Saturday, March 27, 2010
Tea and Books Saturday #13 - "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.