Being a long-time practicing herbalist, I am not easily impressed by books on herbs. More often than not it seems as though writers rely on what others have written, regurgitating the same information again and again without adding much, if any, new material from their own understanding, practice, and experience.
Not so with Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes. The author, Cassie Liversidge, has provided a book that is as refreshing as hibiscus tea on a hot summer afternoon, combining scientific information, traditional and folklore traditions, and her own experiences with each plant she features.
Liversidge begins with tea, both black and green, and the goes on to explore various alternatives to that most traditional of beverages, such as lemon balm, blueberries, and honeysuckle. Odd as it is, I had never really thought of trying to grow actual tea plants. While I realize it would be impossible for me to grow enough to keep my family in tea for a year, I do think it will be fun to grow at least a couple just to see how they grow and try my hand at harvesting and preparing our own homegrown tea.
The book is beautifully put together and effectively organized. It is divided in to larger sections like leaves, seeds, fruits, flowers and roots. Each section offers several examples and gives information on medicinal benefits, growing and harvesting, blending and making a tea or tisane with that plant or plant part. I especially enjoyed the "Tea Bag Friends" sidebars, in which Liversidge offers ideas and tips for blending other plants with the one that is being featured. Her writing style is interesting and individual, and one gets the clear impression that she has personal experience with each herb, fruit or root she is discussing.
Whether you are a tea enthusiast, herbalist, or gardener, you will find loads of good information and sound advice in this lovely, unique book.
Cassie Liversidge was born in the UK and studied Fine Art at Plymouth University. She grew up on her parent's plant nursery where her love of gardening began. Her debut book, Grow Your Own Pasta Sauce came from a desire to share her passion for eating home grown food and living in a more sustainable way. She lives and works in London with her husband and two sons, but spends two months of the year in New York. Visit her website.
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