For some tea drinkers – present company included – a cup of tea is just fine and nothing more is needed. We drink our tea, sometimes in copious and staggering amounts, but that is all. Other tea lovers might want to take things a step further and do such things as incorporating tea into their food. This is not a new concept but it’s one that seems to be gaining in popularity along with the general upswing of interest in fine foods and specialty tea. If you doubt the level of interest in this topic, consider that there are actually restaurants scattered throughout Asia whose menus are comprised exclusively of tea-related dishes.
Of the smattering of cookbooks that have popped up to fill this niche, Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern’s Culinary Tea is the most recent. Gold, a tea sommelier (yes, that’s right, sommeliers are not just for wine anymore) at The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, brings a considerable amount of experience to her topic and even claims to be “one of the first chefs practicing ‘culinary tea’ in the United States.”
Part One of the book is devoted to Understanding Tea, with a chapter that sketches out the historical precedents for using tea as an ingredient in cooking. The next few chapters take a look at the fundamentals of tea. It’s a section will be especially useful to newcomers to the world of tea but will probably be something of a review for old hands. Part Two of the book, not surprisingly, takes a look at the Techniques of Cooking With Tea and presents the 150 recipes (and then some), broken out into the categories of Starters, Entrees, Desserts and Tea Beverages.
As the title promises the recipes featured in here have an international theme, which seems fitting for a product that is produced and consumed in various ways around the world. Among the assorted and sundry of the many interesting recipes are a Jasmine Tea Chicken Soup, Rosy Green Tea Truffles, a Banana-Blueberry Smoothie, Chinese Tea-Smoked Duck, Smoked Tea-Brined Capon, Assam Shortbread and Thousand-Year Old Eggs. Aspiring tea chefs will be glad to know that this latter item, a popular delicacy in some parts of Asia, can be prepared in quite a bit less than one thousand years. But patience is still a virtue.
Don’t miss William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!
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