If you’re like me, when reading a book you enjoy having tea or coffee at your side. The warmth is comforting. The flavor is soothing. Recently I’ve learned that there is such a thing as pairing the right tea or coffee with your reading material. Kid you not. According to the Tea and Ink Society, Darjeeling pairs well with a classic Sherlock Holmes story, and citrusy Constant Comment goes nicely with a cozy mystery. That said, have you ever thought of flipping this idea, as in which book should you pair with your beverage? Better yet, how about reading a mystery that has tea as part of the equation?
When I created the Fairy Garden Mystery series, I set the main action at Open Your Imagination, a fairy garden shop in charming Carmel-by-the-Sea. The store is stocked with items to delight your inner child and inspire you to make your own fairy gardens. For a touch of whimsy, I decided that my protagonist would feature afternoon tea on Saturdays. After all, fairies love tea, and fairies populate my stories. Yes, real fairies. Fiona, a righteous fairy, lives in the ficus trees that populate the shop’s lovely covered patio. What is a righteous fairy? One who is supposed to help humans solve problems—in this case, Courtney Kelly, the owner of the shop.
What does a fairy like to eat with her tea, you ask? Why, mallow, honey, and fruits, of course. What does Courtney serve at the teas? Scones, tea sandwiches, cookies, and brownies. Now, though Courtney can cook, she doesn’t make all the goodies. A baker who works at Sweet Treats, another shop in the courtyard where Open Your Imagination is located, helps out. At least once a month, Courtney stages a book club tea and most often selects a mystery for the attendees to enjoy.
When I started writing mysteries, I didn’t have a clue I’d wind up writing culinary mysteries. I sure didn’t think I’d need to come up with recipes, but I’ve had the best time doing so, especially for the Fairy Garden Mysteries. What’s not to like about making sweet treats on a regular basis? FYI, because I need to eat gluten-free, I made the baker’s sister a celiac so I could include regular and gluten-free recipes in each book.
If you want to spark your inner “tea-loving” child and wish to pair your mysteries with a good cuppa something, here are a number of mysteries that you might enjoy that feature teas, tea shops, baked goods, and more.
In Laura Child’s Tea Shop Mysteries, Theodosia Browning is the owner of Charleston’s beloved Indigo Tea Shop. Patrons adore her blend of delicious tea tastings and Southern hospitality. And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavor of a town steeped in history—and mystery.
In Leslie Budewitz’s Spice Shop Mysteries, Pepper Reece, after leaving a dicey marriage and losing her job in a corporate crash, has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
In Vicki Delany’s Tea by the Sea Mysteries, Lily Roberts, the proud proprietor and head pastry chef of Tea by the Sea, a traditional English tearoom on the picturesque bluffs of Cape Cod, has her hands full. But nothing keeps her busier than steering her sassy grandmother, Rose, away from trouble.
What is a tea without a scone? Pair that with a book and voila. In Ellery Adams’s Secret, Book & Scone Society Mysteries, strangers flock to Miracle Springs hoping the natural hot springs can cure their ills, but they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a cup of tea and a fresh-baked “comfort” scone, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book.
Karen Rose Smith set her Daisy’s Tea Garden Mysteries in an old Victorian in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. Daisy Swanson owns the tea garden, and she and her aunt serve soups, scones, and soothing teas to tourists and locals. A murder in their garden puts them in hot water.
In Lauren Eliot’s brand new mystery series, Crystals & CuriosiTEAS, Shayleigh Myers, aka Shay, feels uneasy about settling into the small seaside town where she grew up on California’s Monterey Peninsula and taking over an estate bequeathed to her by a woman she barely knew. Her heightened senses—an empathic gift she’s had since childhood—goes into overdrive when she tours the woman’s eclectic tea and psychic shop.
Savor the mystery!