It has been good reading weather lately, hasn’t it? Let’s cosy up with the eternal classic Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and pour a cup of Cloud Nine Tea’s Lincang Old Arbour. Perhaps a strange pairing at first, but stay with me. Jane Eyre is a book of strong and enchanting qualities, of moral and spiritual musings and one that has given me a different experience each time I have read it.
It seems fitting, then, to pair it with Lincang Old Arbour. A tea picked from wild trees, it has a strong and bold flavour, complex without being complicated, rather like Jane herself. The unique flavour changes with each steep, like a good book is deepened by multiple reads. And once done, the flavour lingers in your mouth, just as Jane Eyre lingers in the mind. Persistent, and bitter-sweet.
With enveloping aromas of wood smoke and dark chocolate, this black tea is one to really savour
A cup of this tea demands your attention. It requires a slowness of pace, an immersion into your senses, that makes it a perfect tea with which to escape from the world. There are hints of malt, and smoke, and sweet, and that thrilling taste of fine black tea. The leaves are long and spindly, and require a wash (5 seconds in hot water) to unfurl the leaves before steeping. This is a tea with no additions or added flavours, and it is one of the most stunning teas in my cabinet. The tea leaves hold a rich cocoa scent, and the tea itself has an echo of burnt sugar. It never fails to delight.
Drink this tea black, no sugar, and just sink into the aromas and flavours of cocoa and malt. Then, if you would like, brew the leaves again and enjoy with a milder, less-sweet brew.
Steeping Temperature: 90°C (hot but not boiling for best chocolate notes)
Steeping Time: 5 minutes – recommended by Cloud Nine. (I steep mine for 1-2 minutes first time, 5 minutes second time).
Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!
– Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
The first time I read Jane Eyre, I was bewitched by Jane’s defiant spirit, and her eloquence, and it stirred my mind in a beautiful way. I’ve since read it again (and again) and there are moments of beauty that never fail to ensnare me. The cast of characters include some truly Gothic archetypes, and of course, the inestimable Mr. Rochester, but this novel is about Jane, and there is never a moment when you, as the reader, are not in Jane’s thoughts, and in Jane’s heart.
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.
Set in the early 19th century, this novel follows Jane from her orphaned childhood years, to the harrowing years at Lowood Institution, to Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester, and then, beyond. Jane Eyre revolves around themes of family, duty, morality, religion, spirituality and, of course, love. Jane is starved of love from an early age, and when it finally reaches her, it comes in a tumultuous and stormy form. Both Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester are characters at odds with the world, their meeting of spirits pins the heart of this novel. Jane’s quest for identity, agency and meaning is timeless, no matter the almost two centuries that seperate writer and modern reader.
Perhaps one of my favourite things about Jane Eyre are these words by its author, as retold by Elizabeth Gaskell. When Charlotte Brontë’s sisters claimed it was impossible to make a heroine interesting on any other terms but beauty, she responded, “I will prove to you that you are wrong; I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself, who shall be as interesting as any of yours.”
And she did.
Have you read Jane Eyre? Tell me your thoughts, or leave a suggestion for a future Cosy Read!