Review: SerendipiTEA: A Guide to the Varieties, Origins and Rituals of Tea by Tomislav Podreka

SerendipiTea, Tea Books and Films, Tea Gifts Add comments
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Anyone even remotely interested in tea would enjoy it quite a bit and those passionate about tea will find it a helpful companion as well as a little something to whet one's appetite for more in depth reading. "
Jamie’s Teaview: 10/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »
serendipiteabookguide.jpegThis little book came to me for review in November, and I have been anxiously wanting to read it for some time. A number of things, including a recent cross country move, the holidays approach, and a heap of Christmas knitting to do all kept me from much reading until just a few days before Christmas. What a treat it was to open up this little hardcover and immerse myself in this delightful work by Mr. Tomislav Podreka, whose writing exhibits confident scholarship infused with a love of the leaf, the people who produce and enjoy it, and all other subjects touching tea.

The book is an attractive hardcover, very suitable for gift giving. The front cover is embossed with the logo of the tea company co-founded by Mr. Podreka, SerendipiTea. My initial thoughts while reading were that this book would make a wonderful read for all lovers of tea, regardless of knowledge levels. The beginner will find much of interest and a good overview set out in very readable and understandable form. The author briefly introduces himself (really a very nice thing in a book...a chance to get to know the author a bit and immediately feel on more intimate terms), and then launches into a general history of tea, its place in the history of trade and commerce as well as a bit of information on the spread of tea drinking and cultivation as well as its production. The book is peppered throughout with page insets offering personal opinions, anecdotes, and more specific information about various teas, estates, etc. A helpful chapter glances on aspects ranging from harvest to how teas are graded and packed. From there, it's a short introduction to the major types of tea; white, green, oolong, pu'ehr, black, pouchong and scented teas. The amount of information provided is enough to ground the reader with the basics without a lot of confusing extras to cloud the liquor, so to speak. Another thing I appreciated about the book is that Mr. Podreka took the time to provide information not only about the types of teas produced in different countries and regions and altitudes, but also discusses various estates. He mentions in his discussion of black teas which are most supportive of cream or milk as additions (and why) as well, something I thought was helpful and interesting, even though I don't tend to drink teas with milk.

Readers with an interest in travel and the customs of faraway places will also enjoy the author's notes on tea customs in foreign lands. An Australian with roots in Croatia, he lived in many places before coming to the the United States and all of the anecdotes he passes along are intriguing, despite their brevity. I particularly enjoyed the paragraphs on Outback Australian tea customs; curious and amusing to my North American ears are the terms "Jackaroo" and "Swaggies" and the tea making practice of "swinging the billy." Swinging the Billy is certainly a method of separating the leaves from the liquor that I've never tried, but I think any reader would find it a great bit of reading about customs unknown. Readers will also enjoy the varied recipes given with each foray into the world's tea habits. Customs and recipes for tea go-withs (many of which sound delicious and would be easy to prepare with average kitchen ingredients) are included from all sorts of places, from the US, England, Australia, France, Arabia and India to China, Japan and Russia.

This book made for an excellent read. Informative and quite often intriguing, it's a brief introduction to a fascinating and wide world connected to the wonderful tea plant. Anyone even remotely interested in tea would enjoy it quite a bit and those passionate about tea will find it a helpful companion as well as a little something to whet one's appetite for more in depth reading. A useful glossary and suggestions for further reading are included at the rear.

I should mention that this little book also impressed me very deeply in that the author, Mr. Tomislav Podreka, passed away several years ago in 2004. He was just 39 years of age. His love and knowledge of the leaf is evident and his enthusiasm for his work in the tea business is undeniable. I'm very sorry to hear of SerendipiTea's and the tea world's loss, but am so very delighted that his lovely book is still available for an enjoyable read for all of us out there who love the leaf as well. The company he co-founded, SerendipiTea, is still in business and their website is well worth perusing. While you're there, consider picking up a copy of this most enjoyable book for yourself or someone you know!

— To purchase SerendipiTEA: A Guide to the Varieties, Origins and Rituals of Tea by Tomislav Podreka, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Jamie Jamie
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Jamie's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Jamie.

    



One Response to “Review: SerendipiTEA: A Guide to the Varieties, Origins and Rituals of Tea by Tomislav Podreka”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Great review! I think I’ll be adding this one to my library.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in