The Ancient Art of Tea: Wisdom From the Ancient Chinese Tea Masters"The Ancient Art of Tea" (2011) by Warren Peltier is a true treasure, especially for those seeking a more profound insight into the many facets of tea as related to the cultural and asthetic values of ancient China. However, the insights gained from reading this wonderful little book far transcend the ancient into the present day tea drinking world beyond the bounds of Asia.
As a tea connoisseur, as well as a student of Chinese language and culture, I found this book to offer wisdom, especially to the westerner, that is scarce to find elsewhere in the English language. I particularly enjoyed learning about the artistic orgins of tea, and the five different names or characters listed by Lu Yu, author of the "Classic of Tea" during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (581-907 CE). For instance, besides the most common name of "cha", which also refers to early picked tea, there is the less common name of "ming", which refers to late picked tea, and the name of "jia" which refers to any bitter tea (pages 25-26).
Other meaningful insights were gained into a much better understanding regarding the importance of water. The relationship to Daoism is brought to light when the author draws upon the ancient wisdom of Zhuang Yuan as revealed in "The Record of Tea" during the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE). I especially like the metaphysical analogy refering to tea as the "essence" of water, while water is the "substance" of tea, with water being the "yin" element and tea being the "yang" (page 54).
Another element making Peltier's book such a delight is a section of beautiful ancient artwork, coupled with artistic photograhy of Chinese characters, tea in its varied forms, and some handsome examples of utensils and ceramics utilized in the presentation and serving of the delicious beverage.
My only criticism comes from being an English tutor, and should not discourage anyone from adding this book to their library. However, the book contains many split infinitives ("to be" verbs incorrectly separated by an adverb), including the very last sentence of the book. If these grammatical errors were to be remedied, then I would have no criticism to offer. Still, this book stands out as a wonderful accomplishment, teeming with ancient wisdom that can be learned and applied today to make better tea connoisseurs of us all. As such, this book is highly recommended for anyone interested in a more in depth cultural history of tea.
About the Author
Warren Peltier is the Director of the Chuan Ming Chadao Tea Culture Research Center and well-known tea expert. As a researcher, author and lecturer he has studied the way of tea for over 18 years.