Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tea Talk: an Interview and Giveaway with H.Y. Hanna

I'm so happy to welcome H.Y. Hanna to the blog today. H.Y. Hanna is an award winning mystery and suspense writer and the author of the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series.

Kathy: Although my interest to dig deeper into the world of tea is relatively new, I've always been a tea drinker. How about you?  Have you always enjoyed tea?

HYH: Oh yes, I don’t drink coffee – tea is my poison! ;-) Well, as a Chinese person, tea is something we practically grow up drinking from the bottle. We drink it with meals, instead of wine or cold drinks (the Chinese believe that it’s bad for your health to have cold drinks with hot meals), and we drink it after meals, to help the digestion. We also drink it at other times to help calm, soothe, refresh, warm, invigorate, heal, nurture… you name it!

Kathy: You're more apt to find me drinking iced tea, even in winter, but I also drink hot tea. I drink in the more Asian style, drinking my tea neat, never adding cream or sugar, or anything else (aside from ice for my iced tea). How do you like your tea?

HYH: It depends on the type of tea I’m drinking. If I’m drinking Chinese or Japanese green tea, then definitely, yes, no milk or sugar. You just don’t with Asian teas. It would be like adding sugar and milk to beer or wine! ;-) The only time you might sweeten an Asian tea is if you’re having cold barley tea in summer – that is very nice slightly sweetened.

If I’m having English-style tea though (my favourite is Earl Grey), then I like to have it black but with sugar. I used to take TONS of sugar in my tea – a relic from growing up in the Middle East where they have their teas VERY sweet – but I’ve gradually weaned myself off now so that I only have half a teaspoon.

I also enjoy certain herbal and fruit teas. I like a peppermint or mint tea after dinner and occasionally a berry-flavoured fruit tea or a lemon tea – but the fruit tea I love most of all is Turkish apple tea. But I wouldn’t add anything to these “special” teas – I think you’d ruin their natural, distinctive flavour if you did.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite type of tea? Any you don't particularly care for?

HYH: I think I just answered your question above – haha! My favourite English tea is Earl Grey – love the fragrance. My favourite Asian tea is probably jasmine or chrysanthemum green tea (again, love the perfumes) as well as “gen-mai” tea – which is a type of Japanese green tea with roasted rice kernels – very light and fragrant. And as I said, I have a weakness for Turkish apple tea.

Kathy: In addition to drinking tea many people collect tea cups, tea pots, and other tea things. Do you collect any tea accouterments?

HYH: I don’t know if I actively collect them but I do have a terrible weakness for mugs! I seem to keep buying them wherever I am – if I go travelling, the most likely souvenir that I will bring back is a mug. ;-) We don’t have any matching ones or a nice set, either – it is a complete hotch potch of an eclectic collection!

Kathy: Do you consider yourself a tea connoisseur, a tea neophyte, or simply a person who enjoys tea?

HYH: Oh no, nothing that grand! Just someone who enjoys tea – and drinks gallons of it on a daily basis! But ask any Asian person and tea is a huge part of their life.

Kathy: How does tea play a part in your writing?

HYH: Well, I drink copious amounts of it when I’m working on a new book – or any other time really! It’s the first thing I have in the morning – I’m not a morning person and usually can’t utter anything more than grunts before I have my first cup of Earl Grey in the mornings. ;-)

Kathy: You write a cozy mystery series featuring a tearoom. Would you tell us about your series?

HYH: Sure! The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries are a fun, humorous mystery series featuring a spunky heroine named Gemma who has given up an international corporate career to come back to England and open a quaint little tearoom in the Cotswolds.

Together with her cheeky little tabby cat, Muesli, and a host of quirky characters, including four meddling old ladies from the local village, Gemma becomes embroiled in solving various mysteries, set against the fascinating backdrop of the historic university city of Oxford. She also struggles to make her fledging business a success, deal with her exasperating, match-making mother and choose between the two dashing men in her life: the sexy CID detective, Devlin O’Connor and the handsome doctor, Lincoln Green.

The books give readers a glimpse not only into village life in one of the most beautiful corners of England but also the secret world behind the college cloisters and dreaming spires of the world’s oldest university. They’re the perfect read for cat lovers, British mystery fans and fans of culinary mysteries (with a yummy recipe included in each book!) – and have been described of being “worthy of Agatha Christie” with plots which leave you guessing until the last page. My books are also known as “page turners” so beware if you decide to start one late at night – readers are always saying they stayed up half the night, reading “just one more chapter”!

You can find out more about the series on my website:  - or pick up a copy from Amazon:

Kathy: Why choose a tea focus for your mystery series?

HYH: Well, since my series is set in England and features a lot of British culture, it’s inevitable that tea would come into the equation! :-) Tea is more than just a practical activity to quench thirst or even provide a quaint afternoon ritual – for the British, it seems to be the cornerstone to their social lives. No matter what happens – from the wonderful to the terrible, the thrilling to the devastating, the response is invariably an offer of a cup of tea! ;-) An invitation to tea seems to bridge all social occasions – less formal than an invitation to lunch or dinner but also less “significant” and without the romantic overtones of an invitation for a drink. It can be all things to all people and suit any situation.

Kathy: Is Little Stables Tearoom, based on a real tearoom or is it purely a product of your imagination?

HYH: It is partly inspired by some real tearooms I have been in while living in England (see below) – but it is very much a product of my imagination.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite tearoom, or place to enjoy tea?

HYH: When I lived in Oxford, there was a beautiful old-fashioned tearoom in the nearby Cotswolds village of Burford. It was wonderful to go for a long country walk, especially in autumn or winter, and then to arrive, cheeks flushed, fingers tingling with cold, at this tearoom and sit down in the cosy interior for a cup of tea and a traditional British cake or scone, whilst looking out of the window at village life going by. I didn’t go that many times but the few times I went made a huge impression!

For more information about  H.Y. Hanna, please check out the following links!

Amazon Author Page:


H.Y. Hanna has graciously offered an e-book copy of A Scone to Die For, the first Oxford Tearoom Mystery, to one lucky reader.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks so much for featuring me & my books on your blog! It was great fun answering your questions - I really enjoyed our chat over a shared love of tea.

    Good luck to all those entering the giveaway!

    Best wishes,
    (H.Y. Hanna)

    1. Thanks so much or stopping by and sharing yourself and your books!

  2. I have never been to a tea room. We have one that just opened in our little town and my daughter and I are eager to try it. Thank you so much for including H.Y. Hanna and her tea room mysteries on your blog.

    1. I hope you'll tell us about it after you visit!

  3. I love the tea room mysteries, get a kick out of the "Old Biddies"

  4. I have not been to a tea room but would love to go!

    1. I hope you some day find one and go!

  5. I have a favourite tea shop that offers me a cuppa but I look forward to visiting more tea shops!

  6. I have been to a tearoom once. It was a nice experience, we had tea and a nice plate of sweets. Really different than all the coffee shops around here.

  7. I have been to a tearoom once. It was a nice experience, we had tea and a nice plate of sweets. Really different than all the coffee shops around here.

  8. I have not been to a tearoom but would love to go. I will make sure to take the time to do it.