Gaylard, L. (2015) The Tea Book. 1st Ed. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.
Linda Gaylard, who runs the website The Tea Stylist and is a certified tea sommelier and a widely-published author on tea-related topics, has recently written The Tea Book. The book provides an excellent foundation to explore the immense world of tea, and it is Gaylard’s ambition to provide an accessible introduction to tea for beginners and more seasoned drinkers.
The diversity and accessibility of Gaylard’s book are its strongest aspects. Broken into five sections, Gaylard provides readers with a solid understanding of all things tea, including its biological make-up, cultivation, processing, preparation, historical and cultural influences, blending and recipes. Sections in the book are well balanced and flow logically so readers are not overwhelmed with one topic or left too long with lingering questions. Photographs, illustrations, maps and info boxes with facts make the book extremely accessible. Readers will be able to pick up this book and gain knowledge about a certain aspect of tea very quickly.
Whilst The Tea Book will most likely address the curiosity of many novice and more seasoned tea drinkers, I can imagine that experienced tea drinkers might want more detailed information on certain topics. Gaylard does an admirable job highlighting and discussing the immense topic of tea cultures around the world (especially in China, India, Japan and South Korea), but I found myself wanting more information about lesser-known tea cultures. For example, tea cultures and production in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda, need more consideration.
Along with gaining a good foundation of the world of tea, readers will also be left with a forward-looking perspective to tea in the west. Gaylard briefly notes British tea culture, but her discussions about modern technological advances in teaware, the popularity of tea mixology with alcohol, the emergence of the US tea market (in both consumption and production) and the increased interest in tisanes give the topic of tea a real excitement about its current and future prospects.