Studying, Tea, and Books Come Together in the Netherlands
Since January we've had the pleasure of working with Femke, a Dutch blogger and Bookstagrammer who reviews media in both English and Dutch. A 20-year-old student, her Instagram is the epitome of cozy and our tea fits right in. We took some time to chat about tea, the tea world, and the Bookstagram sphere.
What is your favorite Paru tea you’ve tried so far? Or: what’s your favorite thing about us in general?
Oh that’s a hard question – all your teas are amazing! But if I had to pick a few favourites it’d be White Petal, Jasmine Wild and Citrus Mint! Something else I really love about Paru is how approachable you are on social media. Even though you’re halfway across the world, I still feel like I can share in all your successes and the fun things you do! It’s what makes me want to support small businesses.
Tell us about the tea culture in the Netherlands. What are the usual tea varieties and practices you see around your city, school, and country?
To be honest, I don’t think there’s a real tea culture (yet) in the Netherlands. Sure, loads of people do drink tea but there aren’t any practices or traditions regarding tea in the Netherlands. The usual varieties here are the ones you get in the supermarket, e.g. Lipton teas. I do love having loads of different flavours to choose from so I’ve always had a really big Lipton Variety Pack box in my room! What’s fun to see though is that more and more, coffee and lunch places in the Netherlands start paying attention to organic products, which includes tea! There’s a little store in the city I’m from (Maastricht) and they make the most amazing tea called “Blanche Dael”. So I do like to think we’ve got a little tea culture coming up.
Why do you think tea and books go together so well in your world? Do you ever have one without the other?
Personally, I always have a cup of tea when I’m reading… and I’m reading a lot, so I’m basically always drinking tea. I think the comfy mood you settle in when you start reading is only enhanced by a steaming cup of delicious tea. They’re a magic combination!
How do you usually prepare your tea? What’s your ritual?
So I mentioned that the Netherlands doesn’t really have a ritual, so I never really did anything else but boil water, place tea in cup, poor water, and drink. I still do that most of the time because I’m often in a hurry to get something etc., but ever since I started receiving your monthly boxes I’ve been trying to take more time to slow down and actually enjoy the tea. I now pay more attention to how long you should steep certain teas, and when’s the perfect moment to drink a certain variety of tea. I mean, I never really knew that Spring was the perfect time for green tea until I read it on one of the notecards included in your box!
What’s a book you’ve read in the past few years that’s really stuck with you?
I’ve read a lot of amazing books from various genres but one book I keep recommending people is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. It’s the true story of a neurosurgeon in training who, in his last year of training, gets diagnosed with cancer. It’s really emotional but interesting at the same time to see him change from doctor to patient, and to read his own words about his journey. I read it two years ago and I’m still thinking about it today. 100% recommend.
How did you get your start in the Bookstagram sphere?
I started my Bookstagram in September 2015, so it has been a while. This was before all the algorithm changes on Instagram, and before Bookstagram had become as big as it is now. I was living in London at that time and basically rediscovered my love of reading because there was a bookstore on every corner there. I had always loved reading but kind of forgot about it until I picked up a book again and it all took off from there. I knew a girl through Tumblr who had a Bookstagram and when I was reading a lot again I thought “why not give this a try?”, so I did, and here we are.
How do you say tea, steep, teapot, and oolong in Dutch?
Tea in Dutch is ‘thee’, and teapot is ‘theepot’. We pronounce the ‘ee’ differently than you guys, more like an ‘ay’ sound (so thee sounds like ‘tay’). Oolong didn’t get a special word in Dutch, it’s just oolong. And steep is ‘trekken’. In English, you’d like “let the tea steep for 2 to 5 minutes”, which translates to “laat de thee 2 tot 5 minuten trekken”.
Find Femke on her blog and Instagram!