In Defense of Tea (But Not Excluding Coffee)

People keep asking me if I’m going to sell coffee at Biblio. A huge part of me wants to say no because I don’t want to add to the now cliché “books and coffee” culture, and I’d like to be a sort of niche place, but I think that might not go over well. Might even be suicide as far as the business is concerned. My husband points out that coffee is probably the more common drink and perhaps many would love to go to Biblio but then won’t because I don’t sell it. Then one evening as we were walking the dog, he said, “Boy, I could really use a coffee.” There was a pregnant pause before he said, pointedly, “Too bad Biblio doesn’t sell it.”

I laughed, but I got the point. And I think he’s right. There isn’t anything but a Tim Horton’s nearby and we all know their coffee is dishwater, so eastenders who like a stronger, full-bodied coffee have to drive all the way across the river to Starbucks. Meh. My vision is to serve as many people as I can and not to exclude booklovers on the basis that they might prefer a coffee to tea from time to time. I also see business people coming in before work and getting their coffee to go. Unless they’re like me, most people will likely be drinking coffee in the morning, and the happier I make them, the happier I’ll be.


As you know, I have a sacred appreciation for tea, particularly herbal, but I’m quite open to black (monk’s blend, earl grey, lapsang souchong, lady grey, Yorkshire Tea, etc.) and others. And my favourite thing to do is buy books and read, and since these two—tea and books—spell the ultimate in coziness and contentedness for me, it only makes sense to marry them in almost ceremonious celebration of what they represent. For me, books and tea are love, passion, comfort, warmth, culture, class (in the sense of an elegance of style, taste, manner)—all especially valuable things.

I know I’m not alone in this appreciation, which is one reason I’m opening Biblio. I also plan on creating gift baskets that recommend certain teas (but not coffee this time!) with certain books (and perhaps music, if you can read and have music in the background), because I find that when I’ve picked my book to read and go to make tea, there’s a choosing process that depends on that particular book.

The Ektorp chaise: my favourite spot in my friend Marie's flat

Perhaps like many, I rarely read a book without a cup of tea, and if I can read and sip in a perfect place as well, one conducive to the type of atmosphere that goes with the two—say, a yellow-lighted corner of the living room with a blanket, by a fireplace, in a comfy chair or chaise longue (IKEA’s Ektorp is my coveted choice), or in a place that’s inviting, with dark wood and lots of books—then the act of reading becomes something like going to church, being hugged by your favourite person, sitting in a peaceful sunlight clearing in the woods, or cuddling with a beloved pet.

It’s a luxury, books and tea together, and for me, though a relatively small thing, it feels downright decadent. This is why I want to open Biblio, to recreate and offer this experience to others (complete with working fireplace). In a world that is becoming increasingly depressed, simple pleasures are most welcome.

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  1. Annie

    Hah, I had the same problem when creating TeaLeaves,(back then, I wasn’t into coffee…)I was creating TeaLeaves with just bibliophiles and tea junkies in mind….now….after having done my coffee course, and admittedly appreciating a really good cafetiere of coffee….I have to sell it. Like Betty’s does, from bean to cup, and with over 20 to choose from. Like I tell customers whilst grinding their recommended choice of beans, I could weigh out, grind and sell beans all day. I love to pause and inhale the rich scents of pure coffee. And truthfully, we sell as much coffee as teas in Betty’s and thats saying something for the English, (although, Taylors coffees are the best!!) I think what sold coffee to me in the end, was the enormous effort it takes to get a coffee bean to a cup of coffee. My eyes were opened doing that course, and I salute the coffee growers, the pickers,the graders, the people who carefully select the perfect beans, the blenders, the roasters and then after them, it gets easier. Yes, I would never contemplate TeaLeaves without a quality selection of the finest beans for the bibiliophile who just doesn’t do Tea!….OR when its just isn’t the time of day for tea!!

  2. Get brewin’, I’m on my way!

    Tea, coffee — I enjoy both, depending on the time of day. To me, there’s nothing like a fresh cup of hot coffee to wake up to. Then I enjoy my tea (recently it’s been green tea with pomegranate) around 3 o’clock and, later, around 9 o’clock, when my husband and I sit down with a cup of peppermint to wind down and close out another hectic day.

    I wonder: Will you be serving hot cocoa? …

  3. Rebecca: My home is open to you and whenever Biblio is built, you are most welcome!

    Peppermint and ginger with lemon are two of my favourite after dinner teas, whether than be right after dinner or three times after dinner. :)

    Yes, most definitely we will sell hot cocoa!!

    PS. The avatar is Young Girl Reading, painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. We used to have this framed and hanging at home. I wonder if my parents still have it? It was one of my very favourite prints.

  4. Well, I don’t think I’m going to have a liquor licence, though that hasn’t been decided for certain. But if you promise to behave, I’ll turn a blind eye to the bottle you stash in your pocket when you come!

    As for gingersnaps, wouldn’t you know I have a box of my favourite ones on my desk, right beside me. They are Nyakers, from Sweden. Spicy cookies are my fave, and I do plan to sell biscuits, so gingersnaps will definitely be included!


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