Monday, March 3, 2008

A new "tea shop mystery" from Laura Childs

I'll never forget the fun of first discovering Laura Childs' "tea shop mystery" books. I was standing in Scott's Bookstore waiting to interview an author who was there for a book signing. He had a long line of folks waiting for autographs, so I wandered the bookstore checking out the latest reads. But the line was longgggg. After I'd memorized the bestseller racks, I eventually turned to the shelves of paperback mysteries, a section of the bookstore I rarely visited. That's when I spotted "Death by Darjeeling." A mystery centered around a tea shop? Count me in!

That first book came out in 2001, and I have been happily reading the series ever since. I've even re-read a few of the early ones, and that's saying something. Despite the fact these are murder mysteries, they are what I call good clean reading, and I always learn a few things about tea in the process. The main character is Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's Indigo Tea Shop. She is a charming entrepreneur who always seems to find herself at the center of the civic and cultural life in Charleston.

The latest book, "The Silver Needle Murder," centers around the Charleston Film Festival, and Theodosia's tea shop is catering a number of affairs in conjunction with the event. On opening night, a famous director is murdered onstage at the festival, and as usual, there are lots of suspects. (Also as usual, I spotted the killer in the first few chapters, but then I don't read these books for the mystery, I read them for the tea.) And who cares who really killed the director? What I really care about is getting hold of some Silver Needle Tea: "Picked in early spring," writes Childs, "its dried leaves resembled white pine needles. Brewing yielded a pale yellow tea with a delicious buttery almond flavor." Looks like I'll be paying a visit to my own "Indigo Tea Shop" pretty soon!


  1. I also enjoy the Tea Shop Mystery series. Looking forward to reading the latest. Wish there was a non-fictional place like the Indigo Tea Shop in my area. We seem to be loosing so many tearooms lately. Miss Lila's, Vintage Tea, and A Time Remembered have all closed. Now I travel to Aunt Bessies Tearoom in Barnesville for a nice afternoon tea experience.

    You can find Silver Needle Tea at Adagio online. I don't drink much white tea, but I think this would be worth a try. As for tea in Charleston, I can recommend the afternoon tea at the Charleston Place Hotel. It was very elegant and was served in a small room off the lobby. The room was decorated in an unusual equestrian theme.

    Another thing I like about the Tea Shop mysteries are the recipes included at the back of the book. Have you tried any of them? Makes me think of another series I really like by Dianne Mott Davidson about Goldy the caterer. These books also include recipes. Have you read any of them?

  2. Thanks for the info on these books.I'm not much of a mystery reader but do love to indulge myself in fun reading every chance I get. I appreciate also the input from parTea Lady and look forward to reading soon. Regarding tea rooms are there any tea rooms around the Newnan area? Or any that anyone knows of in the works???? (I'd love to open one myself- really) Do we have one relatively near that is worth the visit? Does anyone think one would go over well in Newnan?

  3. Oh, I am totally addicted to these! Glad to know it's out!!

  4. I have had this book on hold at my library since November. I absolutely love them...I've learned a ton about tea, also.

    I love your sight. (I was the anonymous person who wrote about the rose sugar cubes.) Keep up your good work.

  5. ParTea Lady, I LOVE your Red Hatter photo. Adorable! And I'm like you, so sad that Miss Lila's and the other local tea rooms have closed. I have not heard about Aunt Bessie's so will have to put this on my list! And I'm hoping to get back to Charleston in the near future, so I appreciate the info about the Charleston Place Hotel Tea as well!

    And Teresa of Southern Touch, I have heard of a place called Aunt Laura's Sweet Shop (Shoppe?) in Fayetteville, but I haven't yet had a chance to visit. But I KNOW a tea room would go over well in Newnan because people are forever asking why don't I open one! (You can e-mail me at if you'd like more info on that and I'll be happy to share what I know about local tea rooms, what's worked, hasn't worked, that sort of thing. If you open one, I will be your biggest cheerleader!)

  6. Fabulous! I've been re-reading the ones I have and wondering when I'd have a new one to indulge in...


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