Historical Thieves of the Tea World

In Sarah Rose’s For All the Tea in China, readers are introduced to Robert Fortune, a self-taught botanist hired by the British government to infiltrate China and retrieve tea seedlings and information in order to grow it in British India. One of the books Rose sources information from is The Great Tea Venture, and it’s here that I first started learning about other Robert Fortune-like figures in history. Continue reading

DvD: Adventure on the Tea and Horse Trail

This is a dvd set I picked up alongside The Great Teas of China. It’s a serial from the Travelogue show, following the energetic host (whose name I don’t ever remember being mentioned, and isn’t anywhere on the case or online) and his team as they travel along the original road of the Cha Ma Dao, from Yunnan to Tibet.

The serial is broken up into three parts, each just under thirty minutes long. In the set I got, they were each on their own dvd, which seemed a bit excessive for what amounts to a total ninety minutes. Within this, each “part” was split into two to three days.
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Book: The Great Teas of China

The book opens thus: “The Chinese have a saying that reading ten thousand books can’t compare to traveling ten thousand miles.” Wow, I just came here to read a good book, and I am feeling so attacked right now.

It reminds me of some words given to me at a teashop to basically the same effect. The truth is, I love to read; I don’t think book knowledge compares to hands-on experience to any extent, but it also doesn’t hinder it (unless you stubbornly choose to let it). I don’t read to the exclusion of tea drinking, but because I enjoy it and because it gives me something just drinking alone can’t. Continue reading

Book: The World Atlas of Tea

I remember when this came out, because there was a bit more buzz than usual for new tea books (most of them slip silently into the night, because they’re recipe or gardening books… The only others to kick up some interest were How to Make Tea, and The Art and Craft of Tea, which both came out the year before). It seemed interesting enough to write down on my ‘list’, but just general enough that it went right to the bottom for priority. Not likely something I’d buy myself.

But the benefit of newer tea publications, is they’re more likely to get picked up by libraries. This one did, the other two I mentioned didn’t (though I ended up buying How to Make Tea). Continue reading

Summer Plans

For the first time in years, I’ve got a completely open summer. Which kinda means I don’t know what to do with myself. Usually I’m either working in the field or taking a field-based summer class for at least part of the break, or filling it with a geography class or two. But I’ve got nothing. I am still keeping my options open on the off-chance I do still end up with a summer job, but all the interviews I’ve had so far have gone nowhere. Which sucks because I got a few really cool ones.

So I’m working more retail, and saving for tuition in the fall. Unfortunately I don’t get the buspass offered to credited students, which means paying a lot out of pocket just to use public transit everywhere. It also means that I can’t check any more books out of my school library, since I’m not a credited student this term. I’ve still got a pile of unread books I own, and a massive public library and archive to dig through. Continue reading

Book: Harvesting Mountains

I have been reading this book for a while.

It’s not a long book, it’s just been an ordeal and a half to finish it. I checked it out at the beginning of the semester, read a chapter, and then got caught up in textbook readings, essays, and term projects. But finally, with the end of term, I’ve gotten to sit down with this book again.

Tragically, someone before me felt the need to write all of their notes in the book rather than on paper. It’s only in pencil, and so I thought of erasing it myself if it weren’t so extensive. I got a few dirty looks while reading on the train from people who no-doubt saw the scribbles and pinned me as the culprit. Continue reading

Book: Homegrown Tea

I had an ulterior (well, not that ulterior) motive in picking up this book, and it was mostly just to read the very first section on growing camellia sinensis. To quote the book’s opening paragraph:

Homegrown Tea is a gardening book for tea lovers. It explains how to grow a large variety of plants from which you can make teas and tisanes. Your own garden, balcony, or even windowsill could become your tea cupboard.”

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Notes from the Field

So it’s been a long term, and I’m only two chapters into Harvesting Mountains.

Last I checked, anyway.

My life has been consumed almost entirely be geology, and I haven’t done anything tea-related since November, which is a pitty. I haven’t partaken in any spring pre-buys, or picked up any interesting new sample packs. I haven’t really bought much new tea in general.

The only interesting thing I did was keep up with tea club meetings. It’s definitely nice to have a regular group of people to drink tea with, although it’s more of a casual pot with homework club. I try to bring my gaiwan in every so often to share with the one other person in the club interested in single-origin teas. Continue reading

Book: Tea Production, Land Use Politics, and Ethnic Minorities

I’m free! That is, I’ve finished another harrowing term. I mistakenly thought I would have more free time, and went a little overboard at the library. At least I’ve finished one book.

Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic focuses primarily on the rise and fall of pu’er tea from the 1970s until the boom and fall in 2007. Although it details the changing landscape in the rest of Yunnan at the time, the book focuses primarily on how these changes affected the residents of the village of Yiwu. I bring this up because Po-Yi Hung’s work focuses, similarly, on the village of Mangjing, Yunnan, and the resident’s relationship with Jingmai Mountain. Continue reading

Vancouver Tea Festival (2016)

Two things happened yesterday. The Vancouver Tea Festival ensued, and Tony Gebeley published his book. This is a book I’ve (read: most people) been spying on for a while, and it looks like it’s got everything I want in a tea book. I’d really like the physical release, but I’m not prepared to spend the over $55CAD to get it right now. For once, getting the digital release actually saves you an appreciable amount (I come from a world of ‘digital textbooks’ that save you a joke and a half, pulp books that save you actually nothing [unjokingly, literally, nothing], and a whole lot of publications that came out way before the internet and aren’t popular enough to be readily digitized). Unfortunately, that means downloading the Kindle app onto my slow little Kobo. Is that sacrilege? Continue reading

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