James Norwood Pratt
Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and brought up on land which has been in his family since before the American Revolution, James Norwood Pratt was educated at Chapel Hill and abroad and published his first book on tea in 1982. He is the acknowledged instigator and prophet of America’s present Tea Renaissance and is quite possibly the world’s most widely-read authority on tea and tea lore, thanks to books translated into multiple languages and numerous columns, articles and print and TV interviews in US and overseas media. His landmark James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary was named Best New Publication by the World Tea Expo in 2010. He appears in several films and theatrical productions and lives with his wife Valerie Turner in San Francisco.
In California he wrote his first book The Wine Bibber’s Bible (1971). He is best known for his books on tea, including The Tea Lover’s Treasury (1982), “The Tea Lover’s Companion” (1995), and the whimsical Reading Tea Leaves (1996) authored as “by a Highland Seer.”
The New Tea Lover’s Treasury
In 2000 he brought out James Norwood Pratt’s NEW Tea Lover’s Treasury saying “It’s the new tea lover who has forced America’s sleepy old tea trade to wake up.” A complete re-casting of his earlier work in the light of increased information, this book has been translated into German with the title Tee fur Geniesse and is widely used as a training manual in the US tea trade.
In 2010 appeared James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary, by any measure the most comprehensive work on tea since W.H. Ukers published All About Tea in 1935.
Tea trade milestones:
JNP was named Honorary Director of Imperial Tea Court, America’s first traditional Chinese teahouse which opened in 1993 in San Francisco. He has played a major role in disseminating China tea information and tea ways in America and the West. He first anglicized the name for the Chinese covered cup, for example, as “gaiwan” and on second thought changed the spelling to “guywan.” Both spellings are now found in English, French and German.
A popular speaker and teacher, Mr. Pratt has addressed audiences from Zurich, Switzerland (Le Club des Buveurs de The Suisse) and London’s Kew Gardens to Hangzhou (China Tea Research Institute). He served as International Juror at India’s first-ever tea competition, The Golden Leaf India Awards 2005, in Coonoor, India, and acted as consultant, teacher, taster or spokesman for various tea companies.
Profiling him as “The Renaissance man of the tea industry” in Fresh Cup magazine’s “1999 Tea Almanac”, Michelle Williams wrote: “Parts historian, connoisseur, and world-traveller, he has carved out a reputation as the consummate spokesman for US tea consumers. His wit and dedication to the beverage have helped spread the gospel of tea to tens of thousands of people.”
In 2007 he helped stage a Festival of Tea for Santa Fe Opera’s premier production of “Tea: A Mirror of Soul” by Chinese composer Tan Dun.