Book: Tea: Essence of the Leaf

I meant for this to go up last Wednesday, but unfortunately, I lost my draft (due to server optimizations for a better teatra.de; hurray!). This means rewriting my review from memory (could have sworn I had some paper notes, but alas).

Tea: Essence of the Leaf was donated to my university tea club, and since I was the one there to accept it, I claimed dibs. I put all other books on-hold so I could read it and return it as soon as possible. Continue reading

Book: Taxing Heaven’s Storehouse (Part 1)

I’m back. I’ve got a lot to write about, I just have to kick myself back into writing gear again. So I’ve finished classes, and I’m graduating in June; I quit my job so I could take an extra heavy last semester and graduate sooner. I checked this book out two terms ago–normally, as long as there are no holds on a book, you can renew them indefinitely. Unfortunately, since I’m graduating in a month, I was required to return it. I’ve been reading it on and off since Christmas. I barely made it half-way through; it’s a thick book. Thus this’ going to be a two-part review, since once I get my alumni privileges I’ll be checking it out again to finish.

Taxing Heaven’s Storehouse (Horses, Bureaucrats, and the Destruction of the Sichuan Tea Industry, 1074-1224) unofficially belongs to a trilogy of books (that I’ve grouped together) on the evolution of the tea economy in China from about early Tang until at least the end of the ROC. I’ve already reviewed one before (Harvesting Mountains); the other is Green Gold, arguably the most well-known of the three. I intentionally left Green Gold for last; my first intent was to read them roughly ‘in order’, but Taxing Heaven’s Storehouse was such an intimidating book, I went for Harvesting Mountains first. Continue reading

Vancouver Tea Festival 2017

Last year we had a pretty chilly winter, and it’s starting to look like this year will be going much the same way. Day One I thought I’d dressed adequately for the cold, only to step off the skytrain and realize it was snowing.

My toes were numb by the time I got to the event.

That said, the garden this year was a little nicer to walk through with the snow instead of the rain. I tried to hit up as many presentations as I could, and detour through the garden on my way back. Continue reading

Book: The Spirit of Tea

Fear not, a post on Mohammad Mirza is also in the works. I ended up stumbling on a great source in English, so now it’s getting a bit long and needs some editing. Until then, I’m still reading.

I picked this book up from a used bookstore in Vancouver with a stack of other tea publications; it was originally in a display (along with the Classic of Tea, and Chinese Tea Culture–and I feel like there were a few others, although the names allude me now). It’s fitting that I should read it next, after I finished The Great Teas of China, as the author (Frank Hadley Murphy) was reportedly a student of Roy Fong’s. Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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

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