I thoroughly enjoyed Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace’s other book, Three Basic Teas and How to Enjoy Them, so I was excited to hear that she was releasing a new title called Tea: A Nerd’s Eye View. I preordered a signed copy and was able to pick it up from her table at the Chicago Tea Festival last year. It took me until now to finally read it.
As the title promises, this book looks at tea from a decidedly nerdy perspective. The author is a physician who has extensively studied the science of taste. It starts with a deep dive into taste buds and smell receptors help us to experience tea. It reminded me of the course that I took with World Tea Academy, Understanding the Organoleptic Experience. That was not surprising since Virginia also wrote the materials for that class.
There is so much information there, but she does a great job of breaking things down to digestible facts and figures. I read this book on the train during my work commute and I found myself taking so many notes on my phone. Did you know that tea has a much larger genome than coffee or cacao? Neither did I!
After thoroughly covering taste, Virginia covers the biology of the tea plant itself. The sections on leaf structure and how Camellia Sinensis grows were particularly interesting because I’ve never seen them covered in a book in quite the same way. The chapter on processing was incredibly eye-opening, and I came away with a better understanding of what happens chemically.
Tea: A Nerd’s Eye View is just 195 pages but Virginia managed to pack in so much information. The second half covered the brewing of tea and explored further into each of the categories of tea. I loved that she included suggestions for comparative tastings to help readers understand each type of tea more.
I have two bookshelves that are overflowing with tea books. Most of them are one and done, but a select few are reference resources that I turn back to regularly. This book falls into the latter category.
Have you read Tea: A Nerd’s Eye View? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!