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Avert your eyes, if you must, and move on to the next paragraph, but I’m going to kick off this installment of the tea book column with a book about coffee. Gasp. It’s called Coffee Gives Me Superpowers: An Illustrated Book about the Most Awesome Beverage on Earth and it’s by Ryoko Iwata. I mention it not to quibble with the idea that coffee is the most awesome beverage on Earth (though I certainly disagree) but to note that it might be interesting to see a similar volume – one that’s “full of infographics, quizzes, and other fun and interesting facts” – discussing the wonders of tea.

I’m not well versed when it comes to the later Disney characters, but I gather that young ladies of a certain age might be familiar with one named Sofia the First. In the interests of getting those young Sofia fans on the right path (of tea drinking) at an early age, I’ll direct you to the teacup-shaped Sofia the First: Sofia’s Cup of Tea, which hits the stores early in 2015.

Sofia the First: Sofia's Cup of Tea (via Yahoo! images)

Sofia the First: Sofia’s Cup of Tea (via Yahoo! images)

In the same vein is the Hello Kitty: Tea Party Set, which rolls out this September and which “has a chunky eight-page board book and 15 puzzle pieces to match to the spaces on the book pages, as Hello Kitty gets everything ready to host a tea party for her friends.” Also up in early 2015 is yet another book for those who fancy fiction with a tea-related theme. It’s called The Traveling Tea Shop, by Belinda Jones, and concerns the adventures of the assistant to and the host of a tea-themed TV show.

If it was a real TV show, they might want to keep in mind a nonfiction tea book that’s also coming out in 2015. It’s another entry into the increasingly crowded field of tea cuisine books and it’s called Steeped: Recipes to Infuse Your Day with Tea, by Annelies Zijderveld. As the publisher’s description puts it, “tea is also very of the moment, and rising ever-higher in the food world, starring in Martha Stewart’s Jasmine Shortbread Sandwich Cookies, Food 52’s Darjeeling Tea Pain Perdu, and the Beard Foundation’s Tea Sorbet.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Collectible Teapot and Tea Calendar 2015 (from Yahoo Images)

Collectible Teapot and Tea Calendar 2015 (from Yahoo Images)

When I wrote a profile of tea person and author Babette Donaldson a little while back it somehow escaped my notice that she had written a tea-themed book for children. Although I guess it’s more correct to call it a book for both children and adults. It’s called Fun With Tea: Activities for Tea Loving Adults to Share With Their Favorite Young Sippers and it’s described as a “teatime activity book for all ages and various kinds of tea parties.”

Over the years I’ve written about some of the various ways that tea has made its way into fiction and here’s yet another example. It’s the recently released Tempest in a Teapot, by Amanda Cooper. It’s billed as A Teapot Collector Mystery and it’s apparently the first in yet another series in the popular field of whimsical themed cozy mysteries. And while we’re speaking of teapots it’s as good a time as any to make a note on your calendar to pick up The Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar 2015, by Annabel Freyberg and photographer Martin Brigdale.

Speaking of tea and fiction, one of the better known titles that uses tea and yet has nothing directly to do with tea is due for a reissue later this year – when it will appear for the first time in a trade paperback edition. That’s The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, by the late Douglas Adams, best known for his The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

If it’s tea houses that thrill your soul then you might want to get a look at Neo-Chinese Style Tea Houses, which just made its way to bookstore shelves. Which I first mentioned in an article on tea houses and the like called A Space for Tea. It’s an impressive coffee table (pardon the expression) type book and as the description notes, it “showcases some of the most elegant teahouses, simple yet contemporary in design; beautiful corridors and intimate rooms lead towards escape and sanctuary with a unique purpose.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The avalanche of tea books seems neverending, with many of them highlighted on this blog by my fellow blogger Bill Lengeman (his latest: Recent and Upcoming Tea Books 17). At some point my mind starts to overheat, the gears start to go “Screeeeee!” and I call out “Enough!” The next words out of my mouth are usually “Are there too many tea books?” As usual, it depends.

Sipping Vanilla Comoro while leafing through “The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea” (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Sipping Vanilla Comoro while leafing through “The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea” (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

“Too many” usually means there is far more than is needed to meet a specific requirement. In my early days of writing about tea, my Harney & Sons tea book was a must, but a horde of books on tea would have been repetitive and overwhelming. This book covers basics and helps those just starting to learn about tea. Another book called simply Tea was also a great intro. And it has lots more large, gorgeous photos. Ah! The visually oriented part of my brain was made very happy.

“The China Tea Book” – gorgeous and informative! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

“The China Tea Book” – gorgeous and informative! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Sooner or later, tea drinkers find that they want to focus on certain types of tea. In my case, I am shifting more towards an Asian experience (it’s about 20% of my tea drinking right now) and so wanted to focus my reading more in that direction. So, when I had the chance to receive a review copy of a book about tea in China, I said “Sure!” So, my tea library grew when The China Tea Book arrived. Great info and more gorgeous photos. The perfect book to peruse during my Afternoon Oolong session.

In between the books named above, other tea books came my way, some fiction, some more factual, and some a total jumble. Some were fun reads, others bored me to tears. But I digress. The question still remains about there being “too many” tea books.

As far as the world is concerned, there can probably never be too many tea books, but for my little library, I’m going to be very selective and avoid the daily barrage of new tea books that come on the market. One reason: most of them repeat information I can readily find elsewhere and others are published more as vanity books than to add to the array of knowledge about tea. That brings up another question: are there too many inaccurate and frivolous books out there about tea? The answer is……

Sorry, that’s for another article!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

"Iced Tea: 50 Recipes for Refreshing Tisanes, Infusions, Coolers, and Spiked Teas" by Fred Thompson (screen capture from site)

“Iced Tea: 50 Recipes for Refreshing Tisanes, Infusions, Coolers, and Spiked Teas” by Fred Thompson (screen capture from site)

Fred Thompson has written books about a variety of beverages, including lemonade, hot chocolate, and bourbon. But with iced tea season getting under way for so many of us it’s as good a time as any to mention the other beverage he wrote about. Yes, that would be iced tea. Iced Tea: 50 Recipes for Refreshing Tisanes, Infusions, Coolers, and Spiked Teas is not exactly a new release. But it’s kind of an old standby and it’s worth looking at again, given that it’s the time of the year for this sort of thing.

Here’s a volume that came out relatively recently (last year) that I somehow missed. But there’s no time like the present to give it a mention. Tea parties are not my sort of thing, but if they’re yours you might be interested in The Vintage Tea Party Year, by Angel Adoree. It “takes you on twelve months of parties, celebrations and teatime treats as well as introducing more games and craft projects for your chosen theme.”

Which seems to be the follow up and/or companion volume to the author’s The Vintage Tea Party Book: A Complete Guide to Hosting your Perfect Party, which came out a year earlier. If that’s not enough of this sort of thing for you, then take a look at Vintage Tea Party, by Carolyn Caldicott, which was published the same year.

I wrote about clipper ships and most notably the Cutty Sark in an article that was published here a while ago. If you’d like a much more in-depth look at the Cutty Sark you should probably check out the forthcoming Cutty Sark: The Last of the Tea Clippers, by Eric Kentley. It’s described as “the eventful history of one of the world’s most famous and celebrated ships.”

I might have let it slip before that the British are rather fond of tea. If you doubt it even for a moment, then consider the name of this very blog site, for starters. Not that I really needed to convince you but if you’d like to read about how tea came to be such a big deal for the British try Tea: A History of Britain’s Greatest Love Affair, by Paul Chrystal. Which promises to reveal “how tea has defined us and informed our way of life over the last 500 years.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In recent years it seems that, if you’re the head of a successful tea company, the thing to do is write a book. If you don’t believe it, we’ll start with exhibit A, a recent volume that fits the bill. Then we’ll move onto exhibits B and C, which have been out for a while but which you might have missed.

Exhibit A

As the title suggests, Zhena Muzyka’s upcoming book is an inspirational tale that’s probably focuses as much on her life story as it is on tea. It’s called Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success and you can pick up a copy sometime in mid-2014. The story looks at how Muzyka, a young mother in tough straits, started with the custom tea blends she sold from a tea cart and built that into a successful tea company.

Exhibit B

As the authors of Mission in a Bottle note, “We were thirsty. We couldn’t find anything we wanted to drink, so we started a company to make bottled iced tea that actually tasted like tea.” The book came out last year and those authors are Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff, the co-founders of one of the larger concerns currently making bottled iced tea that actually tastes like tea. With the subtitle, The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently–and Succeeding, it’s clear that the focus of this tome is a little more on the nuts and bolts of how a successful company was built from the ground up. Read all about it, including a sample chapter, at the book’s web site.

Exhibit C

As I noted in my article on the twentieth anniversary of another well-known tea vendor, in addition to selling tea their gimmick has always been that they structure themselves as an imaginary republic, complete with ministers, ambassadors, citizens, and embassies. Which correspond to employees, sales reps, customer, and retailers. Some time back, not so long after they started the company, actually, Mel Ziegler, Patricia Ziegler, and Bill Rosenzweig, the guiding lights behind the company, penned their own account of the making of this popular and successful tea company. It’s called The Republic of Tea: The Story of the Creation of a Business, as Told Through the Personal Letters of Its Founders.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reverend Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832 – 1902) was one of the more prominent and popular religious leaders of his day. He was also something of a reformer, one who took part in efforts to stamp out various sorts of unsavory behavior, as evidenced in the titles of one of his books – The Abominations of Modern Society.

Tea lovers' delight! (ETS image)

Tea lovers’ delight! (ETS image)

In his later years Talmage focused more on lecturing and writing and his sermons were widely published. They are said to have reached an audience (25 million) that would be considerable even by today’s standards. You can find at least one volume of these sermons (New Tabernacle Sermons) even now, but it’s another of Talmage’s works that we’ll examine in this article.

Around the Tea-table dates to 1875 and is a hefty volume, totaling just over 500 pages. As the author notes in the Preface, though days tend to be busy for most people “at six o’clock in the evening we all come to the tea-table for chit-chat and the recital of adventures.” As for the content of the book, Talmage describes it in the following terms, “You may imagine that the following chapters are things said or conversations indulged in, or papers read, or paragraphs, made up from that interview.”

All of which comprises nearly 70 short chapters in all, with quaint titles like Wiseman, Heavyasbricks and Quizzle and The Advantage of Small Libraries. While the tales are related around the tea table they are not necessarily about tea, though tea does work its way into the proceedings.

As Talmage notes early on, “Be not surprised if, after your friends are seated at the table, the style of the conversation depends very much on the kind of tea that the housewife pours for the guests.” He goes on to suggest that drinking Young Hyson will produce talk that is “fresh, and spirited, and sunshiny” while Gunpowder will generate explosive talk and “somebody’s reputation will be killed before you get through.” As for lie tea, or tea that had been adulterated with various noxious substances, “the group are sure to fall to talking about their neighbors, and misrepresenting everything they touch.” Talmages claims that during one session where lie tea was served two lawsuits, four black eyes, and other sorts of unpleasantness were the end result.

I admit that I haven’t read all of Talmage’s weighty tome, but he has a relaxed, engaging and very readable style. Plus the book is broken into nice compact segments that are just about right for reading over a cup of tea. Check it out here or wherever else fine public domain books are offered.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Occasionally I take a look at a book here that I might have overlooked and this time around its Wild Tea Hunter, by JT Hunter, who “has studied with Taoist masters, Buddhist monks, and the tribal people of Yunnan in their mysterious tea cultures.” The book currently appears to be available only in an electronic edition and, though it’s only 152 pages, it promises quite a lot to prospective readers. Check out the description of the book and more at the web site. You can also find out more about the author at his web site, Wild Tea Qi.

One of the topics Hunter tackles in his book are the alleged health benefits of tea. A topic that’s expanded to book length in The Healing Power of Tea: Simple Teas & Tisanes to Remedy and Rejuvenate Your Health, by Caroline Dow. The author makes what may be the unique claim of being “a tea-leaf reader and herbalist for thirty years, and conducts popular workshops on tea-leaf reading all over the country.” [Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.]

While the book contains the obligatory sections on the history of tea and other common topics, it’s obviously focused on health and also includes sections on recipes, specific health benefits and how to grow a tea garden of your own. Look for it at the end of 2014. If you’re interested in the subject of tea leaf reading, then have a look at Dow’s Tea Leaf Reading For Beginners: Your Fortune in a Tea Cup, which came out a few years ago.

Tea person Lisa Boalt Richardson, who was profiled on this blog recently, has written a few books about tea thus far and she’s got another in the pipeline. In the last few years she’s come out with such titles as Tea with a Twist: Entertaining and Cooking with Tea and The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far. I wasn’t able to find much in the way of details for her latest – Modern Tea: A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage – but look for it in late 2014.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

If you’ve ever noted some of the weighty titles and subtitles of books that are published nowadays, rest assured that this is hardly a recent trend. Older books equaled or surpassed anything that modern-day publishers and authors can come up with. If you want proof of this then look to the subject of this article, Breakfast, Dinner, and Tea: Viewed Classically, Poetically, and Practically: Containing Numerous Curious Dishes and Feasts of All Times and All Countries, by Julia C. Andrews.

The book was published in 1860 and as the title suggests it’s a somewhat unusual take on the cookbook. Obviously tea is not the focus of the book and the “tea” in the title refers to tea in the sense of a meal rather than a beverage. But the tea section is an interesting one nonetheless and is further divided into five chapters.

Black tea boiled for 15-20 minutes? Yikes! (ETS Image)

Black tea boiled for 15-20 minutes? Yikes! (ETS Image)

Three of these look at the Tea-Biscuits and Cakes, preserves and other things that might be served at a tea, including such items as rye drop cake and Mrs. Grundy’s Cake. There are a few short chapters on tea the beverage as well, which are certainly worth a look. Tea as a Beverage considers the origins of the drink, pinpointing it no further than some unknown date in “the Chinese Empire.”

What follows is a brief sketch of the history of tea after it was first introduced into England, a time when it might sell for nearly fifty dollars a pound. The author claims that tea first came into use in New England in about 1720 and goes on to briefly cover tea during the time of the Revolutionary War and some of the tea substitutes used then.

The author claims that the variety of black teas at the time were Bohea, Congou, Campoi, Souchong, Caper, and Pekoe, while the green teas were Imperial, Hyson, Twankay and Hyson. She also remarks on the cheering effects of tea, which are “unanimous” in every country where it is used. And I’m certainly not going to argue that point.

From there it’s on to preparation. Andrews gets it half-right here, remarking that green tea should not be boiled, which is great advice. However, I’d shudder to think what her black tea must have tasted like after it had been boiled for the fifteen to twenty minutes she recommends.

But as long as you’re not adhering too closely to the author’s advice on tea prep this one’s worth a look for yet another glimpse at how tea was perceived in an earlier time. Take a look at it here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

"Easy Knitted Tea Cosies" by Lee Ann Garrett (screen capture from site)

“Easy Knitted Tea Cosies” by Lee Ann Garrett (screen capture from site)

A few months ago in this column I mentioned The Tea Sommelier Handbook, a tome that came out in early 2013 and which was co-written by well-known tea person, Jane Pettigrew. If you need any more proof that the concept of tea sommelier is becoming a thing, then consider that a book simply titled Tea Sommelier was published near the end of that same year.

It’s written by Gabriella Lombardi, who claims the distinction of opening the first shop for quality tea in Milan, Italy. Like so many other tea books, it includes sections on preparing, tasting and serving teas, as well as a selection of recipes and advice on pairing food and tea. Also of note, “a careful examination of 50 grand cru teas—including some of the best-known varieties available.”

Another noteworthy tea person – Babette Donaldson – was profiled here a while back and is probably best known these days for her Emma Lea books, a series of children’s picture books that numbered six at last count. However Donaldson will roll out a somewhat different type of tea book in mid-2014, titled The Everything Healthy Tea Book: Discover the Healing Benefits of Tea.

I’m sure I must have mentioned How to Open and Operate a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso and Tea Shop in these pages at some point. It’s a book that’s been around for a while but it’s worth noting that an updated second edition is about to be published, also in mid-2014.

I never realized that tea cosies were such a big deal but they are apparently enough of one that they have kept author Loani Prior busy turning out books on the topic. Prior has written several books about cosies thus far, including How Tea Cosies Changed the World, and is about to hit the shelves with another title in late summer of 2014. This time around the “tea cosy knitter extraordinaire” has bestowed a title called Pretty Funny Tea Cosies upon the reading public.

Which is probably more tea cosy books than the market can possibly accommodate – or is it? Apparently not, since yet another title will be rolled out in late 2014. That would be Easy Knitted Tea Cosies, by Lee Ann Garrett.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There is some debate about how old a child should be before they are introduced to the wonders of tea. But you’re probably safe in introducing them to books about tea at any age, no matter how young. One good choice in this area might be the Emma Lea books, a series of tea-themed children’s picture books by Babette Donaldson that number six volumes in all – so far. The latest of these finds its young heroine taking a trip to China. I recently wrote about Donaldson in an article for this site, but for some reason I hadn’t run across this particular series before then.

Emma Lea books

Speaking of books I’ve overlooked, it looks like The Soul & Spirit of Tea falls into that category. It’s edited by Phil Cousineau and Scott Chamberlin Hoyt. It features a foreword by renowned tea person James Norwood Pratt, and was apparently released in early 2013. Billed as 21 Tea-Inspired Essays for the Early Twenty-First Century, it gathers writings from a number of other renowned tea people.

If the editor’s names sound familiar, it might be in relation to The Meaning of Tea: A Tea Inspired Journey, which was a documentary film directed by Hoyt and released a few years ago. As I noted here early last year, Cousineau and Hoyt released a 2009 companion volume to the documentary that included more than 50 interviews with a variety of people from the world of tea. More here.

Last up this time around, is Green is the New Black, by Holly Helt, an American raised in Japan, which has long been something of a hotbed of green tea production. Yes, the green of the title refers to green tea and a description of the books promises that it will take you “across Japan following every aspect of the noble leaf from plant to cup; regales its health benefits; delves into the pottery scene; and shows how green tea is a vital part of the Japanese lifestyle, where exotic teas are delighting sippers from sunrise to sunset.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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