As October draws its curtain and the rainy November evenings settle upon us, it is a universal experience among readers to begin filling every spare crevice of time with the Bookish Holy Trinity: a soft blanket, a warm cup of tea, and (of course) a good book. In the world of literature, as in life, I strongly believe there is a perfect tea for every occasion. Forget wine and cheese – this is your ultimate guide to pairing classic autumnal novels with the ideal brew to make your literary adventures extra immersive. Happy reading and sipping!
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The blueprint for dark academia, The Secret History is certainly a staple autumn re-read for many. Achingly pretentious but equally elegant and haunting, this twisted story pairs perfectly with a steaming mug of Earl Grey, preferably consumed at candlelight with an orchestral symphony drifting from a gramophone (or, alternatively, a Bluetooth speaker – work with whatever you have). Known for its distinctive flavour of black tea infused with bergamot oil, there is a refined and enigmatic quality to Earl Grey that beautifully lends itself to the cloistered atmosphere of this novel. Its underlying smokiness also perfectly mirrors the intricate webs of dark secrets, intellectual pursuits and moral dilemmas hidden in the shadows of the ivy-clad halls these characters haunt. With every sip, you’ll step a little further into the shoes of a self-styled scholar who commits various acts of evil when they get a little bit too consumed by their Greek homework.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Switching from the heinous to the heart-warming, the quaint household of the March sisters is my personal favourite place to return to when the days get colder. To fully inhabit a space by the fire within this comforting classic, a cup of chamomile tea is the perfect companion. Just as the Marches find solace in each other’s company, you will find equal solace in the gentle embrace of this cosy infusion renowned for its soothing properties. The warm, golden flavours enchantingly encapsulate the simplicity and joys of domestic life threaded through the narrative, transporting you from dances at the Moffat’s house to homemade plays in the humble attic of the March family home. My own personal research suggests that Little Women and chamomile tea before bed is the recipe for the best possible night’s sleep; it’s as if the book and the brew have conspired to envelop you in a cocoon of comfort. (Top tip: add a slice of red velvet cake into this magical concoction for an extra dose of indulgence).
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Excuse the cliché but stepping under the black and white striped canvas of The Night Circus in the autumn months always feels like coming home. I’ve always thought reading this intricately rich fantasy novel is like drinking an extremely decadent hot chocolate, slow-cooked and infused with flavours of peppermint and vanilla. But as we’re talking teas today, the brooding mystique soaking the pages of this story calls for a brew that is in equal parts complex and cosy, and that could be none other than chai. This warm, spicy blend of black tea with cardamom, cinnamon and ginger completely embodies the magic and sensory richness of The Night Circus, making it the ideal companion for a journey through the fantastical. A cosy evening tucked up indoors away from November’s howling wrath doesn’t get much better than this pairing. For a touch of sweetness to soothe that sore throat you have inevitably acquired by mid-term, add a generous squeeze of honey to your mug of chai – rumour has it this cuppa possesses healing properties for the body and the soul.
Featured image: by Aga Putra on Unsplash