Tea and Conversation by Kristine Raymond


There’s nothing quite like it – that first sip from your favorite drinking vessel of precisely-heated 150° water poured over a perfect blend of dried leaves and flavoring accentuated with just a hint of sweetener. Ah…the perfect cup of tea. Or mug, in my case. 

Now, I’ll admit – I’m a tea-aholic. I drink hot tea all day, every day; all year ‘round. And – full disclosure here – until this morning, I’d never calculated the actual temperature of the water, though I can attest that fluctuations in degrees can enhance or detract from an enjoyable tea experience, at the same time acknowledging that everyone’s tastes vary. To some, a lukewarm cup of Oolong is pure heaven; to others, unless that first taste of Darjeeling scalds their tongue, it’s just not hot enough. 

My mood – and the season – dictates which flavor ends up in my mug. In spring and summer, Numi Maté Lemon or Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion hits the spot. Once autumn arrives, it’s Bigelow Salted Caramel or Harney & Sons Pomegranate Oolong. And there’s nothing better on a cold winter’s night than Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane or Harney & Sons White Christmas Tea. And then there’s the Earl. 

As you may have figured out, I don’t discriminate when it comes to tea. White, green, red, or black; loose-leaf or bagged; caffeinated or decaffeinated; flavored or unadulterated – I love it all. But, if you told me I had to choose just one kind to drink for the rest of my life, it’d be Earl Grey. At last count, I had nine varieties – aged, lavender, raspberry, winter white, double bergamot, green, black, organic, and decaffeinated. I adore the flavor of bergamot, so much so that twenty-eight years ago I purchased the last case of Earl Grey liqueur from my local liquor store after the distributor went out of business. But, that’s a story for another time. 

Tea is more than a simple beverage to me. It’s a magical elixir. On the most stressful of days, one sip of Camellia sinensis can dissolve away every ounce of tension in my body, the aroma and taste and warmth infusing my spirit with tranquility. It comforts me, invigorates me; it's a simple joy, yet one of my most cherished. There’s nothing I anticipate more after a long day than a steaming mug of my favorite brew. 

…and Conversation 

You know what pairs well with tea? Great conversation! And, as the host of a podcast where authors get together to talk about writing, reading, and anything else that comes to mind, I’m lucky enough to enjoy both on any given day. 

Since the start of my authoring journey, I’ve searched for new ways to promote my colleagues as well as myself. Late last summer, while mulling over ideas of how to do that in a new and exciting way, an idea in the form of a podcast slowly began taking shape. Oh, who am I kidding? The concept mushroomed overnight into this larger-than-life project that I had no clue how to execute. That didn’t stop me, though. After a considerable amount of frustration trying to get it off the ground and onto the airwaves, Word Play with Kristine Raymond launched on October 31, and I haven’t looked back since. 

My first concern was that no one beyond the half-dozen friends I’d invited to be on the show would be interested in being guests. My second was that no one would listen. I shouldn’t have worried. To date, podcast episodes have been downloaded in 17 countries and on platforms including iHeart Radio, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and PodBean. Word on the street is that Alexa will even play it for you. 

As for guests, I have no shortage of those as I’m currently booked through August of this year and signing up more every day. And, recently, I had the honor of chatting with New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have an opportunity such as that in my lifetime. 

When you listen to Word Play, you’ll discover the format isn’t the typical structured Q&A; rather, it’s a show where two authors converse about their favorite topics – sometimes book-related; sometimes not – usually with a cup of their favorite beverage close at hand.  Mine's tea, of course.

It's akin to sitting in your favorite coffee shop catching up with a friend you haven't seen in a while the conversation's unstructured, and spontaneous, and most of all, a lot of fun. And, you might just learn a thing or two about your favorite author. Or discover some new ones. Because nothing goes better with tea and conversation than books! 


  1. I love Earl Grey and Jasmine...but my favorite lately is Bengal spice. I agree, tea and conversation.


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