“Although this book is dedicated to capital “T” tea and takes a hard-line stance on what should and should not be considered tea, the one exception I make is Ethiopian tea, which is technically a tisane and not a tea (it does not use leaves from the Camellia sinesis plant).” (The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl)
There are few acts more comforting than reading a book of gathered and sorted facts about one’s favorite subject. With each new tea book I read, I’m reminded of childhood’s obsession with accumulating the names of things: dinosaurs, star wars characters, rocks. Knowing these names is inherently meaningless in and of itself, but being able to recite them in your mind, recounting something stable at any time, relaxes. Similarly, at this point I don’t really need to read another book that tells me about the various categories of tea or the growing regions of China, but seeing them down on the page, accompanied by gorgeous pictures and a modern page layout, reminds me of all the other times I’ve found comfort and beauty in the subject.
This particular tea book’s virtues lie in the recipes found at the end. The author not only describes how various countries brew their traditional cup of tea (Persian Rose Tea sounds particularly intriguing), but also delves into modern mixes involving fruit, fresh herbs, and alcohol. I also appreciated the shortened, albeit obligatory, outlining of tea’s history, and the authors repeated insistence that one cannot call a tisane tea.
Buy – Borrow Now – Borrow Sometime – Avoid
Length: 160 coffee-table book sized pages. Probably not meant to be read cover to cover, but I recommend it anyway.
Ending: An index. Quite proper to the subject.
Incidental Learning: While you may expect to learn a lot about tea, you’ll also pick up some interesting details about the craft cocktail scene in Detroit.
Further Reading: More Tea books! I particularly love The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo, although that book is less about the facts of tea than its art. I’d also recommend