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Steeped to Perfection: 11 Divine Book and Tea Pairings

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

In the cold winter months, few things are better than curling up on the couch with a steaming mug of tea and a good book. But what tea will best enhance the experience of reading your book? These eleven book and tea pairings will keep you cozy and entertained until spring.


The Queen of the Night
by Alexander Chee
Harney & Sons Paris Tea
The beloved blend of fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel is the perfect pairing for this lush historical novel about singer Lilliet Berne, the sensation of the Paris Opera. All she needs to become a legend is an original role. But when one is offered to her, she realizes with horror that the opera is based on a dark secret of her past—one only four people know. Which of them has betrayed her, and what do they want?
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The Queen of the Night
Alexander Chee

Lilliet Berne, legendary soprano at the Paris Opera, is offered a coveted original role, but realizes with horror that this new opera is based on the dark secrets of her own past. Who betrayed her? This thrilling historical drama is filled with so many things I love: mystery, political intrigue, opera, and treachery. —Sarah Jane

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Vampires in the Lemon Grove
by Karen Russell
Citron Oolong Tea
Sip on this light and lemony tea as you delve into the magical and daring stories in this collection, with subjects as varied as a pair of vampires in a lemon grove coming to terms with their immortal relationship, a community of girls held captive in a silk factory who slowly become silkworms as they plot revolution, and a family on a disastrous quest to claim land in the American West.
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Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Karen Russell

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MENTIONED IN:

Steeped to Perfection: 11 Divine Book and Tea Pairings

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 7, 2019

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The Madwoman Upstairs
by Catherine Lowell
English Breakfast Tea
Drink a British staple while you read this smart and original debut novel. After her eccentric father’s death, Samantha Whipple is the presumed heir to a rumored treasure trove of documents passed down from the Brontë family. Samantha doesn’t really believe it exists, but then long-lost objects from the past begin showing up in her life and, with the help of a handsome but inscrutable Oxford professor, she is thrust into a literary mystery.
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The Madwoman Upstairs
Catherine Lowell

In Catherine Lowell’s smart and original debut novel, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary treasure hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using only the clues her father left behind and the Brontës’ own novels.

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A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Chamomile Tea
This tea will make you feel warm and comforted, just like this novel about Ove, a lonely and cranky old man with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. When an annoyingly friendly couple and their two children move in next door, Ove finds himself with several unexpected new friends, an unkempt cat, and a new outlook on life.

Read the full review of A MAN CALLED OVE.
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A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman

“If you like to laugh AND feel moved AND have your heart applaud wildly for fictional characters, you will certainly fall for the grumpy but lovable Ove (it’s pronounced “Oo-vuh,” if you were wondering).”

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Fingersmith
by Sarah Waters
Earl Grey Tea
This fragrant and sophistocated tea is just the match for the story of Sue Trinder, an orphan raised by a family of thieves—fingersmiths—in the heart of a mean London slum. When elegant con man Gentleman offers Sue the opportunity to help him con naïve gentlewoman Maud Lilly and split her vast inheritance, the last thing she expects is to find herself caring for her mark.
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Fingersmith
Sarah Waters

Read an LGBTQ+ Romance Novel

Orphan Sue Trinder is raised amongst “fingersmiths”—transient petty thieves. When a fingersmith known as Gentleman asks Sue to help him con a wealthy woman out of her inheritance, she never expects to pity her helpless mark, let alone come to care for her. But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

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The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
Jasmine Green Tea
In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, form a group where they eat dim sum, play mahjong, and share their tragedies and triumphs. Their lives and those of their daughters come together in this rich and textured novel that pairs perfectly with a mug of a delicate, classic green tea.
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The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan

In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk—and the Joy Luck Club is born. Over the years and the births of their daughters, they become united in their shared experiences of loss and hope, choosing to gather and raise their spirits rather than sink into tragedy.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Silver Sparrow
by Tayari Jones
Silver Needle White Tea
Savor this premium tea variety while reading this breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle. James Witherspoon has two families—a public one and a secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows that they are sisters, and their relationship teeters on the edge of exploding.
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Silver Sparrow
Tayari Jones

SILVER SPARROW is a breathtaking story about one man and his two families—one public, the other private—in a middle class neighborhood in 1980s Atlanta. The two teenage daughters of James Witherspoon meet and befriend each other, but only one of them understands their connection.

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Mr. Mercedes
by Stephen King
Rooibos Tea
This deep red tea goes well with the story of Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is still haunted by the unsolved case of a maniac who killed eight people when he plowed through a crowd in his Mercedes. When Hodges gets a crazed letter from someone who claims to be the killer and threatens to kill again, he knows he must finish the case once and for all.
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Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King

Retired cop Bill Hodges feels depressed and purposeless, still haunted by the one that got away—a sadistic killer who drove a Mercedes into the crowd at a job fair. But when he receives a taunting letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer, Hodges will have to come out of retirement to prevent another massacre.

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Tangerine
by Christine Mangan
Moroccan Mint Tea
After moving to Tangier with her new husband, the last person Alice Shipley expects to see is Lucy Mason, her once inseparable but now estranged college roommate. Perhaps they can put the terrible incident in their past behind them—but when Alice’s husband goes missing, she begins to question everything. A glass of sweet, fragrant Moroccan tea will transport you into this sharp, breathless thriller.
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Tangerine
Christine Mangan

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Parable of the Sower
by Octavia E. Butler
Lapsang Souchong Tea
In this dystopian classic, environmental and economic crises have led to a breakdown of society, and Lauren Olamina, an empath and minister’s daughter, ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. What begins as a flight for survival leads to the birth of a new faith as Lauren beomes a prophet carrying hope and revolutionary new ideas. A smoky Lapsang Souchong tea is just as complex and unexpected as this story.
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Parable of the Sower
Octavia E. Butler

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The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
Chai Tea
Indulge in a spicy chai while you read this novel that is equal parts family saga, forbidden love story, and political drama. Seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel’s world is shaken by the arrival of their beautiful cousin, Sophie. It is an event that will lead to an illicit liaison and tragedies both accidental and intentional.
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The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy’s debut novel has become a modern classic. Equal parts family saga, forbidden love story, and political drama, it chronicles in exquisite, atmospheric detail an affluent Indian family forever changed by one fateful day in 1969.

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