Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tea and Books Saturday #13 - "Taking Tea"

Taking Tea
By Andrea Israel with Original Recipes by Pamela Mitchell
Grove Press, 1987

Beautiful. Informative. Entertaining. Surprising. Those are all words I would use to describe "Taking Tea: The Essential Guide to Brewing, Serving, and Entertaining with Teas from Around the World" by Andrea Israel. This is another oldie-but-goodie I've had tucked away on my shelves of tea books. I'd remembered it as just another eBay find, a bargain cookbook I could consult sometime I ran out of anything else to try, so I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of enjoyable information between these lovely covers!

Especially impressive for a tea book written in 1987, this one covers a heap of tea territory. I discovered quite a few tidbits I don't ever remember reading before. During the time when Russia began a caravan route to fetch tea from China, the author says, "Czarina Elizabeth encouraged tea's popularity by establishing her own private caravan." In the book's "Guide to Buying Teas," we learn that Darjeeling is good with jambalaya (I love jambalaya!) and that Jacksons (of Piccadilly) is said to have the original recipe for Earl Grey tea. And have you ever heard that when drinking tea with lemon, "the sugar is added first because the citric acid of the lemon would prevent it from dissolving"? I'm going to have to experiment with this myself to see what I can observe! Or what about this fun fact: Baked goods are crossed with a knife-slash "so as to release the devil." Hot cross buns, anyone?

The book is simply brimming with suggestions for themed teas, including recipes, decorating ideas and even musical suggestions. Teas include Afternoon Tea, Tea for Two, Nursery Tea, Victorian Tea, High Tea, Garden Party Tea, Farmhouse Tea, Exotic Caribbean Tea, Chinese Tea, American Tea, French Five O'clock Tea, African Farm Tea, Moroccan Mint Tea, Russian Evening Tea, Indian Tea and Japanese Tea. The recipes I most want to try include Banana Scones, Lemon Curd Bars, Applesauce Loaf and, to my surprise, Indian Samosas!

The book is beautifully photographed, and there are so many lovely things that will make you want to prowl the antique malls for similar finds. I was especially smitten with the breakfast set consisting of teawares whose exact same floral design was featured on the linens, including a teapot cozy and egg cup cozy! I greatly enjoyed this book and intend to consult it regularly now that I know what a fine resource it is.


  1. Thank you for this informative review, Angela!

  2. Such a lovely tea book. I will be adding it to my book list.

    Regarding the sugar, lemon, tea tip. My Mom taught me this when she showed me how to make iced tea,which she made with loose leaf tea, to which she always added the lemon last. Not sure of the chemeisty of all of this, but it worked for her.

    I really enjoy your book reviews, Angela!

  3. I am always amazed at how much there is to learn about tea!


  5. I am enjoying your book reviews too. I can't believe you find ones I have never heard about. My tea book shelf will be over flowing.

  6. Finally! This is a book I have in my "tea library." I used the recipe for Cheese and Carrot Tea Sandwiches in this book as the basis for my own tweaked version to make and serve at our annual October fundraiser tea.

  7. What an interesting sugar first-lemon last tip ! I am lost
    in a sleepy fog when I make my morning cup so I need to pay more attention to what I am doing!

  8. Now I'm going to have to see if Gumbeaux in Douglasville has a tea selection. Darjeeling with jambalaya.... YUM!

  9. Sounds like an interesting book. I always thought Twinings was the original Earl Grey tea maker. I'm sure many companies argue about that. LOL

  10. I love this book. My sister gave it to me when I first started thinking about having a tea business! It is a classic!


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