Recommendations for books on tea

I just started reading “The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide” and “The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to the World’s Best Teas” both by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss. I’m really enjoying both of them and I’m wondering what books any of you have read and which you recommend. I understand that there are different topics (history, benefits, brewing, production, etc) on tea itself, so if you could give a brief description of what specifically the book is about, if possible, would be appreciated.

12 Replies
Teaotic said

I remember enjoying James Norwood Pratt, he is the expert author that springs to mind:

I believe his book was about the history of tea, focusing on China and India, and also on the industry, varieties, anecdotes, etc.

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Angrboda said

Jane Pettigrew’s The Tea Companion has a lot of information about the history and the different types and chart with some keywords on a number of different teas.

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Excelsior said

« The French Art of Tea »
book with english text

“The bible of tea lovers, this is an indispensable work (written in english) listing the origins of tea and explaining in detail more than 500 varieties of tea.

Includes an infusion chart and precise instructions on tea preparation and all the uses of tea."

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I really loved the Tea Horse Trail.
Written after research by an ethno-botanist, it traces the tea horse trail trading route from Yunnan and the birth of tea through all the many winding ways, touching on questions of biodiversity and cultural practices tied to the plant we all love so much. A really cool perspective, with gorgeous photos and a bibliography to make anybody proud.

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Will said

I have some of my tea books (and some reviews) here:

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kOmpir said

Can someone point me to where I can buy some books regarding tea (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.) that ships to Bosnia and Herzegovina without charging 20-30 dollars for shipping? I tried Amazon, but so far I didn’t find anyone available to my country.
I also found some sites that charge higher shipping fee than book price itself…

Uniquity said

Are you near a bookstore? Odds are that they can special order a book for you if you have a title and ISBN. Of course if it is a rare or out of print book you may experience difficulty, but any good bookstore will certainly try!

kOmpir said

OK, I’ll try that, thank you.

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Thank you all for the recommendations! It’s a bit of a list and I noticed that my local libraries doesn’t have a lot of these books, but then again is an amazing place for that sort of thing and I do appreciate the links too.

Good luck to you kOmpir on getting some of these books too, I hope everything works out for you.

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Based on the previous responses, and after spending some time looking through what’s available at my library, I came up with these lists:

Read (in part, or in total):
The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide and The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to the World’s Best Teas, both by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss – two of the most comprehensive and well written books I have read on the topic of Tea.

The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, by Michael Harney – similar topics as the ones the Heiss and Heiss books covered; overall, a great book.

The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura – This is a classic. I remember the author focusing on topics like aestheticism, Zen Buddhism, and the Japanese Tea Ceremony; I believe there are many different translations available; I remember enjoying the translation I read.

For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink from China and Changed World History – I remember liking it. I agree with what’s stated in Will’s review.

Tea Bliss : infuse your life with health, wisdom, and contentment, by Theresa Cheung – I read parts, and remember it having more of a spiritual focus than a focus on tea; liked.

The Tea Companion, by Jane Pettigrew – Liked.

Either The Tea Lover’s Companion, OR The Tea Lover’s Treasury- by James Norwood Pratt – Liked.

Tea : Addiction, Exploitation and Empire, by Roy Moxham – I think I read this one, and liked it.

The ultimate tea diet : how tea can boost your metabolism, shrink your appetite, and kick-start remarkable weight loss : your guide to good health one cup of tea at a time by Mark “Dr. Tea” Ukra with Sharyn Kolberg – I read parts of this; my wife liked it; I didn’t care for his style of writing, but I liked his overall message.

Steeped in the World of Tea, edited by Sharon Bard, Brigit Nielsen, and Clara Rosemarda ; photography by Juliana Spear – I think this one has lots of great pictures that accompany anecdotal stories about tea.

The Empire of Tea : the remarkable history of the plant that took over the world, by Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane – I remember finding this one very interesting. I believe the authors are mother and son whom both lived on a tea plantation in India.

The Green Tea Book : China’s fountain of youth, by Mitscher, Lester A.; Dolby, Victoria – I think I really liked the research about green tea that is mentioned in this book.

A few other notes on books I haven’t read yet:

The Tea Horse Road: China’s Ancient Trade Road to Tibet – reviews make it sound amazing; expensive, but probably worth it; btw, Mary Lou Heiss wrote a review for it on Amazon!

Mariage Freres: The French Art of Tea – Sounds interesting (500 teas?), but I see no reviews for this one.

Tea : History, Terroirs, Varieties_, by Gascoyne, Kevin … [ et al.] – I just found this at my library; looks like it was published in 2011; sounds interesting.

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Awesome list! I think once I finish these two that I’m reading now that I’ll try and pick up “The Book of Tea” by Kakuzo Okakura. The incorporation of tea and the Japanese Tea Ceremony with Zen Buddhism and Taoism really interests me. I’ll get to the others eventually, but that one is topping my list so far!

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Thanks for the idea for what to read, somewhere up the road.

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