Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tea: The Drink That Changed the World by Laura C. Martin

Let me count the tea-related things I have in my house. I have two bags/boxes of Mlesna tea from my favourite tea shop in Tokyo (specially requested from a friend), I have mulberry tea from Kaogshima, I have the ANA limited edition loose-leaf tea set, and I have the Lotte Milk Tea Chocopie. I even considered buying this overpriced Book of Tea, which is a mook that has 50 samples of tea. Or at least, I considered it until I saw the price. I think it's safe to say that I really, really like tea. Which is why when I heard about this book, and realised it was on Scribd, I had to read it immediately.

This is a non-fiction account of the history of tea, focusing primarily on its history in Asia. The later half does talk about its history in Britain and America, but in not as much detail as in China and Japan, which I thought was a refreshing change of pace. Apart from the historical account of tea, the appendix includes instructions on how to make tisanes, brew a cup of tea, about the types of tea and what time of day different types of tea are best drunk at.

I found it all very interesting, and among other things, I found out that 'low tea' is considered more high class than 'high tea'. Basically, low tea is served on the low tables next to couches and high tea at the dining table. The name comes from the type of table it's served on, rather than the 'class' of the company that is kept. I guess we've been using the word wrongly in Singapore all the while!

And by the way, even though I really love tea, after reading about how tea aficionados can tell where the tea comes from by taste, I feel like I still have a lot to learn about it! Perhaps my tea-lover status should be revoked? I mean, I can tell between the different types of tea, though the variants of green tea are a bit difficult for me (I can tell matcha and non-matcha, and that's it. Black tea vs green tea vs Chinese tea vs Rooibos etc is all fine, because they all taste so different).

This is definitely a good book, and one that I would buy in a heartbeat if I saw it at the bookstore. (assuming a reasonable price) The appendix alone is probably worth it.

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