It's my cup of tea.
The only thing that makes curling up with a good book better is having a nice hot cup of tea to go along with it. Tea relaxes me, which is exactly the mind frame I need to be in to enjoy a classic piece of literature. And if you’re anything like me, you pick a tea that gets you in the right mood for the style of book you’re about to read.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit much for most people. But I’m a Certified Tea Specialist, so I’m a little particular. Lucky for you, I’ve done the hard work for you. These are the best teas and tisanes to pair with some of the best British classics available.
Top Picks for You
'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë
Tea Pairing: Pu-erh
If there was ever a coming-of-age story to read, Jane Eyre is it. The novel follows the titular character Jane on her journey from an orphaned childhood to a blissfully happy adulthood alongside someone she loves. This book should be paired with Pu-erh, a tea that comes of age itself. The tea leaves are dried and rolled, then fermented and aged. Pu-erh is special because it only gets better with age, much like Jane’s life in the book.
'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Tea Pairing: Dragon Well
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the main characters of Pride and Prejudice, have to overcome a lot to see their love story to fruition. Namely, of course, the flaws of both pride and prejudice. Pair this book with Dragon Well, a pan-roasted green tea that’s the Cadillac of green teas—but only if you get it right. If you brew it incorrectly, it can be bitter or astringent. But with the right temperature, quantity, and time to steep, it’s a beautiful and delicious love story in a cup.
'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde
Tea Pairing: Hibiscus
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the main character is beautiful—but his true soul is reflected in a portrait. As Dorian Gray ages, he becomes more corrupt, living without regard for other people or common decency. He stays beautiful, but the portrait becomes ever more hideous. A hibiscus infusion is the best choice for this for a very specific reason. It’s always gorgeous to look at, but it gets really disgusting when you steep the hibiscus for too long. Honestly, it starts to taste like hot ketchup. So just make sure you brew it appropriately before sitting down to read.
'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens
Tea Pairing: Earl Grey
A major part of Great Expectations is following the main character Pip’s journey from being an orphan to becoming a high society gentleman in London, with a ton of money to spend on whatever he wants. Since he became part of the height of class in the city, this book is paired with Earl Grey—one of the most popular teas in England and named after a member of the British aristocracy: Charles, the Second Earl Grey.
'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley
Tea Pairing: Chai
This pick for Frankenstein is a little bit silly. In the book, the monster is created from a blend of random human parts, chemicals, and electricity. So, a blended spice tea is perfect for this one. Chai is the best because if you start from scratch, you can create a mixture of spices that fits your own preferences. You can play Frankenstein, but with tea! The spiciness you get from chai represents the electricity used to push the monster to life.
'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding
Tea Pairing: Young Hyson
Pairing Lord of the Flies with Young Hyson tea is for a pretty literal reason. In the book, young boys are stranded on an island. They develop their own government but quickly morph into violent, brutal kids who all think they know better than the next one. Young Hyson is a green tea that’s made from young leaves (young, just like the stranded boys). The leaves are thinly rolled and twisted, ending up with a slightly curled appearance that unfurls when it’s brewed (just as the boys became twisted and unfurled into a rage when left to their own devices). Some tea aficionados say Young Hyson can only be truly enjoyed by people who have tried all other green teas, which seems just as elitist as some of the boys in the book.
'1984' by George Orwell
Tea Pairing: Lapsang Souchong
In 1984, the population of Oceania was subject to an all-controlling totalitarian government. It regularly oversteps the boundaries of what we consider acceptable in the real world. Pair this book with a cup of lapsang souchong. The black tea is smoky and dark, so much so that I recommend coffee drinkers turn to a cup of this first to break into the world of tea. If you over-brew it—or if you just don’t particularly care for heavy teas—lapsang souchong can take over whatever else you might be smelling or tasting. It’s a bit totalitarian, like the government in the book. Cut it with milk or sweetener if it’s too strong for you.
'Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll
Tea Pairing: Butterfly Pea Flower with Lemon
When I think of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I think of a fanciful tale full of magic and whimsy. So, what better than a color-changing tisane to go along with the dreamy tale? Butterfly pea flowers, when steeped, turn the water a deep blue. But add a drop of lemon—your drink will turn purple. The more lemon you add, the more the color shifts. It’s a fantastical match for a book of the same caliber.
'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë
Tea Pairing: Darjeeling
At the crux of Wuthering Heights is Heathcliff, a bitter, angry man who saw his soulmate marry another. He spent his life exacting his revenge on the people who took her from him (as he saw it) and on those who treated him poorly and their descendants. Darjeeling is the best tea for this book because it’s a black tea and complex by nature—just like Heathcliff’s anger and plans for revenge. Plus, it can only be called Darjeeling if grown and processed in a specific region of India. It doesn’t exist outside that region, as Heathcliff’s life barely existed outside of Catherine’s influence.