About James Norwood Pratt
James Norwood Pratt – “Norwood” – has served the cause of tea around the world for more than thirty years. Since the first edition of his classic Tea Lover’s Treasury appeared in 1982, he has been a presence on the international tea scene, becoming Honorary Director of America’s first traditional Chinese tea house and International Juror of India’s first-ever tea competition and a force for excellence as educator and authority on tea and tea lore. He is author of James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary, the world-wide tea trade’s seminal reference work and is America’s acknowledged Tea Sage. He lives with his wife Valerie Turner Pratt in San Francisco.
Mr. Pratt 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.
Meet James Norwood Pratt, the author, at home:
Encomium For JNP as a “Tea Saint”
In 2010 the Library of Chinese Classics published a two volume, bi-lingual edition/translation of The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu and the lesser-known Sequel to the Classic of Tea compiled 1000 years later. The translation is the work of twin sisters, Jiang Yi and Jiang Xin, who praised JNP in their Introduction as follows:
“In recent years the person who has made the greatest efforts to promote and publicize The Classic of Tea is James Norwood Pratt, regarded as the ‘American Tea Saint.’ …In 2007 the opera Tea: Mirror of Soul by Tan Dun, a Chinese-born composer and conductor, was staged at the Santa Fe Opera in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Tan’s opening night was supported earnestly by James Norwood Pratt. James also published a series of articles including “Lu Yu: Soul Man.” His writings have aroused in the English-speaking world great enthusiasm about The Classic of Tea and Chinese tea culture, upgrading it from its previous utilitarian status to a new height as a work with profound spiritual implications.”
“Tea Saint” is much too good a mis-interpretation of “Tea Sage” to correct and is sure to amuse JNP’s wicked friends and colleagues.
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.”
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.
The Ultimate Tea Lover’s Treasury was published in 2011.
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.