One thing about me is that I sometimes read cookbooks. A second thing about me is that I have a highly specific compulsion regarding the purchasing of tea. I mean, I do that, a lot. So much that it is not humanly (or robotically?) possible to drink those amounts, and only barely possible to fit it all into my home. It's just that I love the scents, and the brewing, and pretty mugs, and there is a well-known magical connection between hot beverages and books.
So I saw a cook book for recipes using tea as an ingredient, and I was all over it, immediately. Finally a way to give purpose to some of my tea cupboards! (They are plural!)
My first impression is - this would make a great gift for a tea enthusiast. Steeped is a beautiful book, full of bright and inviting photos, and it opens with a reference to beloved fictional tea drinkers, from Jane Eyre to Captain Picard. The author is very clear on what types of tea will be employed throughout the book, and that her priority has been to use a selection that is not ridiculously hard to track down wherever you happen to be. There are some instructional facts about each of these teas, including a brand recommendation or two, as well as a list of brewing times/temperatures, which can be really helpful. I've brewed enough greens, blacks and tisanes to know some of these things, but I'm completely bamboozled by white teas. And oolongs. And pu-erhs, for that matter.
The introduction part of the book is relatively short - then there are the recipes. While I have certain dietary restrictions (no grains or gluten and as little sugar as possible), I find a lot of inspiration even in the things I'd have to modify quite a lot in order to put on my own menu. Some of the ideas are perfect exactly as written, though. There is most definitely chai infused yogurt in my near future. And lapsang souchong mayonnaise! Goodness, as much as I love lapsang, that usage had never occured to me.
(I have the most fun cooking when what I'm cooking is some disconcerting combination of things that even I have a hard time believing will come out tasting nice. I know green mint tea pea soup, for example, is something I'd have a hard time convincing anyone around me to try. But that adds to the fun. And it sounds yummy.)
Oh, there are some more conventional recipes for actual drinks in here too, like lassis, frescas, smoothies, and new spins on classic iced tea brews. They, too, look like things that will happen to me eventually.
Overall, this is a lovely special interest cookbook. Get it for the tea-person in your life. Be aware that it isn't about tea, as such; there are other books out there to give you history and geography and meticulous descriptions of harvests and the treatment of leaves and so on. This book is not for theory (tea-ory!) - it's for fun. And food. Obviously.
(And what did I drink while reading it? I started with a black mint tea, detoured through a tangerine rooibos, and landed on my favourite russian caravan.)