The “champagne of tea”

An advance reading copy of Jeff Koehler’s Darjeeling (due to publish in May) arrived this week.  Sometimes publishers send me food books that aren’t cookbooks, even those most everybody knows I almost never review them.  I was about to add it to the “Library Donation” pile, when, for some reason, my curiosity stirred.

I think it was the phrase “the champagne of teas” that caught my eye. I looked dubiously at my teapot, ever-present in winter, filled with an inexpensive Earl Grey I buy in bulk.  Definitely not the champagne of teas.  Sure, I enjoy the taste, but mostly I drink it to stay warm, from 8 in the morning till 6 in the evening, at which point I switch to the house red.

There don’t seem to be any books about Earl Grey (although it surely has a huge following among Star Trek: TNG fans).  Darjeeling, though, is another story.  Apparently its origins are romantic,its terroir unmistakable, its history fraught and its future uncertain.  Perfect literary material, in other words.

It’s increasingly likely there’s a cup of Darjeeling in my near future.  For now, though, the review copy of Darjeeling will see me through a couple of weekday lunches – accompanied by a pot of cheap Earl Grey.

What’s everybody else reading for lunch today, I wonder?

Post a comment


  • Delys77  on  January 13, 2015

    I must comment that while I am not a tea aficionado, I have been to Darjeeling and I truly enjoyed my tea sipping experiences there. We tried all sorts of teas, straight with no adornments, and I must say I've continued to enjoy the various teas we brought back.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  January 15, 2015

    My go-to tea is Irish Breakfast (malty notes!), but I did recently have a cut of darjeeling, and was impressed. With my tea, I am reading "Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking" by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, and wondering if I should devote a couple months to working my way through this book.

  • hillsboroks  on  January 15, 2015

    I love tea and have been a member of the minority of Americans who drink tea since college. Luckily I live near Portland, OR and it is the home of Stash Tea, Tazo Tea and Steven Smith Teamaker Tea so at least the local hotels and restaurants carry one of these brands as their house tea. We traveled to the Midwest this fall and counted myself lucky if I could find Liptons tea. My favorite tea experiences have been tea in Canada and Ireland as well as a tea tasting at Steven Smith Teamaker Tea in Portland. I just picked up a used copy of "All Cakes Considered" by Melissa Gray and have been browsing through it at lunch each day. I think tea would be perfect with any of her cakes.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!