Monday, July 13, 2009

Translate a tea book vs write a tea book

I just got off the phone with a friend who suggested me to write a book about Dan Cong. Because a business associate of hers decided to write a book about Dan Cong after spending 2 months in China learning this tea. He learned of the existence of Dan Cong through my friend a year ago whom also learned of the tea from me. So she felt I am more qualified to write a book about Dan Cong than he is. I feel a bit insulted to my teacher.

I suggested to her the book of Fenghuang Dancong Oolong Tea. I told her I am translating the book and I am not anywhere near qualified to write a book about Dan Cong myself. Even I learned every thing of my teacher's, still does not make me qualified to write a book myself.

Many tea books written outside of tea regions are mostly by passionate drinkers/sellers whom spent a quantity of time learning it without any growing or processing practice. Witnessing the process makes great entertainment material, in a book form it's also what it is.

For this reason, professionally I am not qualified to write a book about tea, any tea. My profession is to sell tea, not to grow and process tea. I chose to translate a tea book, because translation dose not include my own opinion, contents of the book are as they intended by the original author whom is well qualified with decades of experience in the field, also educated formally in the field (Master degree in tea cultivation, professors/researchers teaching the subject.). It's unfortunate that most of these books are not written in English. I feel these valuable information should be made available to the rest of the world without any personal interpretation. No misleading information, no guessing, no misinterpretation, no misrepresentation. Straight from the source written by those whom farm those lands, pluck those leaves with their own hands for many many years. That's what makes them qualified to write books of their beloved teas.


Herb Master said...

How close are you to publication, I would love to buy a copy!

drumhum said...

I have to disagree with you Iman. There is nothing wrong in writing down your views and opinions on a subject for all to see. You do this on your blog all the time. What difference does it make if your words are in print rather than on the net?

As you point out there are a lot of books containing questionable information and of sub standard quality. You also point out there are writers considering publishing tea books who are less experienced and knowledgeable about tea than you.

You have significant knowledge that would benefit many tea-interested folk in the world to learn.

So long as you write honestly and from your heart, separating your opinions from facts, I am sure your book would be of great interest and use to many people.

There is nothing wrong with writing from the perspective of a dealer and learner.

At what point would you feel worthy to write? One never stops learning. I am sure every writer has regretted writing some lines in the past, but if they never wrote what they knew then (even with the odd error), we would never have books.

I believe your respect and humility towards the world of tea would create a super read.

Just write what you know and not what you don't!

I'd buy your book

I don't leave many comments on your blog but I'm an avid reader.

Imen said...


I thought long and hard of this mater for the last couple of days.

From my logic, there are 2 main separations of type of books and authors: The self expressionists and the text documentaries.

Self expressionists are the ones write base on feelings, imaginations, personal interpretations base on some facts. Such as dramas, romance, fiction, spirituality and such.

On a side note, I find that many Hollywood celebrity biographies are self indulging, self romancing the idea of writing a book about themselves. Are they responsible for misleading others? Well, question mark! But they make entertaining reading materials to some.

Text documentaries are factual and scientific materials without any personal opinions. Persons who write these books should be well qualified having in mind that these are used as reference to guide readers in the correct direction.

I feel that I am not qualified to write books of the later type. If I write a book with my interpretations base on a small amount of facts and science, it's substandard quality and unacceptable to myself, knowing that I know very little relatively speaking. Looking back at some of my earlier blog posts, I feel the same way. I supposed because I have traveled down this path, I truly feel I too must be responsible for what I post on the net. Since I have the first hand resource and knowledge of my teacher's, it's better to directly import those information. However it's not the only way to write a tea book, especially by those who wants to share in any way they desire. My apology if I offended anyone with my rigidness.

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I do hope one day I'll know enough to write such a text.

And thank you for reading my blah continuously! :)


Imen said...

Herb Master,

I am about 1/4 of the way into the work. Actually publication date is unknown at this time. I can email you some information when it's done. :)


Anonymous said...

Whether you translate or write your own book makes little difference because translations into English are sorely needed. However, I'd encourage you to have more confidence that you're truly an expert and your knowledge is desired. The specialty tea market is growing so fast right now that surely many people will want to read what you have to say. I'm working on my first tea book, called "Spirituality of Tea." --Jason

Imen said...


Thank you for the encouragement.

Please let me know when your book comes out! :)

abx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abx said...

There's nothing saying that a book must be one or the other. You could always write about tea from your perspective and use that to convey the facts that you know. I'm sure that as you go along you would find questions that you hadn't asked before, allowing you to seek the answers to fill in those gaps while writing. I suspect that such a book would do much better here in the US than a straight textbook :)