5 books to accompany with a good cup of tea
Tea is a drink steeped in history. There are records of people brewing and consuming tea possibly as far back as the 2nd century BC, but the drink was not popularized until the Tang dynasty of ancient China. It has been used as currency, exported commercially, and the tea plant – Camellia sinensis – has been transplanted around the world and cultivated to produce different varieties. Along with experimentation and development of cultivars and processing techniques, this resulted in the wide selection we have today: from the delicate flavors of white tea to heavily fermented and aged Pu-erh.
During the process of working on Poison-infused magic, I was inspired by the ritual of making a cup of tea in Taiwanese tradition and also paid homage to its origins as a medicinal ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s a drink in my daily life, and I had so much fun imagining various magical properties that a practitioner of tea magick might use. There were so many different types of tea that I came across during my research that I wish I could have incorporated.
Here are some of my favorite types of teas and five books I would pair with them to enhance your reading experience!
Vanessa Yu’s magical Paris tea shop by Roselle Lim
In this delicious story filled with tea and French pastries, Vanessa travels to Paris to learn how to manage her ability to see people’s fortunes from their tea leaves. She uses her talents to help the people around her and also regains control of her own destiny. Vanessa’s relationship with her family, especially her gossipy aunts, provides just enough light-hearted humor to balance Vanessa’s internal struggles.
It was wonderful to visit tea rooms and bakeries with Vanessa, and I loved the magical little details that were woven into the story, like the flavors she tasted while a fortune was forming. It was a sensory experience as fragrant as a cup of chrysanthemum honey tea accompanied by a strawberry mille-feuille.
Serpent Sisters by Sarena and Sasha Nanua
A fun reimagining of the Prince and the Pauper, this story is about two sisters: a princess and a kid, whose lives come together in thrilling ways when they decide to switch places. It was an action-packed book where the sisters, in their new roles, must solve mysteries inside and outside the palace. Rani is the princess who feels confined between palace walls and her family’s expectations, while Ria steals food so she won’t starve. Ria then faces the reality of being drafted into a war she doesn’t want to be a part of. Each sister had their own unique talents, their own goals, and I can’t wait to see how their stories will resolve in the sequel.
What I enjoyed the most about reading is that the world was so immersive in this fantasy. The interwoven stories throughout the book provided insight into the history of magic. Abai was described vividly, from the chases through the market, the palace setting, as well as the different types of food… it was easy to get hungry while reading this book. Descriptions of fluffy naan and various sweets, perfect when paired with a hot cup of chai masala!
The Midnight Market by CL Polk
It’s the story of a witch who secretly practices her profession, but must get a good marriage to save her family. It’s about choices and finding your own way as a woman in society, in a magical version of Regency England. The descriptions of fashions, balls and magic were wonderful, but such beautiful descriptions only add to the horror of a society where women are tied up to cut them off from their magic so that their unborn children may be safe. security. Béatrice is an easy-to-follow heroine. She struggles with her loyalty to her family, her personal ambitions as well as the desires of her heart. A perfect read to enjoy with a tray of frosted cakes and a cup of Earl Gray tea.
Cold at night, quick wolves by Meg Long
It was an exhilarating read about a girl who is forced to compete in a sled race on a frozen planet. She develops a close relationship with her wolf companion, and she will have to do whatever it takes to survive in this harsh environment. There are some really exciting scenes where Sena has to put herself in dangerous situations to fight for her life and save Iska, or where Iska in turn pays her back by saving her life as well. I felt like I was immersed in an action movie. Although Sena is more likely to drink beer than tea, the depictions of the freezing world and ice storms definitely had me consuming several steaming cups of smoky Lapsang souchong while reading.
The one who became the sun by Shelley Parker Chan
A bold tale of the Founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty where the Hongwu Emperor is reimagined as a girl who was meant to be destined for a fate of nothingness. But Zhu takes her brother’s supposed fate for herself and frees herself from her life of poverty to become a monk, then rises into the ranks of the rebel forces fighting the rapidly collapsing Yuan Empire.
Another point of view explored is that of the eunuch general Ouyang. Forced to fight for the Mongolian army, his existence is made up of contradictions. He is torn between loyalty and revenge, cruelty and desire. The choices they make have effects that reverberate across the empire, yet we are still able to sympathize with their struggles. Zhu and Ouyang’s paths cross again and again, like violent waves crashing against a rocky cliff, and I wait to be emotionally devastated afterwards.
It’s a brutal, tragic, yet hopeful book, with the fates of the two protagonists unfolding beautifully like the leaves of a cup of High Mountain Oolong.
Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family at a young age. She grew her nose in a book and loved to escape into imaginary worlds. She now works as an occupational therapist and still spends her nights imagining her own imaginary worlds. She lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband and daughter. Poison-infused magic is his first novel.