When it comes to books about tea I read pretty much everything that I can get my hands on. That being said, finding quality resources on Chinese teas with English translations is very difficult. My interest was definitely piqued when I saw this selection on a list of books about puerh that Darlene at The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook had posted. She has an incredible library of books on my favorite subject so Darlene's endorsement was enough to make me order a copy on Amazon. I am so very glad that I did.
At less than 200 pages, this slim volume is jam-packed with in-depth information. Everything from processing and classification to brewing and appreciating puerh is covered in an easy to read manner. The translations can be a bit wonky in places but don't let that deter you. The color photographs throughout are very useful. I really wish that I had discovered this book back when I first started trying puerh. It would have saved me a lot of misunderstandings.
Although it only takes up a few pages, the section on how shou puerh is processed is especially useful. I own more than one book on tea (mostly older ones, of course) where it is described as some guarded state secret. I assure you, there is no Da Vinci Code of tea making! The tips for properly storing puerh are useful as well. I also really liked that there wasn't too much emphasis put on aging puerh. It is the discussed but the author makes it clear that no one really knows the maximum storage time for tea.
The chapter titled Special "Pu-erh Tea" is especially useful because it documents tea types that I have not seen discussed in any other book on tea. Chao gao, crab pincers, lao paka, lao cha tou, and tea blossom cakes are all discussed. I would say the only bone of contention that I have is the short bit at the end concerning health benefits. While tea is certainly a healthy beverage, that is not why I enjoy it and exploitation of health benefits here in the west is one of my biggest pet peeves.
There are several other books in this series including ones on oolong and teaware. I think I'll definitely be picking those up soon as well. Have you read this book yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!