It’s still warm enough that you’ll call it summer, but you’ve started wearing cardigans at night. You’re still enjoying summer tomatoes from the garden, but the though of pumpkin filling is also starting to occupy your thoughts. I’ve got some cozy goodness to give away today (yay!).
Happy Tuesday! I’d like to welcome you to the second day of the week by introducing you to a cool company I found for literature and tea lovers while scanning the Internet. I reached out to their CEO and Creative Director Christina who was obliging enough to send me a box to test and also offer a box for a reader giveaway.
Muse Monthly is a subscription service box that sends a hand-picked pairing of tea and book to your door every month.
The February Box
The light and fruity, caffeine-free drink reminds me of driving around Cuba in the heat and pulling up at a roadside shack for a piña colada. Except in reverse. Here it’s freezing outside and the beverage is hot. Still, it’s a nice reminder of the tropics during the winter months.
On the package Amitea recommends trying it brewed double strength with a shot of rum. That’s an idea I can get behind. And also reminds me of Cuba.
I haven’t had a chance to read The High Mountains of Portugal just yet, but a few days ago the New York Times released their take on it. Martel is known for his 2001 book Life of Pi that won the Man Booker Prize.
Muse Monthly is based out of New York City, so I was excited that Martel, who is Canadian, featured in this month’s box. Inside the box Muse Monthly did a great job of presentation: the tea and book were each wrapped separately in black tissue paper and presentation did not not disappoint. This would make a great gift for someone (like me).
So how much do these boxes cost? Well, from what I can tell they’re priced very reasonably. For example, a one-month subscription will cost you $21 USD. The list price for Martel’s book is $27 USD. Plus, you also get the tea. You can read in my interview with Blok below how they work with publishers.
To look at it from a Canadian perspective, right now The High Mountains of Portugal is listed at $32 CAD. You can find it discounted right now at Chapters for $20 CAD. Right now with the low Canadian dollar the $21 USD cost of the box equals about $29 CAD. So the pricing is still a pretty good deal considering you’re also getting the tea and the whole artisan experience.
You can buy a subscription in bulk (3,6 or 12 months) for a slight discount.
Interview with CEO and Creative Director Christina Blok
What made you want to start Muse Monthly?
Muse Monthly really stemmed out of the idea of comfort and relaxation – after a long day at a stressful job, all I wanted was to curl up with my book and the most gigantic cup of tea possible. I knew I wasn’t the only one, so Muse Monthly was born!
When did you get started?
You work with some big name publishers (Tin House Books, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Bloomsbury)! How did you establish those connections?
It was really much easier than expected. I started out researching books that were coming out for the rest of the year – book that were getting some buzz already, or just ones that looked really different from the usual thing you’d find at Barnes & Noble. And from there I just sent emails to publishing companies explaining the concept and asking if they’d be willing to work with me. I’ve been fortunate enough to form some really great relationships since then.
You support female, LGBTQA, trans and POC writers, as well as writers from around the world. What goes into choosing the book of the month?
The first thing I look for is strong writing. That is always the most important thing. I look for stories that are exciting and different, not what everyone else is going to be reading. I think it’s really important to offer books that are challenging and might open readers up to a different worldview. I try to support debut writers as well.
What about the tea?
The tea is paired with the book by what I call “atmosphere” – they’re meant to create an experience. For example, The December Collection included a story called The Blue Between Sky & Water by Susan Abulhawa, which is a story about a Palestinian family. We paired that with Green Tea and Mint from Teapigs, because mint tea is the traditional way to drink tea in Palestine. The hope is that the reader will be transported!
What comes first – book or tea?
Usually the book comes first, but not always!
What’s your favourite kind of tea?
Personally, I really loved the Earl Grey Lavender from Rishi tea that we included in the August box!
Why are books awesome?
Books are awesome because they expand your mind and expose you to new thoughts and feelings! Books make you smarter, and being smart is badass.
Giveaway – One Free Month of Muse Monthly’s March Collection!
We’re so lucky! Christina has agreed to give one reader the March box for free! Just enter below by February 21 to be entered to win. For March they’re teaming up with author V.E. Schwab who’s upcoming novel A Gathering of Shadows will be released on February 23.
A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in her Shades of Magic series. The first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, has just been acquired by Gerard Butler’s production company, G-Base, for tv series production.
There are a few ways to enter. Each one you do puts your name in the draw! Do one or all four for your best chance of winning.
Enter to win the March Collection from Muse Monthly featuring author V.E. Schwab:
Hi friends. Thanks for reading. I’ve changed a few things around here.
- I’m now self-hosted and running WordPress. I did some tech-lifting and coded/switched everything over by myself!
- My URL is now melhadtea.com. People usually recognized me by my synonymous Twitter/Instagram handle anyway, so I thought it made sense to brand the site so everything matched. There’s also a little tea mug I drew in the logo now. Yay!
- There’s a Facebook Page. This is a whole new thing for me!
- Re-Designed Layout
- Cleaned up post categories. There was a mess of categories from old iterations of my site. I’m still working on sweeping up some of the debris, but I’ve introduced a whole new category system, which I think gives a better impression of where I want the site to go.
- Tea Shirts! I’m designing a line of tea and travel-related shirts for purchase. I’ve ordered some testers and will let you know a soon as they’re available!
- The Great North American Road Trip. My guy and I are setting out from Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 1st, and plan to make it to Vancouver Island and back by the first week of September. The summer of the road trip I always dreamed about.
- Tales from J-School. I’m not sure what to expect from journalism school, but I’m sure I’ll be all over the Maritimes covering interesting stories starting in the Fall.
- More Posts! I’ve got about 1,513 ideas (That’s the note count on my Evernote ‘Post Ideas’ Notebook). And I’ve got 22 almost ready to go (The count on my ‘Post Drafts’ Notebook).
Some Growing Pains: When I was moving my site to WordPress, I just could not get the old Disqus comments to appear on my posts over here. I tried everything recommended on Disqus’ site, but nothing worked. So for now none of my old comments are displaying. I do have them saved to an XML file on my desktop, and I’m sure I’ll eventually figure out how to get them up, but if you don’t see your old comments, that’s why.
Thanks again for keeping up with me. I look forward to more travels and getting to write and have discussions about tea, travel, life, photography, and philosophy.
Now, the fun:
GIVEAWAY! FREE STUFF!
To celebrate the new design I wanted to send a surprise present to one reader.
I’m not 100% sure yet what the contents will be, but I plan to put together something special while I’m visiting San Francisco and Portland over the next two weeks. In addition to one giveaway surprise there are also be two consolation prizes.
How To Enter: Just leave a comment below! Please make sure to include your name and email address in the comments form so that I can email you to let you know you’ve won. I’ll be drawing names from a hat, so your comment doesn’t have to be long or fancy to win. The deadline to will be 9am Pacific on July 14th.
p.s. Did you say Portland and San Francisco?
Yes! I’ll be on the Pacific Coast from July 8th until July 22nd. I’m going for World Domination Summit in Portland. I have rented a car to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, where I’ll be staying another week. Tea drinking spots, the Californian Redwood Forest, and Big Sur are on my list, but if you have any good suggestions for stuff to do in and around Portland or the Bay Area, please leave them in the comments below!