Beverly Rorem, a transplant to Oklahoma City, has penned a workbook-style ode to tea. Although the cover speaks to tea’s high society fling with England “ a drawing of a Victorian lady with a big hat, buttoned cuffs and all sipping from a dainty cup “ the book itself focuses much more on the trends and benefits of the beverage.
Rorem starts off right with the chapter “The New Face of Tea,” with a direct, easy-to-read style that carries through the entire slim volume. Tea today, she writes, has found an identity outside of the fuddy-duddy, toile-covered society it was so long relegated to. It’s now sexy, funky and glamorous, with cool tea shops sprouting up in places like New York City’s East Village and dedicated tea sommeliers taking residence in some of the nation’s nicest restaurants.
The book educates readers on the history of tea (it originated thousands of years ago in China) and the varieties available today, without sounding too textbookish. I’m quite the tea fan, but there was a lot in the book that I certainly didn’t know “ it was really quite fascinating. For example, I had never even heard of the pu-erh variety of tea, which is the only tea that is aged like cheese or wine. The rare tea is described by Rorem as dark, smooth and rich.
Rorem, who has traveled the world drinking tea, spends a good portion of the book detailing the history, trends and future of the drink in regions around the globe: Japan, India, Russia, Turkey and the Middle East, Europe, England and the U.S. The last quarter is dedicated to discussing the drink’s health benefits.
“Passion for Tea,” at under 100 pages, should be taken more as a reference manual than something to read in one sitting. It would work well living in a kitchen with other cookbooks.
“Jenny Coon Peterson