Book: Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson

Modern Tea: A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage
Author: Lisa Boalt Richardson
Published 2014 by Chronicle Books
Cover Price: $19.95USD/£12.99
164 pages

First Impressions

Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson is a book that I purchased early on in my tea blogging days (so likely circa 2016 or so). It’s a small, square book – hardcover, with full colour illustrations. The book itself is split into five generalized chapters: What is Tea?, The Art of Tea, Tea Ceremonies and Rituals, Beyond the Cup, and The Buzz About Tea.

In the first chapter, What is Tea?, Richardson touches on the types of tea, tea production and farming, and examples of specific types of tea within each type of tea (white, green, etc.). The photos are lovely, although not as vibrant as I would expect from a colourful illustrated book. The second chapter, The Art of Tea, covers how to prepare tea, equipment and water, and also has a section on how to eyeball water temperature without a variable temperature kettle – although for the sake of simplicity, I still prefer the ease of selecting a button for my preferred water temperature.

Tea Ceremonies and Rituals was the most fascinating to me, because Richardson goes over various cultures and their ceremonies – Chinese, Japanese, Moroccan, to name a few. With photograph examples of most, it’s nice to contrast and compare the teaware between cultures. Beyond the Cup goes over cooking with tea and also food pairings, which is something that I do reference when I’m thinking about my tea recipes. The Buzz About Tea covers caffeine, fair trade, environmentalism, and health benefits – although I think we’ve come a long way in science and understanding about tea since 2014, since matcha has spiked in popularity in the western world and more people in the western world are setting aside coffee for tea.

Things That Stood Out

I loved that Richardson included information about the difference between high tea and afternoon tea – a distinction that a lot of people don’t understand. If the tea that you’re thinking of includes dainty finger sandwiches, a tiered cake stand, and fine china – you’re thinking of afternoon tea. Richardson also goes over the origins of tea and cha – because of the different dialects of the Chinese language and how the language evolved and changed as it travelled (for example, in India, tea is chai and the Mandarin pronunciation for tea is cha).

Favourite Section(s)

I really liked the section in Modern Tea about how to incorporate tea into food and how to create food pairings. I think it’s a great reference for beginners wanting to add tea to their cooking or baking, because it gives some great examples (but the part that I didn’t appreciate was the lack of actual recipes for testing out the methodology).

My Overall Impression

I liked Lisa Boalt Richardson’s Modern Tea. I think it’s a fantastic book for those who are interested in tea, or a beginner tea fan. Richardson covers the basics of tea fairly well and in a language that isn’t too complex. I do think that if you’re more into the tea scene, you might find it not as informative because you might already know a lot of the information – but it doesn’t mean it might not be a great addition to your tea shelf. Richardson lays out the information in a great format that is easy to digest with some pretty photography. At the cover price, it’s not unaffordable and might even be available via your local library (which I always encourage trying first in case you can’t find a copy of it, since it was published in 2014).

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Adagio Teas’s Mango

Mango by Adagio Teas
Black Tea / Flavoured
$7.00USD for 6 quart-sized pouches

Adagio Teas has provided me with Mango as a sample with the Tea Advent Calendar (you can still find highlights from me opening all 24 days on my Instagram, @onemoresteep), a review of this tea was not requested.

First Impressions

Mango is a curious black tea blend from Adagio Teas. I received it as a sample when Adagio Teas sent me their 2019 Tea Advent Calendar, and I decided why not try and review it! It came as a pitcher-ready tea bag, so it’s fairly big. I did open up the pitcher tea bag to get a better look at the tea blend inside. The material feels a bit silky, I’m not sure what it’s made of.

Mango smells just like the mango fruit – I can’t make out the black tea base, but I’m not upset about it because it smells just like the fruit and I’m excited for it. Mango consists of: black tea, mango pieces, natural mango flavour and marigold petals.

Preparation

Adagio Teas recommends steeping Mango overnight in 4 cups of water (1 quart) with the cold brew/cold steep method.

If you want to try Mango as a hot tea, Adagio Teas recommends steeping in 212°F (100°C) water for 3 minutes.

Despite it being a winter wonderland outside the day that I decided to do this, I opted to cold steep Mango directly in my pitcher (this one!) with 1 quart of water (fun fact, 1 US quart is equal to 946mL). I used room temperature water that was previously boiled, and then popped the pitcher into the fridge for approximately 6hrs.

First Taste

Mango steeps to a lovely golden orange colour. It’s a very clear colour, and smells amazing. The aroma is primarily that of the mango fruit and it smells sweet. Surprisingly, the tea itself isn’t as sweet as I was expecting it – but there is no added sugar in the ingredients so perhaps I should have thought of that. The flavour is sweet and fruity, with a nice crispness to it. The black tea base is quite present in the steeped tea – I found it to have a bit of a nutty flavour to it which balances well against the more sweet, mango flavours.

I don’t really think it requires a lot of sweetener – but if you decide to add something to it, I would recommend something that easily dissolves in cold water (like agave syrup).

A Second Cup?

Due to the nature of the preparation of Mango, I did not opt to resteep the leaves.

My Overall Impression

I loved Adagio Teas’s Mango. I thought this black tea blend smelled and tasted like what I expected from a tea that calls itself Mango. I enjoyed the fact that it had multiple methods of steeping instructions – and I went for the one suggested on the packaging. It has a pleasant freshness to it that can only be captured in a cup of iced tea, and I think it’d be great in the summer time (perhaps with a wedge of lemon on the side?). Do take care when adding sweetener though, as the mango fruit itself does add some sweetness and you wouldn’t want to overwhelm it..

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DavidsTea’s Forever Frosty

Forever Frosty by DavidsTea
Herbal Infusion / Flavoured
$8.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Forever Frosty piqued my interest because it’s a winter/seasonal version of Forever Nuts – which is a long-time fan favourite (and if you want to see some seriously poor tea photography, you can check out my 2016 review of Forever Nuts!) and a tisane that I enjoy usually as a latte. Which, of course, meant that I was curious enough to pick up a bag to give it a try.

This is a curious blend that came in a sealed, resealable silver pouch. A very familiar bright yellow label adorns the bag and gives you all the necessary information about the blend. I highly recommend giving it a good shake before scooping some out to steep because all I saw when I first opened the bag were huge candied almonds and large slices of dried oranges. Not very appealing! Forever Frosty smells like cinnamon and oranges, which is nice, but doesn’t really make me think of Forever Nuts. Surprisingly, I don’t really smell almonds. Forever Frosty consists of: apple, candied almonds, almonds, orange slices, marshmallows, cinnamon, beetroot, coconut flakes, orange peel, cloves, artificial sweet roasted almond, and natural orange flavouring.

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Forever Frosty in 95°C (200°F) water for 5+ minutes. I opted to follow the steeping instructions and I did an initial steep for 5 minutes.

First Taste

Forever Frosty steeps to a very bright pink, a lovely colour from the beetroot. It has a very sweet, orange aroma to it with hints of cinnamon mingling in the background. I don’t really smell or taste almonds, which is unfortunate because that’s one of the key components of Forever Nuts. The colour is significantly brighter, in my opinion, than the pink of Forever Nuts. I do find there’s a bitter component to the blend though, which isn’t very pleasant. Sweet, bitter, orange, and cinnamon – with the cinnamon being the real wintery flavour that I can make out in the tisane.

A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep Forever Frosty, but it didn’t really improve matters and just resulted in a fairly weak drink. I would recommend Forever Frosty for just one steep.

My Overall Impression

I didn’t like DavidsTea’s Forever Frosty. I think it was a very valiant attempt at a seasonal take on the perennial favourite Forever Nuts, but I don’t think it quite captured enough of the essence of Forever Nuts or the season, which is unfortunate. I was really hoping that the flavour and aroma of the almonds would come out more, especially since almonds appear in the ingredients three times.

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