This would be the book I picked up from my university library some time before Christmas. I feel a bit apologetic writing about a book that, as far as I’ve been able to find out, is just about impossible to obtain. There is a short inscription on the back of the book regarding messaging the United Nations for publications, but it seems to imply that if your local bookstore doesn’t carry it, you’re out of luck.
The UN, however, does seem to have a lot of their articles and books published online now. Although this publication isn’t among them (I know, I spent a tireless evening looking for it, because I liked this enough to want a copy on-hand [though it WAS published in 1996]), I wonder if emailing them might prompt them to post this and similar works online.
On to the work itself; it’s a very concise volume detailing the tea market systems of each above-mentioned country. It’s actually so concise I don’t know how I’d go about summarizing it. It’s really a great book to have on-hand for reference, I think, despite being published in 1996, meaning some of these models may be out of date now. The first chapter details the TYPES of systems–specifically tea auction systems used in the non-China countries of Asia (there is also a section detailing how tea sales and systems in China differ from the rest); this first chapter is most definitely my favourite, as it details the auction types found around the world in dealing with tea. The information given is then crucial to understanding the rest of the book, laying down a basis of terminology for the discussion of market types.
Much of the world’s tea market in the 1990′s was based around the London Tea Auction. Though not the largest tea auction of its time, it was the most publicized, and had a hand in leading the year’s tea-pricing trends. The book is quite critical on London’s involvement in the tea trade, of its influence on production countries and other national auctions. It goes on to criticize the London auction’s status as the “nerve centre for the International Tea Trade”. “London is neither a production centre nor the largest auction centre and yet the price line it determines influences the prices adopted in virtually all the other auction centres world-wide”.
Another interesting topic the book inadvertantly covers, is America’s descent into the mainstreamization (is that a word?) of teabags. It discusses how leading up to the 90′s, orthodox loose tea of high quality was valued above all. But as the world’s consumption shifted towards more “instant” methods of tea, CTC production began to catch on in estates, and tea bags became prevalent. “…the increasing popularity of tea bags, the preference for quality tea is waning. Variations in flavour, appearance, and so on, are no longer as important as the liquoring quality and its packaging.” Those countries that chose not to embrace CTC production begin to decline economically, which the book supports with a few short tables of information (among these countries, of course, is China with no CTC production).
China’s chapter shifts away from the previous chapter’s style, as it’s in its own category. Individual estates are rarely recognized, and China does not have its own auction system to review. And it never embraced CTC production. During the 90′s then, its black tea’s price falls at auction, and subsequently the country begins to put more stock in its green and ‘specialty’ teas in order to compensate. The book predicts that China’s black tea market may completely collapse, in favour of India’s.
Overall, I think it’s a handy book to have on-hand for reference, and I wish I could find it in ebook format. I would be interested if the UN were to publish a more up to date work on the current state of the international tea markets, though this book is a good basis for information.
For All the Tea in China is a very sprightly, up-beat work of non-fiction detailing Robert Fortune’s botanical espionage, and the racism of the times. It is, at this point, a Reading Requirement for all new Tea Drinking, Book Loving Recruits (or so I suppose, from Steepster’s general consensus). As some people might remember, I picked this book up… oh… two years ago, just a little while after I had returned from working Up North. I was picking up history books left and right at the time, but I force myself to read all my books in order, so as to make sure no book is left collecting dust for long (except for a small clause which allows me to put any owned book on hold in order to read any book from the library–this is due to the two-week limit imposed on most books, which forces me to finish them in a timely manner).
Made a trip down to the Chinese Tea Shop; my original trip plan was to pick up a refill of their 20 year old charcoal-roasted Iron Buddha oolong (x), and to see if they had any of their “flower” flavor dan cong (the site is sold out); I picked up the former, however they only had a different version of the latter (not listed on the website, although it may be under a different name). A more strongly oxidized version, I think.
“Tea” as a word of the English language has enjoyed about four hundred years of use. It’s changed in that time, like most words in the English language; it wasn’t always pronounced “tee”. But that’s getting ahead of myself.
I concluded The Tea Road by writing out just under half a dozen pages of notes. Mostly items and subjects I’d like to follow up on, if I could, by finding other resources on the subject. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t related enough directly to the Tea Road for me to string into a linear blog post, unless someone wishes for me to list out a series of random facts about tea (I’ll call a vote on it, and get back to you; I’ll most likely make it anyways, if I lose interest in trying to find out more information on each subject). Although that’s seriously what I’m considering doing.
All in all, I quite liked the book, and despite my earlier qualms (brought up in the first post), I’d definitely recommend it. The author’s story becomes easier to follow as the book progresses, and the habit of reciting the endnotes word-for-word in the text become… less frequent, at least. I’m of the opinion the repeated endnotes are simply the result of an editor who failed to proofread the endnotes alongside the actual text.
While I’m working on Part Two, I figured I’d make a post about more random gear I threw my money at.
The last Tea Desire in my area’s going out of business (a moment of silence, please, as they’re slowly pushed out by DavidsTeas), but I managed to score a bunch of discount items from them. Mostly some nice tins (they sell a lot of random, colourful tins that aren’t tied to their company logo in any way, which is good), a nice mug (no picture available), and this tea pot that I’ve been eyeing ever since the first Tea Desire opened up all those years ago in the mall across from my work.
It’s the end of my latest term, and once again time for me to start up in Independent Studies.
I’ve been waiting all term to check out a certain book from my university library, knowing I wouldn’t have time to read it until after exams. One of the best parts of transferring to a new school is perusing their collection of tea-related books. My last school introduced me to The Book of Tea, and Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu (see Bookshelf for more information).
Here, I’ve found The Tea Road: China and Russia Meet Across the Steppe, by Martha Avery, detailing the lesser-known, Northern cousin of the Silk Road and Tea Horse Roads. Best bet is to look up “Siberian Route” on Wikipedia for more information.
The book details the history of its inception and follows its formation, roughly, from China to Russia.
I’ve been taking notes.
Seemed like something worth posting. Just a concept. Learn more from the designer here.
As per usual, I have no actual article written or interesting things to discuss. I’ve just got some updates to my tea life.
Firstly, a new tea shop has opened up in my area. SOKO Teahouse. They are a very modern-traditional shop. Clean and open and bright, while focusing heavily on Chinese and Japanese brewing utensils and teas. I’ve been in there a few times already, and I really like the feel. Since Tealicious closed down their brick storefront, the only shop near me (most require an hour busride, which I’m willing to make–but only once or twice a month) has been Davids. Which I admit is a guilty pleasure of mine (52Teas fix without having to wait for orders to come in), but does get a bit boring. Though they’ve been branching out into unflavoured teas recently, which pleases me.
Thought I’d just make a quick post to bring to attention this comment, from “David” at Murchies, which clears up a few of the discrepancies I mentioned in my ramble about Murchies. Amusingly, this comment was made about a month ago, but I never got a notification for it, so I only just came across it.
Amazingly thurough post which I enjoyed reading, thanks. To help explain the name confusion regarding John Raith/Raitt Murchie. Raith and Raitt are the same name and are both pronounced the same. Raith is how you spell it for a scottish reader and Raitt is how you spell it for an english reader. If my memory serves John spelt his name “Raith” on his wedding certificate, but his name on the death certificate is “Raitt”. I suspect the Susan which gave you information about a ‘Douglas’ may have gotten confused with a maternal branch of the family in which Douglas was a common name.Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm