The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea
by Michael Harney (The Penguin Press, 2008)
Reviewed by TeaTime
Imagine a table set with your favorite china, a steaming teapot, and a variety of enticing teas awaiting your taste buds. It’s a tranquil late-spring afternoon, and you are surrounded with the beautiful blooming of nature. When you’ve reached a state of pure solitude, you are ready to sip, taking your senses on an intimate voyage through a spectrum of pleasant flavors and aromas sure to delight.
On a mission to spread knowledge about the perfect cup, Michael Harney teaches how to navigate the complexity of the beloved ancient drink that has far surpassed expectations of popularity in the United States. With 20 years’ experience as a tea buyer and blender for Harney & Sons Tea, Michael Harney reaches deep into the traditions and agriculture of tea to create a compendium of the world’s best teas, with tasting notes for each. From white and Japanese green to oolongs and British Legacy Black teas, this guide will leave you with a deep understanding of all the fervor that goes into your favorite cup.
Tea tasting involves each of the five senses, enveloping you in the full experience. Steps for a traditional British tasting include examining the leaves, knowing proper brewing time and temperature, looking, smelling, and tasting. According to Harney, the trick to identifying flavors is to compare teas with other foods you already know, such as roasted nuts or fruits. Broken down into the various leaves, each chapter of The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea discusses the origins, along with qualities of each tea and tips for brewing a precise cup. After reading and tasting, you will have developed an extensive palate and a keen ability to observe and distinguish various brews.
Sip and enjoy. As Harney asserts, “Tea should always be a pleasure. Its that simple: A well-made tea makes you happy.”