While I am reviewing old and out-of-print tea books on Saturdays this year, I am by no means averse to reading a few new releases this year as well. The folks at Harvest House were kind enough to send a copy of Lisa Boalt Richardson's new book, "The World in Your Teacup," and I must say it is simply one of the most charming, beautifully photographed and well designed tea books I've come across yet! (I tried not to be overly influenced by the fact she is, ahem, a fellow Georgian but, well, there you go. The photographer, Lauren Rubinstein, is also a Georgian, so the South definitely gets high marks on this bit of teamwork.)
Now gift books of this type, while pretty, can be a bit on the shallow side when it comes to actual information. This one, however, is simply packed with tea information on various tea-drinking regions around the world and their particular tea habits. The book explores tea in China, England, Kenya, Russia, Iran (now that's different!), France, Morocco and the good old U.S.A. I like how the book is organized, offering information on "Tea Past and Present" for each place as well as tips on recreating each culture's tea experience for yourself. Richardson has drawn from a wide group of friends for the recipes included with each chapter, and there are so many of them I'd like to try, including the Green Onion Crepes (China), Savory Honey Scones (Kenya), Noodle Babka (Russia) and Harira, a thick soup (Morocco).
Richardson also gets points for including lots of tea history without making it seem dull or academic. She artfully weaves the background information into each section, and I didn't even realize until I completed the book that I'd actually gleaned quite a bit of tea history I'd not come across before. I had hoped to hear her speak at a tea event the other week but simply couldn't squeeze it into my calendar. Hopefully, I'll be able to arrange a face-to-face meeting with this fellow tea lover sometime this year, and meanwhile this book is a lovely substitute!