Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tea and Books Saturday #40 - "The Book of Tea"

The Book of Tea
By John P. Beilenson
Peter Pauper Press, 1995

I must admit that the most charming thing about this book is its teacup shape, but even a cute 80-page book can surprise you. I don't believe I've ever heard that the first reference to tea was in a 5th century B.C. poem titled "The Lament of the Discarded Wife." (I certainly hope the tea made the "discarded wife" feel better.) And who knew that at early tea parties in the Netherlands, both sugar and *saffron* were added to the tea. How intriguing!

As a student of tea history, I was happy to see a brief reference to early tea growing efforts in this country when the author noted that C.U. Shepard, "working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, proved almost a century ago that high quality tea could be grown in the United States as well. His tea plantation in Summerville, South Carolina, was shut down, however, in 1916, after 20 years of subsidized production. Apparently, high labor costs made the operation too expensive to compete with Asian growers."

This book was a gift from a friend, and if I were to find other copies I think I'd buy them for gift-giving myself. It includes a brief history of tea in the U.S. and abroad, information on the different types of tea, instructions for making tea, a primer on teawares and accessories, and also a few teatime recipes. But mainly I like this book because, as a dear friend of mine likes to say, "It's just so stinkin' cute!"


  1. That is a cute book with some interesting info. Tea with sugar and saffron sounds intriguing.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. Sounds like a great little book.

  3. Sounds great! Try finding it at - I have often had good luck there

  4. Love your review and that cover!
    Thanks for the review, Joanie


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