Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mysteries

The Tea Shop Mystery Series, by Laura Childs, stars Theodosia Browning, former advertising executive and current owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, each story follows  Theodosia as she is swept up in a flurry of danger, mystery, and murder.

Death by Darjeeling is the first book in the Tea Shop Mystery Series.
Death by Darjeeling is the first book in the Tea Shop Mystery Series.

Aside from Theo herself, the Indigo Tea Shop staff includes fussy, but nevertheless lovable, master tea blender Drayton Conneley, and part-time college student Hayley Parker, who serves as both the clerk and baker for the shop. Other recurring characters of particular note are Earl Grey, Theo’s darling adopted dog, Delaine Dish, the town flirt and gossip, and Timothy Neville, the elderly patriarch of Charleston’s own Heritage Society. Suspicious crimes seem to have a habit of landing right on Theodosia’s doorstep, and, despite the numerous warnings from her friends, Theodosia’s natural sleuthing skills soon have her launching her own investigations. Whether she finds herself snooping in places she shouldn’t, exploring the murky swamps of the Low Country, or running for her life, nothing can discourage Theo from helping the people she loves.

One of the special things about the Tea Shop Mysteries is that they give a strong sense of location. Childs works hard to make Charleston almost a character in and of itself, helping the reader feel like they are truly immersing themselves in the culture. Another feature would be the numerous recipes included in each book. If I were to use one word to describe these books it would be charming. The Tea Shop Mysteries excel because of the rich and vibrant portrayal of both the characters and the setting as well as the mysteries themselves. However, I must admit that the delightful Indigo Tea Shop alone is my favorite part.

“Gives the reader a sense of traveling through the streets and environs of the beautiful, historic city of Charleston.” ~ MN Lakeshore Weekly News

“Along the way, the author provides enough scrumptious descriptions of teas and baked goods to throw anyone off the killer’s scent.” ~ Library Journal

A Book Recommendation

For All The Tea In China, by Sarah Rose.

In 1848, the British East India Company, having lost its monopoly on the tea trade, engaged Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, botanist, and plant hunter, to make an illicit trip into the interior of China (territory forbidden to foreigners) to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea horticulture and manufacturing. For All the Tea in China is a thrilling narrative that combines history, geography, botany, natural science, and old-fashioned adventure.

Robert Fortune was born in 1812, and died in 1880. His travels resulted in the introduction to Europe of many new, exotic, beautiful flowers and plants. His most famous accomplishment was the successful transportation of tea from China to India in 1848. Not only was Fortune’s purchase of tea plants forbidden by the Chinese government of the time, but his travels were also beyond the allowable day’s journey from the European treaty ports.

After reading this book, I was amazed that I had never before heard of Robert Fortune. Without his (rather sneaky and dishonest) deeds the rest of the world may never have had access to tea. In her wonderful book, Sarah Rose has rescued the aptly named Robert Fortune from the footnotes of Victorian obscurity and written an engrossing story explaining one of the greatest heists in history.

I highly recommend adding this book to your book list.