December 15th, 2018
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Cozy Corner
Cozy Mystery Spotlights and Interviews

Karen Rose Smith | Tea and a New Cozy Mystery Series

I've been drinking tea all my life. My mom served me tea with lemon in winter after I played in the snow. She added orange juice when I caught a cold. As I grew older, my dad might add a shot of whisky for a sore throat! My tea drinking days followed me through life as green tea and anti-oxidant information became more available. However, as I visited tea rooms over the years and began writing my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series, I researched and tasted many more types of tea.

tea cup

Using tea bags for hot tea and brewing iced tea had been convenient. But exploring loose teas opened up another whole world of tea drinking. Loose teas are easy to brew and can provide a variety of flavors that are unique. For me tea is no longer about dipping a teabag into water heated in a microwave. It's a calming process that involves aroma as well as taste, sharing and experimentation with mixing and combining to develop my own favorite taste sets.

I have to admit I was mostly a tea bag connoisseur before the past few years. I would use tea pots to keep water warm for guests. (By the way, if you put water in the microwave for tea, the tea supposedly doesn't taste as flavorful as when you heat it on the stove. Try it yourself to see.)

Are you a tea drinker? What kind of tea do you like to drink—hot tea or iced? Do you use tea bags or loose tea? Do you prefer herbal, decaffeinated, green, black, white, rooibos, tisane or infused? These are just a few questions to explore about your tea drinking preferences.

When I began to explore my tea preferences and loose teas, I found my tea kettle to heat filtered water, bought a tea ball for brewing a cup and a pot filter for steeping up to 6 cups and pulled my mother's china teapots from my hutch. From my research, the first nuance about tea that I learned was that a tea drinker should heat the water and then pour it over the loose tea into the china tea pot. How long I steep the tea depends on the type I'm using.

To step out of my comfort zone and taste new flavors of tea, I explored Silver Needle White Tea first because I like mild tea. Next I explored Green Tea and then Black. But I realized early on that I enjoyed fruit flavored teas the most and, for health reasons, decaffeinated serves me best...though I do indulge in caffeinated now and then. When I visited tea rooms, I sampled teas from Chocolate Raspberry, Peach, and Wild Orange Blossom to Raspberry Pineapple and Limeade Twist. I also discovered a local herb farm where I found Cinnamon Rooibus, Lemon Souffle and Green Honeybush Nut Crunch.

I'm going to go into a bit of detail about white tea because it's not as well known as some of its counterparts and it's my favorite. I'm a fan of "white" tea because it has a lighter flavor than black or green tea. White tea is not rolled or oxidized. When brewed, it is pale yellow. The term "white" tea comes from silver-white hairs on the still-closed tea buds. It's collected mainly from China, India, Southern Sri Lanka and Northern Thailand.

According to IHerb.com, "White tea comes from the same plant as green and black teas, Camellia sinensis. However, white tea is made from the closed leaf buds, rather than open, and is normally less processed than other teas. Studies have indicated that white tea can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, and research is ongoing regarding the large variety of possible medicinal uses for this tea."

Just a note... If a tea is "naturally caffeinated" with no additives, then your caffeine dose is lighter. Prices vary on white tea, both loose tea and tea bags, from reasonable to beyond expensive. That's why it's best to sample tea before buying it. Processing, or lack of it, is what gives each type of tea—black, green, oolong and white—distinctive flavor.

I brew loose white tea leaves and also use the tea bags. My favorites are Adagio's White Symphony and Snowbud. Another favorite that has a beautiful scent is White Imperial from Vahdam, 100% pure Indian tea. I brew my white teas about three minutes. But your brewing time might be different.

When I decided to write my Daisy Swanson Tea Garden mystery series, I had so much fun exploring tea rooms with friends, speaking with tea room managers, and tasting new flavors of tea. I created the fictional town of Willow Creek and located it in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with its Amish buggies, manicured gardens, fertile farms, hex signs on barns, delicious baked goods and home-grown food, handcrafted quilts and cottage industries. This area embodied all the feelings that I want my readers to have when enjoying DAISY'S TEA GARDEN'S teas and goodies—a strong sense of home, belonging, friendship and warmth. Setting the series in a small town in Lancaster County was taking a step back in time to when values, home and hearth mattered. Tea is an expression of this lifestyle, an escape from the pressures of the ordinary world.

exploring tea rooms

No matter what type of tea you prefer, the ritual of brewing and serving tea from a tea pot can be a calming experience for you and whomever you share your brewed tea with. Try it and see if you like it!

MURDER
WITH LEMON TEA CAKES Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes #1 Amazon.com BN.com iTunes/iBooks Kobo Google Play MURDER
WITH CINNAMON SCONES Murder with Cinnamon Scones #2 Amazon.com BN.com iTunes/iBooks Kobo Google Play

About Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith

USA Today Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith's 100th novel is a 2018 release. She writes both cozy mysteries, romance novels and women's fiction. One of her romances was aired as a TV movie on the UP tv network. Her passion is caring for her five rescued cats. Her hobbies are gardening, cooking, watercolor painting and photography. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. Even though she escaped into story worlds, she had many cousins around her on weekends. Families are a strong theme in all of her novels. She's recently working on her Caprice De Luca Home Staging mystery series as well as her Daisy Tea Garden mystery series. If you'd like to chat with her, you can find her on Facebook at KarenRoseSmithBooks and on Twitter @karenrosesmith.

Caprice De Luca | Daisy's Tea Garden

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