tea history!
August 29, 2022 8:58 AM   Subscribe

The Kitchen Cabinet podcast recently had a segment where they were talking about tea blending and mentioned that Earl Grey most likely ended up with the flavor it has because the water in that area tasted bad. I'd love to hear/read more about this type of thing: how tea was/is made, interesting stories of the history of the tea industry, (basic) chemistry behind tea blends. Please share your favorite recs! (I did find this from 2014 and will take a look at those too)
posted by brilliantine to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In Our Time has done tea, as has Rex Factor. The former is probably more reliable but I remember both as interesting. Thinking Aloud has done it too, but if I've heard that one I don't remember it. The reading list for the programme includes a 2020 book, Seren Charrington-Hollins, A Dark History of Making Tea. I haven't read it but it looks interesting, though the review here is mixed.
posted by paduasoy at 9:13 AM on August 29, 2022

The How Stuff Works podcast has an episode on tea history (“How Tea Works”).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:59 AM on August 29, 2022

Definitely not histories, but of historical interest: Lu Yu's Classic of Tea and Okakura Kakuzō's Book of Tea.

You might find some interesting material put out by UC Davis's Global Tea Initiative, though unfortunately their podcast seems to have petered out in 2019 after only 4 episodes.
posted by the tartare yolk at 10:21 AM on August 29, 2022

There's a chapter on tea in Seeds of Change by Henry Hobhouse [MeMetaPrev]. Rather too much info me (TMM) on Earl Grey and bergamot
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:45 AM on August 29, 2022

Rather too much info me (TMM) on Earl Grey and bergamot

See also: The Lancet on Earl Grey tea intoxication.
posted by the tartare yolk at 12:21 PM on August 29, 2022

I'm a loyal fan of Upton Teas, and buy tea from them on the regular. I can't vouch for how authoritative this is, since I haven't read more than a little here and there, but they have a long running series on the tea industry here.
posted by mollweide at 7:47 PM on August 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Nunn of Vittles fame has a really great three part series on tea, highly rec. (subscribers only though)

On the academic side but still very readable, A Time for Tea is interesting, especially if you are interested in gender or labour.

Another anthropologist who works on Darjeeling tea is Sarah Besky, this one about tea and the idea of "quality" is on my TBR list.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:43 PM on August 29, 2022

There's a local shop here that's started by a Japanese engineer, and I think that background is why his shop has such extensive notes on the products he carry (all East Asian style with the occasional darjeeling). He also gets into stuff about the appropriate combination of teapot material with tea. Very nerdy, in short. I think he does international sales and if you do you even get a little pamphlet of brewing times and best teapot combo in your order. It's called Hojo Tea. I actually even read his newsletters - they might be product promotions but he'll get into the provenance of the teamaker he's just scored that year's batch, the history of that kind of tea, the typical market for it etc.
posted by cendawanita at 11:05 PM on August 29, 2022

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