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.
The book is short, just under 100 pages. However, every other page is a photo, cutting actual written content in half. And every third page or so is a recipe, resulting in about 15 pages of actual… tea information. That said, I liked some of the recipes (including Thai tea and tea shortbreads)—but I don’t tend to consider recipes as “tea content” when looking at books. Even though almost every tea-book seems to have a section…
This book doesn’t have much, but it’s divided into three sections: Gardens, Water, and Ceremony. I found these more “titles” than actual divisions; the information organized under each section didn’t specifically pertain to the title (creation myths falling under Gardens, although tea traditions by country did fall under the Ceremony section, if I recall correctly).
The myths and legends were most that I’d heard before, although one or two were a bit different than I remember them being—likely just regional myth variations, although it would help if the book posted any references or sources for where they got their information.
Another pet-peeve of teabooks… It doesn’t have to be a peer-reviewed book to include references, references make the world go round.
All in all, the book was very short and an easy read. If you’re looking for information you haven’t heard before, I’d skip this book; just about everything has been rehashed in other books in more detail. Some of the pictures were pretty, and one or two recipes seemed worth trying, but that’s about it.