What could be better than reading a book and having a cup of tea? Having a cup of tea while reading books ABOUT tea, of course! To jumpstart your study of tea, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favorite books about our favorite beverage. From tea classics like The Book of Tea written in 1906, to Tea: A Nerd’s Eye View written by a modern scientist, all you fellow bibliophiles out there should find something to enjoy in this list that's sprinkled with tea education, science, recipes, stories, and fun facts. Kick back, relax, grab a steaming cup of your favorite tea, and get ready to add some books to your wishlist!
In no particular order...
1. The Story of Tea by Mary Lou Heiss & Robert J. Heiss
Why we love it: This book is packed with the cultural history of tea, as well as information on proper brewing methods.
Beginning with a journey along the tea trail, The Story of Tea explores the cultural history of tea, as well as the customs and crafts associated with it. The authors compellingly share the multi-layered modern and historic world of tea facts and lore, while covering 30 essential tea styles with specific brewing and processing methods for each. Find it here.
2. The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea by Michael Harney
Why we love it: Essentially it’s a tea tasting class in book form!
Written by Michael Harney, the son of the Harney & Sons founder John Harney, this book explores a wide range of tea types with detailed brewing instructions and tasting tips. Each tea is also accompanied by the author’s vignettes about sourcing trips, production, and international travel. Harney & Sons is one of the most respected U.S. tea companies, and the personal touches the author has included offer insights into the formation of the American specialty tea industry. Find it here.
3. The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo
Why we love it: A classic tea read with nods to Taoism and Zen culture.
One of the most widely accepted tea classics, this book is as relevant today as when it was written over 100 years ago. A philosophical and historical gem that was first published in 1906, The Book of Tea seamlessly blends the history of Japanese tea and tea ceremony with connections to Taoism and Zen, as well as the refined Japanese aesthetics and architecture. It also uses tea as a medium to demonstrate the ways in which the East and West are both similar yet different. Find it here.
4. Tea: A Nerd’s Eye View by Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace, MD
Why we love it: It is a scientific approach to tea tasting!
Brought to you by a physician with a deep passion for tea, this book takes a scientific approach to tea. It delves into the biological and chemical reasons behind our experience with flavor, and how and why growing conditions, processing, and brewing methods affect our experience. The author, a self-described “tea nerd,” has a wonderful sense of humor that she weaves into each chapter. A totally different way to learn about tea! Find it here.
5. Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais & Hugo Americi
Why we love it: The ideal “tea table” book that’s both incredibly informative and stunningly beautiful.
A gorgeous and detailed guide to the tea terroirs of the world. Well researched and expertly presented, this is the ideal “coffee table” (or should we say “tea table”?) book. It’s written by the owners of Montreal-based Camellia Sinensis, one of North America’s most respected tea houses, and provides you with the guidance to get the utmost level of enjoyment from your cup. It has something for everyone--from people new to tea, to those who have studied it for a lifetime. It even offers delectable recipes by stellar chefs for those interested in cooking with tea. Find it here.
6. Tea Dictionary by James Norwood Pratt
Why we love it: Well, the reason is in the name!
The second tea guide by the renowned tea expert, James Norwood Pratt, this dictionary covers it all. It’s a thorough collection of tea industry terminology with pronunciation guides, helpful imagery, timelines, and maps. Pratt is regarded as one of the pioneers of the U.S. specialty tea industry, making this a must-have for any tea lover’s bookshelf. Find it here.
7. Mission in a Bottle by Seth Goldman & Barry Nalebuff
Why we love it: It’s a beautifully illustrated graphic novel.
Written by the co-founders of Honest Tea, this book takes a graphic novel approach to telling the story of the birth of a tea venture. With an engaging visual and written style, it illustrates the realities of managing and growing a tea business, while familiarizing the reader with the industry as a whole. A fun yet informative read! Find it here.
8. Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West by Beatrice Hohenegger
Why we love it: An engaging read for tea newbies or seasoned experts.
A superbly compiled, engagingly written, and well-rounded exploration of tea: historically, culturally, and botanically. Whether you are new to the tea world or a well-seasoned professional, this book appeals to all levels of tea enthusiasts. While it’s a fact-based book, it reads like a novel, keeping you deeply engrossed all the way ‘til the last page. Find it here.
9. For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose
Why we love it: An action-packed political tea drama.
The epic true story of botanist Robert Fortune and his successful mission of corporate espionage--stealing tea from China for the British Empire in the nineteenth century. This one has everything: action, history, political drama, intrigue, and science. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding tea’s role in shaping global geopolitics. Find it here.
10. Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold & Lise Stern
Why we love it: A collection of recipes...all of them tea based!
Calling all tea lovers and foodies! Gain the confidence to take your tea game “up a notch” and start cooking with your leaves. This book offers a mouth-watering collection of recipes, from starters and entrees, to desserts and cocktails. We enjoy its clear instructions and gorgeous photos. Find it here.
What are your favorite books about tea? Let us know in the comments below!
Mitra Dunn, Graphic Designer
Growing up in Persia, tea runs in Mitra's blood. But it was while living and working in the Pacific Northwest that she truly found herself immersed in the beverage and all its delicious forms, and she continues to be delighted by the international and cultural nuances that it represents. Mitra has been active as an artist and designer for most of her adult life, and is very happy to bring her passion for tea and design to Young Mountain Tea.