November Tea & Book Pairings
Miranda shares three excellent seasonal reads and teas that pair beautifully with each.
There’s nothing I like better than pouring a delicious cup of tea and curling up with a good book. I’ve gathered together three reading recommendations for November, with an accompanying tea suggestion for each.
Book Recommendation: Jane Eyre* by Charlotte Brontë
“I mounted into the window-seat...having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement. Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.”
As quoted above, Charlotte Brontë's classic novel begins on a bleak November day, with 'no possibility of taking a walk.' The weather described is all too familiar to those who have experienced the English countryside in November; how tempting to follow Jane's example and curl up on a window seat, hidden by the plush folds of a curtain, with a good book and perhaps a steaming cup of tea to hand.
Jane Eyre is a book I often return to in late autumn, that season of heavy fog and long, dark evenings. Like many other Victorian novelists, Charlotte Brontë used the motifs of mist and twilight in her novel to symbolize the obscuring of truth and to foreshadow the deception at the heart of Jane Eyre. If you've never read this classic, then November is the perfect month to lose yourself in its pages.
Suggested Tea Pairing: Victoria Grey from Fortnum & Mason.
A fragrant, delicate black tea that pays homage to Queen Victoria. I can imagine Jane and Mr Rochester drinking this tea by fire as they engage in one of their charged conversations. As with a classic Earl Grey, I recommend drinking Victoria Grey black, with the addition of a slice of lemon according to taste.
Book Recommendation: The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
“November 7th. — Plant the indoor bulbs. Just as I am in the middle of them, Lady Boxe calls. I say, untruthfully, how nice to see her, and beg her to sit down while I just finish the bulbs. Lady B. makes determined attempt to sit down in armchair where I have already placed two bulb-bowls and the bag of charcoal, is headed off just in time, and takes the sofa. Do I know, she asks, how very late it is for indoor bulbs?”
If you're in the mood for something light-hearted and cosy this month, then I don't think you can go wrong with The Diary of a Provincial Lady, which always has me chuckling over its pages, no matter how many times I've read it. E. M. Delafield's witty novel is just the type to have on your bedside table; it's enjoyable to read for half an hour before bed and never fails to soothe my nerves after a long day.
I always sympathise with the Provincial Lady, and I thought of her last year, when the amaryllis bulb I'd bought, fully expecting it to bloom in time for Christmas, grew so minutely that it didn't bloom until well into spring. Oh, the scornful admonitions I would have had from Lady B! Thank goodness our Seasons of Story garden expert, Laetitia Maklouf, is so much more kind and encouraging in her article this month.
Suggested Tea Pairing: Spiced Winter Red Tea by Teapigs.
This is a rooibos tea, which is caffeine-free, and is one of my favourite hot drinks to have just before going to sleep as I read for awhile in bed. The notes of cinnamon, cloves and citrus in this tea remind me that Christmas is just around the corner and make me feel extra cosy.
Book Recommendation: Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens
“[The] first rocket went off with a scream, and burst above us in a shower of green and yellow. It was as though the night had come to life, the whole sky rattling and soaring with sound and light.... It was like gazing up into the Hong Kong New Year's sky, and it gave me a little ache of joy. Sunbursts of orange and gold, a spray of blue, a shock of red again, all fountaining above us. I am sure I forgot to breathe."
The Murder Most Unladylike books by Robin Stevens are described as Malory Towers meets Hercule Poirot, and I certainly find them a lot of fun and a terrific addition to the school story genre.
The fourth book in the series, Jolly Foul Play, begins with the murder of the Head Girl of Deepdean school on Bonfire Night. Hazel Wong and her best friend, Daisy Wells, both founding members of the Detective Society, call on their joint powers of deduction and courage to solve this baffling case.
Suggested Tea Pairing: Bonfire Toffee Tea from Bird & Blend.
I love the scent of this tea, with its delicious blend of caramel and apple and just a touch of smokiness. I find this tea best served with a dash of milk.
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