The finer points of tea-making and the relevancy that it had for those who lived during Jane Austen’s time are described with a deep sense of appreciation in this introduction to the habit, as portrayed in the novelist’s own works and other writings. As Tom Carpenter (Trustee at Jane Austen’s House, Chawton) points out in his Foreword to this guide, “It is easy to pass over what may appear to be minor or peripheral description to the major story in Jane Austen’s novels, but as this book shows, there is frequent reference to this simple demonstration of hospitality that underpinned the expected social custom of the day.” Kim Wilson herself stresses that “At the center of almost every social situation in her novels one finds tea.”
Indeed, the passing of the day was marked by many during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the drinking of this beverage. Wilson broadens the scope of her work, however, beyond the scope of the novelist and her characters to show how the habit evolved across a broad swathe of society, and how the quality of tea that you drank, as well as the paraphernalia with which you drank it, was an indicator of your social standing.
Although we no longer tend to put such effort into our drinking of tea nowadays, with teabags being the standard order of the day for many, you do still find those who have aspirations to the ilk of Earl Grey and other more select teas, and tea is still one of the most commonly consumed hot liquids. Wilson caters for our needs in this respect, too, as she gives numerous recipes throughout the text of updated versions of, as well as the original recipes for, treats from the teatimes of Austen’s day. Examples of such recipes are those for mouth-watering lemon cheesecakes (with the original recipe taken from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple (1796)), and for comforting barley water (with the original recipe taken from The London Art of Cookery (1807)).
The illustrations of Tea with Jane Austen are plentiful, and range from full-color, full-page plates to tastefully done, and always highly relevant, line drawings. The bibliography and index are more than adequate for a book of this nature, with the former being divided between “Jane Austen: Her Works and Her Times,” “Books about Tea” and “Period Novels and Poetry,” from which Wilson quotes freely throughout the text (with some of the verses being so truly delightful that they might come in handy for a kitchen tea). Most of the index refers to characters and other personages who are mentioned throughout the work in relation to their tea-drinking habits and affiliations, but the author also lists each and every recipe included, both “historical” and “modern.”
Tea with Jane Austen is a winning and pleasurable text that should delight many a Janeite. Originally brought out in the 2004, this edition was published in 2011, with the demand for the work having led to its republication.
I love drinking tea and everything related to Jane Austen and her world, so I absolutely loved this book. The book covers every tea related custom in Jane Austen's time, from the family breakfasts and the more elaborate evening gatherings for tea, to the various occasions when regency people indulged in tea. Much like tea enthusiasts today, Jane Austen and her contemporaries would not miss any opportunity to enjoy their favorite beverage; they had tea while shopping, visited tea gardens, were taught to enjoy a good conversation and a cup of tea at school, used tea as cure for the sick, and even sought the comfort of tea when fighting at war. This very well researched and concise book is a 'biography' of tea in Regency England, and apart from all the tea related customs, it explores the rising popularity of tea, and the way it influenced Regency society and economy.
I am always fascinated by any kind of historical book that sheds light on the everyday lives of people of another era, especially when that is related to one of my favorite authors. I love to see how different people's lives were in the past, but also what similarities might exist. For instance, I was thrilled to find out that although centuries apart, Jane Austen and I, not only share a passion for a good cup of tea, but surprisingly she got her tea from Twinings just like I do today.
The book includes excerpts from novels by Austen and other authors of the time, excerpts from her letters, showing how important tea was to her, and a few period recipes. I think this is a wonderful book, but if you are interested in tea related recipes, as the recipes in this book are not that many, I also strongly recommend The Jane Austen Cookbook, which includes many excellent recipes for tea accompaniments from the Austen household.
I really loved this wonderful book . Very useful for all Jane Austen's fans , and many interesting informations about the Regency area in England . A delicious book , instructing and amusing . I shall recommand it to my English friends .
I love it. As well as having an insight in to the days of tea and cake, it is a very relaxing read and most enjoyable. Being a keen cook it is great to have the few recipies of the time gone, of which I will be trying imminently.