Where to Buy: Dorling Kindersley
Where does tea come from? With DK‘s The Tea Book, learn where in the world tea is cultivated and how to drink each variety at its best, with steeping notes and step-by-step recipes. Visit tea plantations from India to Kenya, recreate a Japanese tea ceremony, discover the benefits of green tea, or learn how to make the increasingly popular Chai tea. Exploring the spectrum of herbal, plant, and fruit infusions, as well as tea leaves, this is a comprehensive guide for all tea lovers.
Learn more about this book here.
Linda Gaylard’s The Tea Book is the kind of book I’ve been looking for a long time. From the time I first started drinking tea “seriously”, I’ve been reading books about it as well. Many were disappointing for various reasons – too short, too brief, too perfunctory, too basic. Even after spending hours looking online, I hadn’t really come up with anything close to what I wanted, which was a book that would provide not only the introductory stuff, but also some more detailed information about the different types of tea, growing regions, varieties from those regions and their characteristics, and maybe a little about tea rituals in those places. I’d pretty much given up hope of finding such a book – until now!
The Tea Book is all these things and more. Written by Tea Sommelier Linda Gaylard, it’s a definitive guide to tea and tea drinking – perfect for both beginners and more experienced tea connoisseurs. Split into 5 sections, the book begins with a chapter on what tea actually is, discussing the Camellia Sinensis plant, its growth and terroir, harvest and production and a quick overview of the various varieties. The second chapter looks at brewing – comparing loose tea and tea bags, storage methods, water, and equipment, and provding some rule-of-thumb preparation guidance for green, white, oolong, black, pu’erh, and yellow teas. The third chapter looks in more depth at the history of tea, and the different tea producing countries and regions. This was the most fascinating section for me, as it also outlines the various tea rituals of the world and a step-by-step guide to performing them. It’s not just the big three of China, India and Japan, either – less well known tea producing nations such as Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia are also featured. Tisanes have a chapter all of their own, with sections on roots, barks, flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds.
The final section of the book is dedicated to recipes, featuring both tisanes which can be created from scratch (i.e. Fennel, Lemongrass and Pear, Spring is Here, Rosehip, Ginger and Lemon, etc.), and recipes using various tea varieties (i.e. Salted Caramel Assam, Matcha Latte, Spicy Ceylon, etc.) In depth instructions are provided for the creation of Iced Tea, Kombucha, Masala Chai and Bubble Tea. It really is a fascinating section, with a lot of inspiring ideas, and more than proves that tea can be so much more than just a few leaves and some water.
I’ve spent many happy hours perusing this book, and I’ve learnt things I’d never otherwise have known. The standard of photography throughout is excellent – clear, illustratively useful in the step-by-steps, and sometimes just plain mouth-watering! If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to know about tea, doubtless you’ll find the answer here. It’s a great book, containing a wealth of information and inspiration. I’d consider it a worthy addition to any tea fanatic’s bookshelf.
I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.
I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they're the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer -- their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.
I'm still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don't think they'll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don't hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I'm also beginning to explore pu'erh, both ripened and raw. That's my latest challenge!
I'm still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.