If the Read by Candlelight cast were Tea.

My family is on an economising kick right now. We’ve been incredibly lucky, but with me resigning from my job (my timing leaves a lot to be desired!) and my stepdad’s freelance work impacted by the economic downturn, we’re all aware that we need to cut our living costs.

A cup of tea in a white cup resting on matching saucer, a shortbread cookie resting beside it.

Photo by Matthew Henry, from Burst.

I am something of a tea enthusiast, and I have a thing for tea blends. Sadly, I used the last of my French Earl Grey tea leaves on my final day of work, and, at 42.00 for 250g haven’t been able to justify buying more. My stepdad has been making the most amazing homemade loaves, and he and Mum have been doing amazing things in our vegetable garden. I’ve been inspired to make my own ginger beer and bath bombs, and thought that making my own tea blend would be a good way to indulge my love of tea while also keeping costs down.

I found a recipe online, did the math and realised that the ingredients would cost be 30.00. Still not cheap--but better than 42.00. Unfortunately, when I went to make my tea, I realised I only had half the amount of vanilla beans I needed. Buying more put the cost of my home-brew up to 42.00—the same as my fancy T2 blend. Still, I was committed now. I had to wait two weeks for the flavours to develop, and finally, this morning, had my first pot of my home made vanilla tea.

Sadly underwhelming! I’m hopeful that the vanilla will develop more over time, but I think I’m going to have to resign myself to plain English breakfast for the time being. In the meantime, tea has been on my mind a lot lately, so I’m indulging the tea addict in me with a list of what tea the Read by Candlelight cast would be if they were a tea.

Pip: Vanilla Black Tea.

I am not just picking this because it’s my favourite. At first glance, a respectable black tea but with unexpected hidden sweetness. It just makes sense. Also, it’s delicious. My ultimate favourite here is Ladurée’s Vanilla tea.

Cross: Lapsang Souchong

This is a very strong tea, but there is a lot of complexity to it. The smoky taste hints at Cross’ fiery interior. Can’t go wrong with Lupica.

Stephen Mereweather: Lemongrass

As a healer, Stephen has to be a herbal tea. It just makes sense to me. I choose lemongrass because it is so good for wellbeing, and is a gentle, calming flavour, with surprising robustness. I am currently drinking Healtheries Lemongrass and Ginger which is kind of funny because…

Charlie: Ginger

Charlie is so ginger. Warming, so good for you, but with that spicy kick.

Felix: Builder’s tea.

Felix is practical. He likes his tea strong, and is deaf to Robin’s hints about preferring a more delicate blend in the mornings. No, you want to start the day right, you start it with blistering hot strong tea, tempered with milk and a generous dollop of honey. Felix would buy Yorkshire Tea in bulk.

Westaway: French Earl Grey.

I told myself I wasn’t going to be predictable and I wasn’t allowed to match French Earl Grey with any of my characters, but I can’t help it—this match works so well. Adding lavender to a breakfast tea is not something I ever expected to enjoy but it goes so well—and you feel like a swell drinking it. Recommend 100%. Good plain or if you valet insists on putting milk in it.

Wiremu: Mānuka/Tea tree

Mānuka is a shrub native to New Zealand, whose leaves, flowers and bark have amazing medicinal properties and a very distinctive flavour. You might have encountered mānuka honey produced from mānuka flowers. Early settlers called it the ‘tea tree’ and used it as a substitute for actual tea leaves (admittedly, they used a lot of things as substitutes for tea leaves), but in New Zealand today, it’s better known by its Māori name. Wiremu would be a brew of mānuka leaves thrown into a billy over a campfire deep in the bush, but as a substitute there’s this Ti Ora blend of summer fruits and mānuka.

Patrick: Earl Grey.

Patrick sticks to the safety of the classics, and it is really hard to go wrong with Earl Grey. He’s happy with Twinnings or Lipton—no splurging on fancy blends for him. Patrick is all about tempering indulgence.

Hester: Hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus leaves produce a really vivid crimson tea—it’s absolutely gorgeous. It is versatile, good hot or cold, and has a tart flavour that I adore. Bonus: it is good for menstrual cramps. It’s an ideal match for Hester’s determination.

Vanda: Russian Caravan.

It’s very appropriate to me that Vanda’s tea should be a mellower version of Lord Cross. In a lot of ways they’re very similar, but Vanda has tempered herself in a way that Cross is still struggling with. I would go for Chapter’s Russian Caravan.

Dawson: A  forgotten pot of tea, over-brewed, probably cold.

Look, when he’s painting, he’s painting. Who remembers tea?

Leith: Liquorice.

He will drink your human tea, but he will resent you while doing so.

Scott: Green tea.

Inspired by that J S Le Fanu story about the vicar who drank too much green tea and started seeing demons. Scott is pretty sure that drinking green tea will not actually allow him to see beyond the bounds of our so called reality and into other worlds, but he would be a fool not to at least try it.

Rosemary: Mint

Rosemary herself would say something along the lines of ‘who cares as long as it is strong and hot enough to burn if used as a weapon against the Patriarchy.’ Actually, she’d like anything she can grow and brew herself. Mint is a hardy herb with energising properties and a lot of strength. The perfect tea to ferment rebellion with.

Gideon: Chocolate Mint.

The indulgence of the chocolate is tempered by the energising qualities of the mint—Gideon can’t afford to indulge himself, no matter how much he would like to. This is a good match between his tastes and the practicalities of his situation.

Fairweather: Jasmine

Something about jasmine just says luxury to me—I love the scent and the flavours of jasmine, especially when paired with a white or green tea. Fairweather’s all for the finer things in life. I’m sure he’d go for something like this T2 blend.

Holford: Coffee.

Holford thinks this entire post a self-indulgent waste of time. He is probably right.

Florence: Violet tea.

I cannot find it to link to it, but Ladurée makes a really amazing violet black tea—it is really delicate and so lovely, but easily overwhelmed so you’ve really got to treat it with care.