tea” and “no tea” in your inventory at the same time…

    How? Are there spoilers for a 20 year old game, I wonder?

    But that was my most memorable encounter with tea.

  15. My favourite is traditional English tea. You can’t beat sitting down after a long day and having a cup of tea in your favourite chipped cup. You have your feet up and the door open letting in a gentle breeze as you listen to the birds sing. Just sit back and relax. It’s truly magical.

  16. Oh, i’m from England so i hope this is international?

  17. My most memorable cup of tea was a chocolate and chili tea a friend brought over for me to try. When the tea had steeped long enough, the miniature chocolate chips melted away and blended perfectly with the chili powder. The taste was this warm, rich decadence that was slightly reminiscent of high quality hot chocolate, but not as thick.

  18. I am in love with Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea. It’s sweet and soothing.

  19. I’m very much a ‘black tea’ girl, as I’ve been drinking it since childhood. (Though I suspect what I drank then was more earl-grey-flavoured sugar water with a bit of milk). I’ve tried green and white and rooibus and all the tisanes, and I like them well enough, I default to strong-steeped black, maybe spiced, maybe not, with a bit of honey (or maple syrup!) and milk, not cream. While these days I tend to favour English Breakfast types, I’m not too picky; during the part of the pregnancy where I was steadfastly avoiding caffeine, I usually preferred to go with the weak and often poor-flavoured black teas the majority of days over the tisanes. OTOH, I have learned why to favour loose over bagged tea.

    However, some of the best tea we ever had was our first visit to a small Afghan restaurant in Regina, Saskatchewan. It’s a variant of chai, but distinct enough from Indian chai to be its own. The second time we were there (it’s an essential stop when my husband and I drive west; Winnipeg has one of the highest restaurant-per-capita rates and we still don’t have anything like it) they skimped a bit on the spices, but it was still pleasant. When we came back the next day for lunch, it was more like itself. Mmmmm…

  20. I love tea and books! Hmmm- I have about 25 different loose teas here at work, and my favorite varies. I’d say one of my reoccuring favorites is the Aubrey Rose house blend. The Aubrey Rose is a lovely tea house in La Mesa, CA. They have their own blended tea and will not say what’s in it! Whatever it is, it’s wonderful (a lightly favored black tea with flower petals).

    I try to go to tea at least every few months, and each time is special. The Aubrey Rose is owned by a couple who like to come by and make sure everything is wonderful. They also encourage you to really stay and relax while you’re there. There is also a nearby more “casual” tea house…hmmm- ya know…I may be just be a tea addict ;).

  21. Tea! I love tea! I have a ridiculous amount of canisters of it, and I’m quite surprised right now I’ve never given it a role in any of my books.

    I’ve got three favorite teas at the moment: an almond milk (black) tea, a raspberry/pomegranate green tea, and a rooibos with apple, lemon, and pomegranate bits. My favorite tea experience, though, is a trip with friends to a tucked-away tea shop in LA where I tried a tea with chocolate for the first time. The flavors blended together more nicely and were less heavy than I had imagined and feared. Paired with little grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato bisque, it was quite a fun and lovely experience.

  22. Melissa Burkart

    On a hot, hot Japanese summer day–oh, a handful of years ago, now–I hopped on a bus outward bound from Kyoto. A rickety old bus that should have retired decades ago, though the white-and-tan showed neither dirt nor sun bleaching. A group of us rode that bus for an hour as it twisted and wended its way through the mountains, to its final stop: a tiny village nestled in a narrow valley, where the heat broke in the shade and even the cicadas grew lazy.

    There, we met a master of tea ceremony. He explained the deep ritual as we experienced it. We drank bitter green tea from bowls both ugly and beautiful–one used by the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu–and discussed Japanese aesthetics over summer sweets.

    (But I also have to recommend a hop down the nearest rabbit hole in NYC: http://alicesteacup.com/)

  23. I’m an avid tea drinker, and the most memorable tea experiences are the wonderful flavors – and sometimes the most unpleasant. Growing up, my tea was fairly ordinary: plain tea, or sometimes Celestial Seasons (lemon zinger) or some berry tea that didn’t really taste much of berries.

    My first hint at luscious flavors was in The Russian Tea Room. It wasn’t the tea itself that so amazed me, but the cherry jam used to add sweetness and depth of flavor.

    Now, I enjoy all sorts of teas. Loose teas are my favorite: a roiboos creme caramel that wafts dessert, tangerine dream with bits of dried fruit. I admire the beauty of flower tea blooming in a glass cup or pot.

    The most unpleasant tea memory? At a Japanese tea ceremony, trying sencha tea for the first time. Not knowing what to expect, I was reminded of fresh mown grass. Perhaps if I were more of a horse-lover, I would enjoy that tea more.

  24. My favorite tea was called “Carob Mocha” by Yogi tea company. Unfortunately, they discontinued that flavor long, long ago. When I realized the power of the web, and still some number of years after they discontinued it, I contacted Customer Service, and asked if they would send me the recipe, or even the ingredient list. They sent the ingredient list. Recently I sat down with the ingredient list and reverse engineered the tea. It came out fabulously well, and I can once again enjoy this tea whenever I like.

  25. My husband and I were visiting our friends Carol and Matt, and Carol, who is an avid tea-drinker, mentioned she had some raspberry leaf tea. “It’s really good during pregnancy,” she said, gesturing to her six-months-pregnant belly. Not long after, the conversation turned to dinner and the cooking alcohol they planned to use in it. “I’m not worried about it, since the small amount of alcohol isn’t really a concern in the third trimester,” she said.

    My husband and I exchanged glances, and I said, “Uh, what about the first trimester?”

    Matt got it immediately and congratulated us. Carol blinked a couple of times and said, “You’re pregnant?!” And then, after hugs, “Now I’m making us both that tea!”

  26. When I was very young I had a bout of stomach virus, and when I was through the worst of it my mother gave me buttered toast and “French tea” for my first meal, a concoction of diluted milk with lots of sugar. It turns out that the sweet diluted milk was recommended by the pediatrician, but the name was my mother’s invention.

    To this day, lightly steeped black tea with lots of milk and sugar is my comfort drink, whether I’m nursing a queasy stomach, anxiously waiting for something, or repairing a broken heart. It still reminds me that Mom, who died (can it be already?) seven years ago last month, used her creativity to make even recovering from illness a little bit fun.

  27. When I was a wrestler in high school and college tea was a source of comfort for an empty stomach. You see I wrestled at 142 pounds and cutting weight as we called it was something I did that would always make my dad say, “If I didn’t feed you they’d put me in jail.” Some thirty years later no one would mistake me for a 142 pounder.

    At some point I found the best tea I’ve ever tasted from Boston’s Tea Company, based out of New Jersey. I know it makes no sense to me either. It was a perfect blend of Indian tea and ginseng and was so smooth it allowed me to tolerate working in an insufferable cube. Every morning the ginseng had a way of calming the day. My grocery store stopped supplying the tea some time ago so I bought it on the internet by the case until the company was sold and now I can no longer find it. I still have a box for emergencies.
    In my books I use a mixture of oolong tea and ginseng to induce an almost magical abundance of strength and energy. Like Popeye and spinach except it tastes better.

    Now I’ve settled on Prince of Wales tea which has a nice comforting taste. I also drink Darjeeling tea, initially because it just sounded cool. From what my Indian friend has told me it comes from a mountain region in India.

    Tea is the best company on a cold evening when you have that book that you can’t put down or in the morning to help face the day. Tea is the elixir of life.

  28. During the final year of my physics degree I would curl up in an armchair with a pot of jasmine green tea and a book on Quantum Mechanics to study. I told my Grandma, who gave me the money for the tea, that it had cleared my mind to enable me to get a first class honours. She came back to me a week later saying that she had tried the eta – it was a lovely taste, but she still didn’t understand physics!

    To this day Jasmine Green has a special place in my life, and of course so does my Grandma.

  29. I grew up thinking tea meant black tea, usually Constant Comment with plenty of milk, served in the afternoon with cookies. But when I was in high school, my choir took a mini-tour from Central California up to Seattle. We wound up at the famous Fish Market on a cold, drizzly winter morning. Desperate to warm up, I ducked into the first cafe I saw – and found myself looking at a massive blackboard that stretched from one side of the tiny shop to the other, with a list of more teas and tisanes than I ever knew existed.

    Constant Comment was not on the menu.

    There was no line and the clerk was looking at me expectantly. So I picked the first thing I recognized. “Peppermint, please,” I said and $1.55 later I had a steaming white paper cup. Milk didn’t seem like the thing so I tipped in a couple packets of sugar and went outside to wait for it to cool. On the crowded street a fiddler was braving the elements in a colorful peasant blouse and skirt, her only nod to the present era a sign on her coffee can tip jar suggesting $2 as the proper recompense for pictures. I tossed in a buck and stood there a while, my hands wrapped around the cup, letting the tea warm me inside and out.

    Nowadays I still drink Constant Comment, though I prefer chai lattes. But every now and then, when the sky is extra drizzly, I’ll have a cup of peppermint tea with two sugars and think about Seattle.

  30. I’ve been nursing a chamomile tea habit for the past several months with a generous helping of honey. It’s become a fixed part of my nightly routine and without a doubt my hot beverage of choice. Unfortunately I’m too new on the tea bandwagon to have too many compelling tea memories.

  31. My favorite tea was a Celestial Seasonings tea called “Bali Black Raspberry.” It was so tasty, but they discontinued it. My second favorite is Tazo Joy tea, a mix of black, green, and a little oolong; it’s a seasonal tea sold only at Christmas. When I ran out, I was able to make a mix that closely resembled that. Yay!

  32. I’ve never been a huge tea guy, but I’m horribly addicted Iced Green Tea in all its lovely forms. Simply cannot get enough of that stuff. Clearly, I need to branch out and look around. All the comments have me salivating.

  33. I’m one of the few Seattleites who doesn’t drink coffee. I joke that since I was born and raised here I don’t need the caffeine jolt to deal with the eternally gray skies. One of my favorite herbal teas is called “Evening in Missoula”, allowing one to say “There is nothing so relaxing as an Evening in Missoula”. It’s true.

    My most memorable cup of tea was in Scotland. My husband is a member of the Clan Hannay, and we were in Scotland visiting Ramsay Hanna, the 80-year-old Clan Chief. He was a sweet old man and showed us around his estate (quite impressive!) and then invited us for tea and biscuits. I discovered that since I was the only woman there, I was expected to serve the tea! I think (hope) it was meant to be an honor.

  34. My most memorable cup of tea was in China. I was there to teach English for a month on a pilot summer camp program. When we signed up to go on the trip, we were going to be teaching elementary school students. By the time we got there, they local education minister had decided the students hadn’t learned enough that year and extended the school year by two weeks, so instead we were now going to be teaching… college professors from the host university. Two weeks after that, we were switched to teaching doctors and nurses at the university hospital. Needless to say, we were kind of stressed.

    But then the wonderful liaison from the hospital administrative office took us to a tea house for brunch on the weekend. We sat in a room overlooking the city’s famous lily-pad-covered lake with a pagoda on a little island out in the middle and ate dim sum and watched our “blossoming tea” balls open in clear glasses by our plates. The men and the women were served different kinds of tea with different flowers to watch unfold. It was colorful, relaxing, and one of the few completely unstressful memories I have from that trip.

  35. Long before the vicelike grip of suburban life caught hold, I spent a month in India climbing around the Himalayas. Not the bunny slope version, mind you. This was the starkly beautiful, wild and volatile region pinched between Pakistan and China. Bluest of thin-air skies and craggy grey mountains.

    …oh, and yak butter tea.

    My two quests on the trip were to tie one on with the native guides drinking chang (local moonshine) and to sip yak butter tea with Buddhist monks. We’ll save the chang story for another book giveaway.

    Have you ever seen a yak up close? Huge, shaggy beasts with snot-frothed snouts and long pointy horns. They are bad-tempered as all hell, too. I’m not sure how one milks such a creature, but it helps to make yak butter tea all the more primal.

    The monastery itself was small – maybe 20 monks in total. Far from any civilization and no electricity. I walked through a small, dark stone hall where thousands of feet before me had worn grooves in the floor. There were even grooves worn where the monks kneeled in prayer. It weighed on me that this place existed 2,000 years before my country was even discovered.

    I sat in a sunlit corner with five monks sharing only smiles, nods and gestures due to the language differences. Their robes were lovely and fit so well with the environment. I felt embarrassed in my hi-tech shorts, branded tee and awkward inability to sit cross-legged. The yak butter tea was heating on a sooty stand over a dried ‘something’ fire. Pointing “What’s that fuel?” Lots of full smiles and laughter. “Yak shit” came the eventual cobbled-English reply. Incredible – couldn’t ask for anything better.

    Much of the yak butter tea taste was drowned by the richness of the overall experience. People describe subtle ‘notes’ of flavors in wines or teas. This was more like music made by a trio of tuba, gong and base drum. The single note of hot liquid YAK BUTTER…worked. My tea drinking companions smiled, nodded and slurped theirs in unison. And life was good.

  36. I’ll always remember genmaicha at a Japanese restaurant on a really cold winter’s day. I held the cup in my hands, the heat seeped deep into my palms, then I touched my husband’s cheek, laying my hand on his skin. See, tea spreads warmth.

  37. My tastes are simple, and my favorite tea is green tea with spearmint and honey. The clean, fresh notes of the mint contrast beautifully against the mild bite of the tea, and with just enough honey to accentuate the flavors, it really sings.

    It had been a long night. Looking out the window, snow was whirling outside, and the darkness and wind created the illusion of a house caught up in a storm. I half expected to touch down in Oz at any moment, and idly hoped to myself that the weather would be better there. I’d been keeping warm with a blanket, my dog, and one glass of whiskey too many. The pleasant fuzziness of alcohol set in, and after the initial wave of solitary chair-dancing and terrible lip-syncing to James Brown in my livingroom (much to the confusion and consternation of my canine companion, who peered out at me sideways from beneath the blanket, a bit of concern for my mental health apparent in his eyes), I decided I needed to write. So I picked up a pencil and a notebook and began writing down every idea that came to me. Before long, the hours wore thin. I drifted off to sleep with notebook in hand, and that hazy place between late night and early morning floated in over me.

    Morning came and went without alerting me, and when I awoke (miraculously not hung over), the better part of noon had already melted away with the previous evening’s snow. It was still cold enough outside to freeze love in your heart, so I went to prepare my cup of tea almost entirely on auto-pilot, relishing the first sip of hot tea as its warmth bloomed through my chest, and sat down to see what I’d written in the notebook. Most of the ideas were rubbish, and the good ones were largely recycled from things I’d recently seen or read. I traded sips of tea with strikethroughs until only one idea remained unsullied on the page.

    That one idea seemed interesting, if not terribly remarkable. I settled into writing mode and began creating characters and outlining. I expected I’d probably get a 8,000 word story out of the concept, but as I sat there, typing and drinking tea, I realized it was growing. It quickly snapped its bounds, and before long, I’d decided to expand it to a novelette.

    Now, weeks later, that initial idea has become one of the core concepts of a four-book epic fantasy series that I plan to begin drafting within the next month or so. The cup of tea didn’t seem memorable at the time, but in retrospect, it was a truly monumental beverage. It was there at the birth of an idea that has become immensely important to me, and it seems somehow oddly intertwined with the idea itself. In a way, the tea is in the story; the heat from the cup sinking into fingers that then typed the words, the mild caffeine edge easing me into a clarity that aided inspiration, the gentle scent of the mint in the air. You might even say that the story is steeped in that tea, haha. I’ve put more work into this concept than anything I’ve ever worked on, and I’m only just beginning, and a cup of tea was intrinsically part of that genesis. The usual cup, nothing different or special about it, and yet in this circumstance, retrospective memory lends it something undefinable that was almost certainly not infused from the leaves.

    Perhaps not an exciting story, and almost certainly not significant to anyone but me, but memorable all the same.

  38. For a long time I didn’t actually like any kind of tea that I couldn’t sugar copiously; but a friend sent me a tin of jasmine green tea, and I would make a cup of tea almost every day just so I could hunch over it and breathe in the fragrance. The tension would roll right out of my muscles and my head would clear. It was fantastic.

    Now I love all kinds of tea, especially jasmine green, and I get to sip it while I enjoy the fragrance. Even better!

  39. The best cup of tea I ever had came to me in a glass cup amidst the backstreets of Granada. It was sort of happenstance that I ended up there at all – I was in college, and exchange student studying in southern Spain, and we had just finished a tour of the Alhambra. My friends and I were wandering winding cobbled alleys between narrow buildings when we came upon a tea shop and sat down. The glass cup had no handle, but was etched with Moorish designs. Steam rose into the dry spring air. I had to wait several minutes to touch it, and when I could finally bring it to my lips the taste that exploded on my tongue was so far beyond tea that I swear it made me see colors.

    I still am not entirely sure what that tiny cup contained, but I have always regretted not buying tea supplies in Granada, and though I have tried what seems like a thousand mixtures, I’ve never tasted anything like it again.

  40. What a fantastic giveaway! I’ll add my vote for tea: Silk Road is my very favourite, and the third one down here is the best (Angelwater):


  41. I have to pick just one?! Hmmm.
    Old favorite: mango Ceylon
    Writing tea: honeybush
    ‘Austin allergies are killing me’ tea: rose hip hibiscus

  42. The most memorable cup of tea I had was when I was the most miserable. My mother gave me a steaming hot cup of organic peppermint tea to settle my stomach all the while chastising me for eating too many raw peppers.

    My 4 year old niece was playing with her dolls on the floor by the couch I was laying on. I dozed off and a few minutes later awoke and drank my tea. It had a metallic taste to it, but I drank it anyway, if only to appease my mother.

    I almost finished when I heard a clink in cup and found three pennies at the bottom. They were courtesy of my little niece who’d found spare change under the couch and dropped them in my tea when I fell asleep. I will never forget the taste of that tea and to this day we still talk about the day I drank “peppermint penny” tea for the first time.

    Btw, just started Throne of the Crescent Moon two days ago with, ironically, a cup of peppermint tea at my side!

  43. I end every day with a cup of orange and cinnamon tea. Once, last winter, I ran out unexpectedly, and had to find a different solution. I made apple tea, added powdered cinnamon, and squeezed a fresh orange. The final result conjured all kinds of beautiful things in my mind, from warm hearths to pristine snowscapes. It was an almost spiritual experience — and one I haven’t dared to try and repeat since, because I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to get all the ingredients in the right balance again.

  44. My favorite flavor of tea is currently a tie. For hot tea I like Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane because it has more interesting flavors than regular peppermint.

    But for iced tea I pretty much live on Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange. Luckily I was raised in a family where iced tea was the standard drink (as opposed to soda). Since there is a history of diabetes in my family I’m always looking for teas with enough flavor to drink without any form of sweetener. Both of these teas meet that standard as well, if not better, than the closet full of teas I have from Tevana.

  45. My boyfriend and I had been dating for just under a year when he surprised me with a present for Valentine’s Day. In previous relationships, Valentines was a day to dread, often ending in elaborate break up schemes and confused apologies. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the present contained knock out gas, perhaps a smoke bomb so he could make his escape.

    However, I’m one of those people who opens presents slowly, savoring every piece of tape and every knot in ribbons. It drives him crazy, being the sort of person who devours presents the zest and vim, exploding in a confetti of wrapping paper. I take the wrapping paper off slowly, revealing the present by inches.

    I found a box, perhaps nine inches, maybe larger. It was gilt with Chinese ideograms and tantalizing promise. A stretchy ribbon held it closed, and I inched it off, not wanting to jostle the contents.

    Lifting the lid, I found, not a mysterious and convoluted escape plan but rather the largest cake of Pu-erh I had ever seen in my life. It nestled in the gold silk like the promise of ever dream, every delicious promise come true. I moved the little wooden tongs from the box carefully and lifted the box to my nose, inhaling the vibrant scent of the tea.

    I forgot to thank him as profusely as I should have, placing the tea carefully on the counter and racing to set the kettle on and get the teapot ready. Only after the kettle was whistling did I thank him, and thank him again for the best Valentine’s Day present ever. The tea was perfect, dark and earthy warming my soul as it did my body against the February cold.

    We’re still together and I still savor that tea, working my way through the immense cake.

  46. My favorite tea is Mountain Spring Jasmine from Mighty Leaf, although I love every tea they sell. The sent is light and sweet. I slow down every time I brew a cup just to breathe it in. They put the brew time on the individual bags, which makes them a beautiful hostess gift. And I get downright giddy for an ARC!

  47. between4walls

    Apple Cinnamon herbal tea is the best remedy for a sore throat, especially with honey mixed in. It tastes like a lighter cider with more extra flavors.

  48. I don’t think I could pick a single favorite tea – I have different teas for different weather, different moods. Green, black, red, and white tea, with only the occasional touch of honey. The only kind of tea I don’t like is Earl Grey.

    My most memorable cup of tea was nearly eight year ago. I woke up to chaos – the house was on fire. Everyone got out safely and the damage limited to the garage and the roof. I was sitting in our neighbor’s kitchen in a state of shock when my dad brought me my glasses and the cup of Ginger Peach tea I had made the night before and forgotten about. It was cold, and tasted of the smoke. A few months later the neighbor returned that tea cup full of fresh flowers.

  49. Teresa Shillingford

    When my daughter was four years old, we would lay a blanket on the kitchen floor and have a tea party for two. Ten years later, I committed to writing my YA Fantasy novel in November 2010 and took Kaitlyn to Pinkadilly Tea at Smythe’s Tavern to talk about my plans. She is a veracious reader and I was curious what she would think. We shared Lady Londonderry tea and warm scones while I told her my storyline. Her enthusiastic reception and our private mother/daughter and writer/reader moment is something I will never forget.

  50. Hope i’m not too late to get entered?

    I think i like smelling and buying tea more than i like drinking it. There is a wonderful teashop in my town, they sell loose tea, and you are allowed (and encouraged!) to open jars and smell the lovely tea leaves that are found inside. I love going there and smelling and buying and being around everything there.

    but when it comes down to it, I’m a coffee girl.

  51. Pingback: winner, tea for two | Et in arcaedia, ego.

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