Reading List

This is a list of tea books that have pushed the envelope and introduced new tea content in English. I have referred to these books many times in my tea study and they have each advanced my understanding of tea in their own way. I highly recommend reading the first three books in this list in quick succession. By doing so, you will quickly begin to realize the complexities of the tea world, how tea knowledge has expanded over the past 10 years, and how opinions on subjects like tea classification differ between long-time tea industry folk.

Tea: History Terroirs and Varieties
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, and Jasmin Desharnais

This book was put together by the men that run Montreal’s tea staple, Camellia Sinensis. Each has focused their career and sourcing efforts on a particular tea area and together, they have written what I believe to be the most complete book on tea in English. There is even a biochemical analysis of 35 teas, a tea tasting lexicon as well as a flavor wheel. 

The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide
The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss

This book was written by Mary Lou and Robert J Heiss, owners of Tea Trekker, an online business headquartered in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Heiss’s have been in the tea industry since 1974, so the deep knowledge they have gained since then is well presented in the book.

The Tea Drinker’s Handbook by Francois-Xavier Delmas, Mathias Minet , Christine Barbaste

This book was written by Francois-Xavier Delmas, the founder of Palais des Thés, a tea brand that he began in 1986. The company now has over 30 retail outlets around the world. This book was first published in 2008 and provides a great overview to the tea world. 


The True History of Tea
The True History of Tea by Erling Hoh and Victor H. Mair

In The True History or Tea, Hoh and Mair offer up what I believe to be the most complete and accurate account of tea history. The book is well-cited and professionally written. One of my favorite parts of the book is the ridiculously deep dive down the rabbit hole on the topic of etymology of words for “tea” in the appendix.

Tea: Cultivation to consumption Wilson and Clifford
Tea: Cultivation to Consumption by K.C. Willson and M.N. Clifford

This ridiculously expensive treatise covers the scientific aspects of tea like no other book does. Nigel Melican has said that he takes this book with him into the field.  Tea Cultivation to Consumption is a 769 page multi-author treatise covering everything from history, to field practices, the most in-depth study on the botanical classification of tea, to chemical changes during processing, to an overview of the health affects of tea. Though expensive, I feel that this is a must in the library of a tea professional.

Tea Dictionary - James Norwood Pratt
James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary by James Norwood Pratt and Devan Shah

In his Tea Dictionary, veteran tea author James Norwood Pratt includes brief definitions of many tea terms spanning multiple tea producing regions. The book also includes beautifully detailed maps of tea regions, and a very detailed timeline of tea history.


Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic Zhang
Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang

In Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic, Jinghong Zhang covers many of the controversial topics surrounding puer tea with finesse. Zhang effortlessly explains the history and current landscape surrounding puer production, puer classification, and puer pricing in the marketplace. This is a great book for those looking to deepen their understanding of puer and puer culture.

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