The Tea Book: All Things Tea by Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby
I was at the library browsing when I saw this book and decided I needed to read it. I’m a huge tea fan. I’m not quite a snob in that I can only drink loose-leaf (I’m also a very poor adjunct professor, and Trader Joe’s has a lovely array of organic boxed tea that I can afford), but I know that I can do better than Lipton’s (which: yuck). I was intrigued by the pretty cover and the premise.
Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby run a company called Teapigs, which they sneakily remind you about several times. They discuss tea from its anatomy and variations to the history of tea, to places to get tea around the world. It is a charming, informative book that taught me a LOT about the variations of tea and the way the leaves need to be treated in order to get the kind of tea you want.
Here’s my major nitpick, though, from a North American (and US) perspective: why focus exclusively on the East and West Coasts, skipping over the South and Midwest completely? Is there not sweet tea in the South? Surely there are places in Nashville, Atlanta, or Charleston where there are elegant tea shops! And what about the Drake Hotel in Chicago? The Chancellor and I went there for our anniversary, and while not the best afternoon tea I’ve ever had (more on that in a minute), it was very respectable. Surely that can get some play? Maybe it’s just that I take my flyover state very seriously…?
But the BEST tea I’ve ever had in North America, and that Cheadle and Kilby neglected, was at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. The Chancellor and I did Vancouver/Victoria for our honeymoon (totally worth it, by the way), and we did an afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. I have since spent the 4.5 years reliving that tea and trying to recreate the best parts of it. So it stymied me that something so quintessentially British would get ignored.
Ah, well. At least let me share a few pictures of that tea. It was pretty spectacular.