One of the creature comforts that helped me survive my first year of teaching (yes, it was a matter of survival) was fresh-brewed loose-leaf tea. That was the year I discovered TeBella Tea, a local tea shop. Abigail St. Claire, the owner, was establishing the business and spent many hours behind the counter as well as networking, buying, and pitching her business. Today, she has several shops, an awesome team staff behind the counters, and has been invited to some of the most exclusive tea plantations in China. One day I was grading essays for To Kill a Mockingbird and taking solace in the warmth of a pot of Lavender Fog. Abigail noticed the novel by my side and exclaimed how she loved the book.
The novel is nearly four hundred pages, so the movie reduces the parallel story of the children’s fascination with Boo Radley, the town’s recluse, to a few key scenes. For the record, Boo is critical to Scout’s maturation through the book, and Robert Duvall’s portrayal of Boo deserved to have more scenes in the film.
Considering the majority of the story is set during the hot, humid summer days before air conditioning, Abigail suggests pairing the novel with a southern sweet iced tea using Ceylon (here’s a pronunciation guide) because of its bright and brisk flavor. Don’t like iced tea? Not to worry: Ceylon teas are delicious hot as well, which would be an appropriate pairing with Chapter 24. You know the one—Aunt Alexandra has the ladies of the missionary circle over and after they discuss “business” they retire for “refreshments.” Granted, the chapter says coffee was served, but I could see these women sipping Ceylon tea from porcelain cups and nibbling on freshly made scones with Devonshire cream and jam or a batch of buttery cookies.
I can also imagine the ladies’ conversation centering around Sri Lankan workers instead of “those poor Mrunas” (page 308) Ceylon teas come from a specific region in Sri Lanka and are classified as High-, Mid-, or Low Grown depending on the altitude of the plantation.
TeBella offers Ceylon Sinharaja, grown exclusively at the Lambini Estate near the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. It is a bit bolder and more malty than many Ceylons, but it does maintain the classic bright and brisk qualities of the traditional Ceylon. This is a tea I enjoy frequently, so I can attest to its deliciousness, but the tea’s numerous awards are a stronger testimony than my taste buds.
One of my first 360-photos inside TeBella Tea on Davis Island, Tampa FL. Try it out!
I'm a Chicago-born baby raised in Connecticut with a two-year diversion in Beirut, Lebanon. As an adult, I'm a nomad having lived in New York; Connecticut; London, England; (back to) Connecticut; Ohio; and now Florida. I have traveled by foot, by bike, by air, by car, by motorcycle, by boat, and by train. I remain constantly curious about the world.