Review: The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard

TeaBookBook Information:

Where to Buy:  Dorling Kindersley


Where does tea come from? With DK‘s The Tea Book, learn where in the world tea is cultivated and how to drink each variety at its best, with steeping notes and step-by-step recipes. Visit tea plantations from India to Kenya, recreate a Japanese tea ceremony, discover the benefits of green tea, or learn how to make the increasingly popular Chai tea. Exploring the spectrum of herbal, plant, and fruit infusions, as well as tea leaves, this is a comprehensive guide for all tea lovers.

Learn more about this book here.


Linda Gaylard’s The Tea Book is the kind of book I’ve been looking for a long time. From the time I first started drinking tea “seriously”, I’ve been reading books about it as well. Many were disappointing for various reasons – too short, too brief, too perfunctory, too basic. Even after spending hours looking online, I hadn’t really come up with anything close to what I wanted, which was a book that would provide not only the introductory stuff, but also some more detailed information about the different types of tea, growing regions, varieties from those regions and their characteristics, and maybe a little about tea rituals in those places. I’d pretty much given up hope of finding such a book – until now!

The Tea Book is all these things and more. Written by Tea Sommelier Linda Gaylard, it’s a definitive guide to tea and tea drinking – perfect for both beginners and more experienced tea connoisseurs. Split into 5 sections, the book begins with a chapter on what tea actually is, discussing the Camellia Sinensis plant, its growth and terroir, harvest and production and a quick overview of the various varieties. The second chapter looks at brewing – comparing loose tea and tea bags, storage methods, water, and equipment, and provding some rule-of-thumb preparation guidance for green, white, oolong, black, pu’erh, and yellow teas. The third chapter looks in more depth at the history of tea, and the different tea producing countries and regions. This was the most fascinating section for me, as it also outlines the various tea rituals of the world and a step-by-step guide to performing them. It’s not just the big three of China, India and Japan, either – less well known tea producing nations such as Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia are also featured. Tisanes have a chapter all of their own, with sections on roots, barks, flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds.

The final section of the book is dedicated to recipes, featuring both tisanes which can be created from scratch (i.e. Fennel, Lemongrass and Pear, Spring is Here, Rosehip, Ginger and Lemon, etc.), and recipes using various tea varieties (i.e. Salted Caramel Assam, Matcha Latte, Spicy Ceylon, etc.) In depth instructions are provided for the creation of Iced Tea, Kombucha, Masala Chai and Bubble Tea. It really is a fascinating section, with a lot of inspiring ideas, and more than proves that tea can be so much more than just a few leaves and some water.

I’ve spent many happy hours perusing this book, and I’ve learnt things I’d never otherwise have known. The standard of photography throughout is excellent – clear, illustratively useful in the step-by-steps, and sometimes just plain mouth-watering! If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to know about tea, doubtless you’ll find the answer here. It’s a great book, containing a wealth of information and inspiration. I’d consider it a worthy addition to any tea fanatic’s bookshelf.

Reading Nook Tea Blend from Plum Deluxe


Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe

Tea Description:

The reading nook blend is our signature organic tea created for enjoying while perfecting some of our dearest passions: reading, writing, and enjoying conversation with friends.

One needs a touch of caffeine to keep the conversation flowing, the pages turning, or the pen on the move, so we start this blend with a wonderful cream black tea. We then added rosebuds for creativity and sustenance, passionflower and lavender for flavor and aroma, and top it off with a bit of chamomile which adds a calming balance to it all. Customers often tell us this is our prettiest tea!

All Plum Deluxe teas are hand-blended and infused with love in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh wow!  This tea has a delightful aroma!  I can smell the floral notes – the passionflower, the lavender and the rose … along with hints of chamomile – and these beautifully fragrant flowers mingle with the notes of vanilla cream and it’s intoxicating!   I imagine that this amazing scent would be the perfect accompaniment while reading a favorite book, a fantastical fragrance along with the fantasy of literature.

On the Plum Deluxe webpage for this tea, there are little snippets of customer responses about the tea.  One that stood out to me was this:

A black tea with an herbal taste. Very cleansing aftertaste.

I think that this really describes the flavor of this tea quite well.  I probably would only edit this comment to add the word “floral” behind the word “herbal” because I think that these two descriptive words better clarify what I’m tasting.  It’s a black tea and the black tea base is mellow – I suspect it’s a Ceylon – and the herbaceous tones and floral notes come through as the strongest, most forward flavors, but without completely overwhelming the flavor of the black tea.

Now, usually, I’m in full support of a tea tasting more like tea and less like it’s additives.  However, in the case of this blend, I think that I rather like the way the floral notes dance upon the palate.  I like that the black tea is more of a supportive background ‘voice’ that allows these flowery tastes to take on the lead of this tasty symphony of flavors.

It’s really quite dreamy – the flavor of this cuppa!

And what makes it so dreamy is not the floral notes or the black tea – but the cream notes.  The cream is not a dominant or aggressive flavor in this cup of tea, but it seems to be the stage that brings everything together so harmoniously.

When it comes to brewing this tea, I recommend using a slightly lower temperature.  I think that the floral notes are better expressed when the water is just below boiling (I used water heated to 200°F).  After giving the pouch a shake to redistribute the ingredients, I measured a heaping bamboo scoop into the basket of my Kati Tumbler and added the water and let it steep for 3 minutes.  Perfection!