If I had to rattle off my favorite small pleasures in the world, tea and books would be at the top of the list. So when I heard about Muse Monthly, a subscription service that sends a new book with a themed tea pairing, I thought: “YES, PLEASE.”
I asked Christina Blok, the creator of this genius idea, to share the story of how it started and why she loves her side-hustle.
Christina Blok, Muse Monthly
- Passion project: CEO and Creative Director of Muse Monthly
- Day job: Social media marketing
- Social media: Website Twitter Instagram
- Lives in New York City
- In a long-distance relationship
Christina grew up as an avid book reader, and she’s also a frequent tea drinker. “My mom has always been a tea person, and she instilled a love for tea in me and my siblings,” she said.
Last year, Christina was in a stressful job that was wearing her down, and every evening, she’d come home and crave a gigantic mug of tea and a book, to help her shut down and relax. That’s when the idea for Muse Monthly was born: What if you could get a great new book and a delicious tea on your door step every month? What if the tea was selected to create a cozy atmosphere that matched the theme of the book?
The Venn diagram of people who love books and people who love tea is practically a circle.
– Christina Blok
She started a Kickstarter in May; by December, her subscribers received the first shipment. The books are contemporary adult literature, with a focus on debut authors, authors from under-represented backgrounds, unusual stories, translations, or great story-telling. The teas (organic or fair-trade, if possible, and a variety of interesting flavors) are meant to create an “atmosphere” for reading the books. Last month, she chose a banana coconut tea to pair with the Yann Martel book “The High Mountains of Portugal.” (Bananas are one of the top agricultural products from the country where the book takes place.)
“What it really is, is comfort and relaxation,” she says.
Christina runs social media for Muse Monthly, desigs the website (and writes all the content there), and builds relationships with publishers and tea companies to source her monthly finds. And she works with her mom–the original source of her love for books and tea–to read the upcoming books, do taste-tests, and ship out the packages.
But she’s also working to build a rich community of readers who love to talk about the books and the tea. There’s a private Goodreads group for subscribers to discuss the monthly selections.
“The goal is to create a community of readers who are excited about new literature, excited about trying something new, and willing to take a risk,” she said.
In February, Muse Monthly was featured on BuzzFeed as a “wonderfully nerdy subscription box.” For more information about subscribing ($21/month), seeing examples of past pairings, or shopping for individual books and tea, visit the Muse Monthly website. Christina also sends a weekly newsletter with downloadable freebies, interesting links, and inspiration.
Did you know? March is National Reading Month, so we’ll be sharing a few more reading-related stories in the next couple weeks.