5 books to accompany a good cup of tea

Tea is a drink that is steeped in history. There are records of people making and consuming tea possibly as early as the 2nd century BC. C., but the drink did not become popular until the Tang dynasty of ancient China. It has been used as currency, exported in trade, and the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, has been transplanted around the world and cultivated to produce different varieties. With experimentation and the development of cultivars and processing techniques, this has resulted in the wide selection we have today: from the delicate flavors of white tea to heavily fermented and aged Pu-erh.

During the work process of A magic charged with poison, I was inspired by the ritual of preparing a cup of tea in the Taiwanese tradition and also paid homage to its origins as a medicinal ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a drink that is present in my daily life, and I had a lot of fun imagining various magical properties that a practitioner of tea magic could use. There were so many different types of tea that I came across during my research that I wished I could have incorporated them.

Here are some of my favorite types of tea and five books I’d pair with them to enhance your reading experience!

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

In this enchanting tale filled with tea and French pastries, Vanessa travels to Paris to learn how to harness her ability to see people’s fortunes from 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 enough light-hearted humor to balance out Vanessa’s internal struggles.

It was wonderful visiting tea shops and pastry shops with Vanessa, and I loved the magical little details that weaved into the story, like the flavors she sampled as she made her fortune. It was a sensory experience as fragrant as a cup of chrysanthemum honey tea accompanied by a strawberry millefeuille.

snake sisters by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

A playful reimagining of The Prince and the Pauper, this story is about two sisters: a princess and a girl, whose lives come together in an exciting way when they decide to switch places. This was such 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 by the palace walls and the family’s expectations of her, while Ria steals food to keep from starving. Ria then faces the reality of being recruited into a war she wants no part of. Each sister had her own unique talents, her own goals, and I can’t wait to find out how her stories will be resolved in the sequel.

What I enjoyed most about reading is that the world was so immersed in this fantasy. The stories woven throughout the book provided a glimpse into the history of magic. Abai described himself vividly, from the market chases, the palace surroundings, and also the various types of food…it was easy to feel hungry reading this book. Descriptions of fluffy naan and various sweets, great when paired with a hot cup of masala chai!

the midnight bargain by CL Polk

This is the story of a sorceress who practices her craft in secret, but must secure 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, dances, and magic were wonderful, but such beautiful descriptions only add to the horror of a society where women have necklaces to insulate them from their magic so their unborn children are safe. Beatrice is an easy hero to root for. She struggles with her loyalty to her family, her personal ambitions, and the desires of her heart. A perfect read to enjoy with a tray of ice cream cakes and a cup of Earl Gray tea.

Cold the night, fast the wolves by Meg Long

This was an exciting read about a girl who is forced to join a sled race on an icy planet. She develops a close relationship with her wolf companion, and she will have to do whatever it takes to survive in the challenging 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 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 descriptions of the frigid world and ice storms definitely had me consuming several steaming cups of smoked Lapsang souchong as I read.

She who became the sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

A bold narrative from the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty, where the Hongwu Emperor is reimagined as a girl who was supposed to be destined for a fate of nothing. But Zhu takes her brother’s supposed fate on his own and breaks free from his life of poverty to become a monk, then rises through 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 Mongol army, his existence is full of contradictions. He is torn between loyalty and revenge, cruelty and desire. The choices they make have effects that are felt throughout the empire, and yet we can still sympathize with their struggles. Zhu and Ouyang’s paths cross over and over again, like violent waves crashing against a stony cliff, and I’m hoping the sequel will devastate me emotionally.

This is a brutal, tragic, and yet hopeful book, the destinies of the two protagonists unfolding beautifully like the leaves in a cup of High Mountain Oolong.

Judy I. Lin He was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with his family at a young age. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved escaping into imaginary worlds. She now works as an occupational therapist and still spends her nights dreaming of her own imaginary worlds. She lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband and her daughter. A magic charged with poison It is his first novel.

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