Book Review: The China Tea Book

The China Tea Book

Jialin, Luo

Earthaware Editions, 2012

While in Shanghai I found myself in an international bookstore browsing the selection of books on tea in either of the languages I can read.  I found several, but none of them really seemed worth paying the rather inflated prices being charged for them, particularly as most were published in the US.  I decided to put the money I had planned on spending on a book for more tea, and delay purchasing books until I was back at home.

The China Tea Book turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.  Although mainly a coffee table volume featuring glossy paper and a large number of photos, the book does include a good summary of the various types of tea in China – Green, Oolong, Black, and Pu-erh – including details on some of the more well-known teas of each type along with brewing suggestions.  It then progresses into a discussion of Chinese tea culture, briefly touching on the background and traditions of the ceremonies associated with formal tea drinking as well as highlighting aspects which can be used to tie the formal tradition into less formal settings.

Read over the course of an evening (and multiple cups of tea), I found myself drawn into the book and wishing I was back among the tea markets in Shanghai so I could sample some of the more intriguing varieties I read about.  This isn’t a textbook on tea culture, nor would it bring much to anyone well versed in Chinese Tea, but to someone looking for an introduction to the varieties of Chinese tea this book provides a beautiful first step.

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