Category: Tea Books

Book: The Teahouse

This book deals with a very specific topic, that of teahouse culture in Chengdu, Sichuan from the 1900s to 1950, so it’s unlikely to appeal to a broader tea enthusiast. But that’s never stopped me. This book touches on culture, politics, women’s rights, class relations, and the public perception of teahouse workers and teahouse goers. It’s dense with information, but very easy to read.

There’s a sequel dealing with Chengdu from the dawn of the People’s Republic to present day, and you can bet I’ll by laying hands on that in the future. There’s a couple other books I plan to read in the meantime, though. Continue reading

Book: Darjeeling: A History of the World’s Greatest Tea

Koehler’s descriptions paint a very visual narrative; having read several more technical, dry manufacturing guides on Sri Lankan and Indian tea processing, this is a welcome change. In his Acknowledgements at the back of the book, Koehler talks about the research he did for this book, and how although he consulted many records and books, the majority of what he documented came from staying at the gardens, talking to planters and pickers and meeting interesting characters to learn Darjeeling’s story. Continue reading

Book: Tea and Tea Dealing

Unsurprisingly, I picked this book out at the library for its blending section. I like reading first-hand, antiqued accounts of what goes into blends, and many of these works include sample recipes with the logic behind them. It puts a lot of stuff into context. Learning about old tea preferences, old blending nomenclature. I also come across a lot of defunct tea names.

These I’ve started keeping a log of (oonfa, oopack) to try and puzzle out what they’re referring to. Mbanu’s notes on teaforum.org help greatly; he’s done basically 100% of the legwork.

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Book: Tea Life, Tea Mind

The cover of 'Tea Life, Tea Mind'. A simple dark red with gold clouds, and the title printed over a green band.Having had this book sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, I kept passing it over for newer, more exciting acquisitions. I finally pulled it out to finish over a short busride.

Sen Soshitsu XV, the Fifth Grandmaster of the Urasenke School, wrote this account back in the 1970s. It sat comfortably beside Okakura Kakuzo’s The Book of Tea on my shelf, and I think picking up one is a good enough excuse to pick up the other. Neither are long reads. They’re not similar in content necessarily, but both are introspective looks on culture and East meets West. Continue reading

Book: Tasting Qualities

This book has been on my list for a while, especially as Besky has another work out (“The Darjeeling Distinction”); but it wasn’t something I was going out of my way to track down. The synopsis given for this book was unclear, and that prevented me from picking it up sooner. When I did, it was because I spotted it on the shelf at a secondhand bookshop. Which is usually where I scoop most of my purchases.

I definitely underestimated it, and this book ended up pretty heavily tabbed when I was done with it. I think it’s a solid read, something I’m happy to keep on my shelf.

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Book: Green With Milk and Sugar

I’ll usually swing back around to this blog with a pretty dire opinion of my activity, but if I can manage four posts a year (in both 2021 and 2020!), then I’m pretty happy with myself. (Even if I did read months back)

Of the 2021 releases I talked about previously, this’ the only one I’ve gotten around to reading so far. This was the book I was most interested in (so the only one I put on pre-order–it was my birthday present to myself, but with turbulent pandemic delays, it didn’t actually get to me until the end of November), and I don’t think there’s really any other books out there that cover this specific topic to this extent and dedication.

Green with Milk & Sugar is about the growth and decline of Japanese tea in America, interweaving the cultural climates of America, Britain, China and Japan from the 1800s all the way up to the 1940s. It follows how these relationships and ideals shaped America’s tea tastes over the years, made them distinct from Britain’s, and how those tastes eventually declined during the twilight years of WWII.

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Book: The Philosophy of Tea

This is part of a series of “Philosophy Of” books. I had trouble finding much on the ‘series’, but it looks like each (or most) was written by a different blogger or other influencer/social media presence. I mostly ended up poking around Brian Williams (the author of Philosophy of Coffee)’s blog trying to get a bit more info on the series’ inception.

Gebely’s well known for his other book, Tea: A User’s Guide. It’s a book I own and have read, but not quite cover-to-cover, and haven’t made a post about here quite yet.

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Book: How to Make Tea

I thought this was a handsome little book, and was immediately drawn to it in Chapters when it released. Flipping through it, I thought the illustrations were unique, I thought the Table of Contents was very straightforward, and it seemed like it covered all of the basics while leaning away from that more ‘health benefit/herbal tea’ push. I was drawn in by the ‘Science Behind the Leaf’ aspect, and was looking forward to reading the ‘Tea Chemistry’ section.

I had high hopes for it, but as usual, it went onto my “To Read Tea Shelf” behind all of my other acquisitions for a few years.

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Book: A Brief History of Tea

This is an oldy but a goody, first published in 2003, and an easy, affordable buy at most bookstores back in the day (I think I paid $5 for this off of the clearance pile at Chapter’s).

Moxham has written a few books on history, largely focusing on India, and two on tea: “A Brief History of Tea” and “Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire”. Moxham himself worked as a tea planter in Africa, and the book opens and closes with his own account of his first few years settling as a tea planter, having no previous experience. He manages an estate, learns the language, and recounts the conditions his workers faced. Continue reading

Books to Look Forward to in 2021

I look forward to new releases, even if the sad reality is I only manage to read a couple of Tea Books a year–and usually half a decade after they’ve been published. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share what I’m looking forward to getting my hands on.

These are just a couple of the books that are slated to be published in 2021. There’s a lot of cooking, photo, and ‘mini guide’ books to slog through to find the gems, but after a lot of digging, I’ve started my ‘pre-order list’ for 2021. We’ll see what else crops up as the year progresses.

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