The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard

A short review on this fascinating book about tea, published by DK books and an interview with the author. 
By Tahira B August 4 2016

the-tea-book-hc-3d_origFellow tea/chai drinkers, The Tea Book is a book you want to have in your collection and or on your tea (not coffee) table!

From the moment I picked up the book, I was hooked. I was fascinated and needed to learn more about the tea world. The book is not overwhelming and is organized in such a way that is easy to read and makes it fun.

It is a fascinating insight into tea cultures around the world and way tea is consumed. Linda shares her experience as a tea sommelier and all she has learned from her travels. She talks about the different types of teas, where they come from and the best ways to prepare them.

The hidden gem in the book is the recipes of tea – including alcoholic cocktails and sangrias. The Tea Book is available in: English, German, Hungarian, Spanish, Korean and will also be available in Japanese by September 2016.

Linda used to be a wardrobe stylist for information television presenters and for celebrities at the Canadian Screen Awards as well as at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I was thrilled when DK publishing gave me the opportunity to meet her in Downtown Toronto and have a chat with her about the book and her experiences.

SC: What made you want to move from the fashion world to the world of tea?
LG: I loved my job as a wardrobe stylist, but I have always had a quest to learn something new and this led me to the world of tea. There was a shift in the television industry, where reality TV was taking over information TV and they did not need wardrobe stylists as much as they were trying to get the reality factor in. I still had work, but then I happened to read and article and I just felt like I needed to learn more, so I signed up for a course at George Brown College and I have to say – it took just the first class and I was hooked!

9781465436061_origSC: What about tea fascinates you? 
LG: There is so much to tea. The entire process of growing it to how it is consumed and how that varies culture to culture is amazing. Tea creates calm mental acuity. Even though there is caffeine in the tea, when it is prepared right, the amount of caffeine consumed is less and other components in the tea all contribute to this state of calm. My approach to tea is more about the history and culture of it around the world. I love seeing the trends changing, like now currently there is a trend in that orthodox tea is more valuable and there is a movement towards that.

People are demanding better tea both internationally and in the domestic markets. Climate change is also making farmers adapt how tea grows. Consumers want to be more connected to the regions the teas come from.

SC: What are some of the most interesting conversations you have had over tea?
LG:They have got to be about tea itself! They happen when I do focus tastings and find the verbal reactions I get extremely fascinating and gratifying. I also enjoy conversations with other tea sommeliers, where we spend hours discussing tea over tea trading industry insights and talking about the world of tea.

I also enjoy just packing up a picnic basket and thermos of hot water and heading to the park to have my tea in nature. It is one of my most favourite things to do.

9781465436061-1_origSC:What was the most unexpected tea experience you had during your travels?
The most unexpected and delightful experience I had was during my travel to the world Hangzhou, China – where I stayed in a Tea-themed boutique hotel. Every floor had a tea room and every room has a tea stand preparation table.

You can read more about her experience at this unique hotel here

SC:Did you face any difficulty during your travels, specifically in the tea culture around the world?
I found initially it was hard to be taken seriously, especially in China – where the tea culture is held in high regard. There is a belief that Westerners do not know anything about tea and are often amused that there is an interest in learning about tea. However once I began talking (through the translator) and asking the right questions, they understood I was educated in tea and knew what I was talking about as I was asking the right questions.

Along my travels through China, I did learn that the best teas do not even make it out of China, what we are exposed to internationally is just a  drop in the bucket.

9781465436061-2_origSC:What are your top three favourite recipes from the book?
Off the top of my head I would say Pu’er Sangria, May to September and Korean Morning Dew. And this is more because of the weather at the moment. I tend to have favourites according to the seasons. These are really nice summery ones.

SC: From the tea cultures mentioned in the book, which is your best one? 
The Chinese tea culture. This is because it is the source of all tea culture. I just enjoy the method with which they approach it. However as a modern tea sommelier, I believe in not being rigid about the culture and in fusion. I love to mix the traditional practices with the modern ones.

SC: What is next for you in this fascinating journey? 
I participate in the World Tea Expo, which is always a fantastic experience and I love seeing the interest people have in tea. I am looking at the possibility of another book; teaching at my studio; travelling to Japan and or Northern India; and I am playing with the idea of session tea cruises.

For more up-to date information about Linda follow her on her website it is filled with information about Tea, so grab a cuppa and enjoy!

To get your own copy of the book go to: