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JEFF KOEHLER

  • writer
  • photographer
  • cook
  • traveler
December 17th, 2014

Advance Reading Copies

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The advanced reading copies — bound galleys — of DARJEELING have arrived! Bloomsbury will publish the book on May 12th in the US, may 21 in the UK, June 1 in Australia, and in September in the India.

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November 3rd, 2014

Darjeeling

Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea has recently taken a few steps closer to its May publication date. The cover has been finalized and released, the bound galleys are currently at the printers, and it is now ready for pre-order on Amazon and around the web.

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January 14th, 2014

Darjeeling

With my last book, Spain: Recipes and Traditions, safely launched and sent along on its way (fueled by encouragingly good press), I feel the time is right to announce news of my next book. A long-form non-fiction work this time. Titled  Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea, it is about the world’s greatest tea.

India produces about a billion kilograms, or over two billion pounds, of tea a year. Estates stretch across diverse parts of the country. But Darjeeling is the indisputable jewel in India’s tea-producing crown. Its eighty-seven tea gardens account for only a fraction of the globe’s tea, and less than a single percent of India’s total. Yet the tea from that limited crop—with its characteristic brightness (frequently likened to newly minted coins), fragrant aromas, and sophisticated, complex flavors that are delicate, even flowery, and hint of apricots and peaches, muscatel grapes, and toasty nuts—is the world’s premium tea, “the champagne of tea.”

Tea does not grow naturally in Darjeeling. It has only been on these Himalayan foothills for 170 or so years. How did it get there? Why was it brought to this isolate place? Why did it thrive? And what makes its flavors impossible to replicate anywhere else?

In Darjeeling ecology, history, tradition, culture, orthodox methods, and terroir have come together to create a sublime product with an unduplicatable essence. (*Scroll down for photos.)

But Darjeeling’s future—its present, even—is under threat. Yields are now half of what they once were, changes in climate are battering the land, worker absenteeism is averaging over 30 percent, and a long-simmering separatist movement completely shut down the Darjeeling hills for five weeks this summer.

It’s the story of all that, but also of the measures being taken to counter these challenges and save India’s most exclusive and iconic brew that are nothing short of radical.

The book was picked up by George Gibson, the publishing director of Bloomsbury USA and legendary editor behind Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Salt, Dava Sobel’s Longitude, Ross King’s Brunelleschi’s Dome, and many other original, best-selling titles.

Darjeeling, then, has its ideal editor. But also its idea publisher. With Bloomsbury’s quartet of publishing offices—NYC, London, New Delhi, Sydney—the main English-speaking (and tea-addicted) markets for this book are well covered. I’m thrilled to join many of my favorite authors on their roster.

My passion for Darjeeling tea goes back two decades. I had been travelling in Africa and Asia for a couple of years after college, over-indulging in the delectable range of milky teas—also sweet, often milky, sometimes spicy—when I arrived in Darjeeling. That frigid December I tasted tea itself for the first time: pure and fresh, no sugar, no milk, no lemon, no cardamom or ginger, no spices. Just Darjeeling’s Himalayan sunlight in a cup.

Many of my strongest memories from my months in India, memories that have drawn me back to the country in the years since, involve tea.

And it was that week in Darjeeling that brought me back for this book. Keen to follow an entire harvesting year, I spent time during each of the year’s four harvesting seasons, from the opening first flush in March to the end of the autumn flush in November, watching the tea change with the seasons. Tasting its changes. (*In the images below, you can see how the color of the tea changes with each flush as well.) I hung out with many people in the industry  around the Darjeeling hills and in Kolkata and Delhi, all backed up by almost two years reading and researching, but it was being with tea planters on nearly two dozen gardens where the secrets of the Darjeeling’s uniqueness revealed themselves.

But the season is over. The tea bushes have gone into hibernation. The factories are quiet. And I am in the final stages of writing. The manuscript is due in a couple of months.

Darjeeling will be published in early 2015. Stay tuned until then! Watch for updates and tweets about India, Darjeeling, and tea (as well as my home for nearly twenty years, Spain) .

For now, a visual taste of Darjeeling tea taken during the 2013 harvesting season.

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The road to Bannockburn Tea Estate to Ging Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Two leaves and a bud: the quintessential Darjeeling pluck. It takes a staggering 22,000 of these to make a single kilogram of finished tea. © Jeff Koehler

 

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Plucking autumn flush leaves on Glenburn Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Pluckers on Glenburn Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Plucking first flush leaves on Castelton Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Plucking during the monsoon on Jungpana Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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The tasting room on Namring Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Sanjay Sharma doing a morning batch tasting on Glenburn Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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First flush teas. © Jeff Koehler

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Second flush tea on Makaibari Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Tasting first flush teas on Marybong. © Jeff Koehler

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Late second flush and early monsoon teas on Goomtee Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Autumn flush on Rohini Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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The tasting room at Jungpana Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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Makaibari Tea Estate and the view down to the plains. © Jeff Koehler

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And Darjeeling town itself, backed by Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. © Jeff Koehler

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Finally, the author sampling a range of second flush teas on Marybong Tea Estate. © Jeff Koehler

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December 6th, 2012

Morocco on CS Monitor’s best cookbooks of 2012

Happy to report that Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes has been selected by the CS Monitor as one of the best cookbooks of 2012, and sits at number 4 on the list. Their justification:

Like Burma, Morocco stands at a culinary crossroads, with influences from many different food traditions. (In this case, West African, Middle Eastern, French, and Spanish are the most pronounced.) Also like Burma, Morocco’s rich culinary offerings have too often been ignored in North America. This excellent book includes recipes that represent the diverse culinary offerings found throughout the country.

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December 3rd, 2012

In The Daily Meal’s Top 25 Cookbooks of the Year

 

I am happy to share that The Daily Meal has named Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes as one of the best 25 cookbooks of the year.

“Moroccan food is filled with all kinds of mysterious and exotic twists that often make it difficult to master for new home cooks. In his book Morocco, Jeff Koehler de-mystifies the cuisine by explaining the true science behind the many different components of the fascinating food. While it’s not the first Moroccan cookbook we’ve seen, his beautiful photographs and simplified recipes make it a top pick on our list this year.”

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November 5th, 2012

Condé Nast Traveler

I am very pleased to be in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, offering some of my top picks for eating in Marrakech. (I would add tangia as #6.) Turn to page 48 in your copy to read it, or click here.

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August 16th, 2012

Iconic tasting

I am pleased that my tasting tour in Barcelona is mentioned in Condé Nast Traveler’s “iconic itinerary” of the city. Contact me or Made for Spain to taste some of Spain’s finest products yourself!

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January 15th, 2012

Morocco book

Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes is off to the printers. Advance copies should her here in a month or 6 weeks. Shots of the books as soon as I receive my copy!

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June 20th, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Radio


This week I will be a guest on Everyday Food on Martha Stewart Living Radio talking about paella and preparing Spain’s iconic dish at home.

 

The date and time: Wednesday, June 22nd at 12:15 PM Eastern Standard Time. 

 

Everyday Food gives our listeners great ideas and inspirational uses for all kinds of food. We take our audience from the professional test kitchen to the home cook on a daily basis.  Everyday Food broadcasts live Monday through Friday 11 AM - 1 PM Eastern on Martha Stewart Living Radio, SiriusXM channel 110.

 

Click here for more details. 

 

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April 20th, 2011

Morocco book

Changes to the (very deftly) copyedited manuscript of the Morocco book are done and back to Chronicle Books. See you in July in the form of galleys!

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All text and images are ©Jeff Koehler 2007-2009 and cannot be used without his written permission.