English-language tea books tend to be either about the experience of tea or they give a cursory and broad introduction into the different types of teas. Few Chinese-speaking tea experts have written English-language books; fewer still have ones that I think are worth reading.
Jason Chen of Luyu/CC Tea has just published one that is excellent. A Washington State-based tea merchant, he’s been in the business for about 15 years. His latest book, published with both Chinese and English content, is titled: A Tea Lover's Travel Diary: Phoenix Single-Tree Oolong Tea Tie Kuan Yin Oolong Tea. Obviously, this book is about both of these teas and provides in-depth accounts of his experiences learning about and buying them directly from the farmers (he also met many tea folk that were helpful with the completion of this book). The book is rich with unique insight and is accompanied by a trove of pictures that detail his experiences over the years. Even better, the pictures are his own, taken on the same camera that his father gave him decades ago.
Many bilingual or translated tea books can be disappointing because the English is simple and lacks depth. That is not the case with this book, which makes it such an excellent read. In fact, it can be argued that many of the Chinese explanations are cursory and the English accounts are detailed and explanatory. Although there are relatively few actual “diary” entries, the explanations that accompany his many pictures themselves serve as pictorial journal entries.
This 232-page color, picture-filled book is a great buy ($17.56 on Amazon). Truly an impressive book to add to one’s tea library.
I am still waiting for a tea master to come out with something like this book, but for Dong Ding teas. Zhou Yu of Wistaria is well-qualified for the task; let’s keep encouraging him to do so in the near future.