Tea History, Terroirs, Varieties provides a fantastic gateway to enter the world of tea. This is the book I recommend for any tea drinkers who are about to start a journey as a tea drinker.
I met this book while I was working at Barnes & Noble as a part-timer when I was in college back in 2015. For people who are not familiar with Barnes & Noble, it’s a bookseller brand with the largest number of book retail stores in the United States.
I found this book while I was walking around the store floor out of boredom and slowness. The moment was almost like finding an oasis in a desert. At first, I was intrigued by the cool book design. Soon after, I was fascinated by the fact what tea really was!
It’s been more than 7 years and now there’s a 3rd edition for this book (I read 2nd edition). Whether it’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd edition, it’s a great book to learn about tea without feeling overwhelmed.
The book covers black, green, white, yellow, oolong, pu’er, perfumed, aromatic and smoked teas and includes:
An overview of the history of tea
Tea families, varieties, cultivars and grades
How tea is grown, harvested and processed
The tea trade worldwide
Profile interviews with tea industry personalities.
Special features that loyal tea drinkers will especially enjoy are:
Local tastes and methods of preparing tea (e.g. macha)
Tasting notes and infusion accessories
Caffeine, antioxidant and biochemical properties of 35 teas
Have you ever watched something that gives you a different perspective and leaves a question to think?
I joined the Japanese tea documentary, gochisochaji(ごちそう茶事), screening hosted by the Global Japanese Tea Association on Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8-10 pm in Japan time.
The event included watching the documentary and talking with the producer, Makoto Takatsu. It was a virtual event, so I could join from Melbourne, Australia, an hour ahead of Japan time.
How I felt about the event: communal, connected, informative, interesting, relaxing.
How I felt about the documentary: communal, informative, diverse, not too boring, dedicated, provides a new perspective & outlook.
Film Title: ごちそう茶事 Gochisochaji Producer: Makoto Takatsu Editing Director: Go Okada Music: Hitomi Tamura Theme Song: Kojiro Fujiwara “To the Other Side” Title: Genu Shiraishi Production: Japanese Tea Documentary Film Production Team Distributor in Japan: office.gochisouchaji JAPAN / 2021 / 52min / Japanese (with English subtitles) Website: https://gochisochaji.com/
Before screening, I prepared Japanese sencha and Tonkatsu (a Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried/tempura pork cutlet.). I brewed Nanadan Asamushi Okumidori Sencha that I received as a gift from Yunomi. I ordered Tonkatsu from DonDon.
What I enjoyed the most
1. Diverse Topics
I enjoyed watching gochisouchaji because it provided short sequences of topics while covering a variety of topics. I find some documentaries too boring or too serious to follow. Gochisouchaji was easy to follow.
The people devoted their lives to Japanese tea
Scent of freshly picked tea leaves
What separates a master from an amateur?
Gogumi (Blending) techniques
Japanese tea and tea drinking culture have evolved through the ages.
However, Japanese tea today faces many challenges.
Profound changes in lifestyle.
A new gateway to Japanese tea
Uji, Kyoto prefacture
Tradition of the Uji Region
Japanese tea with new character
Makurajaki, Kagoshima prefacture
The cultivar loved by modern teaists Sofu
Reassessing the withering technique
Withered aroma of yumewakaba
Gokase, Miyajaki Prefecture
The times and Kamairicha
Traditional yet new tea attracting young people
Attracting young people
Successors of Japanese tea
Rediscovery of Japanese tea
2. Diverse People
I enjoyed watching the interviews from people related to Japanese tea industry. For me it was especially interesting to know what tea breeder does. Check out the documentary if you are curious 😀
Oscar Brekell, Japanese Tea Evangelist
OTA Katsunori, Tea Grower, Kaneta Otaen
Moriuchi Yoshio, Tea Grower, Moriuchi Tea Farm
Nakajima Tsuyoshi, Onishi-en Tea Factory, 10th Dan in Hand Rolled Tea
Maeda Fumio, Yamahachi Maeda Lotaro Shoten Tea Master, 10th Dan in tea appraisal
Tada Masanori, Tea Master, Tada Tea Products
Sakurai Shinya, Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience
Koyama Kazuhiro, Charista, Saten Japanese Tea
Fujioka Hibiki, Barista
Tsuji Kiyohara, Tea Grower, Tsujiki
Nesumi Atsushi, Senior Coordinator Makurazaki Tea Research Station (NARO)
With diverse topic and people, it naturally gave me a new perspective and outlook.
" You need to be able to talk with the tea. Tea is a living thing in a sense. I think tea is always sending us signs, telling us what to do next. The question is whether you can keep pace with the changes. Do tea leaves obey your orders? Do leaves line up and get ready to be rolled when they are told to do so? As an old saying goes, the appearance of the leaves mirrors their internal qualities. I think a beautiful looking tea is beautiful on the inside as well."
4. Tea Brewing Techniques
The documentary also showed how tea professionals use own style to brew and taste tea. I enjoyed watching different styles of brewing.
" The most important parts about brewing tea are the flavour, maintaining the quality that the growers produced, and being considerate to the person you're serving. I think that a cup of tea can for a heart-to-heart connection. Brewing tea with consideration is what matters most."
5. Tea Dedication
While watching the documentary, I could see how the tea industry is supported by people with dedication and caring.
During the chatting with the producer time, Takatsu-san mentioned that he was able to complete the 3 years of production by the support and dedicated people in the tea industry.
It reminded me how to appreciate and cherish tea leaves. I had a good self-reflection time during the event and while writing this review.
Starting along with the mountain range of Tay Con Linh in Hà Giang Province.
You will disappoint to find that some very big plantation tea trees – two or three people can barely join hands around the trunk with thousands of years old– had been cut down to collect these buds, called: ” White Fairy tea” – Bạch Trà Tiên.
A kind of special/unique Shan tea and very good quality
I call proposal for you guys, as responsible consumers/buyers/tea lovers/…you should stop order that kind of tea until the local people find a solution to harvest the tea without cutting down these trees!
White Fairy Tea is a type of white tea that is more rare and special Shan tea.
It is heartbreaking how people are irresponsibly cutting down the ancient trees to collect the buds for the White Fairy Tea.
I urge you to STOP your purchasing of White Fairy Tea, BạCh TRà Tiên as requested until the locals in Tay Con Linh in Hà Giang Province find a solution to harvest the tea without cutting the ancient trees indiscreetly.
Are you supplying ethically sourced White Fairy Tea? Do you know further information about how the ancient tea trees are surviving? Please leave a comment
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The information on this website and all associated social media accounts are based on my own personal experiences or research. It is not intended to be used as health, fitness, mental health or medical advice. I am not a doctor. If you have a health, medical or mental health problem or are in need of any help please contact a professional.