Before reading Sebastian Beckwith’s “A Little Tea Book,” I knew a little about tea – enough to pour water over a bag of Twinings at least – but nothing of its rich and impressive history, the 6 different types and their complexities, and on how to make a perfectly steeped cup.
At a humble 112 pages – including pictures and illustrations – Beckwith’s little known guide to the basics of tea-sourcing, making, and drinking is a handy, exceptionally informative resource for experienced and non-experienced tea-drinkers (and coffee-drinkers) alike. In addition to Beckwith’s facts and concise commentary, “A Little Tea Book” also includes charming illustrations by artist Wendy MacNaughton, complementing Beckwith’s lighthearted tone, attention to detail, and will to acknowledge the complexity of tea without overwhelming the reader.
Despite its brevity and simplicity, Beckwith pays successful tribute to the expansive and complicated world of tea, offering – in his respectable and time-honored opinion – the most important information on tea’s past and present.
The final chapter of the book, and perhaps the most valuable, Beckwith offers a thorough explanation on how to make the perfect cup of tea, detailing the reasons on why to use loose leaf (never bagged), how much to use, the type of water to use and why, and the temperature at which to heat the water depending on the type of tea. After heating and pouring the water, Beckwith informs the reader to let the tea alone to steep, taste-testing the flavor once every minute. As for how long to steep to reach perfect doneness, Beckwith concludes by urging the reader “to rely on your tongue and not the clock” since every tea, and every person’s palette, is different.
With its delightful visuals and depth of information, Beckwith’s straightforward, yet intricately involved “A Little Tea Book,” invites its readers to delve deeper into all that tea has to offer, guiding them toward a deeper understanding, respect, and appreciation of the profundity behind the perfect of cup of tea.