"But the piece de resistance was the part that was closest to Kate's heart. It was a series of window boxes growing plants that served as an interactive tea-making centre. They could be seen through the windows from the footpath and would entice people in off the streets. Here, customers could pick their own ingredients, including mint, lavender, rose petals, dandelion petals and lemongrass, and The Tea Chest staff would make them their own tea design right there in the store, then they could sit in one of the welcoming spots to sip it".
The strength of Moon's novel is the charming descriptions of the 'Tea Chest' business itself - I desperately wanted to visit the shop myself and wished it existed, such was the power of those passages. Moon knows her tea, and clearly has a passion for the subject.
The plot ambled along and there was some gentle humour in the side stories involving Elizabeth and Victoria's slightly whacky family life. I thought Moon's dialogue realistic and appreciated the insightful relationship painted between Kate and her husband Mark as they negotiated the stressful financial decisions in starting up a risky business. It was refreshing to read a contemporary women's novel concerning itself with the impact of career on women's lives rather than merely their love interests. Unfortunately, the rather naive way the women approached the finances of the business was slightly off kilter but necessary to the plot, and only slightly detracted from the realism of the piece. 'The Tea Chest' was a pleasure to read, and will certainly be a hit with all the book club tea aficionados.
*This review is part of the Australian Womens Writers Challenge 2014