Review: Roy Fong's Great Teas of China

I had a chance to read an advance copy of Roy Fong’s “Great Teas of China” — a book where Roy (of Imperial Teas) takes us on his lifetime tea journey as he rediscovers tea in Hong Kong and travels China to find the best teas. He discusses ten of his favorite teas in the book and explains the stories behind them and the processing methods involved. The book is a great insight to Chinese teas as there is still a lot of information that has never been translated to English on the subject. Roy also realizes the breadth of the subject as he says: “Tea is one subject that you can safely declare cannot be learned in a mere lifetime.” Here is the press release: Roy Fong, a leading tea expert and proprietor of San Francisco’s renowned traditional Chinese teahouse, Imperial Tea Court, has published Great Teas of China, a compact, readable guide to the top teas from the land where tea was first cultivated over 3,000 years ago.

Great Teas of China is a unique blend of detailed factual information about artisanal practices for growing and processing the teas it discusses, as well as personal anecdotes from Fong’s twenty-year career as a tea merchant traveling around fast-changing China. The book covers over a dozen of Fong’s favorite classic teas, ranging from hand-picked West Lake Dragon Well and expertly crafted oolong from Wu Yi Shan, to patiently aged Yunnan puerh. Also included are Fong’s insights on choosing, brewing, and savoring each selection, plus background information on tea farming, local history and culture of tea-growing regions, and artisanal techniques for processing the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the flowering perennial at the heart of Chinese culture.

Fong’s fateful encounter with tea began at age six, when he would interrupt his walk to school to watch Hong Kong day laborers’ impromptu gong fu brewing sessions. Later, a chance visit to Hong Kong’s teahouse district unexpectedly set his life on a new course. He began importing Chinese tea to the U.S. and, in 1993, he and his wife Grace opened the original Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Since then, Fong has enlightened and inspired a generation of tea enthusiasts, who visit from all over the world to enjoy the finest Chinese teas available in America. Great Teas of China is a very personal and accessible introduction to contemporary tea connoisseurship. 88 pages; illustrated with color photographs and maps; includes glossary.

The book is now available on the Imperial Tea website: http://www.imperialtea.com/