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One of the best ways to educate yourself about the complicated coffee and tea industries is to pick up the latest books. We’ve listed a few of the newest releases for your reading pleasure.
Heritage of Indian Tea
By Dr D.K. Taknet

Now available, a new, comprehensive, and vividly illustrated book on Indian tea, its past, present, and future, exploring many novel facets of an industry that has become an Indian heritage which is globally respected. This is a book that cannot fail to delight tea professionals and tea enthusiasts alike.

Tea has found a permanent place in the lives and hearts of diverse peoples the world over, and spread cheer and camaraderie for over 4500 years. Poets and philosophers have lavished praise on it, and perhaps no other beverage has been the object of such ritual and ceremony across the planet. Today, over 3 bn cups of tea are consumed every day across the globe, making it the most popular and cheapest drink in the world after water. Its fragrance, flavour and gentle aroma generate a sense of pleasure, well-being, and fellowship across the world, around the clock.

A well-researched and carefully documented book, it analyses the problems that are threatening to bring the Indian tea industry to its knees and hampering its ability to invest, modernize, grow, and remain competitive in world markets. It raises important questions that deserve serious attention and, above all, decisive action.

Dr D.K. Taknet is a well known business historian. He has undertaken many analytical research studies and been awarded scholarships and fellowships by several premier institutions.

Coffee: a Bibliography
R. von Hünersdorff & H. G. Hasenkamp

This bibliography was originally intended to serve as a ‘catalog raisonné’ of the rare coffee books collection at the Johann Jacobs Museum (http://www.johann-jacobs-museum.ch/) in Zürich. At the suggestion of the founding director of the museum, Dr. Holger G. Hasenkamp, the concept moved from a library catalog to a coffee bibliography. The result is two volumes in a slip case with a total of 1687 pages covering 15,000 entries and over 300 illustrations.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the inclusion by the compiler of the title page of some of the rarest coffee-related books, together with a short description of their relevance to coffee. For example, in p. 66 reference is made to Jean Baptiste Christophore Fusée Aublett’ book, “Histoire des plantes de la Guiana Françoise” (Paris 1775) where the compiler mentions that this book contains an extract from a letter received from Gabriel de Clieu describing the voyage in which coffee was brought from Europe to the American continent. For anyone interested in this specific aspect of coffee history, this lead is invaluable. It is this kind of delightful information - best savored with a cup of Kauai peaberry in hand - what makes this bibliography such a pleasure to peruse. Most of the bibliographic references presented include the libraries holding a copy of the title.

Tea at the Blue Lantern
A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America

By Jan Whitaker

Run by women, whose creativity and entrepreneurial spirit fueled this craze, tea rooms evolved in many different ways. In cities, they might be found at swank hotels, or nestled along the crooked streets of Greenwich Village. They might be noisy and bustling in midtown, or rustic and charming on a tree lined New England roadside. Some served home-style meals and some more elegant fare. These establishments were many things to many people, but they were a huge part of American life, and continue to find a place in our hearts.

Journalist and food historian Jan Whitaker has thoroughly researched the tea rooms in America, and her passion and love for her subject is contagious. By reconstructing what it was like to operate or patronize one of the original tea rooms, Whitaker takes her readers back in time, on a trip through the heart of a country in the midst of great social change. Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn is a fascinating social history with all the charm and appeal of a freshly brewed pot.

The Coffee Trader
By David Liss, Reviewed by Fernando E. Vega

The first thing that caught my attention was the title. Being a coffee enthusiast, I immediately stopped to see what might be lurking inside. Other books have the word "coffee" in their title, but coffee per se is not the main topic. A recent example is the fantastic collection of short stories by ZZ Packer, entitled "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere" (Riverhead Books). The second thing that caught my attention was van Hoogstraten's painting in the dust jacket, which provides a glimpse of what's inside: life in Amsterdam in the 1600's; coffee trade via the powerful Dutch East India Company, and a short course in futures trading.

This work of fiction is set in the year is 1659 - the time when Vermeer and van Leeuwenhoek (the famous microscope maker) were in their prime - and coffee is barely making its way into Europe, thus, most people are still unaware of the magic wonders this beverage possesses. We find Miguel Lienzo, a futures trader at the Amsterdam Exchange, sitting at a bar with Geertruid, a woman who wants him to become her partner in a scheme designed to corner the coffee market. The stratagems used in the Amsterdam Exchange are quite interesting, and particularly apropos in the recent accounting scandals we are witnessing in the United States and Europe. The evil figure in the book is Solomon Parido, a powerful merchant and a parnas, who sits on the Mahamad, a four member ruling board in a Spanish-Portuguese Jewish congregation. Parido is also trying to corner the coffee market, and it is the machinations between him and Lienzo what keeps the intrigue moving along at a dizzying pace. One of them comes out victorious in the end, but at a high price.

It is worth noting that "Lienzo" is Spanish for "canvas," and Liss creates a magnificent painting in the reader's mind using his ability to connect words into a thrilling mystery. It is no wonder that his previous book, "A Conspiracy of Paper" won him the 2001 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author; the Edgar Award is the highest honor in mystery fiction. "The Coffee Trader" is a fantastic voyage to old Amsterdam, and should win the author legions of new fans. This book should enhance the author's reputation as an Old Master of mystery writing.

Tea & Coffee - June/July, 2003

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