A Webtoon/ manwha by Ant Studio, based on the light novels of the same name.
Park Hajeong is an overworked accountant in South Korea with no friends or family, whose only comfort in life is brewing the perfect cup of tea. On the day Hajeong is fired from her terrible job, she drinks herself into unconsciousness and winds up isekai'd into the life of one Duchess Chloe, lady of the noble Vandenberg House and wife of the dashingly handsome Duke Alphonse. Living the life of a Duchess should be a nice change of pace for poor Hajeong, except for the fact that Chloe is dismissed by her cold husband, disrespected by the manor's servants, and disliked by all her "friends" in the kingdom's upper class. The old Chloe was a timid, insecure woman who let everyone mistreat her for fear of being hated. The new Chloe isn't going to put up with that.
Determined to make the best of her situation, "Chloe" makes her first request of her husband since their wedding day over a year prior: she'd like some tea. Her request raises some eyebrows because in Chloe's world, the nobility disdains Hajeong's beloved tea as a bitter, barbaric beverage. Anyone who can afford to drinks coffee or wine instead. But Chloe isn't going to let that stop her from enjoying her tea, and sharing it with anyone willing to try some.
Chloe's newfound confidence and passion put her on track to rebuild her reputation and regain the respect of her household. Her personality shift also catches the eye of her husband, who makes a request of his own: he'd like Chloe to brew him this strange new drink. Will Chloe be able to win over even the cold Duke's heart with a warm cup of tea?
The Duchess' 50 Tea Recipes contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents:
- Alphonse's father, Duke Ludwig Vandenberg, was emotionally and physically abusive to his son. From the age of three, Alphonse was ordered to study history, law, etiquette, and swordsmanship from sunup until well after nightfall. Ludwig demanded that Alphonse show no emotion during his training, and punished the young boy harshly for any slip-up. When Alphonse rebelled against this treatment and questioned why he was being raised in this manner, his father had him locked away in a coat closet for months until the boy's will was broken and he submitted to his father's demands.
- Some 80 chapters in, it's revealed that the original Chloe's parents, Count and Countess Gray, were emotionally abusive and manipulative to Chloe as a child. The refused to let her pursue an education like her brother, and made it abundantly clear that they saw the young girl as a bargaining chip to be married away when she came of age — even calling her an "outsider" to their own family. Their treatment of the original Chloe resulted in her rock-bottom self esteem and her almost pathological fear of rejection. The Gray's attitude hasn't changed in the two years since Chloe's marriage, and they only go to the trouble of visiting her at her new home because they think they'll be able to get some money out of her after squandering their assets on a business deal gone awry.
- Cardboard Box of Unemployment: Happens in the first chapter. When a risky project Hajeong's boss foisted off on her fails spectacularly, said boss orders her to resign so that he can save face. The next panel shows Hajeong tearfully walking away from her office building as the sun sets, carrying a Bankers Box with books and papers inside.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Alphonse starts out as the Ice Queen, having been molded into a cold, emotionally stunted man by his cruel and abusive father. He was content to ignore his wife so long as she kept to herself and eventually provided him with an heir, but the sudden personality change "Chloe" undergoes doesn't escape his notice. At first he's intrigued by her newfound confidence and her genuine passion for tea. Over time, the warmth and kindness Chloe shows him breaks down his defenses, and he comes to love her earnestly. When rumors start swirling that Chloe's inability to conceive after two years of marriage means she's infertile, and that Alphonse is going to divorce her for failing to provide an heir, he holds an extravagant party for the sole purpose of publicly announcing that he loves his wife and will throw the full weight of his ducal power into punishing anyone who dares to slander her.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Chloe's country resembles a 19th century European monarchy. The tea she purchases comes from areas that would otherwise be India and China, but have different names in this world. In Chloe's world, the "great country to the East" is called "On."
- Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: When Alphonse tells Chloe he wants to buy her some dresses, he takes her to a shop that sells cute nightgowns and revealing negligees. After Chloe gets her measurements taken, Alphonse prods her to try on some of the shop's samples. What follows is a fashion show with an increasingly flustered Chloe trying on skimpier and skimpier nighties at Alphonse's behest.
- Fictional Earth: The general layout and cultures of the world seem to be similar to 19th century Earth, but there are different place names. Chloe notes that the landmass that was India back on Earth has a different name, but it produces an almost identical tea.
- Flower Motifs: Flowers surround Chloe in a non-diegetic fashion whenever she looks particularly beautiful or happy. In later chapters, this happens whenever Alphonse looks at her lovingly, or whenever the two kiss.
- Food Porn: Tea porn. In her previous life, Chloe/ Hajeong's hobby was studying and drinking teas from all over the world. Whenever she describes the unique flavors and growing conditions of the tea she brews, readers are treated to lovingly rendered illustrations of fruits, flowers, and tea plantation fields evocative of the flavor profile of the tea.
- Giving Radio to the Romans: A Downplayed example, but Hajeong introduces certain modern conveniences and information to Chloe's 19th-century-esque world that might otherwise have taken decades (or longer) to have developed or been discovered:
- Chloe notices that one of the manor's food suppliers has a problem with an overstocked warehouse full of cheese, and offers him a marketing solution to get rid of the cheese (without having to sell it at a loss) if he'll share the profits with her. When he agrees, she tells him to hide a single gold coin in each wheel of cheese and promote it as "lottery cheese" — customers who would otherwise get their cheese from other sellers will flock to his business on the chance that their purchase of cheese contains the coin.
- When Chloe opens her own business selling tea, jam, and pastries, she enforces modern sanitation standards on her kitchen staff. That includes hand washing, hair nets, and a no-tolerance policy for vermin in the shop or back rooms (and no cats either, which would have been the prevalent form of pest control back in the day). Any restaurant or shop that wants to sell her products has to follow her standards and submit to an inspection of their premise before she'll allow them to become a business partner.
- Chloe creates a cure for scurvy in the form of rosehip tea (which Chloe knows to be packed with vitamin C), and is awarded the country's highest civilian honor for her miraculous "discovery." When asked how she knew rosehip tea would cure the terrible disease, she invents a story about having met an orphan with scurvy in the past who was cured when she recommended rosehip tea for the drink's energy boosting qualities.
- Sweet potatoes have been recently "discovered" in Chloe's world, but they have a bad reputation for being ugly produce that only the poor are desperate enough to eat, so not many farmers grow them. Chloe knows sweet potatoes are a healthy food that can provide a cheap, sustainable supplement to the nation's diet. She raises the produce's profile first by having Alphonse wear a sweet potato flower in his buttonhole to garner interest amongst the nobility, then by introducing a special seasonal menu at her shop that's loaded with sweet potato-infused teas and desserts. Once the nobility has gone into a full-blown sweet potato frenzy, farmers all over the country begin to grow the crop.
- After commissioning a local pottery maker to create a line of tea pots, tea cups, and other crockery for her restaurant, Chloe suggests that he experiment with using cow bone powder in his next batch of porcelain. Though the pottery maker is skeptical of using such an odd ingredient, he admits that he needs to innovate in order to keep up with the fine pottery being imported from On (the equivalent of China in their Fictional Earth), and is ultimately overjoyed when her suggestion leads to porcelain that is lighter, stronger, and more beautiful than anything he's ever created before. Chloe has prompted the pottery maker to "invent" bone china.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: The wardrobe Chloe gets to wear as a duchess is full of huge frilly ballgown affairs, even if the fashions do trend towards Hollywood Costuming when it comes to necklines, decoration, and cut.
- Hollywood Costuming: In chapter 83 Chloe and Alphonse ring in the new year for 1766, but the costuming in the series as a whole seems to borrow more heavily from the silhouettes of the late 19th and early 20th century. Chloe wears her hair loose, which would have been unusual (even scandalous) for a married woman of the time. Other noble women in the series wear equally anachronistic hairstyles like pigtails, bobs/ flips, and high side-ponytails. Even the menswear of the nobility is composed of suits with long trousers, fitted jackets, military-inspired greatcoats, and jabots/ cravats/ neckties — all elements which didn't come into vogue until the 1800's.
- How Unscientific!:
- 90 chapters in, Chloe invents the afternoon tea service to cater to the empire's afternoon hunger pangs. It's mentioned that the time for dinner and sleep has been pushed back for nobles and commoners alike, because wizards invented mana-powered light globes less than a decade ago and the improved illumination allows for work, study, and social activities to continue into the night. Prior to the reveal that wizards and magic light sources are a part of the series, there had been no mention of magic or mana-powered Magitek artifacts.
- Later, Chloe is able to prove that her store's products have been tampered with because she arranged for magic orbs that record their surroundings to be installed in her shop. No prior mention had been made of "recording orbs" or other similar Magitek.
- Inconsistent Dub: Translations of the series into English thusfar have only been undertaken by hobbyist translators, so there are inconsistencies in the names of even the main characters. Vadenberg/ Vandenberg/ Battenburg is the most glaring inconsistency.
- Isekai: Single, overworked accountant Park Hajeong wakes up in the body of Duchess Chloe Vandenberg, a married woman living the life of a sheltered aristocrat in another world.
- Marriage of Convenience: The marriage of Alphonse and the original Chloe was based on a contract that would serve them both. Alphonse needed a wife who would not distract him with trivial emotions like "love," and to provide an heir for his family's wealth and title — Chloe was a perfect match because was a shy, biddable girl from a poorer, less powerful noble house. Chloe needed a husband to provide her with social standing and financial security — Alphonse's offer was practically a godsend after she was embarrassed by the Prince. It's later revealed that Chloe's parents always intended to "sell her off" to whatever suitor would be most politically advantageous.
- Of Corset Hurts: Chloe's everyday wardrobe seems to include rather tight corsetry, even if she's not planning on leaving the house. In later chapters she even mentions her corset is so tight that she can't really eat her fill at a fancy dinner party she and Alphonse have been invited too.
- Reincarnate in Another World: Park Hajeong drinks herself into an unconscious stupor (possibly to death) after being fired from her high-stress job, only to wake up in the body of Duchess Chloe Vandenberg in a setting that resembles 19th century Europe.
- Stealth Pun: Chloe's parents are the Count and Countess Gray, who preside over the Earldom of Gray. Since "Count" is an equivalent rank to an "Earl", and "Lady" is a title that can refer to many ranks of noble women, that would make them "Earl Gray" and "Lady Gray."
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Practically every chapter sees Chloe wearing a new Hollywood Costuming / Gorgeous Period Dress outfit, and it seems she never wears the same outfit twice.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Or in Chloe's case, "when all you have is tea." Chloe uses a liberal application of tea to solve all the problems that her new world throws at her:
- Can't make friends? Brew some tea and share it with your acquaintances.
- Cold, emotionally distant husband? Brew him a warm cup of tea to show you care.
- Social standing damaged by the flaky, timid attitude of the previous inhabitant of your body? Open a business selling tea and tea-infused products, promote it with 21st century advertising practices, and make your product the hottest commodity on the block.
- Villagers in your territory getting sick with scurvy? Brew them tea that's packed with vitamin C and "invent" the cure.
- International relations with the East in a delicate place? Show your mastery at brewing their tea to prove your kingdom's commitment to strengthening ties between your two countries.