Tea Book Reviews

F.H. Murphy ‘The Spirit of Tea’ – Tea Book Review

The spirit of tea

What if an alluring aroma and a stimulating taste are not all that tea is? Believing that plants, including tea, are sentient beings Frank Headley Murphy in his book ‘Spirit of Tea’ shows that tea has a spiritual side that can provide grounding experience and deepen our awareness.

Frank Headley Murphy is a seasoned tea professional with a background in medicine from his early days, and countless years or evaluating and writing about tea. In the ‘Spirit of Tea’ Frank does share some information about tea’s chemical composition and effect on the body, but the focus is on the spiritual side of tea, on its ability to awaken the intelligence of our hears. Hence, the book first introduces us to the spirit of tea – a thunder in the lake with a stimulating and energizing quality. We are then invited to brew tea together and experience unique flavours of the six types of teas. What follows is a look at how tea affects our bodies, that can be both beneficial and harmful, if tea is overindulged. Finally the book introduced the original name of tea, unwrapping its meaning; and shows the importance of befriending tea.

‘Spirit of Tea’ has a very personal style. It was written in the first person, with the author sharing many of his own experiences with tea, so it gives a feeling as if you are reading someone’s diary. While the book provides some factual information about tea, when introducing different types of teas and tea’s chemical composition; most of the content is filtered through personal experience and, hence, is quite subjective. The book has a very poetic vibe too, with some startling insights and inferences, such as: ‘The amazing thing about tea is that she shares with us her desires to fulfill herself as a tree, which is why we can have such expansive experiences, as if we were being lifted up into the branches of the tree. Or such grounding experiences, where we feel as if we were being brought down into the roots of the tree.’ Sometimes it may even appear too mystical and otherworldly, especially when Frank says in the book ‘I place my hand over the brewing leaves, and chi flows out of my palms into a tea vessel’.

While this books does not share so much factual information about tea and only presents Chinese teas, it provides and interesting account for those curious about what a spiritual life with tea may be.

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