AuthorAJ

Book: Chinese Tea Culture

I found this one poking around a used bookstore (in about… 2017? 2016? I’m behind). It’s a slim, unassuming volume, and I picked it up with a few others after flipping through it. I was struck by the Table of Contents, the quick glance I took through it, and the inclusion of book plates at the beginning; several colourful photos of historic tea pots, bowls, and paintings.

I started reading it a while ago–put it down thinking I’d finished it, and then when I picked it up again to review, realized I still had a bookmark at about the halfway mark. So I ended up rereading it anyhow (it’s 154 pages, and pretty engrossing). Before I even finished it, I’d recommended it to at least one person who was looking for information on the history of Chinese tea culture, specifically the time-period that would have influenced the development into chanoyu in Japan. Continue reading

Book: Tea Art of China

This was a book I received back at 2017’s Vancouver Tea Festival. The author had a booth at the event, and I also attended her talk on the different tea-growing regions of China.

I never really spoke to her directly, but thought her talk was pretty interesting (I was the nerd up-front taking notes, naturally). The book was gifted by someone else running the booth as a copy to review. And then… I didn’t get around to it, as I got caught up in trying to finish my degree.

Unfortunately, the review got put on the backburner even longer–half-finished as I looked for a job and ended up losing all of my free time in the process. I had notes prepared, at one point, but I’ve since lost them.

Continue reading

Scented Orange Pekoe

Working at Murchie’s has been fun both on a tea-blending side, but also in that it allows me to scratch my Tea History itch.

For those not well-acquainted with Murchie’s, it’s been around a good decade and in that time has developed quite a number of blends. To keep them organized, there is a Murchie’s blending book—a big black book of quick-reference recipes done to the pound of tea (and sometimes coffee) passed down through the generations. Most are family blends, dedicated to Reverend Oldfield (an actual blend—I learned about it through a friend, a descendent of said Oldfield; he dislikes it because it has jasmine), or some place (a hotel, etcetera). It’s all done in short-hand notation, and half the fun is trying to figure out that shorthand’s legend. Continue reading

Vancouver Tea Festival 2018

The Vancouver Tea Festival came upon me again, and I almost forgot about it until I got a text out of the blue from a friend helping organize it. That could have been disappointing. Since graduating and working full-time I haven’t had nearly as much time to actually sit down with some nice tea, but I have at least been doing more reading. So I’m left with a nice little backlog of books to talk about—if I can remember what it is I want to say, or find my notes on the matter.

So I attended it a few weeks back; following it I relegated myself to my Social Coma. Big events like that don’t sit well with me (well, ‘big’ is relative; ‘big’ for me), and I usually need a good week alone to agonize over social interactions and just mentally rest. It was in the same venue, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden (and if that isn’t enough to make you go, I don’t know what to say; it’s always a really nice walk-around), and most of the same vendors haunted a lot of the tables—some shuffling around between corners (places like the Chinese Tea Shop always take up a corner—extra room for their wares). Some of the new faces are what I think I’d like to focus on. Continue reading

DIY: Tea Boat

Unfortunately, draft and account problems persist, and I didn’t really have the willpower to completely retype this post in Word knowing that I would have to then reformat it once I pasted it into wordpress… So that’s this month’s excuse for delays.

I’ve wanted a tea boat for a while, something more portable and smaller than my (admittedly tiny) tea tray. However they tend to be very pricey, with the lower price-bracket being dominated by one design.

So I’d been thinking of making my own for a while; my first thought was simply to keep an eye out at thrift shops for a large saucer that would fit my gaiwan and teapots. And I did eventually find one, when I wasn’t actively looking for it; unfortunately it was at a cash-only shop, and I had none. I returned the next day with a loonie, and it was gone. Continue reading

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

© 2020 Tea Stacks

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑

Skip to toolbar