I can’t for the love of me remember where I first heard about this book – all I know for sure is that suddenly everyone in the Teaosphere seemed to be talking about it.
The title of the book sort of gives the game away – this is the low down on tea from a scientist’s perspective.
I’ve loved science for as long as I can remember – I joined my junior school science club round about the age of 8 – so when I happened across this book a sale was a mere formality.
In these pages you’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about the science behind tea but were too afraid to ask.
It’s all here – how we experience the flavours and aromas of tea, a botanical history of Camellia Sinensis, how it grows, the structure of its leaves, how the processing of those same leaves results in the wide range of wonderful flavours we know and love, and how to best extract those flavours when we brew our tea.
More than a few times I’ve found myself making lightbulb-on type “aaaah” noises when an oft pondered tea conundrum was answered, such as exactly why some folks add salt or lemon juice to their tea.
There are also individual chapters dedicated to each of the six classes of tea – green tea, yellow tea, dark tea (Pu-erh, Liu Bao, etc.), white tea, Oolong, and black (red) tea. Each of these chapters, with the exception of the one concerning yellow tea, includes a “Fun With” section, that brings the concepts covered in the earlier chapters to life, so to speak, taking them off the printed page and sitting them down next to you as you drink your tea.
In chapter 1, “What This Book Is About“, the author advises that we shouldn’t attempt to read this book from cover to cover as if it were a novel, but rather that we should dip into it as the need arises, and that’s how I’ve already found it extremely useful – as a reference tome. I was following (NB – not participating in!) an on-line discussion the other day about an old chestnut, namely the caffeine content of various teas, and it was very interesting indeed to cross reference what was being said there with the facts as given in this book.
This book may be a scholarly take on all things tea related, but it most certainly ain’t overly dry or humourless, far from it. This really should be considered a “must have” for any serious tea library, and I’m very happy indeed that it found its way into mine.
Tea: a Nerd’s Eye View tea, by Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace MD