A Coup of Tea
(Tea Princess Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: August 2nd 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
When the fourth princess of Istalam is due to dedicate herself to a path serving the crown, she makes a choice that shocks everyone, herself most of all: She leaves.
In hiding and exiled from power, Miyara finds her place running a tea shop in a struggling community that sits on the edge of a magical disaster zone. But there’s more brewing under the surface of this city—hidden magic, and hidden machinations—that threaten all the people who’ve helped her make her own way.
Miyara may not be a princess anymore, but with a teapot in hand she’ll risk her newfound freedom to discover a more meaningful kind of power.
A Coup of Tea is the first book of the Tea Princess Chronicles, a cozy fantasy series full of magic tea, friendship, and lifting people up even when the odds seem impossible.
She hands me a third cup, and I eye her mistrustfully, that unease back again and sharp.
“Earning your tablecloth,” she reminds me.
I smell the grassiness of the green tea before I taste it. But the flavor is so strange I can’t immediately identify the elements—she’s used aloia nectar not just as a sweetener, but to bind this mystery ingredient, and the result has a strangely smooth, nutty element. I frown at the cup and take another sip, swirling the tea in my mouth.
“So?” Lorwyn asks.
It’s much better than the other two, but this tea gives the impression of oozing—no, crawling through the grass—
I set the cup down abruptly. “Please tell me your mystery ingredient is not insectoid.”
Her eyebrows rise in surprise. “Wow. Okay, I’m impressed. Apparently the trekkers named them sleekbeetles. New species discovered in the Cataclysm. Talmeri bought crates of their scales.”
I am drinking beetle scale tea.
This morning I was a princess, and now I sit sopping in a tablecloth drinking beetle scale tea.
Lorwyn shrugs. “I’m sure they were cheap. Talmeri’s always on the lookout for novelty items to boast the most unique tea flavors in the city, and she also likes torturing me. Who can say which was the primary factor this time?”
I grimace. “Wonderful. A hitherto untasted bug. I hope it’s at least magically inert and you haven’t poisoned me?”
“Of course I didn’t poison you,” Lorwyn says. “I tasted it before you did. How could you tell it was beetle?”
“The grassiness of the green tea,” I say. “It’s too sharp. You need something mellower that’s still robust enough to hold up to the aloia nectar.”
Lorwyn slumps back—I’m not entirely sure how she manages to, since she’s sitting on a stool.
“Aloia is tricky,” she grumbles.
“Maybe it needs another note,” I say. “The aloia manages the beetle flavor into something nearly salvageable. Now you need a bridge between the aloia and the tea.”
Lorwyn bolts out of her stool. “Wait there!”
She returns with another small pot and a cup, adds them to the tea service. She lifts the pot to pour, and all at once I realize, beetle scales aside, what’s been bothering me.
The water from that kettle should not have correctly brewed different kinds of teas and tisanes. The temperature of the water has to have changed, and there are no cooling or heating devices anywhere near the table.
I glance around for a structure, anything she could have used to anchor magecraft. The stools aren’t in any particular order around the table, there are no candles, and the teacups are arranged for the taster’s benefit alone.
Which means this isn’t magecraft at all.
I promise I can maim you in any number of ways, she said.
Lorwyn holds a cup of tea out to me with an excited look on her face.
I’ve lost my wits. After realizing what she’s doing, it’s the only explanation for what I do next.
I take the cup, and I sip.
Casey Blair writes adventurous fantasy novels for all ages, and her serial fantasy Tea Princess Chronicles is available online for free. After graduating from Vassar College, her own adventures have included teaching English in rural Japan, attending the Viable Paradise residential science fiction and fantasy writing workshop, and working as an indie bookseller. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and can be found dancing spontaneously, exploring forests around the world, or trapped under a cat. For more information visit her website caseyblair.com or follow her on Twitter @CaseyLBlair.