Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hey, guys! Today, I have the utmost pleasure in bringing you a guest post from the author of one of my favorite new series. The EVERY series focuses on Rachel Watts and James Mycroft and their Sherlockian-type adventures. This series is written by the immensely talented Ellie Marney, who also happens to be a native of Australia. I'll say it again: I've never met (or read!) an Aussie I didn't like, and Ellie is no exception.

In Every Breath, tea is mentioned -- and consumed! -- a lot. I like tea quite a bit, even hot tea, though it's not really all that favored in my neck of the woods. No, in the South, we drink the sweetest iced tea we can get our hands on. Anyway, because tea was so noteworthy in this novel, I asked Ellie to explore the tea-drinking custom as it relates to Every Breath. And she did us one better...she even provides us a demonstration! But first, a little about the book everyone's been talking about these past few weeks:

By Ellie Marney
In stores now!!!

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Order Every Breath:
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Here's the blurb:
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft's numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft's passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn't right--and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he's busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den--literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again...

‘I can hear [Mycroft] banging around in the kitchen.  He’ll be boiling a saucepan full of water with five extra-strong teabags, then fishing out the teabags and dumping in about half a can of condensed milk before pouring the whole mess into a giant thermos that stands ready on the kitchen bench…’

Tea, glorious tea!

Now you might think that the example I quoted, about Mycroft’s tea-making habits, is a bit unusual – and you’d be right.  Most people here in Australia don’t make tea like that.  We usually stick to the English tradition and make tea the more conventional way.

But what’s the conventional way?  Because Jen told me that in North America, tea isn’t usually drunk hot.  She said that if you want a hot drink, you have a coffee, and you drink your tea iced, and very sweet…which seems practically sacrilegious to me!  It’s certainly not the way I would make it, and definitely not the way that Rachel and Mycroft prepare tea in Every Breath.

I have to confess I was a bit staggered to discover that the manuscript for Every Breath actually refers to tea – in its various permutations – 44 times.  That’s a heck of a lot of tea.  And most of the time it’s used as a way for the characters to chill out, or release some tension.  The act of tea-drinking calms Rachel down after discovering a dead body (p35), while talking seriously with her brother (p214), and while discussing clues with an informant (p181).  It’s also a useful distraction for both Rachel and Mycroft, when conversation gets too personal (p23, p167, p208), and in other situations, apparently just for the hell of it.

So what is this strange tea-drinking ritual?  Well, it’s sort of up to the individual.  Mycroft might be English-born, but that doesn’t stop him from making weird tea.  But here’s the standard way of making tea, in the Australian manner:

  1. Fill a kettle with enough fresh water to make a cup for yourself (and a detective friend, if one is on hand).  Make sure you don’t use old water – reboiled water tastes stale.
  2. Grab a mug and stick a teabag in it – Lipton’s or Bushell’s, if you really want to do it Australian-style.  Or if you prefer (and you want to go fancy) get a teapot and add one teaspoon of loose leaf black tea (or Early Grey, or English Breakfast, or Lapsong Suchong, or some other special sort) for every cup you plan to make.
  3. Pour freshly boiled water over the teabag in the mug, or the leaf tea in the pot.  Let the tea steep – in other words, stand around for a few minutes and let the leaves infuse into the hot water.
  4. Pour from the teapot into your cup (use a tea strainer, so you don’t get lots of manky tea-leaves floating in your drink), or remove the teabag from your mug.  Then add fresh milk, if you like white tea.  There’s no point leaving the teabag in after you add milk – once the milk is in, the tea leaves stop infusing.  I see people do that all the time though (philistines!).  Milk removes some of the astringent, tannin flavour of the tea, and some people prefer their tea black.
  5. Add sugar if you fancy – usually one teaspoon is enough, but if you have a sweet tooth…
  6. Sip slowly (it’s hot!  Or it should be if it’s any good) and enjoy!

So that’s how you do it!  Australians inherited their tea-drinking tendencies from the English (the colonial power who first dropped in…and stayed), and we’ve never really let it go.  Even out in the bush, when you’re cooking over a campfire, you can drink billy tea – which is loose tea or teabags boiled with water in a billy (like a little metal pot with a suspended handle), sometimes with a handful of gum leaves added in to give it a really outback flavour.

Tea is drunk in mugs, generally, or in nice china cups, or if you’re far from civilisation, in tin pannikins.  You can have it with a bikkie (biscuit) or if you want to do it ‘proper’, you can cook damper (which is a kind of bread cooked on the coals of a campfire) and eat damper with butter and golden syrup while you drink your tea (yum!).  And tea is appropriate for almost every occasion – everyone loves a good cuppa!

If you really want the low-down on how to make tea Mycroft-fashion, then check this out - I also made a little home video to show you (you also get some rather embarrassing glimpses into my home and workspace – excuse the mess!):

Anyway, however you prepare it or drink it, I hope you’re enjoying a good cup of tea (or the hot beverage of your choice), and taking the time to curl up with a good book – if that happens to be Every Breath, then even better!  Jen, thanks for having me over to visit at The Starry-Eyed Revue, and have a good week!

Xx Ellie

About the author:

Ellie Marney was born in Brisbane, and has lived in Indonesia, Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about kid’s literature at libraries and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Her partner and four sons still love her, even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go.

Ellie’s short stories for adults have won awards and been published in various anthologies. Every Breath is her first novel for young adults.

Find Ellie:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Thank you so much, Ellie, for stopping by and sharing your special affinity for tea with us! I loved the tour of your workspace, too! And don't worry about the mess...as Albert Einstein said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" :D

Be sure to check out the rest of the Every Breath Blog Tour:

Shelly at Raindrops and Pages
Jo Ann at Journey of a Bookseller
Lisa at Bookish Broads
Jen at The Starry-Eyed Revue (review)
Shilpa at Sukasa Reads
Kristina at Book Club Sisters
Mandy C. at Forever Young Adult (Part 1)
Lauren at Love is not a triangle
Priyanka at Priyanka Reads
Rachel at The Reader’s Den
Mandy C. at Forever Young Adult (Part 2)
Michelle at Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks
Christina at The Paperback Princesses
Shanika at Nick’s Book Blog
Yash at The Book Wars (Part 1)
Ann at Ann Towell
Dani at Refracted Light
Danielle at Love at First Page
Kat at Cuddlebuggery
Yash at The Book Wars (Part 2)

You guys absolutely have to check out this book. You can find my review here if you need further convincing, but this novel is just about perfect: quirky, funny, captivating, and perfect for fans of Sherlock and/or mystery-solving teens.


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