When I began working on The Tea Book, I was in the midst of setting up my tea ‘studio’, a place where I could teach classes and consult with tea industry clients. I would continue with my blog, The Tea Stylist, but could happily put my other plans on hold, as I felt assured that The Tea Book would be the introduction for many, to a world that had become a passion for me for more than 6 years.
Writing can be absorbing work and researching facts and details from multiple sources, makes for a cluttered work surface, with papers, books and notes strewn about the table. An orderly brain is crucial in this atmosphere and appropriately, I relied heavily on the subject at hand – tea.
Matcha was the booster for very early morning deadlines (all-nighters). From the several matcha recipes in the book, I found that the matcha latté (pg. 157) topped up with some coconut cream, had just the right caffeine level and comforting qualities. During the day, I drank Bai MuDan (White Peony), which I also used in the recipes section (pp. 164-166). It contains small leaf buds that are found in white teas, so has a little extra caffeine. The greatest comfort during these deadlines was my faithful companion, Roger, a black lab, who kept me company, sleeping close by, even while I was writing into the wee hours of the morning.
Midway through the writing process, I was able to take a break from research, and instead, experiment and ‘play’ with tea and ingredients for the recipes section of the book. At the height of the operation, my desk, which is actually a long table, was groaning with bowls of fruits and vegetables, spices, spirits, ice, etc. Central to the efforts were the hard-working blender, teapots, cutting board, mortar and pestle, grater, weigh scale and other tools of the tea-making trade. Essentially, my studio was transformed into a tea lab.
Recipe concocting went on for weeks during the summer and was punctuated with sunny buying trips to Asian supermarkets and exotic spice shops. Peaches and berries were in season. I restocked the liquor cabinet with spirits that I thought would blend well with various teas and I discovered the world of ‘bitters’ – an essential for cocktails.
Authoring The Tea Book was a deeply rewarding experience, and seeing my words come to life alongside the gorgeous photos and illustrations in the book was very gratifying. Now that The Tea Book is published and sitting on bookstore shelves and tea tables, I look back nostalgically on those extraordinary months of research, creativity and the clutter that accompanied it. Is there another book on the horizon?
Linda Gaylard is the author of The Tea Book. Linda is also a Certified Tea Sommelier located in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from a comprehensive program of study developed by George Brown College in conjunction with The Tea Association of Canada. During her training, Linda experienced more than 350 hours of focused tastings and workshops as well as training in tea and food pairing, social history of tea and tea garden management. Visit Linda’s website at www.theteastylist.com