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CategoryTea Books

Book: The Stonewares of Yixing

I love this book. It’s presented in an oversized coffee table-style layout, with plates of colour and grey-scale photos from museums. But it also contains a textbook level of information, going into detail about the evolution of manufacture and style of teapots through the years, listing major contributing potters to each era, and showing copious examples of each’s work.

But here’s the story. I checked this out a little before COVID19 forced libraries to close, back in the end of January. It’s August as I finish typing this. Can’t say I’m complaining, and it’s given me time to take some seriously detailed notes. Libraries are finally opening up, and the book has a due date September 1st, roughly half a year later.

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Book: Tea. T, Eden

I picked this up from the public library. Unfortunately the last person to have it decided to write in it with a black felt pen of all things. And I know it was recent because in the margins where they decided to jot swaths of notes down, they went back and blanked it out with white-out tape of all things. As if that made it better.

I cannot fathom some people.

With that mini-rant out of the way, Dr. Thomas Eden was (is?) the former director of the Tea Research Institute of East Africa. His works are those you’ll find alongside Denys Forrest’s, C.R. Harler’s and William Ukers’. Contemporaries spread out across Sri Lanka, India and Africa, they frequently reference each others’ research. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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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