Book Review- The Story of Tea

by Jason on June 27, 2012

in review, Voices of Tea

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The Story of Tea gives you a thorough account of what you would see and hear if you owned a tea company and traveled to origin to talk to producers and source teas.

The Heisses, who own Tea Trekker, provide a collection of information they have gathered over the years, especially in regard to Chinese teas. By reading their accounts, one gets the impression that they have watched traditional and modern processing methods in detail. And they have seen people at work creating all kinds of teas- from your basket-fired green teas, to yellow teas, to pu’ers.

This is the kind of book that is probably in the back room (or retail shelf) of many tea shops you ¬†encounter. It is easy to imagine a tea server being asked a tougher tea question, responding, “let me check on that for you,” then dashing to the book to search for the answer.

That is not to say that every answer found will be the correct one. As with many who collect their facts on the ground in distant lands, right answers get refined over years of talking to different experts and double-checking what you have been told. I’m not convinced of their descriptions of zheng shan xiao zhong, lapsang souchong, and my investigation into yan xiao zhong. But I too am on the path of confirming these truths.

There are other valuable aspects of the book:

  • An Encyclopedia of Tea- introducing many of the recognized kinds of tea available
  • Tea Culture- with descriptions of tea ceremonies and pointers on how tea is prepared
  • Photos- many are small to make room for more text, but they are numerous and contribute to illustrating the text’s content

In short, this is one you most likely want to consider adding to your library.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary Lou Heiss June 28, 2012 at 09:42

Hi Jason…thanks for the shout-out about our book, it is much appreciated.

Thank you too for your open-minded understanding of how knowledge gathering is a process that becomes refined and more in focus as one travels more and learns more. You say: ” As with many who collect their facts on the ground in distant lands, right answers get refined over years of talking to different experts and double-checking what you have been told. ”

I appreciate that you expressed in that statement. Many do not have your sage perspective on facts and truths. Anyone who has traveled to tea lands (or really to any foreign place and tries to understand the nuts and bolts of a process or industry) knows that it is a lot of work to get to the heart of the matter. One can ask ten people for an answer or a correct spelling and you will be given ten different answers. We have learned that time is the best teacher, and that tea education is a lifelong process built upon successive blocks of information.

Our book has now been in print for 5 years, and was two years before that in the traveling/writing phase. So it is now 7 years old! We are happy to say that we have written some clarifications and updates for a new printing of The Story of Tea which will become available later this summer. This is not a new edition ( that will be some years down the road still ) but an opportunity update some parts of the book in a meaningful way and to overlay some of our current knowledge to what we wrote in the book 7 years ago.

Continued best wishes to your success with Walker Tea Review!

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