Best Audience: Herbalists and tea enthusiasts who want to learn about traditional Chinese tea culture
I was looking for a glimpse of the traditions around tea in Chinese culture when I found The Way of Tea: The Sublime Art of Oriental Tea Drinking by Master Lam Kam Chuen, Lam Kai Sin and Lam Tin Yu on Amazon. It turned out to be a delightful and insightful look at the traditions and details of tea drinking from a Chinese perspective. The rich layers of tradition, symbolism, and culture that mark tea’s importance within China and beyond have been captured well by the authors in this primer on tea.
As a primer for westerners, The Way of Tea: The Sublime Art of Oriental Tea Drinking is perfect. The authors offer insights into how tea comes alive in the minds of those who adore and revere it both through simple explanation and through story. The reason some teas are called Monkey-picked, for instance, is because they come from a region where monkeys were once, a very long time ago, trained to pick teas from the highest branches of wild tea trees. The gentle, wise way in which each element of the art of tea are touched up invokes a sense of learning from a true master, one who lives his art.
The Way of Tea: The Sublime Art of Oriental Tea Drinking offers more than just understanding of the various elements and traditions surrounding the art of tea. It includes practical practices and instruction for trying your hand at your own tea ceremony. The various types of tea (white, yellow, red, green, black pu’erh, etc.) are covered well enough to help you expand your experience when shopping for teas. The authors have also included a wonderful selection of recipes for medicinal teas to try along with clear symptoms or reasons for trying each.
I come back to The Way of Tea: The Sublime Art of Oriental Tea Drinking by Master Lam Kam Chuen, Lam Kai Sin and Lam Tin Yu every few years as a simple reminder of the long history, simple joy, and deep connection tea offers. It always renews my admiration for the rich culture that surrounds and supports my personal favorite beverage, tea.
The Bottom Line:The Way of Tea: The Sublime Art of Oriental Tea Drinking has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.
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