The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook, by Mary Lou Heiss & Robert J. Heiss
This is what I like to refer to as my pocket tea encyclopedia. If I’m travelling and there’s even the merest possibility that tea will feature in my adventures, then this book is one of the first things in my bag.
In the introduction we get a good overview of the world of tea, covering such topics as terroir, tea bush cultivars, tea cultivation, the importance of the season of the pluck, and tea production methods.
Chapters 1 & 2 cover the essentials of purchasing tea and general guidelines for steeping the leaves you bought, before we come to Chapter 3, where the main bulk of the book is located.
This chapter is given over to dedicated sections on the White, Yellow, Green, Black, Oolong, and Pu-erh classes of tea.
Each section contains background information on each class, as well as tips on purchasing, steeping, the plucking style, and manufacturing processes, as well as a gallery showing the leaf styles and colour of the infused tea, and tasting notes.
The final chapter, chapter 4, covers the topic of best practice for storing your tea.
The book also includes a helpful tea glossary as an appendix.
If sometimes this book comes across as overly technical, dry, or scholarly then it’s important to remember that this is primarily a handbook – it’s more about informing rather than entertaining, and on that score it performs very well indeed.
All in all a highly recommended reference book by a couple of tea professionals with over 40 years experience.
The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook can be found on Amazon by clicking here.