Steeped, by Annalies Zijderveld

I have been a tea drinker for as much of my life as I can remember, but for most of that time tea has been a part of the background of my life – ever present, but not something I took much notice of. In the last few months that has changed, and I have been exploring new blends and flavours of tea, and I am looking forward to growing some of my own tea plants in my new garden this summer.

It may seem to be a logical next step to include tea in food recipes, but it is not an idea that had occurred to me until I encountered matcha – the green tea powder that makes it makes its way into everything from smoothies and muffins to porridge and tiramisu.

In Steeped: recipes infused with tea, Annalies Zijderveld explores much further the idea of cooking with tea, exploring the potential of tea to be used more as a herb or spice (a source of flavour) than as a drink.

The beginning of the book looks at some of the ways in which tea is drunk around the world. Apparently, 85% of tea drunk in the United States is served iced. Brrrr. Regular blog readers will recall my recent experiments with Tibetan Butter tea; in Russia, we’re told, smoky black tea is likely to be sweetened with a spoonful of jam – which does lead to delightful flights of fancy in which you mix and match tea blends and jam flavours.

With so many different flavours of tea on offer, the recipe possibilities must be nearly endless. Steeped limits itself to recipes using 10 ‘classic’ teas – 4 black, 4 green and 2 herbal brews. Once you’ve stocked your cupboard, it walks you through the basics of cooking with tea, including the different methods for brewing used in the recipes later.

The recipes themselves are arranged chronologically, under ‘Morning tea’, ‘Midday tea’, ‘Afternoon tea’, ‘High tea’ and ‘Sweet tea’. Each one is clearly laid out and easy to read; only some are accompanied by colour photos of the finished dish.

Some of the ones that caught my eye are:

Blueberry scones with Rooibos honey butter, Green tea vinegar, Tea crackers with herbed labneh, and Mint pea soup, but there’s plenty more here that I think I might try – I like the way that Steeped zooms between different cuisines and has been put together with thoughts of flavour, rather than simply trying to insert tea into everyday recipes that are fine without it.

You could use Steeped as the kind of recipe book that you pull off the shelf, choose one thing to make and then put it back until next time. But I think it’s also the kind of book that could pull you in, and encourage you to stock up on a few more teas and really get in to using tea as a source of flavour. With the Green tea vinegar, for example, you’re making something that’s not intended for immediate use, but which improves with age. And there’s even a recipe that makes use of the tea leaves once you’ve got to the bottom of the bottle.

So… using tea as a herb is an intriguing concept, and Steeped is an intriguing book. And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for tea. I have my eye on the Green tea coconut rice 🙂

Steeped: recipes infused with tea
By Annalies Zijderveld
Hardback, 126 pages, RRP £12.00
ISBN 9781449464974
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Also available on Kindle.

Release date is 9th April 2015.

Disclosure: I was provided with a preview ebook by the publisher. The review is my own, and the hard copy is on my wishlist 🙂