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Tea and Books: Cozy Fall Pairings

Ariana Salvo was born in the United States, and spent sixteen years of her childhood on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. She moved to Prince Edward Island to do her master’s degree in Island Studies, fell in love with the tightly knit community, and has never left. When not writing, she can be found exploring art at galleries around the world, flower farming, traveling to remote islands, hiking and taking photos of the wild natural landscapes of Canada’s eastern shore, teaching English to international students and reading historical fiction with a good cup of tea.

By Ariana Salvo

It’s late fall on Prince Edward Island. Apple picking has ended, the wood has been chopped and piled ready for winter, and we’ve gathered to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving at tables overflowing with the bounty of another growing season. Deciduous trees are in full blaze, turning our clay heritage roads into tunnels of colour and golden light, and as night temperatures begin to dip below freezing, we finally have a little more time to curl up by the fire with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Some love to pair wine and cheese. Others enjoy coffee and chocolate. I’m a tea and book-pairing gal myself! This is my third tea and book pairing post for Lady Baker’s Tea. You can check out my summer pairings list here and some winter recommendations here. For those of you looking for some fun fall sip and read combos, here are five to check out:

  1. Magpie Murders* by Anthony Horowitz & Cream Earl Grey 

 Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders is based on one of the most interesting premises I have come across in a while. The story takes place in England, and alternates between a fictional murder mystery set in the 1950s, and a real murder mystery set in modern day. The two stories are tied together by the character Susan Ryeland, a book editor tasked with publishing the latest and final book in bestselling author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd mystery series. As we become better acquainted with Conway’s world and characters the distinction between fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurry. Ultimately Ms. Ryeland is called upon to put her crime novel editing skills to practical use when she realizes that the fictional stories may well hold the clues to solving a real murder mystery.

This book is best enjoyed while sipping a cup of Lady Baker’s Cream Earl Grey  tea. This is a coppery-coloured Sri Lanka tea enhanced with oil of bergamot and cornflower petals. Cream Earl Grey pairs perfectly with this novel because even though there is no dairy added to this tea, it tastes like it has cream in it, which makes it incredibly luxurious and indulgent without appearing to be. A reminder that often appearances can be deceiving!  

  1. Midnight at the Blackbird Café  by Heather Webber and Organic Blooming Blueberry

This is the first book I have ready by Heather Webber. It is a light, fun and cozy read about Anna Kate Callow, a young woman who returns to the small town of Wicklow, Alabama after her grandmother’s death to settle her affairs and close her restaurant, a popular local establishment called The Blackbird Café famous for its pies, a slice of which is reputed to give people the ability to receive messages from their deceased loved ones through their dreams. What is intended to be a whirlwind visit turns into an invitation to learn more about her family roots and what it feels like to belong in a community. As she gets to know the place more intimately she discovers that every success is sprinkled with a little bit of magic. The story line is fairly predictable, but it does remind us as readers that just because we stop believing in magic it doesn’t mean that it ceases to exit.

 I would pair this book with Lady Baker’s Organic Blooming Blueberry tea  because I think it would accentuate the secret ingredients and magic in every slice of pie served at The Blackbird Café. This blend combines black teas from China and Sri Lanka with Rooibos from South Africa, calendula petals, hibiscus and Prince Edward Island Blueberries. Deeply aromatic, a cup of this will make you feel like you’re standing in the middle of a blueberry field on a late summer’s day!           

  1. Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts & Organic Keemun

 Beyond the Trees is an incredible work of non-fiction by Adam Shoalts that describes a 4,000km solo journey that he undertook from west to east across Canada’s arctic by foot and canoe in 2017. Starting in Eagle Plains, Yukon Territory, and ending in Baker Lake, Nunavut, Shoalts traverses ice floes, rivers, lakes and wetlands, traveling against the flow of some of Canada’s most powerful rivers for hundreds of kilometres. Along the way he moves through pristine arctic ecosystems and has intimate encounters with wolves, bears, muskox and an endless diversity of birds. That he considered taking this trip alone at all astonished me. That he completed it successfully is miraculous. This book is a gift because it enables us as readers into a world that most of us would never otherwise experience. I am not generally a non-fiction lover, but I am keeping this one on my bookshelf to read again next time I need to be reminded that the only real limitation in life is our own imagination.

This book should definitely be read while enjoying a steaming mug of Organic Keemun. This is my favourite Lady Baker’s black tea to start the day with. Earthy and slightly grassy, it has a lovely burgundy hue and a rich aroma that I find deeply grounding and centering. There is something about it that takes me back to the essentials, which is what Shoalts did when he headed off into the Canadian arctic on his solo adventure. I like it with a dollop of local honey and a splash of milk.        

  1. All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny & Darjeeling 

This is the latest in a long and successful series of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books, and starting at the end of a series generally is not the best approach, but I’m actually happy that I chose All the Devils are Here to be my first Louise Penny novel. It was pure chance that this was my first, but this one hits a number of targets for me: First, it’s set in Paris, and does an excellent job of taking full advantage of its setting. I really felt the satisfaction of traipsing around Paris, getting to enjoy the architecture, history and even the arrogance of the Parisians. Second, the characters are all well-developed and engaging. Penny has had time to really explore the multi-layered complexity of family dynamics. I felt equally invested in all of her characters. And lastly, the plot was gripping and maintained just the right amount of tension from page one. If you feel like a murder mystery that you can sink your teeth into and enter another world, this is one to pick up.

I’m not sure if this novel was written to be sipped with a fine cup of Darjeeling  or if Darjeeling was (unbeknownst to its original cultivators) created so that it could be enjoyed with this book, but whichever it is, these two are a match made in heaven. Darjeeling is known as the champagne of teas because of its mild astringency and lovely floral scent. This is a second flush Darjeeling from northern India with subtle currant and spicy notes. If you enjoy tea with milk feel free to add a splash, but to be honest, just like Paris, the sophisticated flavours of this tea are best appreciated without any additions at all!  

  1. My Last Continent  by Midge Raymond & London Fog 

This is a story about the tenuousness of both love and the fragile balance that supports the wild beauty of the Antarctic. Midge Raymond explores the powerful ways that place shapes not only individual identity but also the intensity and quality of connection between living things, and how humans and animals in turn shape and re-shape place. She does this by telling the love story of two wildlife researchers (Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan) who have been brought together by their shared interest in Emperor and Adelie penguins, and by sharing the story of the Antarctic and the wildlife to whom it is home. Raymond weaves the human love story through a much bigger picture that asks us to reflect on where we draw the line between our desire to explore, study and learn, and the preservation of Antarctica for its own wellbeing. The vividness with which she captures the unique beauty of Antarctica underlines the question: does our desire to better understand the natural world justify subjecting it to human interference that may undermine its existence?

This novel pairs perfectly with a cup of Lady Baker’s London Fog. 

From the deck of the vessels that Deb and Keller use to get to Antarctica passengers often experience mirages called fata morgana that seem to emerge out of thin air and then disappear again into the whiteness, as if into Fog. Lady Baker’s London Fog is a blend of Cream Earl Grey, Vanilla Almond Rooibos and Lady Baker TLC. It is creamy with or without milk, and the vanilla will linger on your palate long after you finish the cup!

These are my fall tea and book recommendations. If you do try any of them out please let me know what you think in the comments section below!  

*Though the book links above lead to Amazon, Ariana and the Lady Baker's Team would like to encourage you to seek out local bookstores in your area.

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1 comment

Barb

I LOVE this tea commentary. Tea and book pairing- what a wonderful idea. Looking forward to another instalment.

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