Tales of the Tea Trade
Reviewed by Kyle Whittington | Tea Book Club
After a general but thoughtfully written introduction to tea and its types (pages 6-55), Michelle and Rob take us on a journey to the different countries they source their tea from (pages 56-183). Taking turns to voice the stories, we hear from both Michelle and Rob, as well as the fascinating people they’ve met on their travels. This book is intensely human and heartfelt. You really feel a connection with Michelle and Rob, their love of tea, the places they go, and the people they meet.
The book is thoughtfully laid out so you know right away who is speaking and can easily pick out the stories from tea people alongside interesting asides such as baking their own oolong (page 38) and people’s relationships with tea. Countries are arranged in chronological order based on when they started growing and producing tea, a different and thoughtful approach. The book is easy to hop in and out of, reading sections that interest you, if you’re not a cover-to-cover reader. Overall a pleasure to read and a must add to any tea bookshelf. Read more…
£16.99 | www.cominstea.com
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties
Considered a basic for a tea book library, this gorgeous volume is by the chef-owners of Quebec’s Camellia Sinensis Tea House and covers history, farming techniques, and tea culture, among other subjects. You can buy it directly from the Tea House’s website, which is in French, under “Cadeaux Pour Debutants” (Gifts for Beginners).
About the author: “My introduction to tea was unspoken and visceral. Humble mugs of the strong, milked ‘builder’s tea’ of my youth in the North of England still fill me with nostalgic pleasure whenever I’m in the U.K. My body chemistry has never been without the magic nectar.” Taster Sensation Kevin Gascoyne
The Great Teas of China
The new edition of Roy Fong’s classic book is far from being just a reprint. As Fong points out in the preface, not only has the tea industry in China changed dramatically in the ten years since the first edition was published, but, inspired by input from readers around the world, much more is included about water, teaware, and the brewing process.
About the author: At age 6, on his way to school, Roy Fong would linger at a Hong Kong food stand where day laborers were making gongfu cha. Sometimes someone would offer him a cup, and he never forgot the wonderful aroma and taste. Roy Fong: A Chinese-American Journey
$19.95 | www.imperialtea.com
Tea: A Nerd’s Eye View
For the tea lover who revels in the science behind their favorite brews, this is the perfect pick. Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace is a medical doctor who explains how the tongue perceives classic tastes, how aroma and flavor are linked, and many other intriguing processes of human flavor perception.
$27.53 | www.amazon.com
Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea
The author is the director of studies at the UK Tea Academy and, in 2016, was awarded the British Empire Medal for Services to Tea Production and Tea History. This book covers more than 60 tea-producing countries, explaining their history, terroirs, variety of cultivars, manufacturing processes, types, local tea culture, and rituals.
About the author: Jane Pettigrew is a tea specialist, historian, writer, and consultant. Since 1983, she has been working around the world to explain and share the fascinating world. Jane has written 17 books on the many and varied aspects of tea, its production, history, and culture, and she writes for tea related magazines and journals.
$59.95 | www.barnesandnoble.com
The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea
This highly rated 2008 volume by Michael Harney, tea buyer and blender at the family firm for more than 20 years, discusses the range of teas, how each tea has its own particular tastes and qualities, and how geography, cultivation, and production techniques influence these. Brewing instructions for many types of teas are featured.
About the author: In 1998 Michael Harney became the tea taster for Harney & Sons. This book is what he has learned. The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea transforms tea drinkers into tea experts. Written by Michael Harney, The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea is an illuminating resource for tea drinkers interested in developing and refining their palate as well as their understanding of the complex agricultural, historical, and cultural significance of tea.
$48.55 | www.harney.com
An Elephant Kissed My Window
and other stories from the tea plantations of South India by Saaz Aggarwal and M Ravindran
A book that is part memoir, part history of life spent as a tea planter in the Nilgiri hills in south India. Written by veteran planter M Ravindran, along with Saaz Aggarwal, a daughter of a planter, it’s one of the few books that are set in this part of the world of tea.
INR 500 ($6.78) | www.amazon.in
Meditations on Tea: A Coloring Book to Soothe the Soul
In the Japanese tea ceremony, the act of making and drinking a bowl of tea is an act of respect, gratitude, and interconnectedness. It is about emptying your mind of cares as you enjoy one of life’s simplest pleasures. Now, Meditations on Tea presents an adult coloring experience as soothing as a hot cup of your favorite tea blend. All aspects of Japanese art and culture are connected in some way with tea. These traditions can be explored and enjoyed in a beautiful new coloring book for adults who color more than 90 traditional Japanese images celebrating life and giving it meaning. There are designs to suit every mood-from woodblock prints depicting Japanese life and myth to doodles with color for creative relaxation-all waiting for the artistic touch of your pencils.
About the author: Okakua Kakuzo (1862-1913) devoted his life to teaching, art, Zen, and the preservation of Japanese art and culture, working as an ambassador, teacher, writer, and, at the time of his death, as the Curator of Chinese and Japanese Art at the Boston Museum. $7.95 | www.chapters.indigo.ca