Do you want to show me your tea books? I’ll show you mine.

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My abiding interest in tea and tea cultures manifests not only in acquiring, using and consuming tea and teawares, but also in a thirst for knowledge and reference materials in the form of books about tea and tea-related topics. It’s important for me to be able to look things up when I need to, and despite what some people seem to believe, there is a good deal of valuable information about tea that is not currently available on the Internet.

There are a lot of good reference materials in print today, and of course there are also some much harder to find and out-of-print good references also, in addition to many great tea books in languages that I am incapable of reading. But there are also a lot of books that are poorly written and/or poorly researched. With so many works available it can be quite useful to engage in dialog with other tea people regarding which tea books they consider worthwhile, and which they do not. To that end, and as part of my organizational process aimed at building a more thorough collection, I created an account on LibraryThing that contains only my tea-related books. Although my own tea library is not large enough to be called extensive, I plan to expand it, as time and money (and space) allow.

There are a number of great things about using LibraryThing, including the ease of finding publication data, reviews and views of different editions of the same work, but it can also be illuminating to see which users have libraries containing some of the same books, and which books those are. Plus, for geeky tea people who are obsessive about cataloging, documenting and organizing information, putting an entire tea book library online is a great deal of fun. I must confess, however, that the physical organization of my library (tea and otherwise) is not quite so orderly yet, although the primary library has all of the books coded by the shelf they’re on so I can find anything easily. It’s also not as disorderly as that pile in the photo.

If you want to take a look at my tea library you might find some books you’re interested in. And if you catalog your own, I’d be very interested in seeing it.

I also created the Association of Tea Bloggers LibraryThing Group so that tea people can more easily connect with each other. Membership is not restricted to ATB members. There is a discussion there about what books belong in any respectable tea library, so I encourage discussion and suggestions.

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10 Comments

  1. Is that Anne Carson’s Oresteia I see there? Good taste!

  2. Nice book list! I like the site, and just added my main tea library there too. Look under user “CharlesD”. I see we have a number of the same books, and not necessarily the more common ones. Also, where did you manage to find a copy of The Classic Of Tea? I’ve been looking for one for years, and had to settle for scanning a copy I found at a local library!

    • Yeah – not many people have that book on Yixing ceramics!

      I bought that copy of the The Classic of Tea on Half.com (or possibly Amazon). I had found other copies of it for sale before that, but they were mostly over $120, which I thought was too much. I was lucky to find the one I have for around $30.

      It’s available for free on Project Guttenberg, but only in the original Chinese.

      • Thanks for the tip! I have a copy in Chinese, or at least the first two “volumes” carved into bamboo scrollwork. I keep hearing rumors of a modern re-translation or a reprinting of Carpenter’s book, but those same rumblings have been going around for years.

  3. The following title in your catalogue brought a smile to my face: “The Complete Book of Coffee.”

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