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Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  150 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Traveling from East to West over thousands of years, tea has played a variety of roles on the world scene - in medicine, politics, the arts, culture, and religion. Behind this most serene of beverages, idolized by poets and revered in spiritual practices, lie stories of treachery, violence, smuggling, drug trade, international espionage, slavery, and revolution.
Liquid Jad
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 721)
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Sharon Roy
Jan 25, 2015 Sharon Roy rated it really liked it
This book reaches back into the deep history of China and the first tea drinkers and explores the spiritual, historical, economic, and social impact our love of tea has wrought across time and across continents. It's an amazing story, and one well worth reading. I was enchanted by parts of this book, and shocked by others (though by now I should no longer by shocked by any of the things one country or one people will do to another - it's not like our mistreatment is anything I haven't heard of b ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Kathleen rated it liked it
Things I Learned From This Book:

1. Tea is God.
2. English people ruin everything.

Okay, in all seriousness, this is a pretty good book. It's less a monograph on the history of tea, though, and more a series of anecdotes. Hohenegger writes in short, bite-sized chapters, and I think the book is almost better consumed that way. Open it up, read a chapter, go 'huh,' and read something else for a while. Still, the information is perfectly factual as far as I can tell, and I did really like reading abou
Jan 24, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it
Since I'm supposed to be a tea author, I thought I should read this book to learn more about the origins and culture of tea. It was a great find! Each chapter consists of only 3-4 pages and reads like a novel. I learned about the early origins of tea in China, how the British became dependent on tea, how tea has fostered violence around the world, and other interesting facts. The author has certainly done her research and provides a substantial bibliography.
Jan 16, 2016 Trenchologist rated it it was ok
Reads more like a survey than a narrative, as if this book is academic journal submissions reporting on the results of a study. A lot of gems, great tidbits and lovely tableaus salted throughout, but these, as well as the concept of the whole, feel lost and bogged down by how spare yet expansive the ranging topics, time periods and events the author wants to recount, cover and reach. Still had interesting, good things in there to learn and know, but for me, just not all told within a very good b ...more
Laura Bang
Jul 25, 2014 Laura Bang rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, tea
A fascinating account of the history of tea—and by no means a dull history. Spanning millennia and continents, the story of tea encompasses triumphs and tragedies in great numbers, acted out by monks and soldiers, small communities and colonial superpowers, farmers and spies. Hohenegger herself sums it up best:

"In its many permutations from medicinal remedy to social beverage to fashion statement to object of religious ritual and then on to strategic tool, global commodity, and cause for labor s
Allison Lorraine
Sep 13, 2012 Allison Lorraine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It's a great read, a lot of historical facts I didn't know. And I learned one new vocuabulary word! The consequences of China not wishing to import British goods led to the Empire raising and legally approving the sale of Opium to Chinese citizens, which the Emperor lamented--it was destroying his country. The British harvested tea from one colony, India, to illictly purchase tea from China while promoting facilitating slavery in another colony, America and the Caribbean, in order to produce eno ...more
May 15, 2010 Angel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history readers, those who like tea, those who like reading about food and drink
This was a very pleasant and excellent read. I liked the organization, starting in the East, then working its way to the West, following the history and dissemination of tea around the world. The last two parts then go into trivia and other common facts about tea as well as looking at the economics of what is now a worldwide industry. By the time you are done reading this, you will have learned something about tea. The author uses a very evocative tone in the narrative that will have you longing ...more
Gerri Leen
Jul 30, 2011 Gerri Leen rated it really liked it

I'm a recent tea convert--you know, the loose leaf, good stuff. I've been drinking tea since I was a kid but never really understood what made a tea good or not, and what the difference were between the types, or what the history of tea was (and how crucial it was in so many ways to so many countries, but most especially China, Indian, Sri Lanka, England, Holland, and of course The United States). Wonderfully written and easy to get through--at least until the last bit. It got a bit, well, borin
This was an awesome little history of the cultivation and drinking of tea, from its first cultivation in China, to its spread to Japan, and then the European discovery and colonization to get their hands on everyone's favorite leaf. There are good side chapters on the opium wars and the quest to find the secret to china (the porcelain, not the country). The book sums up with a discussion of tea cultivation in the modern era, including fair trade and organic gardening practices. This book was a p ...more
Jul 03, 2011 Grace rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs, people interested in human rights and fair trade.
I bought the book after hearing a lecture by the author at UCLA. Her passion lies in Part 2, "to the West", which explains the politics and economics of tea and it's importance to the British empire. It's only 120 pages, but packs quite a punch. Then read part 4 about today's tea trade.

Contemporary events have me thinking quite a bit about the privileges and savagery of empire and the end of an empire. There are some important historical lessons to be learned here.

The rest of the book is cocktai
Ad Astra
Sep 07, 2011 Ad Astra rated it really liked it
A good general overview about the growth of tea in culture, trade, and the effects it's had in colonial and imperial times. I really enjoyed learning about what makes each tea (green, black, white, red) different in the end. The writer has a lot of historical interesting information, pacing and topics were good. I have a lot more appreciation for the labor and effort it takes to produce my loving cup of chai!
Tippy Jackson
Nov 05, 2009 Tippy Jackson rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, culture, politics, art
Very entertaining. Starts with Asian history of tea, ceremonial, historical and mythical. Moves to the introduction of tea to the west and the spread of tea, especially in England. Discusses tea taxation, importation and law as well as the spread of the coffee house and "penny universities." Moves on to random chapters about tea facts and lastly discusses the fair trade organic tea movements.
Feb 17, 2008 Susan rated it liked it
A comprehensive and accessible book of tea. Covers the history and culture and even some of the science. Captures the romance and spirit but does not veer away from the associations with colonialism and exploitation. Ends with suggestions for a more ethical and sustainable cup of tea. Short chapters make it an easy book to pick up every now and then.
Mar 21, 2012 Keri rated it it was ok
I felt that 50% of this book was decent, 25% was boring, and 25% was interesting. I liked how the chapters/topics were very short and readable. Some chapters were much more interesting to me than others. I did learn a lot about tea, though. And now, off to find some organic, free trade tea from sustainable farmers in Assam...
Jul 06, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
This book was seriously fun for me. I learned so many neat things and the short, mostly independent chapters made it easy to share interesting tidbits with friends. I could've lived without the last 10 pages or so - not really my style, but the rest was awesome.
Mar 13, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
An interesting history of Tea, the most detailed book on the subject I've found in print. I find it fascinating how the introduction of caffeinated beverages to Europe coincides with humanistic, financial and scientific advances.
Jul 18, 2012 Stan rated it it was ok
Very short chapters, skipping from topic to topic, practically like skimming through Wikipedia. Vaguely British perspective, with a little bit of historical apologia for the ruthless colonialism in China and India.
Daniel Fell
Aug 13, 2010 Daniel Fell rated it liked it
Whether or not you enjoy drinking tea, if you like history, you'll enjoy this rich account of how a simple mountain shade plant became a valuable form of natural currency and the world's most popular beverage.
Feb 28, 2007 Alexandra rated it really liked it
Highly enjoyable. I especially enjoyed reading about the Chinese and Japanese lore surrounding tea, and the evolution of the formal tea ritual.
Chels Patterson
Mar 21, 2012 Chels Patterson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tea people
Shelves: personal-reads
Well written and researched. Good well rounded educational experience. One really wants Tea when reading this history.
Oct 03, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
teaism is taoism

if falling asleep regularly in zazen, cut off yr eyelids

wisk matcha for headly frothy brew
Donna Jo Atwood
Interesting book on history of tea. I wish I'd had it when I did my program on tea.
No recipes.
Task 25.5B
Aug 23, 2007 Luisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history
A charmingly written and incredibly informative book. EVERYTHING you could want to know about tea.
Apr 30, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, tea lovers
Recommended to Jennifer by: G. King
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very interesting book on the history, politics and art of tea.
May 09, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing
Required reading for all tea-lovers.
Dec 16, 2008 Heidi rated it really liked it
Will appeal to more than tea dorks
Kate marked it as to-read
Feb 09, 2016
Angelyn marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2016
Danielle Dale
Danielle Dale marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2016
richardo sewell
richardo sewell marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2016
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