Tea Books

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Iizuki
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Wed Aug 18, 2021 6:58 am

Just dropping by to express my gratitude @Greywacke. This is a great resource, especially when it receives updates! :)
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aet
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Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:39 am

There is one book called " Ancient Tea Trees in China " I'm going trough right now and found it interesting, especially after this intro.
Back in 1985 one guy from agriculture science academy , seeded a tea tree. That seed in 2016 grew up to the tree of 8.3m height and 135cm around the trunk.
So as you can see on picture how almost 30y old tea tree growing in Menghai looks like .
Tea farmers usually add another " 0 " to it to make it neater ;-D
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mbanu
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Sun Aug 29, 2021 1:10 pm

Greywacke wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 4:53 pm
OOF, I'm still here and updating, just in the background, lurking. mbanu Yeah, some of these get exceedingly difficult to classify/organize--there's either no author, or only an editor listed, or in a few cases, a compiler. And a lot of these books don't have ISBNs associated with them. Sometimes I resort to whatever the most visible name is, to make it easiest for anyone else looking at the list to find the book with a google search.

On a tangentially related note, I recently picked up Bamboo House, a book I found in a used book shop, that details Indonesian tea history. I've found a grand total of one mention of this book anywhere online. I'm excited to read it, but I try to force myself not to 'jump queue' with books I've bought (I'm currently reading How to Make Tea: The Science Behind the Leaf which I'm despising, to be honest).

Unfortunately, I can't find China as a Tea Producer in pdf anywhere. Through that link, google's blocking me. So I'm guessing it's copyright hasn't quite expired in Canada yet, blah.

A tiny side-project of mine is to collet together epub and pdf releases of tea books across multiple sources in one easy download spot.
Google seems to have stepped back from their original stance regarding the public domain, which is a hassle. I would be surprised if it were not also public domain in Canada. Hopefully someone will upload it to the Internet Archive or a similar site to make it more available to other countries where it is legal but not yet available.
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mbanu
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Mon Dec 06, 2021 4:36 pm

Greywacke wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:55 am
[*]Evans, J. C. Tea in China: The History of China’s National Drink
Finally read this one, and it has blasted away all contenders to become the worst tea book I have ever read. :D It was so bad that it actually made me question whether the publisher, Greenwood Press, might be a vanity press of some sort. This would not be bad on its own, except that it is formatted like a hardcover monograph, Contributions to the Study of World History, Number 33 being the subtitle.

A choice Contribution:
John C. Evans wrote:During the 1930s Professor von Königswald bought hundreds of "dragon teeth” in Chinese pharmacies. These proved to come from neither dragons nor a race of superhuman Chinese ancestors, but from the extinct Gigantopithecus blacki, the largest primate that ever lived. Larger than any gorilla with an estimated height of at least ten feet, this primate is the fabled Tibetean yeti, Hollywood's "abominable snowman," and the North American "Bigfoot." Examination of the dragon teeth sold in Canton pharmacies until as late as the 1960s revals that Gigantopithecus was a vegetarian whose diet consisted of fruits, leaves, grasses, nuts, berries, roots, and vegetables.(1) This huge creature's natural habitat was the primordial forest where tea grew wild, and it is probable that Gigantopithecus ate tea leaves as he roamed through the wilderness, actually discovering tea before men did.

Between A.D. 265 and 290 the following story was recorded in The Supplement to the Collected Records of the Spirits:

A man named Qin Qing wished to go into the mountains to collect some tea. During one visit there he encountered a man covered with hair and over ten feet tall. He led Qin down the mountain, pointed to a tea tree ready for harvesting, then he departed. But he shortly reappeared and pulled an orange from his bosom and left it for Qing. Terrified Qing seized his tea, threw it over his shoulder and ran away.(2)

Had Gigantopithecus survived to the historic period, or is the story a fragment of the collective memory of a lost time when primitive man and his giant primate cousin coexisted? Maybe Richard Wagner was referring to a similar situation when he wrote: "Kräuter und Wurzeln findet ein jeder sich Selbst, / Wir lernten's im Walde vom Tier."(3)
If you do decide to read it anyway, don't skip the footnotes -- in addition to a rather unhelpful list of sources, these also include author asides such as, "7. The Chinese are constantly urinating from drinking too much tea. During the sit-in in Tienanmen Square in June 1989 the Red Cross, fearing an epidemic, wanted the demonstrators removed." and "22. Most Chinese restaurants in Europe and North America were run by 'servant class' Chinese, which explains why jasmine tea became 'Chinese restaurant tea.' There is a trend now toward increasing the choice of teas in many Chinese restaurants." :lol:
John_B
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Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:49 pm

I just reviewed a book that's new enough to have not been mentioned, released in the last month or two, Geography of Chinese Tea, by Sergey Shevelev, the founder and owner of Moychay.

It's pretty good. There's always room for improvement, or for critique of this or that idea, and all the more for something not being included. He visited what might be all of the main tea areas in China doing sourcing trips over a decade, and collected background information along the way, and the book is a summary of all of it. It's about geography (of course), history, related local settings, tea types, and processing, stopping short of talking about brewing practices, ceremonial aspects, and teaware.

It would be interesting to hear feedback about it from someone who has read most of the other few dozen books mentioned, to help place it further. I don't read books as I did in my teens, 20s, and 30s, so I've read some tea books but not far through that list. More thoughts on it here:

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... eview.html
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mbanu
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Fri Jan 07, 2022 6:26 pm

Greywacke wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 4:53 pm
On a tangentially related note, I recently picked up Bamboo House, a book I found in a used book shop, that details Indonesian tea history. I've found a grand total of one mention of this book anywhere online. I'm excited to read it, but I try to force myself not to 'jump queue' with books I've bought (I'm currently reading How to Make Tea: The Science Behind the Leaf which I'm despising, to be honest).
Good to know -- I'd heard of the author of How to Make Tea but hadn't realized he'd written a book. He was more well-known for his role as a tea businessman, as he wrote market research reports for businesses under the series title Tea is "Hot". He died a few years ago while out having tea in Seattle -- https://tea-biz.com/2018/09/04/specialt ... ng-passes/ A biography on him might be more interesting, as it seems like he was in the middle of the American specialty tea industry during the 90s revival.
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mbanu
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 5:58 pm

Greywacke wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:55 am
Handbooks/Guides
An interesting problem here: Is how do you separate books that have detailed dictionaries by tea type as WELL as comprehensive guides, and those that JUST have guides, and those guides that follow brewing, or production, or both?
  • Peltier, W. The Ancient Art of Tea
A good question! With this one, it can maybe be side-stepped as I think it more accurately should go under country-specific for China. It is actually a somewhat scholarly collection of translated quotes from Chinese brewing guides, divided up by subject so that the reader can contrast and compare the different approaches.

I think some of the confusion is that the author is not an academic, so it was published under Tuttle, which normally doesn't publish this kind of tea-book. (I would say Warren Peltier is a good example of an independent scholar on tea vs. the bad example of John C. Evans.)

I'd be a little interested to know more about how it was published in the first place, honestly, as the cover makes it out to be a sort of tea version of Life's Little Instruction Book or something like that. :D Instead it will have a chapter on "Water for Tea" that summarizes Li Shi Zhen's 13 "sky waters" and 30 "earth waters" from his Materia Medica, and then compares Lu Yu's advice on water in the Classic of Tea to Zhang You Xin's advice in Chronicle on Water for Brewing Tea and Lu Shu Sheng's Discourse on Water and Xu Ci Xu's Writings on Choosing Water, Storing Water, and Drawing Water.
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Baisao
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:13 pm

mbanu wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 5:58 pm
Greywacke wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:55 am
Handbooks/Guides
An interesting problem here: Is how do you separate books that have detailed dictionaries by tea type as WELL as comprehensive guides, and those that JUST have guides, and those guides that follow brewing, or production, or both?
  • Peltier, W. The Ancient Art of Tea
A good question! With this one, it can maybe be side-stepped as I think it more accurately should go under country-specific for China. It is actually a somewhat scholarly collection of translated quotes from Chinese brewing guides, divided up by subject so that the reader can contrast and compare the different approaches.

I think some of the confusion is that the author is not an academic, so it was published under Tuttle, which normally doesn't publish this kind of tea-book. (I would say Warren Peltier is a good example of an independent scholar on tea vs. the bad example of John C. Evans.)

I'd be a little interested to know more about how it was published in the first place, honestly, as the cover makes it out to be a sort of tea version of Life's Little Instruction Book or something like that. :D Instead it will have a chapter on "Water for Tea" that summarizes Li Shi Zhen's 13 "sky waters" and 30 "earth waters" from his Materia Medica, and then compares Lu Yu's advice on water in the Classic of Tea to Zhang You Xin's advice in Chronicle on Water for Brewing Tea and Lu Shu Sheng's Discourse on Water and Xu Ci Xu's Writings on Choosing Water, Storing Water, and Drawing Water.
I wouldn’t dismiss this book so quickly. It is the only time I’ve seen most of this content in English.

The assessments of various ancient springs was the least useful portion of the book, no doubt. However, there was a surprising amount of content that is still applicable. It was interesting for me to find that my thoughts on various tea matters matched that of many of these Chinese scholars.

It did not seem to matter that I am preparing loose leaf and most of these scholars were preparing tea from bricks. I think this is because the same elements we find desirable or undesirable are more a matter of the leaf rather than the processing. You can’t process bad leaves into good tea. I found the essays to be timeless because of this.

The book also had essays on the proper conditions for enjoying tea. I’ve seen too many tea gatherings that would have benefitted by avoiding the Seven Tea Taboos written by Feng Ke Bin.

I also learned a lot about preparing water in a non-electric kettle. I’ve been doing this for years but the essays have helped me experience this differently, beyond eye water instructions. Some of the scholars had differing opinions in this area, which was also interesting. I’m looking forward to exploring these differences but suspect I already know who I agree with.

I would heartily recommend ‘The Ancient Art of Tea’ to people with an advanced tea practice. I think that many of the gems would be lost on a neophyte. It takes an intimate, intuitive practice to get the most from these essays. It’s not a book of formulas. It’s also not for people looking to make a cuppa.
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mbanu
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 9:19 pm

Baisao wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:13 pm
mbanu wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 5:58 pm
I'd be a little interested to know more about how it was published in the first place, honestly, as the cover makes it out to be a sort of tea version of Life's Little Instruction Book or something like that. :D Instead it will have a chapter on "Water for Tea" that summarizes Li Shi Zhen's 13 "sky waters" and 30 "earth waters" from his Materia Medica, and then compares Lu Yu's advice on water in the Classic of Tea to Zhang You Xin's advice in Chronicle on Water for Brewing Tea and Lu Shu Sheng's Discourse on Water and Xu Ci Xu's Writings on Choosing Water, Storing Water, and Drawing Water.
I wouldn’t dismiss this book so quickly. It is the only time I’ve seen most of this content in English.
I probably should have phrased it a bit differently -- the book itself is good, but I was surprised it was accepted by that publisher.

The sort of tea-books I associate with Tuttle are books like The Tea Reader: living life one cup at a time, an anthology of readings for tea lovers old and new by Katrina Ávila Munichiello, or Tea Wisdom: inspirational quotes and quips about the world's most celebrated beverage by Aaron Fisher, books that aren't really trying to corral the quotations towards a particular task, but are more gift-shop books... It seemed a bit like that was also expected of Mr. Peltier's book, as the full title is The Ancient Art of Tea: discover happiness and contentment in a perfect cup of tea, which isn't really reflective of the contents, I don't think. :D

If you like that author, I believe that he used to submit articles to the old Chadao Blogspot -- might be worth a look if you haven't seen it.
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Baisao
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 9:49 pm

@mbanu, maybe we can coin a new idiom: don’t judge a book by its publisher! 😀

The book has some faults: tacky cover, misleading title, and too much exposition by the author at times. I believe all three are the fault of the publisher. I can hear them telling Peltier to make it more accessible for Lady Fanny or Omaha.

‘Tropic of Cancer’ was published by a smut peddler but it’s no less a great novel. Now I am wondering what a porn press would have contributed to this tea book. Hmmm 🤔

Thanks for the lead on Peltier’s other works.
John_B
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Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:03 pm

It later occurred to me that a German contact published a tea book not so long ago:



It's pretty good, but introductory themed work would only go so deep, and narrower topic or research oriented work would be different. Some of the others on the initial list were in that first scope too though.

It could be hard to filter out what seems best or worst, or to reach a certain standard. A few texts would stand out as landmark reference works, and others would be from known and respected sources, and then from there it would come down to reading each to evaluate them. That's a lot of reading.

It's potentially problematic that some references might be better regarded because of social circle association. That's how people connect and make judgements, but it wouldn't necessarily tie to objective outcome, to quality or completeness of content. It would probably be as well to describe themes and let that frame works rather than critique content quality, unless there are clear grounds for that, eg. obvious mistakes in the work. Then completeness is a real factor too, and diverse bias would enter back in when assessing that.
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