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Literature / Tea Shop Mysteries

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Would you like some Oolong to go with your detective story?

Theodosia: Well, I'm supposed to take Earl Grey to the O'Doud Senior Citizen Home tonight, attend a gallery opening with Delaine tomorrow night, and Wednesday is the big anniversary party at The Featherbed House, which, of course, we're all invited to. And now we're taping all day Thursday, and Saturday is Delaine's big Fashion Bash at the Garden Gate Restaurant. Trust me, I know Delaine's going to try to rope me in on something.
Haley: You forgot one thing.
Theodosia: What's that?
Haley: You have to figure out who killed Harper Fisk.

Nestled within the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina, there is a small cafe called the Indigo Tea Shop. The owner is one Theodosia Browning, a middle-aged woman who used to work in the hectic business of marketing. Compared to her previous job, Theodosia much prefers the calm and steady pace that running a tea shop provides. To help keep the shop running smoothly, there's Drayton Conneley, the resident tea expert with a flair for showmanship, and Haley Parker, the young chef with an eye for fresh and delicious dishes.

It's a good thing she has such loyal friends and workers: the close knit community of Charleston harbors its own fair share of secrets and scandals. From a murdered real estate developer, to a stolen family heirloom, to a pile of human bones, Theodosia has to solve a variety of mysteries on top of running her own store. Thankfully for her, she forms an odd partnership with Detective Burt Tidwell, a former government agent who has the instincts of a bloodhound.


Along with her friends, Theodosia may just be able to keep Charleston's community from crumbling and even enjoy a cup of tea afterwards.

The Tea Shop Mysteries is a Cozy Mystery series written by Laura Childs. The series started in 2001 with new entries being published at least once per year.

    The series includes the following titles: 
  1. Death by Darjeeling (2001)
  2. Gunpowder Green (2002)
  3. Shades of Earl Grey (2003)
  4. The English Breakfast Murder (2003)
  5. The Jasmine Moon Murder (2004)
  6. Chamomile Mourning (2005)
  7. Blood Orange Brewing (2006)
  8. Dragonwell Dead (2007)
  9. The Silver Needle Murder (2008)
  10. Oolong Dead (2009)
  11. The Teaberry Strangler (2010)
  12. Scones & Bones (2011)
  13. Agony of the Leaves (2012)
  14. Sweet Tea Revenge (2013)
  15. Steeped in Evil (2014)
  16. Ming Tea Murder (2015)
  17. Devonshire Scream (2016)
  18. Pekoe Most Poison (2017)
  19. Plum Tea Crazy (2018)
  20. Broken Bone China (2019)
  21. Lavender Blue Murder (2020)
  22. Haunted Hibiscus (2021)
  23. Twisted Tea Christmas (2021)
  24. A Dark and Stormy Tea (2022)
  25. Lemon Curd Killer (2023)
  26. Honey Drop Dead (TBA)


This series contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: At the start of the series, Haley is unable to pick a college degree she wants to major in. She eventually settles for business, but this potential subplot is dropped a couple books later. Haley herself doesn't ever intend on quitting the Indigo Tea Shop either, so even if she did get into business, she'd still be part of the main cast.
  • Accidental Murder: The groom in Shades of Earl Grey was an unfortunate victim of a glass shard when a cat burglar broke into the greenhouse the wedding reception was going to be held in. The cat burglar didn't mean to kill the groom, just steal the heirloom wedding ring.
  • Book Ends: Dragonwell Dead begins with Theodosia trying to find her way out of a hedge maze and ends with her entering that same maze during her flight from the murderer.
  • Call-Back: Most, if not all, books usually include one or more references to past books; in Steeped in Evil, there's a small subplot where the house next to Theodosia's cottage is for sale with its agent looking for a buyer. The house's previous owner was Dougan Granville, the victim of the previous book Sweet Tea Revenge.
  • Clear My Name: In Death by Darjeeling, Theodosia has to clear the name of the Indigo Tea Shop after one of the teas she served during the Lamplighter Tour apparently kills a wealthy businessman.
  • Close-Knit Community: Charleston, South Carolina is a small town where everyone pretty much knows everyone else.
  • Clueless Mystery: An odd variant: while there are clues and suspects, none of the ones that Theodosia (and by extension the reader) focuses on leads to the real criminal. The actual perp is usually a character that was just introduced and is barely given any screen time.
  • Cozy Mystery: The series is about a middle-aged women who helps solves mysteries that arise in her small hometown. She has a down to earth hobby and an animal sidekick. There's little to no swearing and, if things do get violent, it's pretty mild and doesn't last long.
  • A Deadly Affair: In Death by Darjeeling, Theodosia discovers that Hughes was having an affair with Samantha. His refusal to divorce his wife is what led Samantha to kill him.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Theodosia tells Drayton about Jordan and Pandora's impending divorce, Drayton drops the spoon he was holding in surprise.
  • The Fashionista: Delaine loves recommending various clothes to people and showing off her wares, as well as her own wardrobe.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Delaine announces her and Dougan's engagement a few months after they started dating. They get as far as the actual wedding when Dougan is killed before they can even get to the altar.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: During her introduction, Charlotte says that everyone calls her "Charlie". She's referred to by her nickname from then on.
  • Good with Numbers: Miss Dimple is a whiz at bookkeeping and making sure that the Indigo Tea Shop doesn't go into the red.
  • Gossipy Hens: If Delaine makes an appearance, it's a sure bet that she's got some gossip to deliver.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Theodosia is the main heroine of the series and she has a dog companion.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Drayton is an admitted technophobe who abhors anything made after the 1900s.
  • If I Can't Have You…: The murderer in Death by Darjeeling had this as their motive: Samantha killed Hughes because he wouldn't divorce his wife so he could be with her.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: While trying to get away from an unseen shooter in Dragonwell Dead, Theodosia and Drayton find that the river they're canoeing on eventually leads to a waterfall.
  • Infodump: Excluding Death by Darjeeling, the first several books try to cram in Theodosia, Drayton, and Haley's basic backstories and job descriptions into the first chapter. From Dragonwell Dead onward, though, this trait isn't as prevalent.
  • Insistent Terminology: For a couple books, Haley insists that her recipes be called "receipts", the old Southern way of referring to recipes.
  • Long-Runners: The series has over twenty novels under its name with more books being released at least once per year.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: In Delaine's desperate search to find Mr. Right she often winds up finding Mr. Criminal or Mr. Soon-to-be-Murdered.
  • Magical Negro: In Steeped in Evil, Josette reveals that she can tell the future by reading tea leaves. When she tells Theodosia her fortune, Josette warns that she'll run into trouble if she leaves the town's limits. Sure enough, her prediction proves true when Theodosia and Drayton witness a hit-and-run while driving outside of Charleston.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Theodosia and Drayton make it their mission to make the preparation and consumption of tea as entertaining for their patrons as possible. Drayton in particular is always eager to share his vast knowledge about tea and tea culture with anyone who'll listen.
  • Mystery Magnet: From murder to sneak thieves to long forgotten bones being found in her own backyard, mystery seems to follow Theodosia no matter where she goes. This gets lampshaded by several characters as the series progresses.
  • Once an Episode: From the second book onward, the novels tend to take on a similiar pattern: Theodosia (and maybe her employees) attend a gathering, someone is found dead at said gathering, Theodosia is roped into investigating the murder, she attends a few more meetings or parties where she bumps into suspects or witness until the final party or gathering where she figures out who did it instigating a climatic chase/confrontation of some kind. In between all of that, she will work at the Indigo Tea Shop where at least one special themed tea or workshop will be hosted.
  • Poison Is Evil: The only people who use poison in the series are the murderers.
  • Serious Business: Theodosia and Drayton take tea making very seriously, as does Haley when it comes to baking the Indigo Tea Shop's food. Clothes and fashion are topics that Delaine is incredibly passionate about. Justified since they all make a living off of selling these products.
  • Skewed Priorities: In The Teaberry Strangler, Theodosia confides in Delaine that one of her customers has been acting shady, specifically seeming to have stalked her. Delaine's more worried about the customer potentially having a crank credit card than the possibility of one of her best friends being stalked.
  • Status Quo Is God: Nothing really seems to change between the core cast or the town they live in. The victims and criminals are usually people who aren't part of the Charleston community that the series focuses on, which means the main cast stays the same from book to book. Even when the victims/criminals are/were a part of the community, they're background characters whose death/crimes don't shake up any of the previously established dynamics.
  • Supreme Chef: Many characters express how much they love Haley's cooking, to the point where they suggest that she make a recipe book.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • In Death by Darjeeling, Hughes Barron is killed when the murderer slips poison into his tea.
    • In Dragonwell Dead, Mark Congdon suffers what appears to be a heart attack after drinking some iced tea. It's latter confirmed that there was a toxic substance within his drink.
  • Token Minority: Josette is an African-American woman who sells/donates the handwoven sweetgrass baskets to the Indigo Tea Shop. She's the only minority character who pops up throughout the series. There are a couple other African-American characters who appear, but they only appear within the book they're introduced.
  • True Companions: Theodosia and Drayton are intensely loyal to one another and will protect each other whenever danger strikes. They often take tours or trips together as well.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Drayton and Haley tease and pick on each other often, but they both appreciate the other's friendship all the same.
  • Webcomic Time: Time does move forward within the series, it just moves a lot slower than it does in real life. For example, the first nine books covers one year In-Universe, while eight years had passed in real time.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After a brief mention in Gunpowder Green, Brittany Shepard is never seen or referenced again. She was stated to be a close friend of Haley and Theodosia, so the fact that she basically disappears from the series seems kinda odd.
    • Charlie Lynch is set up in Dragonwell Dead as a potential addition to the Tea Shop's staff. Come the next book, nobody mentions her at all.