Over six years ago I fell down the rabbit hole into the world of tea and began my Tea Journey. Soon after this blog, what really pushed this change in my life was a series of books. From culture right down to the nitty gritty of each tea region, they all pushed me to where I am today.
These books either all or just one can take you in a new direction by inspiring change in your life, just the same as yoga or meditation have for many. The thing is that those two practices are even steeped in tea like I have mentioned before in a previous post. They all allow you to grow along side with them and encourage you to turn in. Which tea does as well.
These books have been broken up into three categories. This is to help narrow down your first or next step in your journey of self discovery through tea. Reading any of them will help you look in relax and give you time to even have a cup of tea (naturally you will want to). But enough talk about this, lets move on to the list and dive in!
Discover Tea Ceremony
At Toronto’s first Tea Festival I picked this up from Stratford Tea Leaves‘ booth. Its a gorgeous visual guide to simplified tea ceremony anyone can do with little supplies. Great introduction for yourself into Japanese Tea Ceremony without being dedicated to a specific school such as Urasenke or Omotesenke. **This book is now out of print, I have linked to a correspondence course on CD Japan that still has a few copies left with this as its textbook**
Under the recommendation of Helen and Sorlie of Secret Tea Time, I picked up this book and the next on our list. Both are quite handy, this one is very useful if you need to look up a name of a tool or even what an item is used for when you see it online (for ebay this has been very useful).
Both this book and the previous are from Urasenke publishers. Meaning it has information they follow but also contains information not found often in western books. The book contains history, lists of books and writers of tea (many I wish were translated), information on different tools and even seasonality of items. The best part is the description of the process of matcha and what it may assist with. I picked this book up after reading a touch of the Tea Ceremony’s history in our next book.
Discover the way (Dao)
For months early in my journey I was reading Aaron Fisher’s articles in The Leaf, he was very knowledgeable and wrote about the spiritual side of the leaf. He focuses mainly on the Zen and Dao aspects which are explained in a simple and humble way in this book. I e-mailed him personally to ask about the book and could not put it down once it arrived. How he writes is very inspiring for anyone who reads it and is bound to take something away from it.
While very much an impulse purchase, this book strives to teach you about different zen quotes. Breaking them down and even connecting the meaning to a story. It’s a little different from the rest as there were not many stories on tea but it did touch on zen, the spiritual practice that is connected to it. If you ever wondered about what lies behind those quotes this will tickle your fancy.
After many trips to the Japan Foundation I found this piece of gold and searched for my own copy. Written by the former head of the Urasenke school, Genshitsu, he explains the different parts behind the Tea Ceremony which may get left behind in the western world. Through his writing it really makes you see what can be brought in to your life to make it more humble and infused in the way of tea.
Discover more about the leaf
Late 2013 I met with Kevin of Camellia Sinensis at the Ottawa Tea Festival and picked up this treasure (okay all of my books are treasures). Each member of the shop goes to different parts of the world to source tea and compiled that information into this book. I adore how they even show the tools and process of each different tea preparation. Then they take it even further by explaining each region, tea offerings, a bit of history, and even some recipes. But the latter part of the book just takes the cake. They conducted tests on different teas to find out exactly how much antioxidants and caffeine there is in them. Because most other tests out there are biased, I love this information as a reference when I get asked that question. “How much caffeine is there in this tea?”, now I can answer with better information.
Historic tea books just seem to find me. This one was very different as it is a compilation of a few different books into one. I knew next to nothing about Korea and their history with tea. Learning from the old masters just seemed like the right thing to start with. To make things even better, each book is lead by historic information about the writer and the era on which it was written (thank you for context). Korean teas are still a little difficult to find but after reading this it will infuse you with of how it came to be.
Have I said that I just adore Genshitsu’s writing? This book I found on e-bay and could not pass it up. Learning about his relation to tea throughout his life and journey with tea is very inspiring. It really shows how tea and tea ceremony teaching spread through his time and effort. If it were not for this guy we would not be drinking matcha or even making smoothies with it. There would be no such thing. Through is travel’s and effort we have such access to it that we can not even think about what life would be with out it (I know I can’t). This book really puts into perspective of the efforts that was put into bringing something so humbly Japanese to the western world and the thought behind it.
These books are just a collection of a few out there. I dearly hope that these inspire you to take that next step in your tea journey. By going beyond the drink, creating your own lifestyle by being inspired by tea’s long standing history, culture and spiritual significance you will become more of your true self. So take the next step with a cup of tea in hand and begin your journey.