Summer’s warm days and vacation activities invite visions of fresh harvests from gardens and reading lists for lazy days. So when a tea book comes along that talks about growing, processing and enjoying your own tea, it just may create the perfect marriage of pastimes. Cassie Liversidge’s Homegrown Teas: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes invites you to read, garden, and drink tea made by your own hands.
First, it must be made clear that Liversidge book is not an in-depth, technical manual on growing and processing tea. Of the over 250 pages, less than 20 are specifically dedicated to Camellia sinensis. The other chapters cover 19 other plants and herbs that can be brewed. Further sections cover seeds, fruits, flowers and roots that can be grown and steeped.
Information on C. sinensis includes guidance on optimal soil, sun, and other growing conditions for tea plants. The reference section provides the names of 2 U.S. companies that sell C. sinensis plants – somewhat useful considering you can’t run to your corner nursery and pick up tea bushes or seed.
Despite the brief sections on tea and tea processing, there are some useful ideas if you choose to experiment with hand-processing your own teas. A sushi rolling mat can help with rolling tea leaves. Liversidge shows how green teas can be steamed to stop the oxidation process. This process may not produce teas bearing Chinese characteristics, but will be easier than unevenly scorched leaves (and fingers) that result from trail-and-error in pan-firing.
If you are looking to cultivate a garden full of plants to use for tea and tisanes, then Homegrown Tea gives you a survey of plants to grow, their medicinal benefit, and guidance on how to use the plants. Your backyard can now combine those pleasures of reading, gardening, and sipping the fruit of your labors.
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