“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

– C.S. Lewis

There are some combinations that no matter how much you try, cannot be simply improved upon. One of those combinations being that of tea and books. Most tea lovers love nothing better than to settle down most evenings with a big cup of their favorite steep along with an equally big book to give them company. 

To lose oneself in a different world accompanied by a world of flavors imbued with nuanced notes and layered flavors is always a treat. For times when these two worlds intersect and you are pondering on your next big read, we have curated a selection of work to recommend for your tea time reading. Enjoy! 

FICTION 

For All the Tea in China: Sarah Rose

Who doesn’t love good historical fiction? Building on the journals of the Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune, Sarah Rose builds an engaging work of the famous tea espionage that went on to unsettle the global tea industry. The danger-filled odyssey is filled with dramatic adventure moments that will have you reaching for your favorite cup of tea. 

The Teahouse Fire: Ellis Avery

A fascinating work that provides an intimate glimpse into the social upheavals of late 19th century Japan, as the ancient nation trying to open its doors to the West. The story unfolds the life of Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by a Japanese family who owns a tea ceremony school, and the young mistress of the family Yukako. With lush, vibrant details, the novel is ideal for anyone with a passion for tea. 

Memory of Water: Emmi Itäranta 

If issues like global warming and its impact on the environment intrigue you, stop a moment and relish this dystopian novel which follows the journey of seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio who is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets. Imaginative and poignant, the novel portrays a future that is all too possible. 

Teatime for the Firefly: Shona Patel 

The exotic setting, enthralling characters may be enough to recommend a book, but Shona Patel, daughter of an Assam tea planter, draws on her personal observations to craft a story that touches upon a plethora of topics ranging from Independence from colonial rule to a young girl coming of age in the wilderness of Assam plantations. The prose is lyrical and vivid description makes this ideal for an afternoon of escape. 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: Lisa See 

A deeply moving narrative that explores the bond between mother and daughter, separated by rigid customs, each searching for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries. The novel explores tradition, tea farming, and grounding identity in a rapidly changing world. 

NON- FICTION 

The Book of Tea: Kakuzō Okakura

This is a work that has been enjoyed by tea lovers for hundreds of years. Authored by a Japanese philosopher who was also an art expert and curator, the book highlights the concept of Teaism, discussing the secular aspects of tea drinking.  The work attempts to provide a bridge between the East and West with essays that explore the historical, spiritual, and cultural aspects of tea drinking. A must-have for any tea lover or book lover’s collection. 

Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea: Jeff Koehler

A fascinating work that walks the reader through how Darjeeling tea began, how it was key to the largest tea industry on the globe under Imperial British rule, and came to produce the highest-quality tea leaves anywhere in the world. Koehler’s work is well-researched and the book is rich in history, intrigue, and empire, full of adventurers all set with a backdrop of the majestic Himalayas. 

Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West: Beatrice Hohenegger

A series of anecdotes that unfolds the very behind-the-scenes of a culture that has bewitched the world. The book reaches back into the deep history of China and the first tea drinkers and explores the spiritual, historical, economic, and social impact our love of tea has wrought across time and across continents. The work tells the story of western greed and eastern bliss and depicts the beauty and delight of tea. 

Infused: Adventures In Tea: Henrietta Lovell

Written by ‘The Rare Tea Lady’ the book is an enlightening and soul-warming tea memoir. Lovell with her desire to revolutionize the tea-drinking culture by replacing mass-produced tea bags to the more sustainable alternative of high-quality loose leaf teas, she writes a convincing argument that teaches the reader some tea vocabulary and wonderful stories along the way. Reading this is escaping into the regions which grow the finest teas in the world.  

The Life of Tea: A Journey to the World’s Finest Teas: Michael Freeman, Timothy D’Offay

A collaborative work between documentary photographer Michael Freeman and tea expert Timothy d’Offay the book explores the terroir, taste, and culture of the world’s favorite drink. Masterfully written and beautifully photographed, the book highlights the visual aesthetics of drinking tea, Travels to various tea farms, teaware artists, tasting different teas, the work is a landmine of information. 

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Growing up surrounded by tea gardens, writing everything about it comes naturally. Apart from being an enthusiastic tea scribbler, I love poetry, conversations, a furry friend, and inscrutable metaphors.

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