When a Novel Came to Tea

More than a decade after my most popular book, ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’, was published, it keeps cropping up here and there – sometimes in a new form (an ebook now, an audio book someday), new reviews, comments on a blog, fan art – or in a sales pitch for a brand of tea.


The tea story is … unique

The Taste Of English tea blog used to pair teas with books. Some time ago they paired my novel, “The Secrets of Jin-shei,” with Oolong Orange Blossom Tea. Here is an excerpt from the delightful pairing.


Jin-shei comes to tea photoOolong is a traditional Chinese tea that is only partly fermented, giving it an in-between character that lacks the bitterness and body of black tea, yet is richer and rounder than a conventional green. English Tea Store’s Oolong Orange Blossom Estate Tea is a particularly satisfying rendition of this Far East treat, with the gentle addition of the essence of orange blossoms.


In The Secrets of Jin-shei, a  novel by Alma Alexander, we are swept into the mythical Chinese kingdom of Linh-an, steeped in tradition and culture, that beckons us to pause, and to breathe in deeply. In the novel, we learn of the covert written language jin-ashu, the woman’s tongue, taught for generations from mother to daughter to allow a woman to reveal the dreams and desires deeply held in her heart. It is through these words that sister-bonds are formed. And it is through this language, as the heady perfume of sweet tomorrows, that vows are made. In that way, the jin-shei is a promise.


Be patient in brewing Oolong Orange Blossom Tea, to give it the time it needs to unfurl into the richness of its character. And there’s no need to sweeten; it brings its own honeyed aftertaste. As well, give The Secrets of Jin-Shei time to reveal the depths of its characters and the fulfillment of its own sweet promise.


As tea-and-novel companions, Oolong Orange Blossom Tea and The Secrets of Jin-Shei are a most honorable match.

Visit The English Tea Store HERE

Alma's characters object drawingReaders often have strong reactions to Jin-shei. One woman called me at 3 a.m. to tearfully blurt out: “You killed her! How could you have killed her!?!”
My characters don’t always have easy lives, and the women in this novel are no exception. A cartoonist friend, San (Puss-in-Boots) thinks he knows what will happen if they ever get a hold of me.

(Lithub has a story on 12 other books that make readers cry. See link at end.)



Another time, I found my book mentioned on a vblog by a young Brazilian woman whose sheer flow of enthusiasm, spoken in a language I don’t speak, delighted me.

When I tossed it out for the collective wisdom of the Internet to see if anyone spoke Portuguese well enough to give me the gist of what she is saying, a friend of a friend came up with this:

Jin-shei reviewed on a Brazil blog“The girl talks about the book. Gives a description of what the story is about. She liked it a lot. She loved the dynamics of the relationships between the women, the drama of women and their lives. The reviewer loves novels regarding strong women. She loves the history that was incorporated in the book and the lives that these women have. Anyone who loves a book regarding strong women will love this book. She found it very refreshing and was able to get lost in the book. She highly recommends this book. Now I want to read this book. lol”

Click for Brazilian video review HERE


Reviews and more reviews

People continue posting their reviews to Goodreads long after the original publication date of the novel. There are some surprisingly heartwarming bits in there:

* “…It was the recommendation on the front that intrigued me when I purchased this book. ‘This evocative novel is sure to be popular with fans of Amy Tan, Gail Tsukiyama, and even Marion Zimmer Bradley.’ I bought it because I was very skeptical that a writer could be herald as a combination of these three authors. I stand corrected….”

* “…Alexander has a way of ripping my heart out with her writing. I can’t read her often because I get so invested in her characters and they experience such hardship. Unlike a romance that I know will have a HEA these characters usually don’t. Some of them live, some of them die and they are all permanently changed from their experiences….”

I am so absolutely delighted that this story is still out there, still being read, still being loved. Delighted, and amazed, and yes, grateful. And if you have an opinion on it which you haven’t shared, please, please, please do – there are lots of places – Goodreads, Librarything, Amazon, my website, my blog, my Facebook fan page. I’m always more than happy to hear from you.


Beautiful fan art

I recently came across some fan art for the book at Deviant Art, by an artist who goes by the name of sivvus.

Here’s one of the paintings:The Secrets of Jin-shei fan art painting

Gorgeous. And so I dropped the artist an email to say thank you. And got the further gift of being told that she was amazed and delighted to have heard from ME, and how much she loved that book.

It isn’t every day that you handed both a compliment and a gift like that. ge she did for my beloved characters.

My thanks. My grateful thanks. I will always be astonished and delighted to have readers respond to the children of my heart in this wise.

Please do go swing by her site and take a look at some of her other stuff.

Visit sivvus HERE

12 Books Guaranteed to Make You Cry HERE