James Norwood Pratt

James Norwood Pratt

James Norwood Pratt is an author and authority on wine, tea and tea lore. He was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and brought up in Forsyth County, North Carolina on land which has been in his family since before the American Revolution. He was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in Europe and since 1965 has lived chiefly in San Francisco.

Literary works

In California he wrote his first book "The Wine Bibber's Bible" (1971). He is best known for his books on tea "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," 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 often used as a training manual in the US tea trade.

Tea trade milestones

He was named Honorary Director of Imperial Tea Court, a traditional Chinese teahouse which opened in 1993 in San Francisco. Mr. Pratt 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.

Also a 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. He also serves as a consultant, teacher, taster or spokesman for numerous 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.