Tea for You: Blending Custom Teas to Savor and Share
by Tracy Stern (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2009)
Reviewed by Katie Farmand
As author Tracy Stern says, “It’s high time to think outside the teabag.” Whole tea leaves create the best infusions, and the possibilities for combinations and blends are seemingly endless. Tea expert Stern guides the way as Tea for You explores the personal process of creating a custom tea blend and then using that blend in new and exciting ways.
The petite volume starts with basics, such as how to brew the perfect cup, and gives in-depth flavor profiles of the types of white, green, and black teas, herbal varieties, and the sundry extra ingredients that can be added to create a custom mix. After describing the ingredient options, Stern gives a handful of recipes to create unique blends using these herbs, teas, and spices. Inspiring combinations include Anise-Chocolate Assam, Lavender-Almond, and Lemongrass-Rose, but Stern encourages readers to customize the ingredients to suit their own tastes.
A short but informative chapter called “Tea for Health and Beauty” delves into the use of tea for skin and hair care. Strongly brewed, cold green, chamomile, or black tea, Stern says, can be used for everything from deflating puffy undereye circles to alleviating the sting of a sunburn to bringing out highlights in hair.
Tea’s boundless versatility is illustrated in the collection of sweet and savory recipes that comprises the second half of the book. In the sections on cocktails, snacks, pasta dishes, and main courses, Stern utilizes tea in inventive ways. Lapsang Souchong adds smokiness to country pork ribs, and jasmine tea brings out the floral flavors in fresh limeade. Desserts range from the traditional, such as Tea Lime Pie (which uses green tea for an added kick), to the intriguing, such as Banana Red Tea Sorbet.
Those curious about creating their own tea blends will certainly enjoy this beautifully photographed book. Stern, who owns a global tea company and is a trusted expert in the field, brings new life to our favorite beverage, casting it in a new, accessible light.