Infused: Adventures in Tea by Henrietta Lovell

According to a few online sources I found, June is National Iced Tea Month in the United States (International Tea Day is April 21). In honor of this observance, I’d like to tell you about a nonfiction book I read recently which is (somewhat) related– Infused: Adventures in Tea by Henrietta Lovell.

Published in 2019, Infused is Lovell’s memoir / travel diary about the global tea industry, highlighting all the places, people, and methods which help to create the amazing teas we (or I, anyway) drink every day. Lovell, also known as “The Rare Tea Lady”, includes recipes and photography to help capture the wonder of tea growing, processing, and of course tea drinking. She starts with her early journeys into China, mixed with meditations on why tea is so meaningful in her everyday life, and also mentions tidbits of tea’s history as a global product. Gradually she traces her growth into The Tea Lady, taking the reader on breathtaking journeys into the hidden places we’ve probably never been in countries like China, Russia, and even the UK.

I’m not a connoisseur by any means, with only a vague sense of ‘that tastes good’ (or not), but I found this book compelling for the care and detail that Lovell put into it. It’s fascinating to meet individual growers and chefs that make the creation of tea their life’s work, especially those that are carrying on deeply rooted local traditions. Lovell also makes a good case for choosing quality, loose-leaf tea over industrially-produced string-and-bag products, though of course the transition is easier said than done (and she can come across as snobbish on this point). Moreover, the writing style is readable, engaging, and thorough, with a restful, poetic level of description. The author’s love for tea and a strong sense of wonder shine through on every page.

For better or worse, I probably won’t change my tea habits too much going forward, but I definitely came away feeling enriched. Tea lovers, history buffs, travel enthusiasts, and devotees of whole, natural food products should try this book.

Drink the Harvest by Nan Chace

drink the harvestPreserving the harvest doesn’t have to stop with jam and pickles!

Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be made into delicious beverages to drink fresh or preserve for later — a healthy and inexpensive alternative to store-bought drinks. Drink the Harvest shows you how to create juices, ciders, wines, meads, teas, and syrups to savor any time of year. From strawberry juice to pear cider, dandelion wine to spiced apple mead, citrus peel tea to kombucha, you’ll love these delicious recipes. You’ll even discover how to create your own backyard beverage garden and how to harvest ingredients for maximum flavor and quantity.

Whether you’re looking for new ways to enjoy your garden’s bounty or want to experiment with pure concoctions made from farmers’ market finds, these recipes and techniques – including harvesting, canning, fermenting, and pasteurizing – will introduce you to a whole new world of garden goodness. (description from publisher)