Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jane Pettigrew's Tea Companion

There are many books out there on tea and I would like to own them all. However, not able to afford them, I just own three; two audiobooks and one hardcover.  It turns out that I owned this hardcover even before I got interested in tea and this is The Tea Companion a Connoisseur's Guide by Jane Pettigrew. Today I wanted to give it a quick review.

It is divided into two parts, that first of which deals with the general aspects of tea, while the second one focuses on the different  tea regions & estates around the world. The information from the first part is just about enough for any newbie to get up to speed on history, current trade and production, accessories and, of course, preparation. Not any of these aspects is dealt exhaustively and much further reading can still be done, but as a primer it is an outstanding resource. The second part is a catalogue of the great teas by region. Each one has its own profile including its characteristics and preparation advice.  Following this, a word or two is mentioned on the less relevant, yet present, tea producing regions.

It is a small , profusely illustrated book. Very nice to flip through. In one sense  it is a coffee (tea) table book. However, as I see it, it is somewhat bipolar as to its intended audience. For beginners the first part is to the point and thorough, but the second seems useless as they are unlikely to have a chance soon to sample any more than a couple of the varieties mentioned. More experienced tea drinkers on the other hand can find new horizons to explore here, but will probably find that they already know the stuff from the first part, and hence, skip it.  As I write this I think that maybe, the intention after all is for the tea drinker to grow with the book. For my part I find myself consulting it more and more as I move into the pure varieties.

It is terrific to receive it as a gift and recommended if going seriously into tea, or if you're into book collecting.

There's a also an updated edition called The New Tea Companion which covers the same topics.


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