Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

Archive for the ‘Tea Books’

Tea Creations (Desserts and Cocktails) Tasting

February 25, 2011 By: ctan Category: Tea Books, Tea Reviews

If not for the wonders of social networking, I would have completely missed that Cynthia (Cindy) Gold and Lise Stern were doing a “tea tasting” at Finale last night.

For those unfamiliar with Finale, it’s the all dessert restaurant, and actually they have three locations now. (And amusingly enough, they’ve added non-dessert small plates to their menu which are also quite yummy.) Yes, it’s upscale gourmet food done to a luxurious extreme… I mean, come on, DESSERT RESTAURANT. So of course we love it.

I often feel I need an excuse to be decadent enough to eat there, though, so usually it’s that someone has come to visit from some heathen place where they don’t have dessert restaurants, or it’s a snowstorm and they often offer Internet blizzard specials, like half price on the flights of hot chocolates with purchase of any other dessert. Since corwin and I live walking distance from their Harvard Square location, more than once we have put on our snow boots and bundled up and walked the frozen tundra to indulge.

But about tea. Gold & Stern have recently come out with a book, CULINARY TEA: More Than 100 Recipes Steeped In Tradition from Around The World. The book includes recipes of all sorts, but at Finale they featured five tea-based desserts and four paired cocktails. Ahh, nothing like working all day only to go directly into a meal that will leave you sugar-high and drunk! (more…)

Idleness and Industry

June 05, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Books, Tea Musings

It’s one of life’s inherent paradoxes–isn’t it?–that we associate sipping a cup of tea with slowing down and taking a moment to relax, and yet the tea trade is one of the most labor intensive of all industries. I have now had the pleasure of reading Sarah Rose’s For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History and so can say that this has been true for over a century.

The tea industry would never again be the same in the wake of the massive global changes brought about by British Empire-building. The shift of the English taste from green to black tea and the fate of India and the East India Company (the world’s first multinational corporation) hinged on the clandestine expeditions of botanist Robert Fortune. He traveled into remote areas of China where no white man had ever gone in order to unlock the secrets of Chinese tea production, so that the British colonies in India could seed massive plantations to break the Chinese monopoly.

The book and the historical tale it recounts is fascinating, but I only had the leisure to read it thanks to an unexpected afternoon free while visiting the city of New Orleans. (more…)

The Temptation of Tea Books

April 08, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Books

So, it’s my birthday today, and I thought maybe I should buy a book for myself. So I went websurfing, because at least two of the books that have caught my eye lately are about tea.

I recently heard writer Sarah Rose on NPR about her recent book For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History. The book sounds fascinating, and could be another brick in the wall I am building that encompasses the intertwined histories of my grandparents’ nations of origin: China and the UK. (I’m Chinese-filipino/Irish/Welsh. Have I mentioned how much I loved Hong Kong? But I digress.)

For All The Tea In China tells the story of how a man named Robert Fortune (no, I am not making that up), botanist and adventurer, stole the secret of tea cultivation from a Chinese plantation, including seeds, samples, and the methods of horticulture, so that British-owned plantations in India could be started. (This also partly explains why the Yunnan Gold Rings tea I am drinking right at this very moment tastes a lot like Assam Gold Rain.)

Anyway, I do rail against Amazon’s arrogance and hegemony in the digital book industry, but couldn’t help but notice that the book is on sale for 55% off. WOW. That’s as cheap as a wholesaler gets it. In other words, I could order several copies of it, and resell them, and make what a bookstore would make on doing so. This is a $26 hardcover, and they are selling it for $11.69. And it looks like a really good book. I might have to buy it. (No, I’m not actually going to re-sell it. I’ve lost enough money in the book business already, thank you.)

If you decide to buy it too, click this link to buy it and I’ll get a kickback from the Amazon hegemony: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History

The other book I am interested in is Roy Fong’s Great Teas of China. Interestingly, Amazon doesn’t actually sell the book, just lists it, and the Imperial Tea Court is the seller. So I went over to the Imperial Tea Court website to see it there. Roy Fong, for those not familiar with him, runs the Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco, where he teaches amazing tea tasting classes, runs tea tours of China, and most recently bought a tea farm of his own. And wrote a book recently, hence this.

Turns out there are a bunch of tea books for sale at Imperial Tea Court. Frank Murphy’s The Spirit of Tea caught my eye also.

Ah indecision! In the end I have not yet bought any of these books, because although I have one day a year to treat myself to an indulgent book purchase… I have no day when just reading that book is the rule. Perhaps that’s what I should do for my birthday next year. Set aside at least one day just to read. And sip tea.

Tea Witness

December 15, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Books, Tea Musings

You meet all sorts of people on the Internet. Having a tea blog is a little like running an online tea shop. People stop by from all over, and sometimes you get into interesting conversations with them.

One recent visitor to TeaWritings was Jason Witt, the author of the recently published book Spirituality of Tea. Right now the Kindle edition of the book is only a dollar, so I bought it. Jason is something of a tea monk. He eats a low-calorie diet, doesn’t drink or do drugs, doesn’t own a car or house and tries not to clutter up his life with possessions, and finds his ecstatic pleasure in tea and communing with God daily through tea. He doesn’t live on a mountaintop in Tibet, though, but in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Jason’s book reminded me in some ways of the books of Earl Grollman, who although he is a rabbi, focuses his books on a wider audience through the belief that all human beings, not just those of a particular religious sect, could benefit from his message. Grollman’s subject is grief and bereavement, and he writes in a very direct and almost simplified manner, soothingly repeating the messages distraught survivors need to hear. Jason’s subject is overcoming the stresses of modern life and the get-ahead mentality that distances us from our true needs, both physical and spiritual. Like Grollman, he invokes God and Heaven without specifying a specific church or doctrine and sends a powerful, direct message about the peace and happiness one can find.

Despite rampant commercialism and battles over its meaning, the holiday season still means something spiritual to me, making now a good time to talk with Jason about God, tea, religion, and other such subjects. I chatted with Jason, of course, through the Internet.

CT: The basic message of your book is that people can find God within themselves through drinking tea. Can I ask which one you came to first, God or tea? (more…)