When I began the process of reviewing this book, I enlisted the help of my sister, an avid cook and tea lover. We both have different styles of cooking and therefor, different uses for cookbooks. I use a cookbook for ideas and to spark an interest in some thing that causes me to go down the "culinary connect the dots" to the finished product. On the other hand, my sister follows recipes to the exact teaspoon and for her the finished product, as the recipe states, must make the repeat list, otherwise the book doesn't stay on her shelf.
The recipes are broken up into sections based on courses. We found the recipes easy to follow and the instructions are clear and separated into logical steps. However, some recipes require the tea leaves to be finely ground, which was not as easy as we thought.
For the most part, the ingredient lists are short, which is a plus. Most of the ingredients are found in the average cook's pantry or are easily located at the supermarket. Some recipes call for one of the author's own "Harney tea blends". Occasionally a substitute is recommended, but not always. It is mentioned in the author's bio that some of his clients include Williams Sonoma and Neiman Marcus, but other than that it doesn't say where to find this brand of tea.
We tested two of the recipes, "Caper, Shallot, and Green Tea Cream Cheese" and "Hearty Wild Mushroom Barley Soup". The cream cheese was reminiscent of dried soup dip, however the green tea added an interesting flavor. This was not the case with the soup. We found that there was a hint of flavor from the tea, but not enough to justify its use.
One of the most important sections of any cookbook is the index, after all it is a reference book. The index for "Eat Tea" is frustrating to use unless you know the exact name of a recipe. If you were looking for an interesting duck recipe, you would look in the index and find an entry for duck with a list of page numbers, but no mention of the actual recipe names. I prefer to find the recipes listed by name under a general subject so I can scan over them and see if there is one that I like before I start flipping through all the pages mentioned.
In addition to recipes "Eat Tea" has some basic information about tea, a timeline and a section about food and tea pairings. This information is clear and interesting and is a welcome supplement to the recipes.
Overall, this book would make a nice gift for a big tea lover. The recipes are interesting and start the brain thinking about tea as more than a drink, but none of them grab my attention enough to use it on a regular basis. However, I do like the sections about tea basics, brewing and the timeline. So while I may not use the book for the recipes, I will use it as a tea reference.
As for the sister's comparison. For me the book sparked a little interest in using tea in cooking, but I can go from there on my own. For my sister, the recipes we tasted didn't score high on the repeat list, therefor, the book won't find a spot on her limited shelf space.
Final opinion: Interesting, but not a strong buy, unless you are really into teas.