Stray Leaves Tea

Books

A selection of books that can help you get started on your tea journey, or to dive deeper into the rich history, culture and dimensions of tea.

1 Getting Started

1.1 The Life of Tea

A collaboration between photographer Michael Freeman and tea expert Timothy d’Offay that covers a wide introduction to the major tea regions, processing, and the impact of tea on culture.

1.2 Infused

A wonderful collection of stories, history, tasting notes, meetings with farmers, and colourful characters in the tea trade. A must read for anyone with an interest in tea. (review)

1.3 The Book of Tea

Written in 1902 by Okakura Kakuzo, this is a mix of tea culture, tea history, and tea philosophy. Based in Japanese tradition, it is an introduction to where Zen and Tea intersect.

1.4 The Philosophy of Tea

Briefly skimming across tea history, culture and processing, this is a fun and quick read (or great gift). The book is illustrated with images from the British Museum’s collection.

2 Going Deeper

2.1 Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

If your enjoy Puer tea, you’ll enjoy this book. It goes into the a range of history, including the recent rise and crash in 2007 in the Puer market. Very well written.

2.2 First Step to Chinese Puerh Tea

This and the follow on book, A Glossary of Chinese Puerh Tea, are an in depth study of the Chinese Puerh market through the lens of the Hong Kong tea industry. The author, Chan Kam Pong, reached out to many collectors in the region, and compiled pictures and descriptions of as many cakes as he could find. Now in reprint.

2.3 Tales from the Tea Trade

A wonderful set of insights into the tea business from Michelle and Rob, the owners of Comins Tea in Bath, UK. It is part the story of their love of tea, part the history of the world’s tea regions, and part the story of the growers who make the tea. (review)

3 Tea History

3.1 For All the Tea in China

The story of Robert Fortune, a Scottish plant hunter, who snuck out of China the plants and processing required to make tea and broke the Chinese monopoly on tea production.

3.2 The Tale of Tea

Part academic text, part tea encyclopedia, this tome is densely packed with incredible details about tea. This includes many pages on where the word tea comes from.