How did drinking the infusions of a unique plant from China become a vital part of everyday life? This gift book presents an entertaining and illuminating introduction to the history and culture of tea, from its origins in the Far East to the flavors and properties of different varieties, and the rituals of tea preparation and drinking around the world. This simple hot beverage is suffused with artistic and religious overtones. The Chinese Ch'a Ching gave very precise guidelines to the preparation and sipping of tea, and the Japanese tea ceremony elevated it to an art form. Following its introduction to the royal court in the 17th century, the British created their own traditions, from the elaborate etiquette of afternoon tea to the humble pot of tea at the heart of family life, and the modern appreciation for specialty infusions.