Every cup of tea is improved by having a good book at your side – and vice versa! While everyone will have their favorite blend, did you know that you can match the tea you drink to the book you read for an experience that excites all the senses?
Tea tastes better when paired with a good book, and books feel more exciting when paired with a good cup of tea. Try drinking a tea themed to the setting of the novel you’re reading, or based on an event in the plot, and you’ll begin to absorb your book in a completely new way.
We’ve picked out a range of teas from Bird & Blend to match with some classic novels. How many of these teas have you tried, and how many of these books have you read?
1. The Old Man and the Sea + Mojitea
Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel, yet it’s considered by many to be one of the greatest works in the English language. That’s a testament to its sparse, punchy prose and its compelling story of an old man who catches an enormous fish.
The novel is set in Havana, Cuba, famous for its mojitos, with Hemingway preferring those served at La Bodeguita de Medio. With this ‘Mojitea‘ blend of green tea, peppermint and dried lime pieces, you can experience a small slice of Cuba in your own home, enjoying the same Havana flavors that Hemingway tasted as he was writing his Nobel Prize-winning work. (You can be sure that the taste of a mojito was never far from his lips, given Hemingway’s famous instruction to “write drunk and edit sober.”)
2. Crime and Punishment + Smoky Russian
One of the finest Russian writers in history, Fyodor Dostoevsky took the literary world by storm with Crime and Punishment, the haunting story of a man torn apart by the murder he commits. Dostoevsky’s intense themes and powerful language inspired modernist writers like Virginia Woolf, who declared it “directly obvious that he is the greatest writer ever born.”
Experience the smoke-filled streets and shadowy alleys of Saint Petersburg by brewing up a ‘Smoky Russian‘, a balanced blend of Formosa oolong, Lapsang Souchong and Mao Feng Keemun tea. While this strong tea isn’t to everyone’s liking, it’s the perfect accompaniment to Dostoevsky’s tale of overwhelming guilt and spiritual recrimination.
3. Jane Eyre + Bonfire Toffee
Published in 1847, Jane Eyre was tepidly reviewed at the time of its release but has since become a literary classic. The plot follows the eponymous Jane as she comes of age and falls in love with the brooding Mr Rochester, one of literature’s most famous antiheroes.
We won’t spoil the events that take place at Thornfield Hall, but, reader, ‘Bonfire Toffee‘ is more than a suitable match for the novel. With a base of Sri Lankan black tea, notes of apple and cinnamon and the smoky aftertaste of Lapsang Souchong, Bonfire Toffee will excite your tastebuds and truly make you believe you saw a strange woman enter Mr Rochester’s bedroom. Ah! We’ve said too much.
4. George’s Marvellous Medicine + Fruit Salad
Roald Dahl has long been regarded as one of the great masters of children’s fiction. With wacky characters, bizarro plots and heartwarming underdogs galore, Dahl’s stories have delighted kids of all ages for decades. George’s Marvellous Medicine makes for a great companion to a cup of tea, telling the story of a boy who makes a remarkable concoction for his grandmother, whom he doesn’t much like.
Thankfully, this ‘Fruit Salad‘ tea tastes much better than George’s potion, and is unlikely to transform you into a belligerent giant. With ingredients like apple pieces, elderberries and orange blossom, this fruity herbal infusion aims to recreate the flavor of the much-loved childhood sweet of the same name. Just be thankful that, unlike George’s ‘marvellous’ medicine, it won’t cause “catastrophic physiological collapse” – which was the conclusion of a team of researchers for the British Medical Journal after they analyzed the effects of Dahl’s list of ingredients.
5. Conversations with Friends + Morning Kick
Sally Rooney is surely the literary world’s biggest breakout star of recent years. Her novel Normal People was published to rapturous acclaim and was quickly adapted into a well-received miniseries in 2020. Rooney’s 2017 debut, Conversations with Friends, falls along similar thematic lines, plotting the relationship between Frances, her best friend Bobbi, and the married Melissa and Nick; a TV adaptation is set to release in 2022.
‘Morning Kick‘ is an invigorating lemon and ginger blend, the sharpness and sweetness of which is a good match for the alacrity of Rooney’s prose. The base of the tea is Yerba Maté, a brewing ingredient prized in South America – certainly something a little different to your everyday cuppa!
6. The Great Gatsby + Pink Prosecco
The preeminent tale of the roaring 20s and the foibles of the upper classes, F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is so renowned that it’s often described as a candidate for the mythic ‘Great American Novel.’ Through the eyes of Nick Carraway, we followed the doomed titular Gatsby as he attempts to win back an old flame, all the while calling Nick “old sport.”
As you might already know, Jay Gatsby is famed for his luxurious parties, and you might even have been to a Gatsby-themed costume party or two, complete with flapper girls and boozy drinks. Bird & Blend’s ‘Pink Prosecco‘ tea has all of the rich sweetness without any alcohol, meaning you can join in with Fitzgerald’s partygoers while keeping a clear head – something Daisy Buchanan should have considered before getting behind the wheel…
7. The Remains of the Day + Earl Grey Creme
Recent Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro has deftly experimented with a number of genres, including science fiction (Klara and the Sun, Never Let Me Go) and faux-memoir (An Artist of the Floating World). One of Ishiguro’s greatest works, however, is the boundary-breaking The Remains of the Day. Set in the aftermath of World War II, The Remains of the Day tells the story of a butler, Stevens, who finds himself out of place in a rapidly modernising world. Still working at Darlington Hall after the lord of the manor has passed away, Stevens contemplates his life of service and asks the ageless question: was it worth it?
‘Earl Grey Creme‘, a blend of classic Earl Grey tea with vanilla pieces and blue cornflowers, is a perfect match for Ishiguro’s peerless novel. The heady bergamot flavor of Earl Grey is mellowed by the smooth vanilla; it’s a taste of class, just like Stevens. As the tea brews in your cup, the taste will gradually grow more bitter, and the vanilla sweeter – just like the novel.
8. The Colour of Magic + Dozy Girl
There’s no one quite like Terry Pratchett. The fantasy author, who sadly passed away in 2015, wrote a staggering 41 novels set in Discworld, a high-fantasy parody world named for its disc shape and filled with witches, trolls, sorcerers and scheming politicians. The series began in 1983 with The Colour of Magic, which sees the wizard Rincewind attempt to act as a guide for the rich-but-naive Twoflower. The title refers to the color ‘octarine,’ a fluorescent greenish yellow-purple color only visible to wizards and cats.
‘Dozy Girl’ is something of an octarine color, featuring as it does lemon verbena (green), chamomile (yellow) and hibiscus (purple). The only quality it lacks is fluorescence, which probably wouldn’t make for a particularly nice cup of tea anyway. The blend is very well balanced, with the natural sweetness of the hibiscus complementing the more grassy flavors of the chamomile.
9. Call Me by Your Name + Peach & Elderflower Bellini
Before Call Me by Your Name was an Oscar-winning film from Luca Guadagnino, it was a critically acclaimed novel from André Aciman. A sumptuous coming of age story set in southern Italy, the novel follows Elio Perlman as he discovers his sexuality and falls in love with Oliver, a grad student. Unlike the film, Aciman’s book depicts not only the first summer that Elio and Oliver meet but the following two decades. That said, nothing compares to the electric heat of that Italian summer and the deep emotions that arise.
For that quintessential summery feel, why not try this ‘Peach & Elderflower Bellini‘ blend? With a base of Chinese ti guan yin oolong and freeze dried peach, this tea is deliciously sweet and perfect to brew cold, perhaps with lemonade –yes, you can brew tea in cold water! Why peach? Well, you’ll have to read the novel (or watch the movie) to find out.
10. The Turn of the Screw + Chocolate Digestives
Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is one of the most unsettling stories you might ever read. A cornerstone of fin-de-siècle literature, the novel tells the story of a governess who is tasked with the care of two undeniably creepy children in an undeniably spooky house. To say any more would be to give the game away, but if you need any more evidence of the novel’s horror bonafides, it has been adapted several times for film and television. Adaptations include 1961’s The Innocents and the 2020 Netflix project The Haunting of Bly Manor.
With that in mind, you might think it a little odd to recommend something as hearty as a ‘Chocolate Digestives‘ tea blend for such a disquieting novel. Taste it, however, and you’ll agree: this tea has just the right amount of depth to be the perfect match for a ghost story. Flavored with cocoa nibs, liquorice and fenugreek, the blend balances sweetness and bitterness to create a chocolatey taste with enigmatic undertones.
11. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? + Nearly Nirvana
Philip K Dick’s dystopian science fiction masterpiece would later be immortalised as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, but there’s something markedly different about the original 1968 novel. Where the film follows the perspective of ‘blade runner’ Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) almost exclusively, the novel also includes the radioactively damaged John R Isidore and focuses more on the acquisition of synthetic animals as a status symbol. This makes the novel far more of a subtle and brooding commentary on class and humanity than the (admittedly excellent) more action-propelled movie.
To match such an enigmatic novel, we recommend ‘Nearly Nirvana‘. Not only will you be able to enjoy the irony of drinking a heavenly tea while immersed in Androids‘ dystopian landscape, but its delicate balance of jasmine, spearmint and orange blossom will leave you mulling over your tastebuds while you consider if anyone is really just a human or a machine – or if there’s any difference between the two.
12. The Go-Between + Strawberry Lemonade
While LP Hartley’s The Go-Between is criminally under-read, you might recognise its opening line: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” Set in the Interwar period, Hartley’s novel depicts the gradual ruination not only of English manors but of the upper class itself. The protagonist, Leo, becomes besotted with Marian, the daughter of wealthy aristocrats. When he discovers she is having a secret affair with a farmer on the grounds, Leo is enlisted as a go-between, carrying messages between the well-to-do Marian and the working class Ted Burgess.
Set in summertime and memorably adapted for screen by playwright Harold Pinter, this ‘Strawberry Lemonade‘ blend has just the right mix of sweetness, sharpness and nostalgia to be a perfect match for Hartley’s masterwork. Featuring traditionally English ingredients like strawberry pieces, blackberry leaves and rosehip, Strawberry Lemonade tastes incredible as both a hot and cold brew.
We hope you’ll agree that tea and books are a magical combination – but don’t take our word for it! Authors throughout the ages have recognised that nothing goes better with a book than a good brew, and tea has inspired several famous works of literature. If your curiosity has been piqued, why not check out our article on the best tea scenes in books?