Find Your Tea Book: Our Top 10 Best Books About Tea (In No Particular Order)
Tea has an immensely complex history, and the process of producing our daily cup is far more complex than most people imagine. It seems like such a simple, unassuming product, yet it has altered social customs, advanced ceramic production, and ship manufacturing. It has sparked wars, fueled drug addiction, and funded colonialism, to name a few of its impacts. Why do we not learn about these things in school? Why do many people not know that the black, green, and oolong teas in their teabags are all made from the same plant? There has been a significant lack of education about the history and production of tea in the West, but that is slowly beginning to change.
A Tea Book For Everyone
Books about tea used to be hard to find, but these days they are being published left and right. Here are some of our favorites (in no particular order):
Tea: A Nerd's Eye View by Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace
An essential tea book for anyone wanting to learn how to process or taste tea. It is thick with chemistry, and nothing else compares to it if you want to really delve into the science of what is happening in your tea leaf.
A True History of Tea by Victor H. Mair and Erling Hoh
One of the best books about tea for overall historical explanations that I have found. It is dense but provides a great historical analysis.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
An easy-to-read novel with a great explanation of Chinese tea, particularly puerh tea. Despite its fiction status, the facts about tea are sound.
The Story of Tea by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss
Written by long-time tea importers, this tea book provides not only an overview but some great in-depth details about tea production and history, particularly in China, India, and Japan.
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais, and Hugo Americi
A great overview of tea in several different countries. Easy to read but doesn't have the depth that some of the other texts do. I often use this tea book as a textbook for my intro classes.
For All The Tea in China by Sarah Rose
A fantastic tale of historical espionage. This book tells the tale of a Scottish botanist named Robert Fortune who disguised himself as a Chinese man and wandered into the depths of China to steal the tea plant and bring it to India during the 1850s. It's a fun story to read, plus it provides a lot of background information on the development of the Indian tea industry.
Darjeeling by Jeff Koehler
A picturesque view of the famous Darjeeling region of India. This book looks specifically at the Darjeeling Region, famous for producing the "champagne of teas."
All About Tea by William H. Ukers
Sometimes referred to as the "Tea Bible," this book was the first of its kind. Written in 1935 and the size of a dictionary, this book details tea growth and production at the time. Despite not including newer technological innovations, the information provided is still very useful.
Tea: A Users Guide by Tony Gebley
A highly accurate (and we don't say that lightly), albeit slightly brief, explanation of tea. This book gives a brief chemical description of the tea leaf and then gives details of some common types of tea from around the world.
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
This book was composed in 1906 by Japanese writer Okakura Kakuzō. It gives an overview of Chadō (teaism), including the Japanese tea ceremony, Zen, Daoism, and Japanese aesthetic preference. It's a very important period piece for understanding Japanese tea culture.