Tea: The Drink That Changed the World by Laura C. Martin. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing; 2007. Hardcover; 247 pages. ISBN 978-0-8048-3724-8. $21.95.
This book is one of the most comprehensive works written for both the tea layperson and expert. The 10 chapters and appendices take the reader to the very beginnings of tea and impart a wonderful journey around the world of tea through its history, customs, and myths.
As a tea lover, expert, historian, and author of a recent book about tea, I am pleased to see the graphics—prints, etchings, and hand drawings—included in each chapter to highlight the dialogue. I am always on the lookout for such artwork and Ms. Martin has captured some I have never seen.
As the journey begins from shrub to cup, the reader is transplanted back in time as if witnessing the initial discovery of tea as a beverage. The author’s compelling style allowed me to virtually partake in the tea customs and rituals of the different tea-drinking countries described in this treatise on the history of tea.
The appendices round out the book with descriptions of the different tea-growing countries to the increasingly scientifically-documented health benefits of tea. This distinguishes this manuscript from the other tea history books that do not address such everyday tea questions the reader may have. The United States is becoming a tea drinking nation and this book is a useful guide to have around the house for any questions that may come up.
This is a useful, easy-to-read guide to the history and customs of tea around the world. I wish this book were available before I wrote my book on tea. It would have made my job easier and saved me a tremendous amount of time.