Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Roy's Book Is Officially Published! Here's the News Release

We're excited to announce that Roy's new book, Great Teas of China, is now in print! In addition to the online purchase options, you can find it in our Ferry Building and Berkeley teahouses as of December 9. We're planning an autographing event and other special activities later this month to celebrate this long-awaited book. We'll be posting more details shortly. Meanwhile, here's the official press release announcing publication:

MASTER TEA MERCHANT ROY FONG PUBLISHES GREAT TEAS OF CHINA, A CONVENIENT AND AUTHORITATIVE HANDBOOK TO CHINA’S FINEST TEAS

SAN FRANCISCO, December 9, 2009—Roy Fong, a leading tea expert and proprietor of San Francisco’s renowned traditional Chinese teahouse, Imperial Tea Court, has published Great Teas of China, a compact, readable guide to the top teas from the land where tea was first cultivated over 3,000 years ago.

Great Teas of China is a unique blend of detailed factual information about artisanal practices for growing and processing the teas it discusses, as well as personal anecdotes from Fong’s twenty-year career as a tea merchant traveling around fast-changing China. The book covers over a dozen of Fong’s favorite classic teas, ranging from hand-picked West Lake Dragon Well and expertly crafted oolong from Wu Yi Shan, to patiently aged Yunnan puerh. Also included are Fong’s insights on choosing, brewing, and savoring each selection, plus background information on tea farming, local history and culture of tea-growing regions, and artisanal techniques for processing the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the flowering perennial at the heart of Chinese culture.

Fong’s fateful encounter with tea began at age six, when he would interrupt his walk to school to watch Hong Kong day laborers’ impromptu gong fu brewing sessions. Later, a chance visit to Hong Kong’s teahouse district unexpectedly set his life on a new course. He began importing Chinese tea to the U.S. and, in 1993, he and his wife Grace opened the original Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Since then, Fong has enlightened and inspired a generation of tea enthusiasts, who visit from all over the world to enjoy the finest Chinese teas available in America. Great Teas of China is a very personal and accessible introduction to contemporary tea connoisseurship. 88 pages; illustrated with color photographs and maps; includes glossary.

PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT GREAT TEAS OF CHINA

RON RUBIN, Minister of Tea, The Republic of Tea:
Great Teas of China presents a lifetime of discovery, wisdom, and passion from the foremost authority on tea in America, Roy Fong. All tea lovers will cherish this journey with Roy through China’s famed tea gardens. Enjoy sip by sip.”

FRANK HADLEY MURPHY, author of The Spirit of Tea:
“Roy Fong’s extraordinary insights and hands-on approach to tea cultivation and processing have resulted in extraordinary teas enjoyed by thousands of people around the world. I am grateful to be one of them. Great Teas of China offers an intimate glimpse into a tradition of tea artisans dating back to China’s golden age of tea, the Imperial Tang dynasty.”

GRACEANN WALDEN, San Francisco-based food writer and radio personality:
“When I met Roy Fong, at the original Imperial Tea Court, tea was forever changed for me. He taught me its history, botanical properties, and most importantly he shared with me how it had changed his life. Over the years, he has taught many people the serious joys of tea and I am pleased that he will now reach a wider audience by way of this beautiful book.”

ED & MARY ETTA MOOSE, San Francisco restauranteurs:
“When we want the best tea, we know to turn to Roy.”

DIANA ROSEN, author of The Book of Green Tea:
“With the wisdom of a modern-day Lu Yu, and the marketing awareness of today's connoisseur-level tea enthusiasts, Roy Fong has made an indelibly delicious mark on tea in America. That would have been enough, to be sure. Now, he is our guide in print, steering us to the always fascinating must-know information on how teas are grown cultivated, brewed and savored. This book is a valuable extension to my own privileged moments at Roy's tea table, being intoxicated by the lu'an, a complex melange of puerhs, the gentleness of a jasmine, the sweet echo of the mao feng.”

SHIRLEY FONG-TORRES, author of The Woman Who Ate Chinatown:
“With the ever-growing popularity of tea and the public’s fascination with its health benefits, Roy Fong's book is a 'must.' This is a teamaster who truly knows and loves his craft. I always feel relaxed after drinking tea and nibbling on dim sum or lunch at one of his fabulous Imperial Tea Courts.”

2 comments:

Yuri said...

Got the book. I do have some mixed feelings about it. The data in the book is good, but the book itself is so puny. Only 80 pages?! I hoped Roy has something more to say about tea. What was the problem? So difficult to put it on the paper?

Virginia said...

Roy gave a lot of thought to the content of the book. One reason it took him several years to write his first book, despite much encouragement to do so, was that he truly believes many tea books are too verbose, containing too much information that’s unnecessary, self-evident, or inaccurate. He didn’t want to contribute to all the noise and distraction, and took the time to distill his thoughts down to the essence of what he felt was adequate to help tea lovers get to know his favorite teas, give deep insights into why he enjoys them so much, and set the tone for further exploration.

Roy’s philosophy is that the experience of tea should be active. True appreciation of tea doesn’t involve reciting a set of memorized facts, and Roy specifically avoided structuring the book to encourage that; for example, he didn’t include the charts and timelines you often find in other tea books. To truly appreciate tea you must get hands-on with it, coming to understand through personal experience and your five senses what makes that tea so special, what causes the attributes that you like or dislike, and how to interact with the tea (particularly during brewing) to develop its full potential. Because this process starts on the tea farm, the book gives more attention to the way each tea is grown and produced. This information can help you distinguish well made tea from the many cheap imitations on the market. In every chapter Roy shares a personal story and gives enough brewing guidelines to get readers started on their encounter with that tea, but he tries to avoid being prescriptive in a way that might discourage experimentation and learning.

All of that said, the reception for Great Teas of China has been very gratifying and Roy is already thinking about the next book! He welcomes input on what you’d like to see next. Leave comments here on the blog about areas of tea and tea culture you want to know more about.