Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea Kindle Edition
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Let me recommend a creative approach to this book. Start with the Appendix, From Tree to Tea, The Chemistry of Tea. How, otherwise, will you know what tea even is? Then treat yourself to a very succinct, five page, History of Tea. Okay, now flip back to the front and read the Introduction. Here Harney tells what led him to the business and what led him to write the book. You come away assured that his credentials are exactly what you wanted in a guide to teas. Michael Harney is a tea person's tea person, the ideal personal trainer for teas.
The Guide to Tasting Teas is an eye opener. Who knew that there was something to be learned from examining the dry leaves? Who knew pot type affected a tea's taste? Who knew about filtered water, and the impact of brewing temperatures, and brewing times? Who knew what to look for in the liquor? Who knew what intelligence there was to gain from smelling the wet tea leaves after pouring the liquor off? And who even thought that there could be a vocabulary dealing with the nuances of a tea's body and flavor? In fact you'll know all of this before you get to page 17, which is where your tour of the tea world will begin.
Start with a tea with which you feel familiar, say a Ceylon Black Tea. In this section you will find that there are three categories of tea, depending on the elevation of the tea gardens. You will learn that "The high grown teas, between four thousand and six thousand feet are what make Ceylon Teas' reputation. That rarefied air produces exceptional teas like the wintergreen Uva Highlands." Imagine! You learned something so basic about a tea you thought you already knew; imagine what you'll learn about teas with which you are completely unfamiliar.
In time we'll wonder how we limped along in the tea world before Michael Harney wrote this classic.
My only real criticism is that Harney's book would have been much better had it contained some photographs, but alas, none are present. I also believe that his recommended steeping temperatures for the different teas tend to be a little on the high end. Still, the overall correctness of his first-hand information, coupled with a well-written and attractive text, make up for this shortcoming. Overall, the book will make a nice addition to any tea connoisseur's library, or for anyone else that desires a brief but accurate description of some of the best teas available on the market today.
Michael Harney writes about 8 major types of teas, gives examples of each type, and includes some brief background on the history of each kind of tea and how and where it is made. Also included are brewing times and temperatures and notes on the appearance, flavor, aroma, and body of each type of tea discussed. Mr. Harney also includes appendices about the chemistry of tea and a brief "world" history of the drink.
Even though I consider myself a pretty seasoned tea drinker, I still use this book as a reference and it is fun to find and try the various teas mentioned in the book. It will broaden the scope of your knowledge about tea and may introduce you to some new favorites. The world of tea is vast and the varieties available go well beyond what is found at the local chain tea shop in the mall, so sit down with a copy of this book and get better acquainted with this amazing little leaf!
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