One of the most respected tea companies around is Harney & Sons. Their teas are known for having a fine and consistent quality. A good bit of news is that Michael Harney, one of the owners, has written an authoritative guide to teas, appropriately titled The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea.

The book is woefully lacking in photos of verdant tea fields, tea “liquors” of various hues, and arrays of teapots that grace the pages of other tea books. In fact, there isn’t a single photo. Never fear, though, because it’s jammed with tons of “insider information” on teas and a must for anyone wanting to impress others with their tea knowledge. It’s good for making more informed tea purchases, too, and for getting the most out of your tea experience. For example, I learned that the Assam I had just finished off was a lower quality than the golden tips Assam I bought recently. (Haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but based on this book, I feel sure that a truly exceptional tea tasting experience is in store.)

The book is quite well-organized and covers the spectrum that is tea. Within each tea chapter, Harney gives information about a particular type of tea and then examples of teas in that category.

Chapters include:

  • How to Use This Book (includes information on how to prepare and enjoy your teas)
  • White Teas
  • Chinese Green Teas
  • Japanese Green Teas
  • Oolongs
  • Yellow Teas
  • Chinese Black Teas
  • British Legacy Black Teas
  • Puerhs
  • The Future of Tea

Gee, I already learned a lot just from reading the Table of Contents! For example, did you know there was a difference between green teas from China and from Japan? Makes sense. The growing conditions and how the harvested tea leaves are processed are different. Also, did you know that tea from the Darjeeling province in India is graded by when it’s harvested during the growing season? There is Spring First Flush (floral and fruity like Oolongs), Summer Second Flush, and Autumn Flush. (I’ll be reviewing samples of the last two in the next few weeks.)

The book not only has such interesting details as these on each category of tea, there are tables on specific teas that cover things you need to know:

  • Name of tea
  • Rating of tea
  • Brewing temperature
  • Brewing time
  • Dry leaves
  • Liquor (the liquid that results from the steeping)
  • Body
  • Flavors

This is accompanied by information about the tea, including the growers.

Frankly, this is one tea book I wouldn’t part with any more than I would part with my favorite teas. It’s small enough to be part of my kitchen tea station, ever handy for making sure I’m treating my teas with the respect they deserve. Happy reading!

Thinking about trying a new tea? Not sure which one to buy? Head over to A.C.’s blog, Little Yellow Teapot Tea Reviews, where you’ll find lots of great reviews of a wide variety of teas!