“You can take the Brit out of England, but you can’t take England out of the Brit” – is what I say to anyone who questions my love of tea. It doesn’t matter if it’s green tea, herbal tea, black tea or hallucinogenic, I will drink it.
But one thing many people don’t know about tea is its history. People have been drinking tea for over 5,000 years in every corner of the globe. It’s also not just a way to hydrate you, but in some countries, it’s medicine, in others, it’s meditative.
The history of tea is fascinating!
If you’re like me and you absolutely love a good cuppa, then you’ll find these best books on tea fascinating and insightful.
Whether you’re looking to learn about tea history or become a tea sommelier, these are the best tea books for you!
Best Non-Fiction Books on Tea
Want to learn about the history, cultural significance, and health benefits in the world of tea? Well, try these titles on for size!
1. The Story of Tea: A Cultural History And Drinking Guide – Mary Lou Heiss & Robert J. Heiss
The Story of Tea by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J Heiss is the ultimate book about tea if you’re interested in learning about tea history and culture. The book begins with the very first cultivation of tea in China and tells of how it spread from the East to the West.
It talks about different traditions, and how it relates to religion, cultures and celebrations.
In this insider guide to tea, you will learn about all aspects of the tea trade, the growing of tea, and how the differences in territory and production contribute to the diversity of flavour and quality of tea.
2. For All the Tea in China – Sarah Rose
If you ever wondered how tea became the most popular brew in the UK, then allow Sarah Rose to enlighten you.
For All The Tea in China is a dramatic true story of tea and how it came to the British East India Company in the nineteenth century and its fascinating and lucrative competition with the tea trade with China.
Because of the booming tea economy in China, The BEIC was forced to send a Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune, to steal tea from deep China and bring it back to the British in India.
This is the tale of Fortune’s dangerous odyssey to steal tea. It reads like fiction, but it is in fact a true story. A deeply fascinating and captivating book about tea.
3. The Tea Book – Linda Gaylard
If you’re more interested in learning about the different blends, tastes, and aromas of tea, then The Tea Book is for you.
As well as learning about the different tastes and qualities of tea, you’ll also learn about different tea ceremonies from around the world and how traditions around tea were formed.
If you want to know how to enjoy each tea at its best, these step-by-step recipes and insightful notes will tell you how to do just that, as well as teach you how to do some cooking with tea.
This book is ideal for anyone looking to do some tea tasting and become a tea sommelier!
4. The Book Of Tea – Okakura Kakuzo
In the Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo explores how tea moved from being a medicine in China to a religion in Japan.
In the fifteenth century, Japan adopted a religion of aestheticism, called Teaism.
This cult-like religion is all about purity and harmony, as well as the romanticism of social order. To put it short, it is the worship of the Imperfect.
The Book of Tea is not a history of tea, but of humanity and how the East and West and their values came together. It is a poetically written account of how to understand the beauty of the present time, which is the central focus of a tea ceremony in Japan.
For those visiting Japan and who want to learn more about the reason behind the tea ceremony, you’ll enjoy this read.
5. The Good Living Guide To Medicinal Teas – Jennifer Browne
Tea has been used for medicine for centuries, and in some societies around the world, it still is.
If you want to learn about the medicinal properties of tea and which teas cure particular illnesses, then The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Teas is the handbook that will guide you.
From using common herbs, spices, and fruits to relieve pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, stress, and digestive problems, to even taking preventative herbs to fight off cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s – this book is all about using natural ingredients to improve health and fight off diseases.
6. Culinary Tea – Cynthia Gold & Lise Stern
With over 150 recipes for making the perfect brew, Culinary Tea is one of the best books about tea that incorporates cultures and traditions from around the world into making the finest tea.
From using the oldest ingredients around the world to the most popular blends, this is the best tea book for use at home because it incorporates herbs and plants you can grow in your own backyard.
It also touches on the history of tea and how it has grown over thousands of years. It also covers the picking and drying techniques and the perfect climates and conditions for growing tea.
Best Fiction Books on Tea
If you love tea so much you want to read a tea-inspired fiction novel, well, you have my respect! These fiction books about tea are entertaining and enjoyable.
7. The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See
Ella Li-yan and her family have been farming tea in their village for generations. When a stranger arrives in their village, he becomes interested in their rare tea, but the family are reluctant to share.
Li-yan is tasked with translating for the stranger, and upon meeting him she begins to reject her family’s traditions that have been held for centuries, including giving birth to an infant outside wedlock.
Li-yan abandons her child, later named Haley, she grows up in California with a privileged life. Though both Haley and Li-yan grow up without each other, they both think about each other and end up searching for one another. They eventually find answers in the tea that shaped their family for generations.
In this moving fiction book about tea, Lisa See shares the customs of the Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, and how their lives were changed by tea. It is the story of circumstance, separation, culture and distance.
8. The Teahouse Fire – Ellis Avery
The Teahouse Fire is the story of two women living in late-nineteenth-century Japan when it opens its doors to the West.
It was a period of change in Japan when women started wearing a different colour kimono to make a political statement, they stopped blackening their teeth and when their most mysterious ritual —the tea ceremony — started to become just a battlefield ritual.
The story is told through the eyes of an American orphan, Aurelia, who was adopted by the Shin family, who were proprietors of a tea ceremony school.
Aurelia becomes the closest companion to the Shin family’s biological daughter, Yukako. Together, they learn of the great challenges and uncertainty of the tea ceremony tradition in Japan.
This is an insightful historical fiction novel about tea and how it transformed in Japan in the nineteenth century.
9. The Tea Rose – Jennifer Donnelly
The Tea Rose is the story of a family’s destruction, murder, revenge, love and loss, and of one woman’s determined quest to survive.
Set in East London in 1888, where thieves, whores, and dreamers congregate together. By day, children play in the street, but at night, a killer stalks the streets.
Fiona Finnegan is a worker in a tea factory and dreams of owning a shop one day. With her husband, Joe, they struggle to save to achieve their dreams.
But when a brutal man takes nearly everything from her, she is forced to flee London for New York. Here, her determined spirit and the ghosts of her past transform her modest shop to the top of Manhattan’s tea trade.
This is a romantic and enlightening novel about tea, sacrifice and hard work.
10. Teatime for the Firefly – Shona Patel
Teatime for the Firefly is a love story in the wake of the onslaught of WWII.
Layla grew up in India, where she was raised and educated by her eccentric grandfather, Dadamoshaimet. One day, she met Manik Deb. She fell in love, but he was betrothed to another.
In the spring of 1943, she marries Manik and moves to the jungles of Assam, where the world’s largest tea plantation is run by the British. She struggles to fit in with the wives of the British ex-pats, and the servants she now finds beneath her.
Navigating the tea plantation though was not her biggest challenge. Her remote home is under threat from the Second World War.
Colonial society is at a breaking point, and Layla and Manik are racially divided.
11. Ming Tea Murder – Laura Childs
Theodosia Browning is the owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. She attends a black-tie affair with her handsome boyfriend, Max, a PR for the Gibbes Museum in Charleston. Max has organized a gala for the opening of an exhibit of an eighteenth-century Chinese teahouse.
But at the event, Theodosia finds a grim discovery behind a photo booth’s curtains – the body of Edgar Webster, a donor to the museum.
When Max becomes a suspect, Theodosia investigates who Edgar Website really is and who wanted him dead.
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Final Words on Best Books On Tea
So there you have it, my list of 11 BEST books on tea. All that’s left for you to do is boil the kettle, pick out your finest collection of tea and biscuits, and enjoy one of the most insightful and best tea books.
I hope that these books give you everything you need to know about the world of tea, and hey – you might even become a tea sommelier!
If you think I’ve missed anything off my list, do let me know in the comments!
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