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James Norwood Pratt

James Norwood Pratt ’s Tea Dictionary: A review

James Norwood Pratt

It’s been a while that I have been thinking about taking a day or two off from work because it feels like ages that I’ve done away with a break which I so badly need but somehow I never seem to manage to do so (because something or the other pops up and then I’m again stuck with it till the next thing appears and so on it goes) and kept procrastinating it until I ended up in my front porch, too tired of any calls or texts, sipping tea and brooding to myself. Finally. Good resolutions, I guess, come without notice. After a while, I felt refreshingly soothed. Then I realized that it was in fact the tea that made all the difference.

So the tea-lover in me rekindled, I decided to pay a visit to an old friend who is the most devoted tea-lover I’ve ever seen and it is from him that I developed my interest in tea. I found this brilliant and comprehensive Tea Dictionary by James Norwood Pratt from his outstanding collection of books on almost everything that there is on the different and varied tea cultures around the world. Here’s to a tea-lover’s delight:

James Norwood Pratt

James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary: a Review

A dictionary on tea is not new as we know; Lu Yu was the first to write about tea history and instructions for proper steeping in The Classic of Tea in A.D. 780 and W.H. Ukers’ encyclopedic All About Tea, published in 1935, explored the international tea trade (the vast two-volume set was primarily used by tea-professionals for it was available in very few libraries) but nothing as such matches the conciseness and comprehensiveness of James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary which is written with as much eloquence. Envisioned and published by Devan Shah and Ravi Sutodiya and photographed by Yoon Hee Kim, the book starts on a quirky note with tea-quotes and a brief etymology of tea and ends with 24 thorough set of maps of the major production sites of tea around the world and the valuable tea timeline.

San Francisco based writer, James Norwood Pratt designed the book as a hand book on tea for international tea-traders, professionals and above all, for tea-lovers. The book contains original Chinese script where necessary along with icon guide and employs tea-trade terminology as well. Although, on a few occasions, the content and images are misplaced, it provides an in-depth knowledge about the contemporary tea world and covers a fascinating geographical range, providing tea-definitions for Japanese, Korean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese etcetera…not to mention Chinese and Indian. Also, the key objects and locations from tea-history are delineating and manufacturing terms included. Add to these, the tea-tasters’ lexicon as a bonus. Happy exploring tea!

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