Nicole Gulotta is the writer behind the literary food blog Eat This Poem. The first time I ever came across her blog I was instantly pulled in with a subscription pop up that asked “Free for tea?” and felt connected. She is also coming out with an Eat This Poem book next spring. I found her post from this past summer, My Biggest Cookbook Fear, to be quite relatable with my book writing experience. I love that Nicole Gulotta’s upcoming book isn’t just another typical cookbook, but instead something that will celebrate food and poetry together by pairing her recipes with verses from poets. Given her enthusiasm for tea online, I wanted to see if Nicole was “free for tea” and discuss poetry and tea pairing, how tea plays a role in her writing, and much more at the tea table.
The kettle is on and I can hear it about to sing. What tea are you going to steep for us today?
I’ve just finished drinking an enormous amount of iced tea this summer, and now that the weather is cooling down, it’s time to transition back to a hot mug. Let’s have a spicy black tea with hints of fruit, or a fragrant chai.
Do you recall your first sip that started your tea journey?
I started drinking tea while studying abroad in London. A few days after arriving, my roommate and I went to The Orangery in Kensington Palace one afternoon and we ate scones, drank Earl Grey, and talked for hours.
At the beginning, I was less interested in tea as a culinary experience and more drawn to the ritual of it. Pausing each afternoon for a hot cup of tea, to reflect or talk with a friend, seemed so sensible, especially in our fast paced society. It can be an act of mindfulness, really, drinking tea, and helps keep us rooted in the present moment.
I love that you found tea to be a ritual. It’s also a perfect writing buddy! As a writer, take me through the process of your writing routine and how tea plays a role.
I’m very adamant about making tea only when I have time to enjoy it. I’m not one of those people who carries a mug around the house or drinks it on the go. My husband gave me an electric kettle for my birthday, and I love it. It heats the water perfectly, which brings out the best flavors in the tea. The whole process of heating the water and steeping the tea takes about seven minutes, so while that’s happening I usually move my laptop from the desk to the dining table, and set up for the morning. I typically add a squeeze of honey, give it a stir, and then it’s time to write.
What are the top 3 teas we would find in your collection today?
Lately I’ve been loving Dark Iris from August Uncommon Tea in Los Angeles. It smells like peaches and has notes of pistachio and lime. Another favorite is Californian Persian from Samovar Tea in San Francisco. The cardamom and jasmine notes are pretty alluring. I also have some red raspberry leaf tea leftover from my pregnancy last year. It’s great chilled with lemon and mint.
Your upcoming book pairs recipes with poems. If you could pair a poem with a specific tea, what would that look like?
When I think about tea and poetry pairings, I really consider the mood more than anything. T.S. Eliot’s poetry reminds me of English Breakfast or another dark, black tea. Something brooding and steaming, with a slight jolt of caffeine. A subtle green tea would pair wonderfully with Jane Hirshfield’s work, which is usually spare yet complex and beautiful at the same time.
Black, Green, Yellow, White, Oolong or Puerh?
Hot, Iced or Cold?
Hot, unless it’s summer
Teapot, Infuser or Gaiwan?
Straight, Sweetened or Latte?
Straight, with just a touch of raw honey. I’ll occasionally make a latte with almond milk when it’s a gray day.
Cheese or Chocolate pairing?
Choose one person, living or passed, celebrity or family, that you would like to have tea with.
I’d enjoy having tea with my grandmother, who passed away when I was eight. She was a nutritionist and food writer, I’d love to talk about cooking with her now.
Find Nicole Gulotta: