Satisfy your Curiosi-tea with Camellia Cha

By Sara Schwarz
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Dei-tea, the avatar of Tea

Dei-tea, the avatar of Tea

Curiosi-tea by Camellia Cha

Curiosi-tea. A book of joculari-tea, frivoli-tea and flagrant absurdi-tea in an otherwise historically accurate anecdotal account of tea... Ms Camellia Cha.

Curiosi-tea by the delightful Camillia Cha and friends is possibly the most entertaining tea book in existence - and an extremely informative one at that. Full of juicy gossip and insightful information, reading Curiosi-tea is like sitting down with a fascinating old friend for a cuppa and a long afternoon catch-up in the sunshine.

With a solid English ancestry and a partner from ‘the East’, my own tea consumption is both varied and often. Reading Curiosi-tea, I discovered how little I know about this drink I consume a dozen times a week … and I suspect I am not alone. World wide, it is estimated 20 billion cups are drunk daily. How is it we drink so much and yet know so little…

Camellia Cha, assisted by Anne Norman, her patient editor (and co author) and the mysterious oracle, Herstorian, takes us on a delightful and insightful journey through the wonderful world of tea from ‘antiqui-tea to infini-tea’.

There are in fact six categories of tea, each from the evergreen tea plant, Camellia sinensis (variation sinensis and assamica). These are grouped into six colour categories: green, white, yellow, blue, red and black. Each colour refers to the method of preparation with the point at which oxidation is stopped determining the ‘colour’. One point to note is that what we generally drink as black tea (think standard teabag variety) is in fact, red tea.  Black teas are fermented rather than oxidized and are often compressed into bricks or discs for storage and longevi-tea.

Using short chapters, annecdotes, poetry, quirky cartoons and more to educate and entertain us, we follow Camelia and friends as they wander down the pathways of time meeting numerous colourful characters from across China, Korea, Japan and India and more recently, the West.

Covering the history and development of tea as an international beverage of choice with wit and wisdom, Camillia and friends' findings also touch upon such varied topics as revolutions, the royal-tea and even radioactivi-tea (and that's only the ones beginning with 'R'). Never before have I realized the power of a simple cuppa and I now know not to boil my water through a nuclear reactor and to be wary of orange teapots!

With Christmas almost upon us, Curiosi-tea will make an excellent present for any tea lover in your life, young or old.


Curiosi-tea by Camellia Cha is published by Absurd Publications (2009; pb) RRP $34.95. Subscribers and Members of and Winepros Archive can purchase Curiosi-tea from our book partners Seekbooks at 12.5% discount off RRP (postage extra).

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October 29th, 2009
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