Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tea Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide, A Tea Book Review

Today's tea themed bit of reading material is Tea Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide by Wendy Ramussen and Ric Rhineheart. This is a fairly older book, from as far back as 1998, I was a tea drinker back then (at a whopping 13 years old) but I was not really aware of the vastness of the tea world yet. Not sure if I agree with the book's claim of being quick at 208 pages, I might be a speed reader but I have seen much smaller books about tea, and much more thorough.

I want to start out by saying, this book could have been great, really quite awesome. I am even able to overlook my usual lust for pretty pictures for the shear amount of tasty knowledge, but it has some monumental flaws. It was painful, but I will start out saying why this book could have been awesome.

It covers so many points, from the standard tea grading, history, correct brewing parameters, and bits about various tea traditions. It also covers some not often (especially in books written during this time period) mentioned subjects, like how to season a yixing teapot and how to properly taste tea. These things are awesome it is just so full of useful information.

But it has one of the most glaring mistakes I have seen, it dawned on me when I was reading the section on 'what is a tea' specifically the blurb on green tea being the least processed of all the teas. That statement, and the complete absence of it anywhere else led to the shocking realization that white tea is never mentioned! There is a one off mention of Pu Erh, which is what I have come to expect from tea books from the late 90s, and no mention of yellow tea (also par for the course) but the utter lack of White Tea is just baffling to me.

I am honestly not sure I can recommend this book, on the one hand it does have some good info, but it is a bit dated, and with the glaring omission of white tea, I think it fits into the 'if you must have all the tea books in the world' category. I certainly would not recommend this for people who are new to tea, maybe as more of a refresher for more seasoned sippers.

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