Written by the owners of the Camellia Sinensis Tea House in Montreal, Tea is a comprehensive guide to non-herbal tea from the major tea producing countries of the world: China, Japan Taiwan, and India, with briefer treatments of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, and East Africa. Discussions of tea in each country include a brief history and descriptions of major tea growing regions, the tea industry, the gardens, varieties, cultivation and processing techniques, customary preparation of tea for drinking, and flavor profiles of outstanding examples. In addition, interviews with industry professionals from manager of a tea market to tea growers and tasters, are included. Final chapters cover the art of preparing tea, a tasting guide, the pairing of tea with food, and the health benefits of tea. Numerous photographs and charts enhance the text.

Two of the most interesting parts of the book are on tasting and pairing. The tasting guide includes a description of the tasting procedure, a flavor wheel and a lexicon for describing the taste. Recipes for classic drinks, savories, and desserts follow. The recipe for venison gravlax, for example, includes directions for using pu er tea to make apple puree and a jelly. Other tempting recipes include tea flavored panna cotta and strawberries with matcha jelly. Tables suggest good pairings between various teas and cheeses, chocolate and types of scotch.

As I read Tea, I was struck by the similarity of wine and tea from the importance of terroir and the many varieties to the tasting and pairing. The huge number of different teas is overwhelming and Tea is a valuable source in appreciating all the complex factors that go into enjoying a good cup of tea. If you have any interest in the subtleties of tea, this book is a must have.

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