2017 Edition of The Romance of Tea
It’s difficult to remember a time when authoritative books on tea were as rare as a good cup of Darjeeling. But that was the scenario in America throughout much of the 20th century — until publisher Alfred Knopf published William H. Ukers’ The Romance of Tea in 1936. 

Few books on the tea trade have held up as well as this monumental work which is as valuable to tea enthusiasts today as it was when it appeared over 80 years ago. 

Ukers was the founding editor of the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. He spent a lifetime studying the fascinating history of tea — its origins, manufacture and influence, and the spread of its popularity to every part of the world. He had an encyclopedic mind and, before there was an internet, he amassed a treasure trove of tea illustrations and stories gleaned from libraries and colleagues around the world.

The Romance of Tea sold out decades ago and rare used copies have been snapped up by collectors. 

Now America’s tea sage James Norwood Pratt introduces another generation of teaists to this legendary tea pioneer with a new annotated and expanded edition of Ukers’ book which is sure to delight anyone whose daily life is infused with the ritual of tea.

Original 1936 cover
“William Ukers’ tale of how humanity acquired its favorite habit first attracts us, then absorbs us and casts a spell over us and teaches us,” said Pratt. “He regales us, in his quaint way and measured tones, with a little known epic romance — how the whole world learned to love drinking tea.”

This is the classic account of the legendary and true origins of tea, its widening use as a beverage, the romantic trade that grew up around it, its introduction to Europe and the changes it brought about in social and economic life around the world. Ukers also highlighted the numerous tributes to tea which occur throughout literature, art and music. 

The idea for a new edition was born during a conversation between Pratt, Mike Harney (Harney & Sons) and Devan Shah (International Tea Importers). 

All three thought the out-of-print book should be refreshed and made available again. The two tea purveyors pledged to fund the endeavor and Pratt volunteered to annotate the new publication and add an up-to-date timeline of tea history. Unfortunately, Shah passed away before the project got underway.

But the project continued as Harney & Sons and ITI asked me to edit, design and publish the 2017 second edition. I’m happy to help this treasure book of tea find an enthusiastic new audience with the help of my longtime friends.

This updated edition is dedicated to the memory of John Harney and Devan Shah, two American pioneers who helped lead tea’s recent renaissance.



“A truly delightful history of the tea plant’s 1600 years of beneficent ministry to man’s comfort and aesthetic pleasure.” New York Times review (1936)


The Romance of Tea, published by Benjamin Press, will make its debut on June 13th at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas where advance copies will be available at the ITI, Harney Tea and Benjamin Press booths. 

Order online or call 859.236.6641 for wholesale or retail orders.

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