Peter G.W. Keen, 1941 – 2021
Popular tea author and journalist passed away on October 26, 2021. His articles for Tea Journey, Stir and World Tea News informed, amused and always challenged our understanding of what tea is, has been and could be as a meaningful part of daily lives. Rejecting the kind of language and complexity that sometimes haunts a good tea story, Peter always strove to keep it real and relevant.
“Tea is my pleasure and interest. I love it and enjoy sharing that delight.”
Even though tea celebrates an ancient history, specialty tea education and journalism in the U.S. is still something quite new. Most writers for the few publications like Stir, Tea Journey, World Tea News and T Ching bring a perspective from previous work. Peter Keen had been an academic with an MBA and PhD from Harvard Business School, a professor and author in that field long before he developed his passion for tea. He was a professor at leading business and technological universities, including Harvard, MIT and Stanford in the US and Mexico’s EGADE, Nanyang in Singapore, Delft TU, Holland and Stockholm University. In that life he had also been a prolific writer, authoring approimately fifty books. And it was with that voice and wealth of experience that he devoted his talents to his fascination for tea.
On his Amazon Author Page he wrote about a book that he was planning to release about, “Tomorrow’s Teas, shifts to the future: the innovation path of biogenetics, precision agriculture, DNA fingerprinting, climate change mitigation and blockchain.”
Two of his most popular books are Tea Tips and Heroines of Tea. They demostrate his dedication for making tea accessible and relevant to everyone, his love of history and his rejection of tea snobbery. He wrote about tea in real life.
The goal of Tea Tips is to give you a sense of the choices and how to pick the ones for you. It’s a navigation aid: a map of the territory with suggestions on where to stop, side trips and special sights. You don’t have to become an expert or tea snob to find them. But you won’t know what you’d like if you don’t know what’s out there. That goes well beyond the tea bag.
Tea is marked by two very distinct paths from the bush where the fresh leaf grows to the finished leaf that ends up in your cup: Artisan and Agribusiness. The question Tea Tips aims at answering is What is it worth your knowing about this?
Tea pervades the history, present and much of the future of society across the globe; nutrition, war, trade, social reform, science, health and crafts.
Women have been written out of most of this history. They sit and sip as gracious hostesses while men create businesses, and invent the tea bag and Earl Grey. But both of these were the work of women, who were also the pioneers in retailing, services and quality. Tea was a key resource and weapon in the long fight for Women’s Rights, as very much the equivalent of social media today.
This book centers around ten Heroines – women who achieved greatness through tea while facing barriers everywhere. From the 1300s to the late 1800s, married women were legally property, not persons. That makes their innovations heroic.