If you are familiar with the UK tea seller Bluebird Tea Co, the World Atlas of Tea is written by their mixologist, Krisi Smith. Bluebird Tea Co has some fantastic tea blends unique to them, that I should really try more of. I keep buying or getting tea books over the last few years, however I never reviewed any until today. I am more partial to the cook book variety of tea books as I collect physical cookbooks with my husband, and buy everything else as ebook. Lets check out the World Atlas of Tea and learn about tea!
World Atlas of Tea, Book Review
The World Atlas of Tea is read as a primer to learn about the origin of tea and growing regions. There is also a large section outlining the basics of how tea is made, brewing and tasting. The overall perspective and focus is on British, western prepared teas.
Bulk of the book goes into detail about each tea growing region, though covers big, mostly well known regions, omitting more esoteric places like Hawaii or Korea. There is some basic information on different tea types and general flavor profiles, covering more popularly known teas. It felt that this region section was more of a reference guide, hence the name “atlas” but missed out on listing more information on other teas and regions.
World Atlas of Tea went into some tea basics on storage and brewing, with some great info on different infusers, temperatures & times, and how to make the perfect pot of tea. There is also information on how to make matcha and lattes. This is when I realized this book is heavy western style focused when I found along with temperature charts, was also mentioning which teas to add milk to. I cringed at the thought of adding milk to a heavy roast Dong Ding. I also laughed, as for my own steeping experience, I boil more teas LIKE A BOSS. No mention on how to steep puer – though puer was mentioned only once early in the book as a single paragraph on what it was.
By the way, there is no mention of Gongfu cha style steeping or gaiwans. There is a passage on yixing pot care and lots of great photos of yixing pots, but otherwise the understanding of brewing and drinking is very western.
For me, the most interesting section was the tea blending part. The book goes into detail how tea blends are made, and how you can scent or blend your own at home. There are also a couple example tea blend recipes to get you started. Other tea books I’ve read don’t cover this as they get caught up on unflavored teas and snub nose flavored ones, or just talk about floral scenting. This part of the book was its strength and well written, due to expertise of the tea mixologist author.
Other than those latte tutorials and tea blending ideas, there are no other recipes in this book, which can be seen as a bonus or negative. Sometimes those recipes seem out of place and forced in for the sake of having “oh hey you can cook with tea or put booze in your tea.” That or the recipes aren’t that great and if you want recipes – go buy a tea book focused on recipes. Other times, tea recipes can be seen as inspiration of what you can do with tea. World Atlas of Tea briefly touches on food pairings, but could of been expanded as that would of been useful information for the blending portion.
Overall, World Atlas of Tea is a starting point tea book for a new tea drinker looking to get more information on their western style teas or getting started with tea. There’s lots of information and reference on all the main growing regions, plus great tips on how to make tea. The photographs in World Atlas of Tea are amazing, plenty of full or double paged photos, making great to flip through and admire – just like an atlas! I like to think I know quite a bit about tea, so much of the information I know, but the awesome photos make it worth to have just to browse through, plus the blending section gets my creativity going.
(book provided for review / Amazon affiliate links)