Books And Tea

Books and tea are a natural pair.
Books and tea are a natural pair.
There are many customer-created tea blends inspired by Tolkien's series available from Adagio.
There are many customer-created tea blends inspired by Tolkien's series available from Adagio.
A few years ago, I was complaining to my dear friend Becky that I needed more tea, and that I was annoyed at the subpar tea available at grocery stores. Then, I wondered what I should read next. That wasn't as random a segue as it may seem, because most of my friends and I all agree that books and tea are a perfect pairing. Like Elizabeth and Darcy, like Picard and the Enterprise, like Anthony Bourdain and just about any kind of meat in tube form, books and tea just seem to compliment each other in a strange kind of symbiosis. I agree with Dodie Smith when she wrote in I Capture the Castle, "I shouldn't think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea." Reader, I love. My. Tea. And I'm going to brew it and read a book while sipping my tea from a Really Fancy Teacup like a lady.*

As a huge fan of books and tea, and preferably both together, I was delighted when Becky introduced me to Adagio Teas. I'm a little bit of a tea snob and prefer loose tea if possible. I'm convinced it tastes better. But what really frosted my cake about Adagio was that customers could make their own blends just for fun. And my goodness, do they ever! There are pages and pages of customer-created blends based on various fandoms and books and characters. I could almost hear the angels sing when I clicked that link - I had just found the fanfiction version of tea!!

I have, since this discovery, made and purchased many, many custom tea blends. My cupboards runneth over. Since I am a book nerd (You should see my bookcases. They're a little ridiculous. I also write for Book Riot to talk even more about my book obsession!) and a tea geek, it always seemed natural to find a way to combine the two. Whenever I found a new character I was particularly drawn to, I often found myself wondering what their favorite kind of tea would be. Once I learned about Adagio, I often created my own blends for characters from my favorite stories.

Below are some of my personal favorite blends that I have concocted, as well as some popular fandom blends from other Adagio customers. It's such a fun experience, and a new way to explore various elements of literature that I love. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them and writing about them!

Harry Potter-themed tea potions If you're at all like me, you're still waiting for your owl to deliver your Hogwarts acceptance letter. If you're very lucky, you're still young enough to get one. I missed my owl letter by decades, but hope springs eternal and I keep thinking that maybe someday, Professor McGonagall will tap me to be her replacement when she decides to retire. You never know - the women in my grandad's family are all dead ringers for Minerva McGonagall, so I'm convinced we are long-lost relatives. I could totally be her next of kin. Of this group of teas, my favorites are:
BeerButter- because obviously. If I can't make an adult version of butter beer, this is an excellent stand-in. It pairs very nicely with fresh scones, clotted cream, and lemon curd.
Polyjuice - My dad makes something that we call polyjuice potion. He drinks it as a restorative smoothie drink thing after hikes. I do not care how healthy something is; I will not drink anything that resembles my dad's polyjuice potion. It's literally jiggly, Muggles. This polyjuice tea is much nicer. It helps wake you up in the morning, and as an added bonus, it doesn't jiggle.

The Chronicles of Narnia-inspired blends. Like many science-fiction and fantasy fans, I was reared on these books. There were plenty of times you might have caught me digging through the back of my closet, looking for a portal to Narnia. Some of my favorite blends from this collection are:
Badger's Blend - I haven't met a Narnian who doesn't love Trufflehunter. This blend is something I can easily see him drinking, creamy and berry-sweet. It is delightful.
Dark Island Brew - The Dark Island is one of my favorite places in Narnia. I know it's probably not supposed to be. Anyplace that makes all your dreams come true should instill horror in anyone, but I'm dark and twisty, so I dig it. I love this tea like I love the Dark Island - it's dark, a little earthy, a little sweet, and not at all what you expect.

The Lord of the Rings-inspired blends. Middle Earth. My hometown. Yes, the Elves are awesome, Lothlorien is like heaven on earth, all that. But for me, I always wanted to be Eowyn. Kind of I still do. One of my earliest heroes was Eowyn. I'm convinced she is a huge reason why I am such a strong feminist today. She was so beautiful and feminine, and yet still so strong and capable. She cared for the sick and injured. She was a Shieldmaiden, which to my ten-year-old self sounded as exotic as anything under the sun. She feared a cage. And was there really any moment more rad than when she faced down the King of the Ringwraiths and mockingly said, "But no living man am I!" Instant, life-long hero worship was born the moment I read those words. It is no lie that I very nearly named my daughter after her. Some of my favorite tea blends from all of Adagio come from this collection, and are below:
Shieldmaiden - Eowyn's own tea blend. It perfectly captures her essence - sweet and floral, then spicy and with an unexpected kick, if you aren't careful. Those Shieldmaidens can rescue themselves, thank you very much, most likely after drinking a cup or two of this.
Elevenses A perfect mid-morning tea, not too heavy and not too strong. If you'll forgive the mixing of fandoms, this goes very well with a little smackerel such as crumpets and honey or a lovely selection of light tea sandwiches.
Smokeleaf - This is kind of like a tea version of my favorite Scotch (Laphroaig, if you're curious.) At first sip, it's like, "What did I just put in my mouth, OMG?" But then the caramel flavor hits you right between the eyes, followed by the sweeter apple flavor, and you fall in love with it. Just try it, you'll love it. You MUST trust Master.

As I said above, I make tea blends for just about every literary character I like. And some characters I don't like. Even villains deserve tea!

But as much as I love the classics of sci-fi and fantasy, they aren't exactly paragons of diversity, though Rowling does an okay job in some respects. For more diverse fiction, I often turn to modern YA novels, which often have incredibly diverse characters or are written by women, members of the LGBTQ community, or people of color. For some blends based on more contemporary literature, I created the below blends.

Everything, Everything is a novel about Maddy Whittier, a young woman who has SCID, a rare disease that makes her deathly allergic to basically the world. She has never left her house, and has been always in the care of her doctor mother or her nurse Carla. She goes to school online via Skype, and is happy enough with the world as she knows it. Then Olly moves in next door, and of course Maddy's life is upended. This blend is just for Maddy, and I hope it captures a blend of her essence. Sweet, spicy, fruity, and innocent.

Zahrah the Windseeker is a very cool novel about a young woman from a society that grows everything from nature, including computers. She is called a "dada," which means she has vines growing in her dreadlocks, and she has the ability to call the power of wind and fly. She goes on a quest to save her best friend's life, learning about herself and her abilities in the process. The story is amazing, weaving in elements of various sci-fi and fantasy stories as well as African mythology. It is one of the most unique books I have ever read. I made this tea blend for Zahrah, representative of the greenness of her culture. Green and earthy, savory, and a little sweet.

*I am in no way a lady. I like to pretend, though.