Tea and Book Pairing: A Cozy Replete With Delights

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There’s a type of cozy mystery where one figures out the basic whodunnitandhow pretty quickly, but the interest lies in the unfolding of the histories and characters involved. Katherine Bolger Hyde’s Arsenic With Austen is a delightful book in this genre. Though the setting is well-drawn and beautiful and the protagonist engaging, my favorite parts of the book were the places where the author clearly relishes the English language. Here are two of my favorite passages where the wit seemed in line with the Austen quotes throughout:

He preferred to be alone with his grief–though he wanted all the world to know about it.

and

Emily pushed open the door and paused to take a deep breath of thoughtful, well-educated air.

That air is, of course, in the beautiful and well-outfitted library that serves as the heart of the book. Besides the library, the house that Emily inherits holds other treasures, including cubbies hidden in woodwork and at least one secret passageway. Fans of the genre will understand how these details give one a little flutter.

Bonus Language Joy: Though it wasn’t low to begin with, my opinion of the story went up the first time the narration used the word “replete.” Most people these days have either forgotten the word entirely, or they imprecisely substitute “complete” in its place.

To go with this high-minded and literate murder mystery, I have chosen Tealyra’s Rosy Earl Grey loose tea. The floral aroma and bitter edge make for an indulgent afternoon pour that pairs well with cream and sugar despite its light liquor. The tea blenders were right to describe this blend as the tea version of rose Turkish Delight, but with a bite to it. I recommend that you brew it with an extra spoon of tea leaves added to the pot and serve with milk or cream and a little sugar in your favorite china cup.

Amazon Shopping List: Arsenic With Austen Kindle edition, Tealyra Rosy Earl Grey, a lovely teacup such as this Wedgewood Daisy Story Teacup and Saucer Set.

This post contains affiliate links. I did not receive a free copy of this book or any compensation for writing a review.

Tea & Book Pairing: Angela’s Tea Blend

Garden in the East review

I fell in love with Garden in the East after hearing Angela read an excerpt at a writer’s conference. I bought the book as soon as it came out, but I’m now reviewing it for one reason: This is the kind of book I like to savor.

There are certain books that mend the soul and soothe over the damage of self-criticism and the hostilities of the world: Jane Austen novels, Rilke’s poetry, and this book by Angela Doll Carlson. I keep it on my Kindle at the top of the queue, returning again and again to re-read passages.

Angela’s background as a personal trainer is evident in her deep awareness of the body. She uses her formidable skills as a poet to weave an engaging prose vision of the body’s graces: organic, dynamic, sacred.

This book brought me peace with my body and helped me understand the rich beauty of being created. I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with their place in the world or who wants to grow deeper into a sense of their sacred selves.

A book like this deserves a custom tea blend that focuses on building up the body. I recommend that you make this blend by the pot.

Angela’s Tea Blend

You’ll need: rosehips, dried ginger, rooibos, and dried elder berries.

For one pot, blend:

  • 2 Tablespoons rooibos

  • 1 Tablespoon dried ginger

  • 1 tablespoon rosehips

  • 1 tablespoon elder berries

Steep in boiling water for 5 or more minutes. The mixture should not get bitter over time like traditional teas.

Amazon Shopping List: Garden in the East: The Spiritual Life of the Body paperback, ginger root, elder berries, rosehips, organic rooibos.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tea and Book Pairing: Recalibrate Your Vision to See God’s Love

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The Sweetness of Grace pairs well with a soothing and healing tea to enjoy alone or with small groups of friends and family. I recommend Numi Organic Tea Decaf Ginger Lemon Green.

I was gifted a free copy of The Sweetness of Grace in exchange for an honest review – several months ago. I started reading it right away and even purchased an additional Kindle copy for myself so that I could read more easily right before bed at night.

Why so many months till I reviewed? Because savory books take my speech away for awhile.

You know how you can hardly speak for a bit after eating a good meal? That’s how this book affected me.

It’s a nourishing book, the sort that will recalibrate your taste in stories, setting a new standard for how you believe the world works.

I read and enjoyed The Scent of Holiness a few years ago, and I highly recommend both that and this book that continues Presbytera Constantina Palmer’s collection of and reflection on spiritually upbuilding stories.

Like a modern-day Egeria (a 4th C Christian pilgrim whose writings give us a taste of devotion at her time), Pres. Constantina draws us into the places and lives of holy people well met in monasteries and churches and by God’s grace in all places. I savor her writing because it’s so encouraging and eye-opening. Like rich foods, I want a little at a time, but I want a lot of it!

The Sweetness of Grace is a perfect book for reading along with one’s daily scriptures and saints’ lives. It has much in it that could be read aloud to family members for encouragement. The stories are the sort that arise in awed “Guess what?” tones over coffee and dinner tables. I could see it forming the basis of conversation for a busy parents’ group at church; only a few pages are needed to come away feeling built up in the community of faith.

For seekers and people discerning and healing, this book is a godsend, as it draws attention to the way God is moving amongst His loved ones.

It’s a prophetic work in the sense of building up the people of God and testifying to the great love God has for us — all in accessible, very human stories, engaging real life characters and settings, and well-parsed narration as needed.

Get this book to keep by your knitting or in the kitchen while you wait for your tea. (I recommend that you drink it in calm times with a soothing, healing green tea like the Numi decaf Ginger Lemon blend.) Get it for your friends and family. Read a bit to your family. You’ll start to notice more that God is working in your life, too.

Amazon Shopping List: The Sweetness of Grace paperback, Numi decaf Ginger Lemon green tea. If you haven’t read it already, add The Scent of Holiness to your shopping list, as well.

This post contains affiliate links.

Gluten-Free Vasilopita from GF Bread Mix

It’s almost Vasilopita time! Check out a simple way to make gluten free Vasilopita using GF bread mixes. (Pro tip: you can sub vanilla for mahlev and cardamom for mastiki.)

Always Lent

It’s St. Basil’s day here on the New Calendar, and thus begins the month of sharing Vasilopita with friends and family. Unless you’re allergic, in which case you will never, ever get the coin. *sad trombone music*

It’s blurry because of your tears.

Cheer up! Always Lent has your back. Today I’m sharing two Vasilopita recipes that you might be able to adapt for your allergy needs. (And if not, comment your restrictions. The team will try to find a recipe for you that works.) First up, bread Vasilopita.

There are two basic types of Vasilopita (Basil bread/cake) recipes: the cake version, and the bread version. Bread versions are similar in texture to a spiced brioche, and gluteny recipes run the gamut in complexity. If you’re gluten-free, you know that bread is tricky to make.

Enter the Glutino Favorite Sandwich Bread* mix and the King Arthur Gluten Free Bread…

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Tea & Book Pairing: Tumika’s Tea Blend

I’m revamping this blog to post allergy-friendly recipes and tea and book review pairings. Here’s the first pairing, based on a book I read at the beginning of this autumn’s reading binge.

*****

tumika's tea blend

I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Some books heal by skirting the edges of pain, but this book dives right into it, bringing us healing through facing the truth. When a Man Loves a Woman by Tumika Cain answers the question a lot of us have from the outside looking in on situations of domestic violence. Many of the reviewers have already provided insights, but I would like to offer the feeling it inspired for me in the form of a tea recipe.


This tea, and this book, taste like catharsis.


When a Man Loves a Woman Tea
*makes one pot*
3 heaping tablespoons Harney & Sons Decaffinated Earl Grey tea leaves (or 3 teabags)
1/2 teaspoon ground organic cardamom
Steep in boiling water for 5 minutes. Serve with brown sugar cubes and maybe a little half and half.

The bite of cardamom echoes the sophisticated characters, and it gives a bite to the beautiful life that Alicia lives despite the troubles she endures. The blend of the two reminds us like the book that change does not happen alone.


I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a fictional account that brings them to the heart of both pain and healing.

Amazon Shopping List: When a Man Loves a Woman paperback, Harney & Sons Decaffinated Earl Grey teabags, Organic cardamom.

This post contains affiliate links.

Advent Preparations: Allergy- AND Fast-friendly Banana Bread

Gluten Free, Egg-free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread

4 medium very ripe bananas, mashed

1 ½ cups gluten free flour mix (any variety with xanthan/guar gum already added)

½ cup red palm & coconut shortening (Such as Nutiva brand), melted

¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

½ cup coconut milk (not low fat)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

Optional: up to 1 cup chopped dates, chocolate chips, or chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350•F. Grease a bread pan with coconut oil or shortening and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Add in dates and nuts if desired, and stir to incorporate. Pour batter into the bread pan evenly. With wetted fingers, smooth the top of the batter slightly. Place pan in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of gooey banana bread batter. (If you used chocolate chips, the toothpick might have chocolate on it. If so, get a clean toothpick and try another spot or two until you can tell if the batter has baked. If it’s still sticking, uncooked, to the toothpick, add 5 minutes to the cooking time and check again.) Remove bread and pan from oven. Let the bread stand in the pan to cool for 10 minutes before cutting it or turning it out on a plate. Serve warm or room temperature.

Read more about our Advent With Autism Guide on my main site!

Blogging Elsewhere

These past few months, I’ve been quiet. Even though I like the idea of having a blog just for tea and recipes, it turns out that I need to focus elsewhere. Two of my children had special needs diagnosed over the spring and summer, and I need to focus more on them. I’m writing about them, sharing our food challenges (and new tea and cake recipes!), and talking about the things I love over on Writing Like A Mother now. Please stop by there and follow, as I won’t be writing much on Tea And Crumples from now on.

Thanks so much!