• Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon

    “…had merely provided the first seeds and then ‘entrusted the tea experiment’ to Taylor.

            It is undeniable, then, that Taylor led the way in many developments within the Ceylon tea economy…”

    And that’s a quote from Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon by Angela McCarthy & T.M. Devine.

    Caption: Tea & Empire Co-Author Angela McCarthy

    TeaBookClub Founder Kyle Whittington Reviews Tea & Empire

    Rediscovering the Legacy of James Taylor

    By Kyle Whittington | TeaBookClub

    This fascinating book illuminates the all too often overlooked tea region of Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka. The authors draw on the letters of James Taylor, pioneer and founding father of the Ceylon tea industry, to explore the life of a Scottish migrant who, through experimentation and determination, forged a new industry out of the ruins of the coffee blight. This uniquely complete collection of correspondence reveals this pivotal time in tea history through the eyes, thoughts, and actions of a key player. Some of the standards (two leaves and a bud) and machines that Taylor developed are still in use worldwide today. 

    We learn about the decline of the former plantation crops over several years and the fight to find a viable replacement: tea. James Taylor’s letters home to family, to local friends, and newspaper articles of the time are explored and expounded upon by the authors to offer a historical account by someone for whom the creation of tea was not just a vocation but an avocation too. Uniquely the story is told “as is.” That is to say, it is told in and of its time with explanation and exploration of the who, how, and why things were as they were, centered around the direct views, thoughts, and experiences of James Taylor. Unlike other works that look at this period, this book seeks not to offer judgment or rear-view mirror thinking but merely to show us what was happening at the time and why. First-hand accounts serve to explain and illuminate the period and the people as they were, as they lived, as they thought and spoke. This is the story and experiences of one man who lived through and shaped the birth of an industry. Not because he set out to change the world or get rich but because he was there because he worked with and in response to the situations, the place, and the time in which he found himself.

    More broadly, this book also explores the legacy of Scottish education and the thought that the Scottish diaspora played such a significant role in the colonial world, particularly in Ceylon. It also looks at the legacy and, indeed, rediscovery of the legacy of James Taylor and his place in both the history of Sri Lanka and the Ceylon tea industry.

    Although interesting, thought-provoking, and generally engaging to read, there are times when the reading can be a bit dry. Perhaps a case of two different writing styles. But push through those dry bits, and you’ll be riveted by the fascinating history within. TeaBookClub members agree that this is an essential book on your tea bookshelf that explores important tea history.

    See: Loolcondera Tea Estate (planted by James Taylor in 1867)

    Here’s what some TeaBookClub members thought:

    I’m really glad I read as much as I did, it seems like it’s very important history in the history of tea. – Audrey, USA

    It being a first-hand account is what really made it interesting – Michaela, Austria.

    I found it refreshing that the authors didn’t give Lipton much airspace. This was a book about James and what he did, achieved, and his life. I really appreciated that within the context of Ceylon at that time. – Taraya, Canada

    It had very interesting and very boring parts but overall very good to read. Some parts were easier to read than others, maybe because there were two different writers. – Mariella, Netherlands

    Fascinating that some of his machine designs are still being used today – Mariella, Netherlands

    Based in the UK, The Tea Book Club is an international group of tea lovers and readers who meet up virtually every month to discuss tea books. If you’d like to join us for the next read, visit teabookclub.org or @joinTeaBookClub on Instagram. 

    Tea & Empire

    Goodreads: This book brings to life for the first time the remarkable story of James Taylor, ‘father of the Ceylon tea enterprise’ in the nineteenth century. Publicly celebrated in Sri Lanka for his efforts in transforming the country’s economy and shaping the world’s drinking habits, Taylor died in disgrace and remains unknown to the present day in his native Scotland. Using a unique archive of Taylor’s letters written over a 40-year period, Angela McCarthy and Tom Devine provide an unusually detailed reconstruction of a British planter’s life in Asia at the high noon of empire.

    Amazon | Hardcover, 272 pages | Kindle $29.90

    Published September 1, 2017
    Manchester University Press

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  • Puer Tea, Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

    “Puer tea’s improvement with age is said to be its distinguishing feature. From this, several key values were drawn out by traders, connoisseurs, consumers, researchers, mass media and the government.”

    And that’s a quote from “Puer Tea, Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic” by Jinghong Zhang. (pg. 97)

    Caption: A stack of valuable aged Pu’er [beeng] bing cha

    Kyle Whittington reviews Puer Tea, Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

    A Captivating Cultural Biography of Puer Tea

    By Kyle Whittington | TeaBookClub

    Jinghong Zhang

    Sitting on the academic end of the tea bookshelf, this is a fascinating and thoroughly well-researched foray into the complex and multi-faceted world of Puer tea. An anthropological study that explores the “cultural biography” of Puer tea, the ethnographic and anthropological research that has gone into this is book is exceptional and really opens up the intricacies of Puer. And yet, despite being such an academic text it is entirely readable and utterly fascinating.

    The first third (introduction and “spring”) sets up the rest of the book, introducing and outlining the research, including terms and definitions used throughout. With such a complex subject matter, this is invaluable and helps to deal with complexities around such things as fermentation (pg. 13) and geographic locations. In this, we get to grips with Puer, the tea, the people involved and begin to grapple with the issues surrounding authenticity.

    Indeed, the issues surrounding authenticity are central to the book as a whole and open up numerous questions and considerations we should probably all be aware of when it comes to exploring and particularly to purchasing Puer tea.

    Building on this grounding, the book jumps up and becomes massively absorbing in the latter two-thirds (“summer”, “autumn” and “winter”). Exploring the changing historical and current cultural context of Puer, the importance of location and differences and difficulties surrounding the production, and of course, aging is both revealing and fascinating. Accessing multiple areas and sources within the realm of Puer we get real insight and understanding without the veneer of the “sales pitch” that pervades much of the public Puer world.

    As a native of Kunming and with the rigor and perspective of an academic, Jinghong Zhang really gets at the heart of the matter and presents us with clear and thorough insights. The famed boom and bust of the Puer market are revealed in startling detail. How and why it happened and importantly how its effects were felt and dealt with in different circles. The impact and conversations that arose as part of and as a result of this around authenticity and what is valued in a Puer are explored from producers to connoisseurs and consumers. The importance and meaning of place and how this is varyingly defined in Puer circles and indeed how place affects taste and experience is revealed and explored.

    I could go on, there is so much content in this book! But suffice to say a thoroughly excellent read! Whether an aficionado or with an inkling of an interest in Puer, this book is an excellent and essential development of that interest. We thoroughly recommend it!

    Here’s what some TeaBookClub members thought:

    I’ve recommended this book to a couple of people since I started reading it because I think it’s possibly the best read on tea I’ve had this year.  – Aimee

    I really enjoyed the view from inside, from someone who got to get close. Especially the films, they’re very complimentary. – Aimee

    Her insight into the market crash. The how’s and the why’s were really helpful. – Nicole

    Strong research – Brigette

    The films are perfect little snippets that illustrate what she’s talking about. – Nicole

    It’s very rich. One of the bits I really enjoyed was the translating and contextualizing of some of the idioms. – Anesce

    I think she has access to very interesting materials about the producers and the traders’ lives that maybe wouldn’t have found their way in was she someone else. – Aimee

    I really appreciated that she defines what she’s talking about and the definitions she uses for words within the tea. The table in the introduction (page13). She explains her use of “fermentation” so I was like, that’s ok, I know what you mean so I get it. – Aimee

    She offers a very nuanced version of everything, always giving you more context on everything.  You understand more. – Aimee

    It’s made me think about how I would buy Puer tea, a lot more thought, a lot more questions. – Ernest

    It deepened my understanding and appreciation for Puerh. – Nicole

    Although based in the UK, The Tea Book Club is an international group of tea lovers and readers who meet up virtually every month to discuss tea books. If you’d like to join us for the next read, visit teabookclub.org or @joinTeaBookClub on Instagram. 

    Puer Tea, Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

    Goodreads: In the 1990s, as the tea’s noble lineage and unique process of aging and fermentation were rediscovered, it achieved cult status both in China and internationally. The tea became a favorite among urban connoisseurs who analyzed it in language comparable to that used in wine appreciation and paid skyrocketing prices. In 2007, however, local events and the international economic crisis caused the Puer market to collapse.

    See video

    Amazon | Kindle Edition, 272 pages

    Published December 1, 2013
    University of Washington Press

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  • Q|A Henrietta Lovell

    Henrietta Lovell seeks to redefine good tea as a beverage that tastes amazing. Tea must also benefit the people who craft it and those who drink it, she says. Her firm buys direct from farmers globally, advocating farmer support and development over costly certifications and rejects teas grown with pesticides and herbicides or blended with additives and flavoring.

    Listen to the Interview

    Henrietta Lovell discusses her passion for tea

    Rare Tea Lady
    Since founding The Rare Tea Co. in 2004, Henrietta Lovell has charted her own course in tea.

    The Value in High Quality Tea

    Having read Henrietta Lovell’s fabulously engaging book “Infused, Adventures in Tea” earlier this year with TeaBookClub, I jumped at the chance to chat to Henrietta the tea person, founder of Rare Tea Company, mistress of the artful blend and champion of tea farmers. Join me as the Rare Tea Lady spills the tea.

    Kyle Whittington: I’m fascinated about the moment someone “gets” tea. What’s been your experience of this?

    Henrietta Lovell: It’s very interesting. If they’ve already got a preconception of what tea is, it is harder. So if I’ve got a young person, or they don’t have a very firm, fixed preconception. They might be a little bit more fluid, bit more open to experiencing new things. So then it’s like, “Oh, I’d love to try.” And then “Oh, this is amazing, this is delicious.” But when someone’s got a very strong opinion beforehand, then it’s a really wonderful revelation. Because you know that you’re not just making someone fall in love, you’re making them change an established thought pattern and it’s super exciting. But I don’t really do it, the tea does it. I’ve got a very privileged position where people will trust me enough now to try things and it’s just absolutely wonderful.

    It’s one of the most life a?rming experiences. Really, the most is when they’re very resolutely not going to like it. They think they know what they like. And then, they have a taste of something that just starts to excite them. And it’s like “Oh, okay” but their face is still completely closed, they’re just there because they need to be or they’ve been dragged in. And then the face softens, the body language softens, and a sort of joy starts to creep into the face.

    Because pleasure is a joy. Let’s not forget. It’s not just amazing flavors. It’s really a sense of euphoria that overcomes you when you discover something that is so beautiful, and so joyous.

    Kyle: So is there one tea that really captures people?

    Henrietta: I mean that obviously we will have very di?erent tastes and flavor profiles that we enjoy most. But interestingly, it’s often either an English breakfast or jasmine tea because we know those teas very well. And experience is so extraordinarily wonderful because you think you know something, and then it’s opened out to you.

    Jasmine silver tip because it’s so clean and bright and fresh and it’s scented with jasmine flower. There’s no flavoring in there. This is just the flowers that have given up their scent, and it’s been absorbed into the tea. That is such an extraordinary experience. People are like “Oh, ooh!” And it’s so extraordinary. They’re sort of, “I know it but I don’t know it.” And they feel quite discombobulated at first, and then very joyous.

    And then the other thing is to do is an English breakfast with an industrial teabag, and then an English breakfast made with beautiful teas crafted to be something better than the sum of its parts. And that’s really amazing. You try them side by side, and then there is this revelation because you’ve probably drunk that industrial teabag tea every day of your life, maybe six times a day. And then you have something that is remarkably better. You’re like shit, what have I been missing out on my whole life. And that can be a little bit hurtful. You can’t argue with your taste buds. So when your taste buds say, “Oh my God this is better.” you have to just let go of the past and go Okay, the world is opened out. Whatever their taste background, whatever their profession, whether they’re a taxi driver or a famous chef, or a sommelier, everybody can taste the di?erence. So it’s much more accessible. It’s just having that first sip.

    Kyle: You’re known for creating some fabulous blends. But sometimes, blending is seen as the poor relation to a “pure” tea. How do you see blends and the art of blending?

    Henrietta: I think it’s the intention of the blend that’s absolutely important. Are you trying to create something that’s better than the sum of its parts? Or are you trying to disguise or make bland and easily indistinguishable? But it can be something really extraordinary. And with such a huge cornucopia of flavors within black teas, but then with blending, it becomes exponential. Absolutely exponential, what you can achieve. I’m still shocked. I’m still surprised now.

    Because it’s never the sum of its parts.

    The history of scientific revolutions is often led by mistake and that’s often been the case for me.

    My favorite thing that I’m drinking at the moment is a blend of almond blossoms from Tarragona with Croatian Camomile. But I never thought I would do that, I did it totally by mistake. I have to admit that to you. I charge lots and lots of money for making blends for people and then sometimes I just do one very good one by total mistake.

    Kyle: I’m interested, what’s something that bugs you in the tea world?

    Henrietta: But I wanted to say that there’s a lot of snobbery around tea and we should be more inclusive. If we’re going to make a real revolution in the tea world and get people to understand that there is this cornucopia of deliciousness and joy and flavour. Which will in turn, nourish and support the tea community throughout the world. We got to stop putting our noses in air and being snobby and shutting everyone out who doesn’t know, you know, the names of tea estates in Taiwan. It’s really not that interesting, what the code of that that particular varietal is. Because there’s so much more to do with flavor.

    Kyle: Talking of snobbery, how do you deal with the naming of a tea? What’s your approach?

    Henrietta: Two of the farmers that I admire most (one is Jun Chiyabari in Nepal) they refuse to use any of the old colonial terms. So they won’t do a TGFOP or whatever and they’re now even not calling things green or black tea. Because why is it that it has to be a green or a black tea? One of the teas we have is called Himalayan Spring and it’s actually technically, if you’re going to be super technical, a black tea though it tastes like green tea. And so if we called it black tea it would disappoint everybody. So why do we need to? The flavor profile is softer, richer, much greener than a lot of green teas. If you’re comparing it with a very deep Sencha, you’d be like, well, this is not. How can we call these two things green tea? It’s like trying to compare a whiskey with a rum almost.

    If you really love tea, if it’s a real love, not an intellectual challenge, then it doesn’t really matter what it’s called. And if you need to know more about it, you should be able to delve in. I ask questions of my farmers all the time passed on from my customers because that connection is jolly important. If you really need to know varietal number of the tea then we’ll find that out and get it to you. But I don’t think that should be the thing that leads because it’s really o? putting.

    People often question me on our packaging, it’s often very simple on the front. It might say just green tea or oolong tea and then on the back it says more stu?. And that’s because I began in 2004 and no one had ever heard of oolong tea, so I didn’t call it Tie Guan Yin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy. So I’ve really tried and it’s been super interesting how farmers have adopted that same thing.

    My favorite new terroir, and one that I admired tremendously is in New Zealand in Waikato. They’re producing tea and again they’re not using traditional names. They’re making oolong teas and they’re not calling them oolong they’re calling them, you know, dark or light or whatever. Just simple words that people will be able to understand from about the flavor.

    Kyle: You work directly with farms, what is it about working directly that is so important for you?

    Henreitta: Working with farms. Working with people to understand, number one, there’s a value in high quality tea, but working with farms. That we don’t just ostracise people or communities that have been reliant on industrial tea. We don’t just say “Oh, we can’t work with them.”

    Often people speak about farms that produce speciality tea and non speciality tea. If the person who’s picking the tea is paid the same for both. Well then that’s not fair really, because then the value of that speciality tea is not getting to the picker. And this is not okay. We shouldn’t really work with commercial farms that are producing non speciality tea. 

    There is not a problem with supply in the world of speciality tea. There is a problem with demand. That is the problem, right? 

    So it’s our job to try and spread the demand and to educate people and to show people that there’s a reason and a value for buying more expensive tea.

    “We no longer work with the Fairtrade organization. We realized we could have more impact by working directly with our farms. We return a percentage of our revenue (not profit that can be fudged).”

    But if a farmer is trying to come out of a world where they’ve been reliant on selling commodity tea, cheaper tea because that’s where the market was, we can’t punish them when they’re trying to then create speciality tea. And this makes me so mad. And when you talk about wages and you say, “Well, I shouldn’t work with a farm where the wages are low.” How are they going to improve the wages if we don’t buy more speciality tea? We need to work with these farmers because we have to understand that we need to have relationships. How do you get to that? Like working in a farm in Malawi; wages are low, life expectancy is low, standard of living is low. How do we make a fucking difference there? How do we do it differently? And it’s not by only working with a tiny small holder or tiny farm that just makes speciality tea. That’s part of the solution. But it’s not the only solution. 

    Rare Tea Co.

    Henrietta Lovell is perhaps best known as the Rare Tea Lady, after her company “Rare Tea Co.” rareteacompany.com. Sourcing directly from farmers since the very beginning, Henrietta has traveled the world, searching for rare and precious harvests of teas and tisanes. Her quest has taken her on many adventures, from the far flung and bizarre to those closer to home. She has worked with some of the most prestigious restaurants and hotels around the world, pairing teas and creating bespoke blends. Henrietta founded Rare Charity, which works to bring educational opportunity to young people in tea growing areas.

    “The people working in tea estates represent some of the most marginalized communities in many of the world’s poorest countries,” writes Lovell. “Our aim is to give ambitious young people the agency to uplift themselves, their households and their community. Education enables these young people to return to their community as qualified professionals, to implement long-term social change,” she said.

    — Kyle Whittington

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  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

    Tea Master Sun seems to comprehend that I’m being transformed, yet his words are as colorless as can be. “So, Pu’er. Tell us what you know about it.”

    The minute he asks this question, I understand two things…

    That’s a quote from The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (page 175-176)

    Kyle Whittington reviews The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

    A Brilliantly Layered Book

    Despite being a work of fiction, one immediately feels that the tea content is thorough and factually based, adding interesting and personable facts to a tea reader’s knowledge banks.

    By Kyle Whittington | Tea Book Club

    I found myself repeatedly drawn in and captivated by the story whilst doing my initial skim read, checking there was sufficient tea content for TeaBookClub members. There was. Tea content aplenty. Whilst reading, and by the time I’d finished it I found myself with a renewed interest in the world of Pu’er tea, a pond I’d previously only dipped my toe into. Fascinating and well researched tea content is liberally scattered throughout the book, revealing the mysterious world of Pu’er tea. From ancient secret groves and lost production through its re-discovery to rapid growth, boom and bust over the last three decades. Despite being a work of fiction, one immediately feels that the tea content is thorough and factually based, adding interesting and personable factoids to the tea readers knowledge banks. And ultimately, for many, inspiring a new or renewed interest in the world of Pu’er.

    Undoubtedly a literary work worthy of the recommendations that brought it to my reading chair, it is interesting how different lenses can change the readers experience. Reading it with a tea mind gives, I feel, a rather different experience to that of a reader coming to it purely as a novel. Something which became clear when discussing it with TeaBookClub members.

    For the tea reader, this is a book of two halves. Whilst the first half cleverly sets up Li-yan’s world of Akha tradition and starts her on her journey. It can at times feel like wading through a documentary on the Akha, despite the captivating writing. It’s not until Li-yan makes it to Kunming that the pace suddenly picks up and we’re zipping through the exciting tea world as the pu’er trend picks up pace alongside. I personally wanted to spend more time with Tea Master Sun and in Li-yan’s tea shop in the tea market at this point. But on we zipped to California and the eventual riveting ending, which left me desperately wanting to know what happened next.

    There are so many brilliant layers to this book, and it could be looked at through so many different lenses. The rapid transition of the Akha way of life into the modern world was fascinating and could spark its own lengthy discussion. From another view, the mother daughter story, adoption, or Chinese immigrants in the USA could all be delved into and discussed. But for the tea reader this is a wonderful story, packed with great tea content that will either develop or ignite an interest in, and desire to explore the world of Pu’er further.

    Here’s what some TeaBookClub members thought:

    I haven’t gotten into Pu’er that much, but the book has definitely inspired me to now.” – Alison, UK

    I thought the ending was a tear-jerker, I was definitely glued to those last ten pages“- Chris, USA

    I found it touching to read” – Aimée, Canada

    I thought it was too encyclopedic initially [the first time reading it], I found the beginning too much explanation about the Akha people but then because TeaBookClub chose it to read I picked it up and I’m happy I really read it though.” – Aimée, Canada

    I found it a little bit cliche when she finds the love of her life and he’s like her knight in shining armor and she’s a little bit of the princess, a Cinderella kind of thing. But then what I really liked about it was the little nuggets about tea culture in China. How the women when they’re picking the leaves talk about life. The culture in the villages, tea is their life, their culture, they have this appreciation of the leaf. She describes that really well; it’s not just about picking and processing. But I thought bits of the story line were a bit Disney, she’s shopping on Rodeo drive, its like Pretty Woman at one point! I liked those little bits about the life, about the culture of tea.” – Alison, UK

    When it talked about selling the fake tea, that was very relatable in the tea industry. And their reaction to it, how could you be upset with all the money they’re making, just make a little bit more. It showed how different the view was on the ground versus our 30,000 feet distance view.” – Chris, USA

    There was so much build up around the tribe and then it jumped very quickly though the story.” – Chris, USA

    The first part really explains the character and how she feels different from the Han majority and from her own tribe.” – Aimée, Canada

    It’s easier to digest the tea knowledge in that [novel] format sometimes, it drops bits of information in and it’s easier to take the information in.” – Alison, France

    I liked how she brings up the challenges of being an adopted Chinese girl in America. Not feeling Chinese, not feeling American…. I thought she captured the experience of wanting to find her [Hayley] birth parents and the excitement she got around seeing how other people found it. It’s a one in a million chance, its never going to happen but at least I’ll try, it makes sense to go and do that. I thought that was captured really well.” – Chris, USA

    I really loved the part with all the girls talking with the psychologist. That was really clever.” – Aimée, Canada

    Although based in the UK, The Tea Book Club is an international group of tea lovers and readers who meet up virtually each month to discuss tea books. If you’d like to join us for the next read, visit teabookclub.org or @joinTeaBookClub on Instagram. 

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

    Goodreads: Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

    Amazon | Kindle Edition, 384 pages

    Published March 21, 2017

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  • The Life of Tea

    Later, pouring some of last year’s temple tea, he says, “Tea has so much information to give. If you pay attention, you know not only the place, but how the tree grew, even the mood of the person who processed it.” – The Life of Tea by Michael Freeman and Timothy d’Offay (page 101)

    Kyle Whittington reviews The Life of Tea, Journey to the World’s Finest Teas

    The Life of Tea by Michael Freeman and Timothy d’Offay

    Visual Splendor

    By Kyle Whittington | Tea Book Club

    This book, in a word, is stunning, just stunning. By far the most beautiful tea book visually to land on my tea shelf. The coffee table book format and fabulous photography by Michael Freeman make this a treasured addition to any collection of tea books. Add to that the knowledge that pours forth in the words written by Timothy d’Offay and we have a truly special book in our hands.

    One of the lovely things about this book is that you don’t feel that you’re rereading information on tea that you’ve read 1,000 times before. Rather, you go on a journey to each tea type, each country, region, artisan or tea house, and along the way, dotted throughout the text like so many villages amongst the tea mountains are these wonderful gems and nuggets of information. There’s so much to learn and absorb both from the pictures and the text in this book. It sits such at an unusual sweet spot where a visually enticing book meets a well-researched and written reference book.

    This is not a book that requires cover to cover reading. Rather, you can pick an area and go on a journey, then move on to another. In any order. An approach that Tea Book Club members really enjoyed. The text is so well written, with great flow, great knowledge and great humanity. From historical and cultural context to processing details of a specific tea and the atmospheric approach up a tea mountain road. You really feel that Tim has been there, knows the farmers, the people, and the tea.

    The large format and visual splendour of this book is, however, perhaps its biggest sticking point, as well as what sets it so beautifully apart. It’s simply not easy to read and requires effort to open and get on with. One solution is to grab the Kindle copy for easy train or bed reading, allowing you to fly through the content laden and beautifully written text without the heft and size the physical book requires.

    That being said, I simply love this book… but I’d also love to see a paperback size version falling into the hands of every tea lover out there. Because really, we all ought to read this book at least once.

    The Life of Tea. Photo by Michael Freeman Photography.

    And here is what some of the Tea Book Club members had to say:

    “A great coffee table book, the text wrapped around photography bringing it to life.”  – Alison, UK

    “I adore it. It’s definitely going to be a long term treasure for me.” – B, USA

    “The artistic quality of the depiction is so beautiful and has such integrity. It’s connected things in my head.” – Terri, USA

    “One of the strengths of this book is to show different views of what we see in every tea book” – Aimée, Canada

    “This book gives you all the information like other tea books but in a very elegant way… plenty of little details, but very important ones.” – Pilar, UK

    “The writing was really insightful and the photography was really beautiful.” – Karri, USA

    “I really liked his focus on the people in all the different places he traveled to. His perspectives of the farmers was really really nice.” – Nicole, USA

    “I’ve been drooling over the pictures. My husband is not a big tea drinker but he even picked it up and learned a lot just from the pictures.” – Terri, USA

    “I love the text and I also love the pictures but I found ti difficult to read at night. But I found there was a lot of pieces of information that added a piece to the puzzle in my mind about tea… ‘Oh, that’s the link between those two ideas!’” – Aimée, Canada

    “I loved the section on tea ware, his knowledge and love for the tea ware really shines through.” – Nadine, UK

    “I really really like that it didn’t have the ad nauseam facts that are repeated in every other book on tea. There’s so much in there but it’s not done in a stereotypical way.” – Nicole, USA

    “I really appreciated seeing pictures of some of the behind the scenes stuff that you don’t usually see in such good quality.” – Sean, USA

    “The tea ware section is amazing, you feel like you are reading about art!” – Pilar UK

    Although based in the UK, The Tea Book Club is an international group of tea lovers and readers who meet up virtually each month to discuss tea books. If you’d like to join us for next read, visit teabookclub.org or @joinTeaBookClub on Instagram. 

    Freeman’s photography depicts every aspect of tea.

    The Life of Tea:
    A Journey to the World’s Finest Teas

    Goodreads: Documentary photographer Michael Freeman and tea expert Timothy d’Offay explore the terroir, taste, and culture of the world’s favorite drink.

    Amazon | Hardcover, 256 pages

    Published Sept. 4, 2018
    Octopus Publishing Group
    Imprint: Mitchell Beazley

    Michael Freeman Gallery

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