Nothing beats a tea party. Whether you’re sitting down with a bunch of Teddy bears or attending high tea at a fancy restaurant, there’s something sweet and romantic about tea. Hanging out at a bar for a few drinks is great, as is going to the coffee house and killing time. But making tea, real tea is a chance to show someone how special they are to you.
In my Emerging Queens series, all the dragon shifters have a hoard—something they obsess and collect. In the first book, The Queen’s Wings, Carolyn hoards books. Viola in the second book, The Queen’s Flight, has a hoard of yarn. However, in my latest release, The Queen’s Dance, dragon Queen Margery’s hoard is tea. There’s a scene in the book where she explains what makes a good cup of tea.
Margery let Carolyn take control and watched as she got familiar with Remy’s surroundings then led her inside the house.
“Normally, I’d recommend a nice hot bath, but we’re in a bit of a hurry, so jump in the shower. I’ll put on a pot of coffee and see if I can drum up breakfast.”
Margery’s whole being lit up. “Not coffee. Tea, please. Oh, do you think Remy has tea?” She’d kill for a cup of Earl Grey.
Carolyn shrugged. “His mom is Scottish. They drink tea over there, right? I’ll see what I can find.”
Margery bit her lip. “Do you know how to make tea?”
“Duh,” Carolyn said. “Nuke a Lipton tea bag in the microwave.”
Margery gasped so loud, she had a coughing fit.
“Oh, Nidhogg, are you all right? Should I call for Reed?”
“No.” Margery shook her head. “I just need a minute.” She took a deep breath. “The tea in tea bags is usually not high quality. In most cases, it’s the tea dust that’s left behind from the processing of the leaves.”
“So it’s crap?”
Margery thought that might be a little harsh. But if the shoe fit… “Yes. I mean, comparatively speaking. Tea leaves taste so much better. But I shouldn’t be so picky.” Margery opened up a few cupboards and then sighed in relief when she saw that Remy did have all the makings of the perfect cuppa. She pulled out a kettle and filled it with water. It was one of the few things her English grandmother had taught her to enjoy before she died. Those moments of her childhood when she was with her grandmother were the happiest times of her life. She still missed her with an ache that never quite faded away. After her funeral, Margery was sent back to her mom and the revolving door of “uncles.”
“I can do that,” Carolyn said as Margery put the kettle on the stove and turned on the burner.
Margery showed her a plain white teapot and a canister of loose tea. “First, we need to pour boiling water in the pot to warm it.”
“This sounds like it’s going to be complicated.” Carolyn crossed her arms and leaned against the refrigerator while she watched.
“It’ll be worth it, trust me.” Margery shook the tin and then lifted the lid and offered it for Carolyn to smell.
“That’s nice. It’s stronger than I’d expected.”
“It’s an English breakfast tea. We’re going to drink this with milk and sugar once it’s done. But to prepare it, we’re going to put in a teaspoon for each of us.” Margery counted out four teaspoons. “And one more for the pot.” It was a nice, comforting ritual. Some of the stress in her neck and shoulders eased. She could almost believe things were back to normal. Well, as normal as a dragon who couldn’t fly or shift could get, she supposed.
“Okay, okay,” Carolyn said. “Warm the pot. Scoop in the tea. And put more water in the pot. I think I can handle this. Why don’t you go take a shower?”
“I’m sorry.” Margery slumped. “I’m so grateful to you. I don’t mean to be fussy.”
Carolyn waved away her worries. “I’m the same way with books.”
Well, in that case… “Once you put in the boiling water, steep the tea for four minutes. Set a timer. No longer or the tea will be bitter.” Margery lingered in the doorway. “Okay?”
Carolyn shooed her away.
English breakfast and it’s hardier cousin, Irish breakfast, are fine teas, but they’re not really romantic. The most romantic tea I know of is a flowering tea and it’s best served in a clear glass teapot. Instead of being in a tea bag or loose leaves, a flowering tea looks like a small tumbleweed. It’s usually a small round clump of tea that you put in the bottom of the clear teapot. Then you pour hot water over it. The temperature will depend on the brand of flowering tea. Too hot and it will make the flowering tea disintegrate. Too cool and the tight coils of tea won’t loosen. Just right, and the tea will open up like a flower. In addition to having a light, refreshing taste , the tea bundle “blooms” in the hot water so it’s pretty to look at as well as drink.
Margery would love that, even if it’s a little too fancy for Remy. He’s a simple lake dragon whose mother just happens to be the Loch Ness monster. He’s a traditionalist when it comes to his tea. Black tea only.
I like to think that Margery gets him to expand his horizons. After all there’s so many types to try: green tea, white tea, red (rooibus) tea — not to mention the herbal teas, which are technically called tisanes (but that’s another blog post).
Are you a tea drinker? What’s the most interesting flavor combination you’ve heard of or tried? I just bought “Pom-Diggity” a loose pomegranate tea from David’s Teas. I don’t like it hot, but it’s really refreshing as an iced tea.
USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. She has two other series with Loveswept: Hawaii Heat, in which the first book Life’s A Beach is the perfect staycation to Maui, and The Sentinels of Babylon, about members of vigilante Motorcycle Club and their old ladies. Her dragon paranormal romance series from Entangled Publishing, has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and former porn actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, Spice, continues Jenna’s Fate trilogy.
An avid knitter and jewelry maker, Jamie is never bored. She can often be found with a mug of tea on the computer flanked by her little dogs & fluffy white cat. You can follow her on Twitter or on her author page on Facebook. When she’s not writing or crafting, Jamie loves playing games, everything from board games to strategy card games, console and online MMORPGs.