Time to visit with another person who has been in the “tea trenches” for many years. Another dedicatee to the Camellia Sinensis plant (the tea bush) and to processing it for a variety of tastes. Someone who contributes daily to the enjoyment of tea by people the world over. Another unsung hero, a veteran in the world of tea: James Norwood Pratt.
What is it about people who spend decades of their lives working with and learning about tea? They always seem so full of joy in their photos. Pratt is no exception. Even in photos where he is not smiling broadly he seems totally passionate about the subject of tea.
But Pratt was not always a devotee of the leaf. He started with an enchantment for the fruit of the vine: grapes and the wine made from them. His first book, published in 1971, was The Wine Bibber’s Bible which is out of print now. The other surprise is that Pratt is from North Carolina, a part of the U.S. that imbibes “sweet tea” the way others take in colas and other soft drinks. Pratt is a true phenomenon, expanding beyond that one method of enjoying tea to encompass about every tea style there is, from British to Asian and everything in-between.
From writing books and articles to giving lectures and conducting tea sommelier courses, Pratt has a full agenda. He also manages to keep up with tea friends as they begin their own tea adventures, including opening tea rooms, and with other tea veterans such as the dynas-TEA of the Harney family of Harney & Sons.
- Tea Dictionary, pub. 2010 — see randomly-selected terms and definitions on this tea blog.
- New Tea Lover’s Treasury, pub. 2000 — a greatly amplified and updated edition of the original book.
- Tea Lovers Treasury, pub. 1997 — the original version, full of history, anecdotes, and information to enchant tea lovers, along with information on a wide variety of teas available and what makes a quality cup of tea.
- The Tea Lover’s Companion: The Ultimate Connoisseur’s Guide to Buying Brewing and Enjoying Tea, pub. 1996 — the ultimate guide for true tea lovers to tea types, histories, legends, lore, brands, retail and mail-order companies, etc.
- Reading Tea Leaves, pub. 1995 — I’m not sure how seriously to take this one. It seems to have been written more in fun and could be interesting on a level with other games.
- Lu Yu & Tea: A Mirror of Soul —Introduction for Santa Fe Opera premiere production of “Tea—Mirror of Soul” by Tan Dun
- Four Thousand Experience Tea At Slow Food Nation — A Report by James Norwood Pratt, from The Tea Room News
- An Exercise in Excellence
- Sisters Under The Skin: The Languages Of Wine And Tea
- In the News—Tea Pilgrimage
- The Ancient and Best Way to Brew Loose-Leaf Tea
- The U.S. Tea Renaissance and How It Happened
- How It Is With Tea and Me
- The Dutch Invent “Orange Pekoe”
Whew! When you’re done reading all that, you’ll need a couple of pots full of tea. Maybe even three!
A final note: Don’t bother with the Wikipedia page about Pratt. It is noted as being written more like a marketing or advertising piece than an objective article. It is also practically word-for-word the same as an article on Teacourse.com.
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