As every Instagram account in the world can attest, books and tea just go together. Like milk and cookies, or alcohol and high school theater, books and tea are a natural drink-and-not-a-drink pairing that vastly improves your overall experience. Especially during winter, the official season for cozy reading (bite me, autumn reading fans). But which tea to drink with which book? Here are a few excellent tea and book pairings for an exceedingly cozy winter.
I mean, look, I love tea as much as the next book nerd, but we have to admit that not all teas work for every situation. You want to find the right tea to fit your literary preferences. Like, would you drink English Breakfast Tea while reading a mystery novel before bed? Would you drink a travel mug of Sleepy Time Chamomile while reading a high fantasy epic on your morning commute? No. No, you wouldn't. That would be madness, on par with drinking red wine while eating fish, or showing up at the office Christmas party dressed as a sexy cat.
To maximize both your tea drinking and your reading experience, here are a few pairings that are sure to make you feel appropriately cozy this winter:
1. Earl Grey Tea and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A hot mug of Earl Grey Tea and... a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel? I know that you were probably expecting something more along the lines of "Uptight British Detective" or "Uptight British Romance" for Earl Grey, but I think that extra jolt of caffeine will keep your heart racing as you tear through Station Eleven in one sitting. Plus, it's post-apocalyptic fare with a heavy sprinkling of Shakespeare, which is about as British as you can get, and Earl Grey Tea gets a shout out in the book itself.
2. Rooibos Tea and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Try to find a chapter of this book that doesn't feature a cup of warm, comforting Rooibos (also known as Red Bush) Tea. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is the first in a long series of cozy mystery novels featuring the incomparable Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's premiere (and fictional) private investigator. The mysteries aren't exactly out to shock and amaze you, but Precious is such a delightful character, you'll want to spend as much time as possible sleuthing around with her.
3. English Breakfast Tea and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
What's the one motif everyone remembers from this absurdist road trip through space? Besides the towel thing. And the depressed android. And the number "42." OK, so there are a lot of ridiculous and memorable moments in Douglas Adams' comedy masterpiece, but one of the central themes of the book is hapless Earthman Arthur Dent and his quest for a normal cup of English tea. Honor Arthur's hopes and dreams by drinking some piping hot English Breakfast Tea yourself, and by wearing your comfiest bathrobe while reading.
4. Dragon-Well Green Tea and The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
You can tell Amy Tan has some real life appreciation for tea, because this book includes the quote: "If I buy the cheap tea, then I am saying that my whole life has not been worth something better." Treat yourself to a high end cup of Longjing (also known as Dragon-Well) Tea, which The Kitchen God's Wife describes as "the best tea in all of China." This story of mothers and daughters striving to communicate is at times bitter, and at times warm and comforting, and overall complex and expertly blended together, like a good cup of tea should be.
5. Mint Tea and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Something about mint tea just seems well-suited to curling up with a cheerful comedic memoir. It's a fresh, bright flavor, and Mindy Kaling has a witty, bright voice. Why Not Me? is her second book of essays and anecdotes, and she's every bit as bold and funny as ever. Kaling mines her own life for dating disasters, Hollywood nonsense, and a few gems of wisdom for all the young writers/actors/directors/producers out there. Add honey for extra sweetness.
6. White Tea and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
Look, we have to address the elephant in the room here. You can't talk about books and tea without talking about Alice's Mad Tea Party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Delicate white tea served in a dainty tea cup can make you feel like you, too, are sitting at a table with a deranged hare and a man in a large hat! Really, though, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland holds up beautifully for older readers, and there's nothing like returning to a childhood classic to make you feel all warm and fuzzy for the holidays.
7. Lemon Tea and Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Pair a tart, citrus herbal tea with the odd and off-kilter short stories of Karen Russell. Vampires in the Lemon Grove is a collection of magical tales, each set in a world that is almost but not quite our own. Human girls become silk worms, school yard bullies stumble across a murdered scarecrow, and, of course, vampires suck on lemons to take the edge off their thirst for blood. Each story is stranger and more wildly imaginative than the last. You might need to refill that tea cup a few times, because you won't want to put this one down.
8. Chamomile Tea and Blankets by Craig Thompson
Is there any tea sleepier than Chamomile Tea? There is something so very right about drinking Chamomile under a heavy blanket, watching the snow fall softly beyond your windowpane. Blankets is a love story, and a coming-of-age story, and a story of religion lost and found... but it's also a gorgeous love letter to winter. Winter, and the coziness of blankets. The illustrations will make you, too, want to lie panting in a bank of snow (until you start to get cold and come back inside for more tea).