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I found this book at the foreign language bookshop in Hangzhou, China and knew I had to have it! It explains not only many of the mysteries of the tea culture here in China but much of the general history and tea brewing hints of tea in general. Plus it has cute cartoons! What’s not to love?
While the drawings and cartoons in this book make it look slightly juvenile the audience is definitely adult. In fact, the publisher specializes in the series of books that explains Chinese culture in a fun way. (We also bought the Origins of Chinese Food which is equally as fascinating.)
It starts at the very beginning with the legendary Chinese herbalist and ruler, Shennong who drank the very first cup of tea. From there it goes through tea myths and legends, descriptions of the most famous teas in china, and ends with practical tips for brewing the perfect cup of tea, and etiquette at a tea ceremony.
The book also has recipes, explains different kinds of tea sets throughout history, and even has a very nice chart explaining how to pick and store tea. In fact, your “guides” through the books are these two little dragons who are very cute and helpful. There is even a section on the Chinese philosophy of tea drinking.
This book is a mixture of regular text and cartoons which presents the manner in a very fun way. Here is a picture of one of the pages:
It also has short chapters which make this book perfect to just pick up, read a few pages and put down for later. As you can tell from the name, the second half of the book covers wine in China which is also very interesting. (In addition to myths and history it has some Chinese drinking games and drinking songs included!)
This book has answered a lot of little questions about tea I’ve had since living in China and I am very glad to have discovered it, and I think anyone who has an interest in Chinese tea (or tea in general) would enjoy it too!