Tea – A Journey in Time by John Weatherspoon – review

This gorgeous large volume deserves to be right alongside your encyclopaedia and atlas. Tea – A Journey in Time, Pioneering and Trials in the Jungle has a classic, almost Victorian, feel and it is a visual pleasure.

Tea – A Journey in time The author is a gentleman by the name of John Weatherspoon and it’s only by the turn of very good fortune that he was able to write this book, or indeed any other. John comes from a family of tea planters. When young he lived in Malaya in a bungalow which was broken into by a man-eating tiger. The family dog slept by the open bedroom door and consequently it was he who became a late supper for the aforementioned cat, rather than the lucky John. It’s real Boys Own stuff!

Tea – A Journey in Time is written in a style that is appropriate to the subject and utterly charming. John evokes a bygone age but also introduces us to the modern tea industry and plantations. It must be the most thorough and impressive work on Tea ever published.

Aside from the engaging text, the illustrations are a formidable collection and span centuries of plantation life. Each page is a tightly woven tapestry of prose, prints and photos which give the impression of a quality and well-researched tome. There can’t be anything that has escaped John’s attention. He seems to have been meticulous.

John Weatherspoon has given us a rich picture not only of the history and mechanics of tea production but of the lives of the planters and their workers. There is a fascinating ghost story, a tale of Nobby and the Four-Poster Bed, A Planter’s poem penned in 1931 and many more plantation-related anecdotes.

It’s easy to take our regular cuppa for granted. I promise that you’ll regard that favourite beverage with a bit more respect after reading a few chapters of this book. The dangers and privations were many and it took courage and fortitude to make a success of a tea plantation. “Many came with hopes of making a fortune in tea, others for the sheer challenge and adventure of it all; only those who had actually arrived in the jungle knew better – that the life of a planter had its drawbacks.”

Tea – A Journey in Time is an amazing book and utterly praiseworthy.

Tea – A Journey in Time
Author: John Weatherspoon
Published by: Quiller Publishing (JJG Publishing)
Price: £28.00
ISBN 978-1-899163-85-4


Food history book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018