Consider the reader’s bookshelf. Some book lovers savor the joy of having a large collection. Others stare and admire the bookcase as a sense of accomplishment, knowing they have actually read the books they see. Still others are more demanding, wanting the best of both worlds. They want the bookshelf to showcase a collection of good books that they not only possess, but have deemed worthy of reading.
Tea: The Drink that Changed the World does not fit easily into that last category, if at all. It struggles to fit in with its shelf neighbors, and to justify the occupation of the real estate. Most of the information provided can be found in books written over a decade ago. The history of tea hasn’t changed since the last book was written. Could you find much of the same info on the internet? Yes.
It may be a positive or negative to say this book is briefer. Fewer pages to turn for an introduction to tea history, or less tea bang for your buck. Its relative brevity does mean clearer, more straightforward organization. So it is easier to find your way across time, culture, and country.
Although it can be found in many other sources, Martin’s section on the Japanese tea ceremony was helpful as a quick and basic introduction of the elements. Simply defined with Japanese pronunciations make these 14 pages a handy quick reference. Others will find something useful in the multiple appendices (teas of the world, herbal tea introductions).
If this is your first tea book it will open the door to many other, more impressive volumes. If you have already dipped into readings on tea, you may skip this book knowing you will (or have already) meet its contents elsewhere.
Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings.
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