Every time I make a cup of good tea, and I mean really good tea, not the generic fun looking brands at your average grocer, but the loose leaf, crushed, balls of sun-dried flowers and leaves…those kinds of good teas…when I make that kind of tea, I always think about the book, For All the Tea in China.
I didn’t appreciate tea for tea until I learned more about it. Growing up, my dad drank coffee and my mom drank tea. Dad drank Folgers and mom drank Orange tea. Period. There was no wavering from the brands or the flavor and it was the exact same drink daily.
No offense Mom and Dad, but that’s boring.
If I am one day going to run a successful Bed & Breakfast, and in the meantime write some great fiction novels that take place in Bed & Breakfastes…I needed to expand my knowledge, and pallet, of coffees and teas.
For All the Tea in China, by Sara Rose, is a historical overview of how the British East India Company faced the loss of its monopoly on the tea trade with China, forcing it to make the drastic decision of sending Scottish botanist Robert Fortune to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India. Rose tells this factual, and in-depth historical travel and business narrative in a delightful storyteller’s prose that keeps you engaged. I don’t usually read nonfiction unless I absolutely have to learn the subject matter. This book came highly recommended to me when I met someone who was quizzing me on my tea pallet and I quickly learned I did not have a clue what he was talking about.
Much like wines, teas have their own language for descriptors of earthy notes, floral tones, the balance of aroma and taste. But teas also have unique steeping times depending on their varietal, the perfect temperature at which to drink it, certain food items to pair with it. Rose’s book does not discuss how to select or enjoy tea, but it tells you how teas are born and how it became the drink that it is today.
Did you know that the best teas must be hand picked? Still today, in the modern age of Big Ag farming, tea can not be bulk harvested. Each shoot is selected for it’s perfection of growth, only the top most shoots are harvested from any given plant. An experienced picker can harvest 32,000 shoots in a day, which creates approximately 2 pounds of dried tea. The next time you are debating getting the $2 box of generic tea prepackaged in a bag vs the $20 tin of loose leaf tea…just think about the quality and what went into making that tin.
I’ve lent this book out to anyone I know that enjoys tea….the good teas.
In my first book, working title is Pixie’s B&B, (and no, it’s not published yet), the B&B is set in Pelican Bay, FL and I used a variety of lemonades as the go-to drink for my characters. But the next book that I am currently just no drafting will be set in Barnegat Light, NJ and there will be a lot of teas featured in the storyline (it’s colder there, need lots of warm drinks!). I will of course feature my favorite good teas. If you want to try some, follow these links:
White Tea: Imperial White Tea
Chamomile: Frontier Chamomile