The Connoisseur’s Guide to Tea is another in the lovely Connoisseur’s series by Apple Press. The author, Jane Pettigrew, is a celebrated tea professional and currently edits the Tea International section of the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. Jane is also a consultant to the UK Tea Club. This extraordinary woman even manages to find time to write a few food-related books such as Traditional Teatime Recipes, reviewed here a few months ago.
This is a colourful volume with charming photographs by Paul Forrester and map illustrations by Richard Chasemore. Those maps help to give the information some geographic context. Tea is an international product which has regional differences, and even subtle characteristics unique to particular plantations. The tea story is an amazing jigsaw of leaf varieties, climate and soil.
I wasn’t aware that tea is, in fact, the most popular drink in the world. Most of us in the UK tend to drink black tea and mostly the sort that comes in handy little bags. There is a trend towards green tea as well as flavoured teas although some of these rely on herbs and spices for flavour and contain no tea. It pays to look at the ingredients if you want to take advantage of the reputed health-giving properties of the real thing.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Tea is divided into two parts, the first being The Story of Tea and the second being the Global Tea Directory. Most of us know a bit about the history of our cuppa but it’s a fascinating tale and we should perhaps view with shame our (that is the British) involvement. The British East India Company grew and exported opium to China. They did this despite the fact that the importation of opium was banned by Chinese law in 1727! The Chinese paid for the opium with silver and that same silver was used by the British to pay for tea from China.
The Global Tea Directory is comprehensive but much more accessible than many wine tasting guides. It covers all the main tea producing areas. Numerous teas are described, brewing tips are given and even suggestions for when you might best enjoy these teas and whether you should add milk or not… always controversial.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Tea is an information-packed volume that will encourage you to try something a bit different. Dust off the teapot and buy some real tea. You’ll taste the difference.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Tea – Discover the World’s Most Exquisite Tea Leaves
Author: Jane Pettigrew
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018