Book Review- Culinary Tea

by Jason on April 25, 2012

in review, Voices of Tea

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In 2011, I was able to talk with Cynthia Gold at World Tea Expo about this book.

The impression I got from Cynthia and Culinary Tea was that tea can and should be looked upon as more than a beverage. It is also a spice, an ingredient that we can experiment with in creating new delights.

A few details about the book:

  • over 100 recipes
  • Chapters with background on tea types, flavor profiles, and tea preparation
  • Recipe chapters on: starters, entrees, desserts, and beverages (including cocktails)
  • Excellent photography of tea locations and dishes. Not all dishes are photographed
In talking and reading the book, I was left wondering who this book is speaking to. Certainly not the Rachel Ray- type audience. Many of the more unique recipes require ingredients not found in every home kitchen. Following a recipe will require having things like lemon grass, star anise, or bonito flakes on hand. Only the more devoted tea drinkers will have the full collection of teas employed throughout the book. Several dishes also require pre-made elements, like tea-marinade, tea-smoked salt, or dry-rub made with tea leaves.  A chef might take on a recipe daily, but I’m afraid the general reader will spend most time dreaming of preparing these meals more than once a month (if that).


Given the prep time and accumulation of unique ingredients needed, I have only personally tasted a handful of creations. Of those I did, I was not always able to distinguish a distinct tea flavor. I was left wondering- would I have missed the tea ingredient if it had been omitted?

The real treasure in this volume is not the recipes themselves, but the inspiration they spark. I had been putting matcha in my morning oatmeal before this book. But after reading and talking with others, I had personal success with an orange pu’erand duck soup. Culinary Tea contains nuggets of tea-wealth. Even a cook pressed for time can find ways to crumble a few leaves into a dish and see what happens. A little bit of leftover tea can replace plain water in some cases. Culinary Tea opens your eyes to those opportunities, and tips the balance away from error and more rewarding taste experiences.


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