Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties (2nd Ed.) by The Camellia Sinensis Tea House | Book Review


Tea 2nd Ed. Book Cover

One great thing about tea is that there is so much to learn! Ever since my trip to Asia, I have been itching to know more, so I thought I would start with books. One book that was frequently recommended was Camellia Sinensis Tea House’s “Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties (2nd)”.

“Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties” has always been touted as a “must read” book regarding tea. It covers a large range of information, such as history, farming, processing, culture, etc, which all play a part and intertwine together to tell the story of tea. After my trip and seeing teas being farmed and processed firsthand, I have become much more fascinated by these aspects of tea.

Another reason why I wanted to read this book is that I know that the third edition is coming in October 2018! That being said, I have personally not read the first edition, so I am unable to compare the two. This review will only focus on the second edition (2013). Authors, Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais, and Hugo Américi are also the tea owners of Camellia Sinensis Tea House, in Quebec Canada. 

With that being said, let’s go!

Tea 2nd Ed. Part One

Description: “Explore the diverse cultures and rituals, learn to cook with tea with some of Quebec’s greatest Chefs and discover the many properties of tea through new, extensive scientific research on antioxidants and caffeine.”

Review: The first thing to note is that the book is rather big, and is much larger than a novel and resembles more like a coffee (tea) book or a textbook. The 272 pages are made of thick glossy pages which are filled with bright images and information. The book is broken down into four sections: an introduction to tea, tea farming and producing countries, how to prepare and taste tea, tea-inspired recipes, and finally, a section on the theoretical health benefits of tea.

While the book was packed with information, the pace of the book itself started in small steps and gradually introduced the reader to more information. I liked that the first section broke down the history and how tea is cultivated and harvested. It gives the readers a nice overview of tea.

Tea 2nd Ed. Gaiwan

Part Two focused on the tea producing countries. China, Japan, Taiwan, and India each had a separate chapter, with Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, and East African Coast covered in one single chapter. For the countries with individual chapters, the sections were further broken down into the history of the country in relation to tea, information about the regions, how tea is grown and produced, as well as interviews with professionals in the industry, and a snapshot of some select teas that are famous from that country.

I enjoyed how the individual chapters were concise and provided a good amount of information. There were also many pictures that accompanied the text which I found was very informative. I especially liked when there were maps which illustrated the different tea producing regions and any unique traits. Since I’m not the most familiar with all the tea producing countries, they were an extremely useful visual aid. I do wish that there were maps that accompanied the last combined chapter.

I also liked the insight from the tea experts from each country and to their thoughts about tea and the tea industry. Despite having visited Japan, China, and Taiwan, I still learned a lot from the book, not to mention all the places that I haven’t visited yet! I noticed that South Korea was one country that I know produced tea, but wasn’t mentioned. Maybe in future editions!

Tea 2nd Ed. Tasting Page

The following section, Part Three, focused on how to brew, taste, and even cook with tea. The first chapter addressed the different type of teapots around the world and why they are used, as well as a general guide on how to brew tea. There was a section with steeping recommendations. My only wish is that the suggested infusion lengths reflected how some of the teas are brewed based on country of origin.

I found the tasting section especially useful. I am still developing my pallet and learning the right words to use when describing different smells, aromas, and flavours. So, the aroma wheel and the lexicon of tea related words were instructive! I will be sure to incorporate some of these new words in future reviews!

As for the gastronomy section, while I am no chef of any means, it was interesting to see how to incorporate tea into different foods and drinks! Some of them, admittedly, seemed a bit complicated for me, but I did end up making a mint tea that I enjoyed! Lastly, there is a section about tea and health, however, that is not a topic that interests me, but it is there for anyone who is curious!

Tea 2nd Ed. Mint Tea

While reading the book, overall, I really enjoyed the tone and how the information was laid out in the book. I feel that this book is a great read regardless if the reader is new to drinking tea or is a seasoned connoisseur. I would recommend this book if you would like to learn more about tea as it weaves a compelling story about tea. This book lives up to its name!

There were a few sections that I wish were a little more expansive, such as the section on Sri Lanka, for example, and there were some issues with spacing. However, the only true issue I had with the actual physical book. The glue that kept book and cover together came apart, but I think that could be attributed to leaving the book open while I was reading. That being said, I am interested in seeing how the future editions will look (4/5 rating)!

What would you like to learn about tea?


5 comments on “Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties (2nd Ed.) by The Camellia Sinensis Tea House | Book Review”

  1. Very interesting review, I’m glad that October is just 1 month away!
    I have just 1 question for you: is the tasting section detailed? Do they provide a fixed structure on how to review objectively the tea or they just give instructions on the lexicon and general tea description?

    1. I think you mentioned you wanted to get the 3rd edition, correct? Would love to see your thoughts!

      To answer your question, the tasting guide is comprised of 8 pages, two being the wheel and lexicon. One of the other pages, “Taste,” is actually what pictured in my blog post. So, you can get a gist of the ton of the section if you like.

      I’d say that the guide focuses more on explaining how to taste. It doesn’t include descriptions of the teas, that is subsumed into the tea region chapters. It also speaks to visual, aroma, tasting, and flavour.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to ask more questions if you need more clarification!

      1. Very nice, thank you for the answer! Your review is positive so I will definitely buy the 3rd edition when it will be published in October. I hope Amazon will bring it to Italy really soon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.