The best books about tea and tea history

The Books I Picked & Why

Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties

By Kevin Gascoyne, François Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais, Hugo Americi

Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties

Why this book?

I dip into this must-have book all the time – for pleasure but also to learn and check facts. The four authors own the wonderful tea store, Camellia Sinensis in Montreal, Canada. They are extremely experienced in tasting and selecting teas from around the world for their business and just love sharing their infectious passion for tea and their extensive knowledge of the growing regions, growers, and manufacturers. As well as discussing the most important tea origins, they highlight some of the personalities and industry specialists they have met on their tea journey and whose insights help us understand the day-to-day work of tea gardens and factories. The book also includes invaluable advice on brewing and tasting tea, and the section on tea and gastronomy offers some absolutely stunning recipes for cooking with tea.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Book of Tea

By Kakuzo Okakura

The Book of Tea

Why this book?

Anyone interested in tea should own a copy of Kakuzo’s book and should read it regularly. The inspirational pages talk about the spirit of tea, the philosophy, and the art of tea as part of life. Kakuzo calls tea the ‘cup of humanity’ and talks of ‘teaism’, which he explains as ‘a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence”. His moving words explain that an appreciation of tea leads us to live our lives more kindly, valuing democracy, morality, empathy, and an understanding of others. His thoughts are so well crafted and expressed that it is impossible to precis his words. I carry a copy with me when I travel and read it to remind myself of his important guidance.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Tea: A History of the Drink That Changed the World

By John Griffiths

Tea: A History of the Drink That Changed the World

Why this book?

John Griffiths has a talent for bringing history to life so that we are carried along by his storytelling and fluid narrative. We imagine ourselves right there with the characters he describes – the British East India Company and their opium trade with China; the spies and adventurers who brought tales of tea to the west; the merchants who encouraged the trade; and the botanists, politicians, government officials and pioneers planters who risked so much to establish the tea industry in India. Griffiths immerses us is every aspect of the business from its 16th-century beginnings to the famous companies of the 20th century, and along the way, dips into all that lies behind the story of success. Enlightening and fascinating!


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet

By Michael Freeman, Selena Ahmed

Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet

Why this book?

This hefty tome is a dream book for anyone fascinated, as I am, by the ancient trade road, dating back to the 7th century AD and stretching over 1000 miles, along which tea was carried on the backs of pack animals from southwest China up to Lhasa, where it was traded for Tibetan ponies. Freeman’s wonderful photographs and Ahmad’s text capture and explain the life of the villagers in the famous tea mountains of southern Yunnan, where tea trees live up to 3,000 years; the rituals of the Buddhist priests in their temples; the different ethnic peoples that live in the remote regions along the road; the ceremonies that take place to honour the ancient tea trees, and views of the landscape where rivers wind, yaks graze, and life revolves around tea.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Taking Tea with Mackintosh: The Story of Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms

By Perilla Kinchin

Taking Tea with Mackintosh: The Story of Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms

Why this book?

The story of Britain’s tearooms is often thought to have begun in London but it was Stuart Cranston and his sister Kate in Glasgow who were responsible for opening Scotland’s first public tearooms. This lovely book explores the very beginnings when Stuart Cranston’s decided to install a few tables and chairs at his tea retail store in 1875 so that customers could taste teas before buying. Kate followed suit but added her own distinctive style by employing Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife to design the now world-famous Willow Tea Rooms. The charming story links inextricably with tea, Glasgow, art, design and business and, since the original Willow on Sauchiehall Street has now been totally renovated and refurbished in Mackintosh style, Kinchin’s book is particularly valuable.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Random Book Lists