The New Old Thing: All About Tea

by Nina Rubin

Americans are rediscovering one of the world’s ancient beverages—tea. Maybe it’s the comfort that this warm, soothing brew and its rituals bring to our lives – especially given the recent comfort food revival. Or perhaps it’s the increasingly multi-culti nature of our society that compels us to embrace tea, the world’s most popular beverage.

Whatever the reason, tea is making a serious comeback, and not just with Anglophiles or old ladies with flowered dresses. Think of it as the second wave of the hot beverage revolution. First came the Seattle-based coffee bar craze; now it’s tea-time.

We’re not just talking about basic black or the old English Breakfast standby. Today’s sophisticated public demands high quality, flavor, and authenticity. This trend has gained steam in recent months, with restaurants proudly sourcing their own teas, hotels revamping their tea programs, and chefs incorporating teas as seasoning in their cooking. The result: a rainbow of loose-leaf teas is now available, from rare Chinese white teas to Darjeeling FTGFOP.

If you’re feeling a bit lost, don’t worry: the StarChefs’ tea experts will guide you through the terminology. We’re also pleased to offer a selection of recipes—for and with tea—as well as advice on where to take tea, and how to host your own tea party (for you do-it-yourself types).