culinary tea with cynthia


Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold is a favorite book of Bon Teavant, who interviewed Gold at the Boston Park Plaza, where she is employed as Tea Sommelier. Culinary Tea is not only very elegantly designed, but filled with more than 100 recipes using tea as a prime feature, and tea information that tea lovers will gobble up or sip page by fascinating page for hours with delight.

With this book in your library you don’t have to be a trained baker with the best stand mixers for baking to create a Vegetable Tart with an Assam tea crust,  for example, nor recreate the wheel to prepare a Fresh Tea Vinaigrette on your dinner salad, not to mention the delectible Flourless Keemun-Cherry Chocolate Torte to top off your meal. Are you salivating yet?  If not, the gorgeous photos (both color and black and white) will help you along.

The book is very well organized, with Part One offering valuable information and insights into many aspects of tea from tea storage to the cultural roots of culinary tea.  Part Two serves up recipes and techniques for cooking with tea, and is sorted into Starters, Entrees, Desserts, and Tea Beverages (including cocktails). The book also covers information on pairing teas for drinking with different foods.

Many readers will appreciate the further categorization of each segment, for example, Entrees are grouped into Vegetarian, Seafood, Poultry, and Meat dishes. If you happen to be vegetarian, this book will not disappoint.  The vast majority of dishes in this book are meatless, and the great information on tea history and culture is worth the cost, even if you don’t cook.

According to Cynthia, “In each culture, there is a wonderful tradition of cooking with tea, but for some reason, these historic dishes are looked at as something very distinct and tend not to be replicated, to not go through modern variations within those cultures; so to me, those dishes are beautiful as-is, but they also should be inspiration for a wide variety of other techniques and uses.”  In Culinary Tea, Gold offers the results of her inspiration, with a wide variety of dishes and even a series of tea cocktails.

If you are simply a tea lover searching for hard-to-find information on how tea is used as food by different cultures throughout history, Culinary Tea is a great reference.  The book also features a number of stunning color and black and white images of the dishes as well as of tea farms, tea ware, and tea growing regions around the world.

Check it out and feed your ravenous appetite for inspiration, beauty, inventiveness and, of course, the ravishing deliciousness that is Tea.


japanese tea news – shizuoka


Just today I received a couple of links from different people which disappoint and concern me.  It appears that some Japanese tea from Shizuoka is tainted with radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant disaster which followed the earthquake and tsunami.

Here are three links:

1) Japan Today states that authorities in Shizuoka Prefecture suggested to a tea retailer that (s)he not publish news of tainted tea, for fear that people will overreact.

2) Japanese news giant NHK announced that “radioactive Cesium exceeding the legal limit” was found in Shizuoka tea at levels beyond what is considered safe.

3) The Wall Street Journal reports one incident of Japanese tea in Shizuoka Prefecture testing above the legally permissible limit of radiation.

Note that Shizuoka prefecture is approximately 300km from the Fukushima Daiichi Plant, where several nuclear reactors continue to be compromised. Approximately 50-60% of Japanese tea is grown in Shizuoka Prefecture (County), and much of the tea grown in this region is Sencha. Keep in mind that this is only one incident, and It is hoped that much of the tea grown in Shizuoka and other areas further south will be spared, providing a healthy and delicious crop for tea drinkers worldwide.

How do you know where your tea comes from?  Ask your local tea retailer or online tea store administrators.

Keeping readers informed, whether the news is good or bad, remains a priority.  Yet, while it’s important to report the news, it is also important to remain optimistic.  As far as I have heard, most Japanese teas growing in southern regions of Japan are still considered safe to drink.

So many continue to suffer in Japan, whether from loss of loved ones or loss of crops. Let every morning tea ritual begin with loving thoughts of health and healing for our friends in Japan, remembering that in tea, kinship is universal.