Johanne Loose Leaf Strawberry Black Tea
Johanne's tea is based on the character's tea in the Beanseller Saga by Avon Van Hassel. A dark, swirling cup filled with the sweetness of strawberries, and perfumed with red rose petals.
Makes a perfect gift for your book lover friend.
organic black tea, organic strawberries, organic rose petals, flavour
And now, for a little snippet of a scene with Johanne. Enjoy.
Lady Marva slurped from her fine porcelain cup and set it down with a tinkle.
‘This tea is lovely. Is it flavoured with strawberry?’
‘Yes, I-’ Johanne corrected herself, ‘we grow it here on the grounds.’
Lady Marva’s eyes flicked to Johanne’s. ‘You’re something of a gardener, are you?’
Johanne was caught out. It wasn’t an unusual hobby for a woman, but Lady Marva disapproved of most hobbies that she didn’t share, and she didn’t seem the type to allow dirt under her fingernails.
Johanne straightened the pink-and-red striped carnation in its vase on the table.
Carnations, in the language of flowers, represented infatuation, and the colours said, ‘I wish we could be together, but it cannot be.’ Those who knew the symbolism of flowers assumed the flowers she decorated the house with to be a tribute to her dead husband, and she was happy to let them believe what they wanted.
‘Yes,’ Johanne said. ‘I found that it passed the time when my husband was away at war, and I continued when I came here.’
‘Six years ago.’
‘Yes,’ Johanne hesitated. Lady Marva’s emphasis on how long Johanne had been with Uncle George hinted at a change of topic.
‘So then, to business.’ Lady Marva fixed Johanne with a direct gaze. ‘I should tell you, my girl, that my people believe in bold honesty.’
‘Please, I welcome it.’ Johanne smiled and set her own cup down.
Uncle George and his friends played their games with cards, but the women played theirs with compliments and formalities. Both involved bluffs disguised as honesty, and both could get quite expensive for the losers.
‘You need a husband and my nephew needs a wife. A woman as young and lively as you should not be shut up in a house like this forever. You are too young to be a widow.’
‘Yet I am one,’ Johanne said. ‘I believe your criticism lies with the war.’
‘But you needn’t live like one. This house is a mausoleum, a monument to your uncle’s grief over the loss of his own wife. He often says “Ellenly must have a mistress,” but it needn’t be you. Yet, with you here, he won’t look for anyone new to perform that function.’
‘So this is about my uncle.’
‘You’re both stagnating, my dear.’ Lady Marva’s icy blue eyes made Johanne feel like a rabbit cornered by a fox. ‘If you save yourself, you’ll save him too. And my nephew. And your daughter.’ She released Johanne and sat back, taking a sip of tea.
Johanne chewed her tongue. Rosabel was doing quite well under Johanne’s and Molle’s guidance. Uncle George was barely involved, except to dote on her and deliver the occasional lesson on frugality.
Second husbands rarely thought as highly of preexisting children as they did of their own, and a young man would surely want to start his own family. At the very least, Lady Marva would insist that he make the effort. If he was successful, Rosabel would be shut up in some dusty wing and forgotten. It was not uncommon for girls who were unmarried by the time they came into their inheritance to be stripped of it by their new legal guardians. Rosabel would be unmarriageable, or worse, married off to further her step-father’s ambitions.
Lady Marva was talking again and Johanne pulled her attention back from her gloomy musings.
‘—But that will all change, of course. You’ll want to decorate it yourself.’
Ahh, the house. Cranner Manse.
‘I admit, I never looked at it with a critical eye. I imagine there will be a lot to consider before I make any decisions.’ Johanne sipped her tea, hoping the Lady Marva interpreted her words correctly. It wasn’t just the house. She wouldn’t be forced into a marriage without first meeting the man. Then she could say no graciously.
‘The bones are good,’ Lady Marva said slowly, setting her teacup carefully in its saucer. ‘It needs a little fleshing out. But it belongs to a good family and these things are always a compromise. I’m sure you’ll come to love it in time.’
So the message had been received and she was pushing back. She’s talking as though the deal is done. Then, all at once, the jumbled pieces settled and an icy still fell over her.
He’s already agreed, the unbidden voice whispered from the depths of her mind.
Heat flooded her face again as porcelain clattered against wood. She didn’t realise she had set the cup down quite so hard, or that she’d stood up. Her head throbbed violently, blinding her for a moment. What did Uncle George put in that letter?
‘Are you quite all right, my dear?’ The look of triumph faded from Lady Marva’s face as her brow creased and she reached out a hand for Johanne’s wrist. Her skin was soft and wrinkled like a shrivelled peach, but warm. Johanne pulled back and forced a smile that felt more like a snarl.
‘I appreciate you coming all this way to speak to me, Lady Marva,’ she said.
The older woman lifted her chin and tilted her head to the side.
Johanne picked up Lady Marva’s gloves. ‘And you have such a long way to go. We could sit and chat for hours and you don’t want to still be on the road when night falls.’
Lady Marva watched Johanne for a moment, then stood as well, fixing a smile over her rigid expression. ‘You’re right, of course. Well, I look forward to many more cups to tea with you.’ She took her gloves and swept past.
Johanne walked Lady Marva to her carriage and waited outside as it crunched down the gravel drive. When it turned the corner onto the road, she stormed back inside and up to her room. She slammed the door behind her and sank into the chair at her desk, clapping a hand to her mouth as hurt, angry tears poured out of tightly shut eyelids.
In any normal situation, the man proposed marriage and the woman accepted or rejected. After that, it was the woman’s judgement to break off the engagement if she chose, and the man was powerless.
But this was different. Lady Marva had proposed, Uncle George had accepted, and Johanne was powerless. The Poirier family was far too powerful, and refusing a good match would be nearly as detrimental as marrying Alois like she wanted to. Her own family, including her sisters as well as Uncle George, would be plunged into disgrace. Anyone who’d ever touched her would be ruined.
She had told Alois once that she would marry him if he somehow managed to secure a title, but that was even less likely than Lady Marva’s nephew suddenly finding a wife before it was too late.
There was no way out.
When she’d cried all she could, she opened her eyes and they fell on the paper she had been reading: Royal Wedding Plans the Grandest in a Century!
Johanne shoved the broadsheet into the basket at the side of the desk, catching the date as it slid: tomorrow. Her stomach churned again. She wondered if the princess was as nervous as she was, waiting to be married off to a stranger to serve the machinations of other people.
Each bag has enough tea for 20 cups when you measure out one teaspoon per cup (8oz) of water.
Comes in a resealable stand-up pouch for easy storing and lasting freshness.