Hot Off the Press: 5 Matcha Tea Books To Love

Matcha tea and other green teas are popular subjects for culinary writers these days. It seems as though each passing week sees another tea-related book working its way up the best-seller list.

Maybe all the publishing activity is because matcha tea is not only a healthful and delicious drink but is fun to cook with as well. Even in the more popular coffee shops, regular drinkers of “black, with sugar” are experimenting with matcha tea for reasons of health, taste, and a sense of adventure.

Whether you want to learn to design your own tea garden, grow a few tea plants, brew the perfect cup, or learn about Japanese tea ceremony and ceramic bowls, there is a book for you out there somewhere. Tea culture is a subject that has attracted scholars and artists, connoisseurs and contemplatives, historians and writers. Discovering the multi-faceted subject of tea and its incredible history is a journey that will reward even the casual reader. Here are some of the best books for anyone who wants to begin a journey into the world of tea.

Tea Ceremony: Explore the unique Japanese tradition of sharing tea

Author Shozo Sato is a delight to read and always has fun projects and topics for children. His entire series on Asian culture is informative and lets parents and adults introduce kids to the interesting world of such things as ikebana (flower arranging), haiku poetry, and in this case, Japanese tea ceremony. Part of his “Asian arts and crafts for creative kids” series, don’t let the “for children” part fool you. This book makes a wonderful intro to tea ceremony for adults. No wonder!

Sato is an official “National Treasure” in Japan, which is the highest honor a citizen can receive from the government. He currently teaches tea ceremony, among other arts, to fortunate adult students in California and Illinois. That said, children absolutely adore this book, especially if you read it with them and walk through the steps of setting up and performing tea ceremony.

Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes

For the DIY enthusiast and matcha tea lover, UK-based author Cassie Liversidge’s “Homegrown Tea” is indispensable. There’s no reason to let others do the planting and harvesting! This book also makes a good shelf reference text. It contains everything a person needs to know about roots, flowers, fruits, seeds and leaves. It’s the ideal book for anyone who has ever wanted to grow their own tea in the backyard, or on a balcony planter. Packed with facts and historical curiosities, Liversidge’s offering is just all around fun reading for anyone with a curious mind.

19 Lessons on Tea

This guide from the 27 Press team is a solid reference and very readable tea compendium. It’s pretty much for enthusiasts only, but most tea books fall into that category. If you are intrigued by tea in the least bit, 19 Lessons has much to offer.

Even the knowledgeable will discover factoids and data they hadn’t come across before. Organized into short, digestible lessons, the guide really does cover all the bases. If you want to visit a tea shop and know how to converse with the owner, 19 Lessons will teach you the vocabulary and background to do so.

The tome covers every kind of tea, how tea is grown, how to choose an appropriate teapot, the health benefits of the drink, how to correctly pair it with foods, and what accessories you’ll need to acquire. 19 Lessons is a real tour of the world of tea.

Stories from a Tearoom Window: Lore and Legends of the Japanese Tea Ceremony

The captivating stories related in this anthology were compiled in the 1700s, yet still resonate with the inner meaning of authentic tea ceremony and ancient Japanese culture. This is really where matcha tea got its start as a popular drink in Japan. The circulation of stories about the great tea master, Sen no Rikyu, did much to popularize the deeper concepts behind the ceremony. Until that time, only the highest echelon of Japanese society took part in formal tea ceremony or knew anything about it.

Wonderful stories about the history of tea culture in Japan are the stuff of legend. “Stories from a Tearoom Window” is a true classic. It entertains, informs, and teaches all at once. Learn about what tearooms were like in ancient times, what types of flowers are used in the ceremony, and much else. Lore, legends, and Zen history; what more could a tea enthusiast ask for?

The One Taste of Truth: Zen and the Art of Drinking Tea

This book is a true rarity. It is both a scholarly text and a popular best-seller about Zen, martial arts, tea drinking, Japanese history and the way of the samurai warrior. Note that the author, William Scott Wilson, is the world’s (!) foremost authority on ancient Japanese literature. He’s also one of the very few living Westerners to have been commended by the Japanese government for his good work on behalf of Japanese culture. Any book by Wilson is a must-read for Japan enthusiasts. This one especially is a necessity for the casual or serious student of tea ceremony and its connection to Zen Buddhism.

Martial artists read the book in order to understand bushido, the philosophy of ancient Japanese warriors. Closely connected to Zen concepts, bushido is often misunderstood by non-Japanese. But to read Wilson’s dissection of the topic is nothing short of an epiphany. What could have been a slow-moving, overly intellectual treatment of these subjects becomes a magnetically interesting work of art when Mr. Wilson is doing the writing and analysis. If awards were given for books about tea, this one would be an automatic favorite in every category.

The story of matcha is historically and culturally rooted in Japan and ancient Zen practices. Tea ceremony, Buddhist meditation, tea gardens, and the concept of a truly simple lifestyle are interwoven with Japanese history and continue to exert a powerful influence today. As many of the popular books on matcha tea attest, the culture surrounding green tea and its cultivation continues to prosper.

Filed under Lifestyle, Matcha

Yuki thinks simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. His most significant accomplishment is learning how to sit with a good cup of tea and listen. When not online, Yuki talks with all things wild and free. He is a blogger and a matcha lover.

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