Monday, 31 August 2009

Tea Books, III

Continuing with my sporadic series of reviews of books about tea, today I present my thoughts on a couple of light-weights: Tea by Hattie Ellis, and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

These two are - for want of a better term - 'coffee table books'; they are admittedly smaller in size than most of the books that fall into this category but it's the preponderance of pretty pictures (which are very pretty indeed) that makes me classify them thus. A quick flick through Tea, for example, shows that at least 50% of the book is taken up by utterly scrumptious pictures of tea leaves, tea cups, brewed tea, tea canisters and tea pots. Great for inducing teaware envy (sigh), not likely to give me great confidence in the written information contained therein. That said, however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Tea does not commit the common error of saying that tea is 'fermented' during manufacture when what is really meant is that it is oxidised. The New Tea Book, on the other hand, does conflate these terms, which is slightly irritating.

Both books contain a few pages about the history of tea, information about the manufacture of the different styles of tea, some helpful basic tips on tea preparation and serving, and tea-related recipes -either incorporating tea amongst the ingredients, or to eat alongside.

In the latter category, I'm particularly tempted by the lemon-oatmeal crisps and the cashew shortbread (from The New Tea Book) and the Earl Grey Winter Fruit Salad (from Tea). The New Tea Book also contains some intriguing recipes for tea and herbal blends, such as the 'Rest and Refresh' tea containing chamomile, basil, peppermint, lemon peel and orange peel... sounds interesting, I'm going to have to try it.

Is it worth spending money on these books? Well, seeing as I picked up Tea from a second-hand book fair for $3.00, I have no regrets about that being money well-spent. The New Tea Book was considerably more expensive (about $40 new I think) - again, I am glad to have added it to my slowly-expanding shelf of tea books, but it is not as worthwhile a purchase as The Story of Tea, for example. (My opinion may change once I've had a chance to try some of those recipes, though.) However, these are both lovely books to look through, and ideal for those moments when you are tired and want a no-brainer to curl up with... the non-fiction equivalent of a Tea Shop Mystery, really.


  1. Just yesterday I was looking at my copy of Sarah Perry's book and the same recipes as you. Her stuff is good, yum. I get my tea books either through or, which has a huge selection of well-priced usually used books.

  2. You really live "with" tea, not like me , just drink tea!
    Great education from you! Very nice and classic blog of tea!

  3. Intriquing...going to see whether my library has any of these..thanks for an interesting read.

  4. Hi Marlena - I haven't heard of - will have to check them out!

    Peichi - don't underestimate yourself, the most important thing with tea is to drink it and enjoy it and not think about it too much ;)

    Luisa - hope you have success in your library hunt! I need to re-join my local library after moving back to my home state... hope they have an interesting range of books about tea... :)

  5. So far I have about 30 books on just tea in my library. It's a nice little collection though I don't like as much the books that are just on tea basics for newcomers. I'm going to add my own tea book to the bunch. I'm writing it now: Spirituality of Tea

  6. Wow, Jason - 30 tea books is quite impressive (as is writing your own :) ) - which ones are your favourites?

  7. Right now my favorite is a book called "Green Gold: The Empire of Tea." It's history written with a slant on how tea conquered the world. I also have some spirituality or inspiration tea books and other history I haven't read yet. I guess I'm saving them for when I'll appreciate them most, sometime in the future. --Spirituality of Tea

  8. Oh yes, I have 'Green Gold' as well - only read it through once, need to do so again. It was a very interesting read, one of the first serious books I read about tea - I think I saw it highly recommended on Tea Guy Speaks and went out and got it shortly after.

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