All About Tea

tea enthusiasts handbook coverWhen I was younger, I didn’t think I liked tea. Then I discovered that teas come in many more varieties than just black. Now I drink teas all day long, making iced teas during the summer months when it’s too hot to be boiling water. And with loose leaf teas so popular (and Thunder Bay has some fantastic loose leaf tea shops), it’s really easy to find the tea that’s right for you! Need some help figuring out where to start? Then come and check out a book on tea from the Thunder Bay Public Library.

The best place to start is The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World’s Best Teas by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss. This book gives a great overview of the different kinds of tea made from the tea bush, or Camellia sinensis; you’ll learn what green, yellow, white, oolong, black, and pu-erh teas taste like, look like, how to buy them, how to store them, and so much more.

A great book that complements the Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook is Marietta Marshall Marcin’s The Herbal Tea Garden: Planning, Planting, Harvesting and Brewing. This book focuses specifically on herbal teas, giving you information on growing, caring for, harvesting, and brewing 70 different herbs. So if you’ve ever wanted to grow your own loose-leaf tea, this is the book for you.

the story of tea coverIf you’re more interested in the history of tea, a really fun little book is Annie Perrier-Robert’s Book of Tea. Book of Tea is filled with all kinds of facts about tea, and includes some fantastic historical pictures related to tea. If you’d rather go more in-depth, check out The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide, which is also by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss. The Heisses are a husband and wife team who opened their own tea shop in the 1970’s, back when there wasn’t as much choice in loose leaf teas. They wanted to learn as much as they could about tea, and made many trips to Asia to source their teas. The Story of Tea is described as the first “truly comprehensive cultural history of tea,” and the Heisses are the perfect duo to have written this book.

We can’t talk about tea without mentioning tea parties. Taking Tea: The Essential Guide to Brewing, Serving, and Entertaining with Teas from Around the World by Andrea Israel gives an overview of what tea parties are like from a variety of cultures. It’s also packed with lots of original recipes created by Pamela Mitchell. If you’re looking to host a more kid-friendly party, then check out Come to Tea: Fun Tea Party Themes, Recipes, Crafts, Games, Etiquette and More by Stephanie Dunnewind. Like Taking Tea, Come to Tea has overviews of different kinds of tea parties, but rather than being culturally themed, they’re geared towards little girls. It’s full of crafts, games, and recipes to complement your party.

taking tea coverSince I’m talking about tea, I’d also like to mention that the last spring meeting of Colour Me Calm, Waverley’s Adult Colouring Club, is this Thursday at 7pm. I’m the host, and I always bring a different herbal tea from home to serve alongside cookies. If you’re interested in a fun night out with some excellent tea, you should definitely join us. Colour Me Calm will be breaking for the summer, then resume in the fall.

And for reference, if you want to make iced tea this summer, I usually just fill a jug with water and steep tea in it for several hours (the longer the better, so I’ll leave it in overnight). You can use your favourite loose leaf tea, or a pre-made tea bag. I find fruity herbal teas are best!

Shauna Kosoris – If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!

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