It was the sort of moment that makes me nervous. A friend and I were at lunch a few weeks after Christmas and she was apologizing for the lateness of my Christmas gift. I happen to *like* late gifts, because it helps extend the holiday season, but then my friend had me look down in the bag and I realized it contained a book. As I started to unwrap it, she said, "Promise me something before you open it." I said, "OK ... what?" "If you've already got it, you'll tell me." My heart sank as I agreed, because chances were good this would be a duplicate of one of my many tea books. So I was more than a little happy when I removed the tissue paper and found a book that existed only on my Amazon Wish List, "Tea with Bea."
Bea Vo, who was born in the D.C. area, graduated from Cornell, studied at Le Cordon Bleu and opened London's Bea's of Bloomsbury in 2008. Bea's has been noted for having one of the best afternoon teas in London. She writes that she was initially hesitant when asked to write a cookbook, figuring "all of the greats have already covered almost every single possible recipe and technique there is to think of that we currently use in our own kitchens." But then she realized "cookbooks aren't just textbooks—they are a reflection of a particular chef's point of view," and readers will be glad she decided to go ahead with the project.
Oh, my, do these recipes look terrific! They range from perfect little squares of Lavender Shortbread to Ultimate Afternoon Tea Scones, a decadent Frangipane Raspberry Cake, a sweet and tart Key Lime Pie and some fine looking Doughnut Muffins (a doughnut lover, she shares my love of Krispy Kreme!). She also offers tips on preparing "perfect tea" and "perfect coffee," and her tips on baking are both helpful and fun to read.
If you don't happen to have any more belated Christmas gifts on the way, I say just go ahead and gift this book to yourself!