Book Review: The Great Teas of China.

by Jason Walker on February 8, 2010

in review

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In centuries past, it took Western tea traders decades to figure out that the same plant could produce black, green, and wulong tea. The difference came in the harvest and processing. Fortunately, the modern reader can pick up Roy Fong’s The Great Teas of China and learn how some of the most treasured teas on earth come to be.

Fong’s book tells the stories of teas’ journeys. You almost get the impression that the book is written from the tea leaf’s perspective. Few of the popular books on tea go into such detail on when teas are harvested, and how they are processed.

Along the way, Fong relates how he came to be a part of the tea story. He includes anecdotes of meeting farmers, smelling rooms full of fresh tea being processed, and his first experiences of tasting teas.

The book is interesting from a production perspective, especially considering Roy has begun work on creating his own California¬†tea farm. From the tea drinker’s and tea shopper’s perspective, you are somewhat at a loss as to what to do with the book. Does knowing the production stages a tie guan yin tea goes through help one buy a better tea? Can a tea audience taste a tea, knowing which stage of harvest or production developed the nuances they enjoy in their cup?

Aside from the enjoyment of learning it provides, The Great Teas of China validates Roy Fong’s stance as a patriarch of the US loose leaf tea renaissance and the role of the Imperial Tea Court in that movement.

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Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Operated by Jason Walker.

Book provided by Roy Fong, Imperial Tea Court

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