Guest Strumpet: Join Kathryn Barrett for a Cuppa Tea!

Welcome Guest Strumpet Kathryn Barrett! Her Tea of Choice: Lipton Green Tea Mandarin Orange Flavor in pyramid bags



The fine art of drinking tea, and writing about it

I ordered green tea at Starbucks the other day, expecting the usual warm paper cuppa to be handed over to me by the “barista”. Instead, I was handed a chilled concoction that bore no relation to green tea. That’s when I remembered I’m in America now, where “tea” does not mean a warm, welcoming drink that soothes the day’s abuses like a soft sweater wards off the chill. (Okay, I get a little poetical when it comes to tea. I also get angry when my tea isn’t served the way I like it, at 170F and in a proper cup. Don’t worry; the barista survived.)

I’ve always been a tea drinker, even before I moved to England ten years ago. There, I was surprised the first time I ordered “hot tea” at a kiosk in the train station, and the confused server asked me how hot I wanted it. I quickly learned to simply order “tea” and I’d be served the hot variety.

But now I’ve moved back to the United States, and here “tea” means iced tea. Since in Britain it’s rarely hot enough to appreciate a proper iced drink, I have become used to drinking everything without ice, even water. (A gin and tonic being the exception, of course—you can’t live in England long without learning to love G&Ts!)

My Starbucks drink was quickly sorted, and as I sipped the tea, feeling life slip back into my bloodstream after a nasty morning of doctor appointments and shopping, I only wished I had a proper tea cup that I could curl my hand around, since I’m sure there’s some sort of osmosis that allows the beverage to actually seep through my body via the thin china cup.

As a full time writer, I mainly spend my days sipping tea, sometimes as many as five cups a day of green tea. I can’t handle the caffeine content of coffee or black tea, though occasionally, when I’ve not slept enough, I’ll prod myself awake with a cup of black or white tea. (White tea has more caffeine than green, but not as much as black.) My writing ritual involves turning on the kettle and turning off the Internet. (I use a program that used to be called Webtrate but is now named the much more direct Stop Procrastinating.) I also have to be wearing comfy yoga pants, a warm hoodie, and slippers, which is why you won’t see me writing at Starbucks. I do draw the line at pajamas, though. The act of getting dressed helps convince me I’m actually at a “real” job.

My favorite blend of green tea is actually Lipton’s flavored green teas. I used to buy it in France—I know, most people go to France for the wine, but I find the refined tastes of the French extend to their tea as well. I mean, where else would you be able to find cupcake flavored tea? It’s worth a trip across the Channel, believe me.

Now that I find myself across the Atlantic from France, I won’t be going quite so often, but fortunately I have a few boxes French green tea saved. That was one of the first things I unpacked when my household goods arrived from the UK—priorities, right?

There’s a bit of writing advice I’ve read often—don’t let your characters drink tea. Why? Because it usually indicates a pause in the action, a scene where instead of acting, a character is sitting around reflecting instead. And this is good advice, except for the times when it’s not. Sometimes characters really do need to take a break, sit down, and sort their life with a cup of tea in hand. But they must make some sort of decision, take some sort of action, or the scene is wasted. Maybe a heroine decides to toss her tea at the hero. Or maybe she reads her future in the tea leaves and jumps up to confront it. Or maybe the full-bodied cup stimulates her to quit her job and move to Alaska. In Redemption, my latest release, the heroine Claire shares my fondness for tea, and at least once I broke the “no tea” rule. The hero almost got it in the face a couple of times.

I really like the possibilities that a cup of warm tea presents, don’t you? What is your writing or reading beverage of choice?

Thank you, Kathryn! Now, while you enjoy your own cuppa hot tea, here’s an excerpt from Kathryn’s latest, Redemption.


Redemption cover


Recently appointed an executive of a Philadelphia department store, Claire Porter doesn’t want a man in her life. She still bears scars from her past, including the Hollywood scandal that resulted in the birth of her son, but she’s the last to admit she needs a hero.

Matt Grayson is perfectly cast for the role. As a kid, he staged rescue operations with GI Joe and Barbie. Now he plays a hero on the big screen, but when he encounters Claire, ten years after their disastrous affair, he realizes she’s no longer the naive girl who fell into his arms. She not only forbids him to use her store as a location for the film he’s directing, but also refuses to cooperate with the emotional rescue he plans.

As layers of secrets are exposed, Claire and Matt grow closer, and finally face their personal—and public—redemption.


She gaped at him. “So you think we can just—forgive and forget—just like that?”

“I’m not holding a grudge. I thought I made that clear.” He met her gaze squarely, and in his green eyes she noticed something she would almost label tenderness.

She shook her head. “No, I don’t—” but before she could finish the sentence he had covered the distance between them and tilted her chin up to face him.

His eyes seemed to take in every detail of her face as he spoke to her. “You see, I have this strange inability to feel hatred at the same time I feel something else. I don’t know what it is between us, Claire, but it’s there, pulling us together every time I’m around you. Whatever it is nearly destroyed us ten years ago, but I’m a lot smarter now. Believe it or not, I’ve learned a thing or two about the value of patience. I want you, just as much as I ever did, but I intend to wait this time. When I’m sure no one will be hurt by what we do together—and that includes our son—then I’m going to put moves on you, lady, that you’ve never seen before.” A dangerous glint of passion had replaced the tender light in his eyes, a look she couldn’t mistake any more than she could take a breath.

She stared transfixed, as his face came closer and his mouth captured hers in the most gentle of kisses.

She didn’t move, not a muscle, while his lips gently explored hers, warm, inviting, reminding her of something she had made herself forget.

Cupcake Tea!!

Cupcake Tea!!

About the Author:

Kathryn Barrett reluctantly put aside childhood dreams of becoming an author and took a more practical approach, majoring in Business Administration in college. But after marrying an Air Force officer, she realized a career in high finance didn’t suit an itinerant lifestyle. She happily returned to her first love, writing stories that feature larger-than-life characters, family relationships, and of course, a happy ending.

Her award-winning novel Temptation was published in 2013, followed by Redemption in 2014.

Having lived all over the world, Kathryn and her family have recently relocated to northern Virginia. She enjoys long walks with her squirrel-obsessed dog, traveling to tiny European countries, cooking vegan feasts, and, only occasionally, she still reads the Financial Times.




Twitter: @KathrynSBarrett




23 thoughts on “Guest Strumpet: Join Kathryn Barrett for a Cuppa Tea!

  1. Hi, Kathryn! Welcome to T&S. Hmm, Cupcake flavored tea? Very interesting. I’m not much into flavored teas, though I enjoy the diversity of natural teas, though I’ve become a real Starbucks coffee addict of late. Now that I’ve read your enthusiasm for the beverage, I’m thinking it’s time to switch back! And I also wish that you could get a hot beverage in a proper cup when you plan to consume it in situ. ENJOYED the excerpt! Your book sounds lovely, and I wish you all the best.

  2. Pingback: In which I complain about tea at Tea and Strumpets - Kathryn BarrettKathryn Barrett

  3. We’re so happy to have you here, Kathryn. I never knew that the default for “tea” is iced. Learn something new every day. I grew up drinking tea, both hot and iced. It’s my grandmother’s favorite drink. She’d make me a cup of black Lipton tea with sugar and milk. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned that Americans don’t put milk in their tea. They don’t know what they are missing. 🙂

    • Thank you for having me, Tracey! Yes, I didn’t notice so much when I lived here before, but it may depend on where you are. In the South, I think people assume tea is iced. I know some Americans think they should have cream in their tea like in their coffee instead of milk, but that would shock a Brit! Green tea is best without either, and I don’t add sugar or honey either. The main thing, though, is that is shouldn’t be made with boiling water. 170F is best, and it really does make a difference.

      • I didn’t know about the boiling water, either. I’ll keep that in mind for my next cup of tea. Although I don’t have a fancy barista machine. Instead of waiting for the tea pot to whistle, I’ll look for the stream of smoke. LOL

  4. Kathryn, So sorry to be late! I am so with you on the tea thing! I’m an obsessive tea drinker. I get the trait honestly–my mother used to drink about a gallon a day of the iced stuff. Like you, I prefer mine hot. Unlike you, I go for the high-test black tea, but in a variety of flavors. I start the morning with America’s version of “English breakfast tea.” I put two bags in a little teapot (I know, I know….bags??? It’s the best I can do!) and drink two mugs before work. My “cubby” at my paycheck job is stacked with about six or seven flavors of teas. I’ll usually get through two 20-oz mugs during the day. When I get home, I finish off the pot of tea I’d started in the morning.

    I once worked with a woman whose husband is a native of Ireland. He taught her how to make a proper cup of tea (preparing the cup first by filling it with boiling water, etc.). I have to admit I haven’t gone to those lengths (I’m too lazy, I guess), but I must have properly boiled water–from a kettle, not a microwave–to make the tea. And I’d often rather go thirsty than drink from a Styrofoam or plastic cup.

    Fantastic, intriguing excerpt. “Redemption” just went in my TBR pile. 🙂

    Thanks for the fun post!

    • Leah, I’ve got no problem with tea bags–fiddling with the leaves and a strainer is such a time waster when there’s tea to be drunk! I do prefer the pyramid shaped bags, though. I think the leaves are larger in those and allow the water to swoosh around more. And I totally agree about the Styrofoam. When I first visited the US from England, I asked for hot water to make my own tea, since they didn’t have any green tea. I was shocked when she brought me a Styrofoam cup! I’m convinced it ruins the taste.

  5. I should add, I didn’t know the water was supposed to be a specific temperature! I don’t have a way to do that either, so I’ll have to stick with the boiling. Although at work, once my electric kettle shuts off, it usually takes me a few minutes to get to pouring, so maybe it’s cooled down to the proper temp by then. 🙂

    • It’s only the green tea that needs to be below boiling. The hot water damages the leaves and really does affect the taste. Oddly, I noticed this when I moved from New Mexico, where water boils at a lower temp. At sea level, my tea tasted bitter. That was due to the higher boiling temperature of the water! Later we did some experiments (my husband is an engineer who works with heat transfer, so it was right up his alley) and figured out that putting a half inch or so of water into the cup before pouring kept the water at the right temperature.

  6. Hey, Kathryn!
    My mom is Jamaican, and she started us kids on a morning ritual of hot tea very early. We had a cup of tea every morning — including summer mornings in South Carolina — without fail. I still perform the tea ritual today. The office machine makes the water nuclear hot, which is good for me, since it’ll sit there for a while before I get to it. If I’m at home, sometimes the cup sits next to my laptop long enough to become lukewarm before I finish it. I guess the actual process of making the tea is more important than the drink itself. 🙂
    Always good to meet a fellow tea person!

  7. I had to laugh when I read this. I am a MASSIVE tea drinker!!! I drink hot and iced tea all day long. There are times when I find I have both at the same time. Sad but true. When I moved back to the US, I asked for special permission to bring home several cases of tea (and a few bottles of Pimms)!! I went to Costco and bought the giant bags of PG Tips (I have been home a year now and only just finished the first bag). I think American tea is not as strong as British tea and I think there is something about the water that makes it taste different.. maybe no limescale? lol! Keep your characters drinking tea – in my opinion – tea makes every situation better!!! XXX

    • Roni, a friend once gave me a box of PG Tips for my birthday, and I love it! I don’t generally buy it because it’s a little bit more expensive, but you’ve reminded me how much I enjoyed it. It’s going back on the shopping list. 🙂

  8. Hi Kathryn! My English friend is HORRIFIED by the concept of flavored tea. She’ll take her cuppa black, thank you very much. Best of luck with your novel!

    • Thanks Jen! I found it difficult to find tea I liked in England, which is why I went to France! I can’t drink black tea–not unless you want to peel me off the roof! And English black tea is usually very strong, which is why they add loads of milk (another thing I don’t drink). I always kept it on hand for repairmen who came round. It’s the custom to offer tea so I had to keep UHT milk and PG Tips for those occasions (which were numerous!).

  9. Oh, yes, PG Tips! I could get that at Tesco for £1 a large box! When I saw how much it was here, I was shocked! Roni, I think you’re right about the strength of British tea. They put a lot of milk in it to cut it down. I’ve heard it called “builder’s tea” which implies it’s pretty strong! Enjoy your PG Tips today 🙂

  10. Well Kathryn, no matter how late anyone is, I’m usually later. Great post with useful info on how to make green tea – thanks! And I enjoyed your excerpt as well. .

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