Writers of yesteryear were hardly known for being economical when it came to their book titles and Alexander James Wallis-Tayler was no exception. His 1900 work, Tea Machinery, and Tea Factories: A Descriptive Treatise on the Mechanical Appliances Required in the Cultivation of the Tea Plant and the Preparation of Tea for the Market, might not have been the record holder for this sort of thing but it sure is a mouthful.
Clocking in at a mere 452 pages, the book itself is something of a whopper as well and while it might not tell us everything we’d want to know about tea machinery in this particular day and age I’d wager that it comes close. As for the author, judging from some of the other volumes in his bibliography, including works on sugar machinery, industrial refrigeration, and bearings and lubrication, it appears that his area of expertise was more in machinery than tea.
As the author notes early on, this is “the first work published in book form dealing specifically with the Machinery utilized in tea factories.” Or so he says. What you can’t really argue is that the notion of using machines in the production and processing of tea was still a relatively new idea at the time.
Things kick off with a chapter on devices used to cultivate the soil, which are probably not confined to the tea industry. Those in the next chapter, which deals with tea plucking machines, are. Then Wallis-Tayler moves to the processing of tea, with a chapter devoted to tea factories and eight more on the wide variety of machines used to carry out the many tasks performed therein.
All of this processing machinery is well and good and it’s a critical part of the process but it doesn’t amount to much if the tea never gets in the hands of those who are going to drink it. With that end in mind the next three chapters, one on packing machinery and two titled Means of Transport on Tea Plantations, are rather important as well. The rest of the book is devoted to miscellaneous and rather dry (Pitch of Cutter Teeth, etc.) technical material.
One of the high points for me, as in many of these books, are the illustrations. There are quite a few here and while the novelty might wear a bit thin after the two hundredth drawing of a machine it’s an interesting complement to the text, even so. Find a copy of it wherever free electronic books are “sold,” including here.
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