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Liquid jade : the story of tea from east to west
Hohenegger, Beatrice
Adult Nonfiction GT2905 .H65 2006

Comments  Summary  Contents  Reviews  Author Notes

From Publishers' Weekly:

In this lively, exhaustive survey of the history and politics of tea, Hohenegger travels from ancient Asia to 15th century Europe to present day concerns about fair trade practices and organic farming. Focusing mainly on the drink's most enthusiastic supporters, the Chinese and the British, Hohenegger uses tea to tell no less than the "the story of the traumatic encounter and clash of cultures between East and West." Trailing tea over continents and centuries as it grows in popularity and becomes a power unto itself-in the form of the East India Tea Company-Hohenegger covers an interesting mix of topics, including Zen Buddhism, the Opium Wars, the first and only "tea spy," and, of course, the rise and fall of the British Empire, each of which were integral in the beverage's journey from storied "elixir of immortality" to simple commodity. The book's third part, a series of brief discussions on topics more typically the purview of purists, such as water quality, the role of the tea tester and the ongoing debate between the opposing MIF (Milk In First) and TIF (Tea In First) camps, is surprisingly engaging. Told with authority and affection, this narrative history is a stimulating treat. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

This work at first appears to be a historical survey, but Hohenegger-who will curate a related traveling 2009 exhibition on tea history-offers more of a social history of tea (with plenty of miscellany thrown into the pot). While the author does explore the emergence of the humble tea leaf as a global force, she equally touches on the aesthetic appreciation of tea in ancient and modern cultures. Often a mix of myth and history, the text, broken into short chapters, leads from Asia to Europe, weighing tea's significance through the centuries. Ancient tea ceremonies could literally be religious experiences, as well as the subject of poetry, as tea was associated with Taoism and the rise of art and culture throughout Asia. The book's integrity is difficult to maintain in the final sections, which deal with topics like the modern aspects of tea agriculture, water quality for brewing tea, and the varieties of tea available to consumers today. Overall, the author's light, humorous style is welcome and refreshing, especially when compared with other recent "microhistories" such as Betty Fussell's The Story of Corn and Patricia Rain's Vanilla. Recommended only where interest is high.-Elizabeth Morris, formerly with Illinois Fire Svc. Inst. Lib., Champaign (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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