James Norwood Pratt's Tea Dictionary

James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary is a great reference for learning about the details of tea and the tea business. While some of the detailed info contained might not be of interest to the casual tea drinker, the dictionary format makes it easy to go directly to the information you need without being overwhelmed. There is a wealth of information here, with over 400 pages of terminology, photographs, timelines, maps, history, etymology, vocabulary, pronunciation, and quotations.

This book was published and produced by Ravi Sutodiya and Devan Shah, whose recently untimely death is currently being felt throughout the tea world. He is well remembered for his many contributions to tea, including his businesses and tearooms, participation in festivals and trade shows, and for furthering tea education.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few of James Norwood Pratt’s appearances and tastings at various events and find him charming and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend checking him out if you ever get the chance.

This book is always one of the first references I check when I run across a tea term or name that I am curious about. It is a bit weighted towards Indian tea, but they brought in Chen Zhongmao, one of China’s formost tea authorities, and Lily Talise Chang to help round out the Chinese teas and terms. Japanese tea and terms are also covered fairly comprehensively. I read through the whole thing as I was learning about tea.

My only gripe with the book is that it is poorly made, a pet peeve of mine that might be even worse with books than tea! The glued perfect binding came apart almost right away and the spine has completely cracked, separating the front cover from the text block. My copy may be an anomaly but based on what I can see from (literally) looking inside the binding, I don’t think so. Despite the fact that my copy is literally falling apart, I still go back to it on a regular basis.

All in all, this is a great resource to have on your “tea” shelf. I highly recommend its content to those needing a reference and looking to expand their tea knowledge.