Read This: Candace Rose Rardon on Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know

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One of our favorite artists, Candace Rose Rardon, is back with a book! Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know, published by Quirk Books, is a fantastic and comforting read. We have published an excerpt from the book: Tea Tasting 101 – click to read.

Tea Tasting 101. From Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know

We highly recommend this charming, informative, interesting book.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Candace, and ask her about her own tea story, the joys and challenges of researching this book, and more. Here’s what she had to say…

Read This: Candace Rose Rardon on Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know

Please tell us about your new book, Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know…

True to its title, this book is a pocket-sized celebration of all things tea—from how to taste tea to different types of teapots and how to use them. While I loved diving into the practical side of preparing and drinking tea, the section I most enjoyed writing was about many of the tea traditions found across the world. 

I consider myself a kind of unofficial cultural anthropologist, so I felt right at home getting to explore the legends and history behind each tradition. For instance, I was fascinated to learn that Zen Buddhist monks played a big role in helping tea spread across Asia in the 7th and 8th centuries. As monks from Japan and Korea traveled to China to study, they found tea helped them stay alert yet calm during long hours of meditation, so they often carried tea seeds back with them.

What is *your* tea story? Did you grow up with tea, or learn to love it during your life and travels?

Both! My mother is a huge tea lover, so I grew up sharing scones and pots of English breakfast with her. Once I moved abroad and started traveling, the familiar black tea I’d always known was transformed around the globe. I fell in love with the spices of masala chai in India, with mint tea in Morocco, and especially with the beautiful Japanese tea ceremony, which I had a chance to take part in myself in Kyoto a few years ago.

In countries such as Turkey and Morocco, tea is an especially powerful symbol of hospitality, kindness, and connection, and I’m grateful to have been offered so many cups of tea during my travels. I loved being able to draw on my own experiences when writing about the role that tea has played in so many cultures the world over.

What was your research process like? Joys? Challenges? How many cups of tea did you enjoy while researching and writing this book?

While I spent hours reading and watching YouTube videos (British tea company Mei Leaf has an especially helpful library of videos and demos online), I also got very lucky in that just three blocks from my home in Montevideo, Uruguay, there’s a beautiful tea shop, Reencontraté, owned by tea sommelier Victoria Rodríguez. I had several private sessions with Victoria, during which we would taste different teas together, discuss their flavor profiles, study the wet and dry leaves, etc. The research process absolutely wouldn’t have been the same without our in-person sessions. 

What might people be surprised to learn, about tea?

I myself was very surprised to discover that all six families of tea—white, green, yellow, oolong, black, and dark (such as pu-erh)—come from the same species of tea plant, Camellia sinensis. All the different varieties of tea, then, are a product of what happens to the tea leaves after they’ve been plucked and harvested.  

Another key discovery for me was learning about how differently tea is prepared in the east vs. the west. In Western tea traditions, a pot of tea is typically prepared by brewing a small amount of tea in a large teapot, and the tea leaves are steeped only once. In much of Asia, however, tea is prepared using smaller vessels such as a gaiwan with a much larger ratio of tea leaves to water. Tea is also steeped multiple times, so you get to enjoy watching the flavor and aroma of the tea evolve through each infusion.

Read This: Candace Rose Rardon on Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know

How do you suggest people start, with drinking tea?

I might suggest three ways to start exploring the world of tea. The first would be to seek out more whole, loose-leaf tea. Tea bags are certainly convenient (I still have some in my own pantry), but they so often just can’t compete in quality and flavor. Loose-leaf tea is also a much healthier option. Tea bags contain what are known as fannings and tea dust, which have fewer antioxidants and less essential oils than whole leaves. 

Secondly, start to explore the different tea families and the range of flavors they offer. Before diving into the research for this book, I often opted for black tea. But thanks to the dozens of teas I tasted, I’ve discovered so many new loves in the tea world — the savory taste of genmaicha (green tea leaves mixed with toasted rice); the delicate, fruity notes of White Peony white tea; and especially the smooth, woodsy comfort of pu-erh. 

Finally, you might even consider exploring different tea vessels and trying out the Chinese method of infusing your tea leaves multiple times—known as gong fu cha. I purchased my first gaiwan (a small, handleless bowl that comes with a lid and saucer) while writing the book, and feel like I get so much more flavor from each cup of tea now. 

What’s up next for you?

I’m excited to say I’m now at work on Stuff Every Coffee Lover Should Know, also for Quirk Books. Coffee has played an equally important role in my travels, so I can’t wait to put on my cultural anthropologist hat again and dive into the history of another of the world’s favorite hot beverages.

How can people learn more about your work - and this book?

I’m very happy that the book is available on, which helps support local and independent bookstores. I’ve also recently started a new newsletter, Here and Now, where I’ll be sharing several excerpts from the book and some of my own tea illustrations over the next few weeks. And finally, you can always find me sharing sketches and stories on Instagram. Thank you for having me, Jessie!

Read This: Candace Rose Rardon on Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know


All photos courtesy and copyright Candace Rose Rardon. Teashop photos: From a visit to a tea shop in Montreal earlier this year, Camellia Sinensis, where she had a delicious pu-erh tea brewed in a yixing clay teapot.