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Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Puer tea has been grown for centuries in the "Six Great Tea Mountains" of Yunnan Province, and in imperial China it was a prized commodity, traded to Tibet by horse or mule caravan via the so-called Tea Horse Road and presented as tribute to the emperor in Beijing. In the 1990s, as the tea's noble lineage and unique process of aging and fermentation were rediscovered, it a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 1st 2013 by University of Washington Press (first published September 12th 2013)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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Autoclette
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Growing up in a Japanese American household, tea was for me, ubiquitous. My mother practiced Japanese Tea Ceremony, so lovely tea things were all around me, in fact I even kept my toy soldiers in the ornate tea canisters my mom would give to me when they were empty.
I say this to to underscore the initial joyful shock of tasting Pu-erh for the first time being no stranger to quality teas. I was in a depressive mode, and just happened into Chicago's only Chinese Tea House. Upon my first sip of the
...more
Nicole Martin
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a must read for anyone who loves tea, especially puerh. I love that Zhang gives many perspectives on the story of the 2007 pricing bubble. Most of us here in the US did not have access to all of those nitty gritty details.
Eustacia Tan
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-about-tea
If you’ve been to a Chinese restaurant (especially one in Hong Kong), you’ve probably had puer. It’s a post-fermented tea and is said to aid digestion. I heard a lot of things about puer, about how Malaysia (and I suppose by extension, Singapore) are great places to age it, about how people buy them for investments, and many conflicting stories about their origin. Many people say that puer was discovered accidentally when caravans carrying tea to countries trading with China were exposed to the ...more
Alex
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a one of a kind book. It's very hard to find well-researched books about the tea world in English. This is an extraordinary book that digs deep into the roots of Puer tea, it's speculative bubble during 2007 and the relationship with China's recent history.

Maybe the part I enjoyed the most wasn't the Puer tea stories per se, but the relationship between tea, culture, and history. It's fascinating to read about farming conditions in inland China, how the revolution affected people and th
...more
John
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book provides an informative account of the author's encounters with the makers, sellers, and consumers of Pu'er tea. Zhang acquaints the reader with Pu'er tea's history and the debates swirling around this product. Her storytelling is engaging, and her accounts are rich, though they might have benefitted from more attentive editing. Her interesting use of 'jianghu' (a term referring to a Chinese literary tradition of martial arts practitioners dwelling on the margins of society and living ...more
Dave Lusby
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fascinating to read about the "pu'erh bubble" burst of 2007, where the price of tea rose to ridiculous heights before predictably crashing leaving a lot of speculators with huge stocks of tea worth pennies in comparison to what they had laid out. Woven around this crash are histories of teas (pu'erh in particular) and detailed descriptions of growing-harvesting-processing-storing pu'erh (possibly of interest only to tea-heads. ...more
Michael
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is a sociological study of the puer tea market, which includes the tea growers, tea makers, tea traders and consumers. It cuts through a lot of the myths surrounding puer tea and although the book doesn't directly say so, it implies that much of the appeal of puer tea is a search for status, tradition and authenticity by modern Chinese consumers. The book is about tea but what it has to say about modern Chinese society is fascinating and should be of interest to anyone who wants to lear ...more
Nowen
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Zhang provides a clear, concise, and unbiased overview of the historical context and development of puer tea, including: the geopolitical history of the regions where puer tea is grown, how tea began interacting with the Chinese cultural sphere, how the structure of the puer tea industry changed during different periods of modern Chinese history (Republican era, pre/post Cultural Revolution), the debate between raw versus matured puer tea, the speculative market for puer tea during the mid 2000s ...more
Max
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this study about this much debated Heicha which involves interviews, film clips and great written analyses. I see myself coming back frequently to look up quotes and segments. If you are into puerh or just tea in general this is the book for you.
Daria
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
There is lot of good information about pu erh tea, but it feels like tea facts with business facts doesn’t connect, it’s like jumping from one to other. I wish this book would be edited by a professional writer to make it more joyful to read.
Nathan Schmidt
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads, and am grateful for the gift.

As someone who prefers to just drink water, I never expected to read a book on tea. This book proved me wrong. It pulled me in with the combination of modern and historical perspectives, intermixed with the personal experiences of the author. Just by reading this book, I think I have gained valuable insights into many elements of China, including history, culture, politics, and economy.

The technical details
...more
Pamela Hamon
This book explores the cultural, anthropological, and economical forces that drove the business of Puer tea based on Yunnan, China in the 2000s. The book includes snippets from many interviews, events, and conversations across Yunnan over the period leading up to the pricing speculation crash in 2007. The book reads in an more academic voice, so be prepared for that. However, it is impeccably sourced and researched, and you may be compelled to trace down source material for further exploration.
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Phillip
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 / 5.0
Detailed informative ethnographic study. Very illuminating. Written from viewpoint of novice. Complex subject matter analyzed in a very straight forward manner with no preconceptions.

Took a bit for author to find voice at start.
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