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Tea: The Drink that Changed the World

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  52 reviews
This book is a fascinating history of tea and the spreading of tea throughout the world.

Camellia sinensis, commonly known as tea, is grown in tea gardens and estates around the world. A simple beverage, served either hot or iced, tea has fascinated and driven us, calmed and awoken us, for well over two thousand years.

The most extensive and well presented tea history
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published 2007 by Tuttle Publishing
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  453 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Dec 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
I asked for this book for Christmas after browsing through tea books at B&N and stumbling across this one.

The book was really enjoyable because it covered an enormous amount of history, without getting into too much of the nitty-gritty on any of it. In particular, it covers a lot more of the Asian tea tradition than I'm used to reading about. There's also a long section about the socio-economics of the tea trade, both historically and from a modern-day perspective. It really drove me to
Basil Chong
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. For a microhistory, I found it far too brief, and barely skimmed the surface of the story of tea. At points, felt like I was reading a series of wikipedia articles.
Eustacia Tan
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Let me count the tea-related things I have in my house. I have two bags/boxes of Mlesna tea from my favourite tea shop in Tokyo (specially requested from a friend), I have mulberry tea from Kaogshima, I have the ANA limited edition loose-leaf tea set, and I have the Lotte Milk Tea Chocopie. I even considered buying this overpriced Book of Tea, which is a mook that has 50 samples of tea. Or at least, I considered it until I saw the price. I think it's safe to say that I really, really like tea. ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
A nice overview of tea and all that goes into the growing and production of it and the history of where and how it is produced. Nothing too deep or earth-shattering here. The story is followed from its beginnings in China and traces its trail from Buddhist monks to Japan and Korea and its appearance throughout the rest of the world due to traders trying to grow the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, in places as diverse as Southeast Asia, Assam in India, Kenya, Argentina, Ceylon(Sri Lanka), and even ...more
A quick and satisfying overview

What you will learn herein:
~ How is tea grown, harvested, and prepared?
~ How do varieties differ (green, white, black, etc.)?
~ All teas are the same family of plant!
~ A long history of Chinese and Japanese (and Korean) tea, replete with multiple-monosyllabic-named masters and their protégés.
~ How the West took advantage of naval superiority, controlled half of the Indian subcontinent, and addicted tens of millions of Chinese to Indian opium imports in order to
John Beynon
Oct 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: tea, history
Laura Martin's book is a useful overview of the history of tea, which begins with an account of the development of tea drinking culture in China, Korea, and Japan. The book then discusses the Europe's introduction to tea, the role of the Dutch and British East India Companies, and 19th-century national conflicts (such as the opium wars) that resulted from the tea trade. Martin's account of tea in the 2oth and 21st centuries is somewhat thin, but she does provide a glimpse into the problems with ...more
Fraser Sherman
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
As a tea lover, I really enjoyed this one. Martin starts with the legends about the discovery of tea, then follows it through China (where it was originally a bitter drink prized mostly as a stimulant) to the discovery baking and drying it would make it taste good. What followed was a mix of steady growth, coupled with more than a few dark sides (Chinese peasants had to do without food crops at time in order to provide the emperor with tribute tea). There's also a good deal about the tea ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
A little more basic than I was hoping for, but not bad as an overview and plenty of fun historical anecdotes. The British are even bigger bastards than I realised, predictably. The writing was too brief and vague at times, especially in the sections on pre-modern China and Japan, but the bibliography looks decent. I'm mining it for sources.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very good introduction to the history of tea. I was expecting more information, but it's a short book and gives a very good overview. It also covers the basic differences between types of tea, both in processing and geographic location.

Anyone wishing to learn the basics on tea history or appreciation will find it interesting and helpful.
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
3.25. Light, chatty discussion of the history of tea. Not super deep or comprehensive, but a nice overview.
Sue Thompson
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
This is a genuinely interesting little book about one of my favourite things in life Tea!

I adore this beverage whether its bags or loose, or black, green or white I love it all, and I think that is what helped me to enjoy this book so much.

For someone who is not a tea drinker or sticks to their favourite brand of tea bag (and thats fine- no criticism) may find it less interesting as there are many references to different types of tea, from different areas and the changes in preparation method.
This was a nice read, and rather fascinating to learn more about tea.
Pamela Hamon
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This easy-reading book was a well-researched and written text on the world history of tea. I would classify this as a "reader's digest" version of tea history, as the bibliography's primary resources for this book included some of the most outstanding tea history books. This would be a great book for tea enthusiasts who aren't ready to ready to commit to reading a tome like "The True History of Tea" (Victor Mair et al) but still want to develop an appreciation for the breadth and depth of tea's ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: cuisine, world
A short story of how tea was grown, how the types became what they are today and how it evolved due to human intervention. Plus, a simple introduction to how the tea is brewed to keep its original taste intact. Who would like to spend time on it? Maybe total tea freaks... Anyone else will be coming to a stall after a few pages since it doesn't seem to be encouraging those no-tea-just-coffee types to read further. Those who look for a compendium on the history of various teas and herbal brews ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This isn't an exhaustive history of tea, nor does it cover every aspect of tea production; however, it does provide a thorough look at how tea production evolved and how its popularity spread through East Asia, Western Europe and eventually the United States.

I have not done much reading on the history of tea so, I learned quite a bit from this book. For example, I didn't realize that tea used to be processed into bricks and then shaved. I also didn't realize that tea trade with China was the
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I could feel a madman's grin on my face when I reached the appendix section. Especially when it started matching tea with food. YESSS.

This was comprehensive and intriguing, even if it did remind you of a history textbook at times. Worry not if it gets too invested in historical events, there are old clippings and diagrams of tea paraphernalia scattered across the pages clean and crisp stuff for eye candy.

I would advise reading Kakuzo Okakura's The Book of Tea first. It isn't needed for
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, asia, europe, africa
I liked this microhistory. It contains some of the most succinct explanations of world events I've read, all seen through a tea leaf. There is also a thorough explanation of the various tea-related jargon out there.

I appreciated the author's emphasis on the human element of tea manufacture. It's one of those things that isn't pointed out as much as it is with coffee or chocolate manufacture. Most of the tea in the world, and certainly all the good tea in the world, is processed by hand.
May 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I like micro-histories, and this one laid out the history of tea in a clear and easy to follow way. Unfortunately, I never felt that the prose became very interesting, and the anecdotes and stories told didn't engage me as much as with some other non-fiction books I've read. But an interesting overview to the history and (fairly) current state of tea in the world. I especially appreciated how clear it was regarding the colonial history and many atrocities connected to the historical tea trade, ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Tea Drinkers
Recommended to Toni by: No one
I found this book quite fascinating. About the only down side were the few spots when I got bogged down with information/facts and was not covering very many pages or making progress. If you enjoy drinking tea, then this is a fun book to read. It would also be a great resource if writing a research paper on the subject of tea. This was another one of those books that caught my eye while I was searching for another book at the library.
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: global
A historical reference book discussing how this simple beverage made an impact on our world....whether we drink it or not. Also explaining the spread of tea throughout Asia and the world.

"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you." William Gladstone (1809-1898) British Prime Minister
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a nice little book on the history of tea, how it came to be the most popular drink in China and how it traveled the world to become the most popular beverage on Earth.
The author manages to pack a large amount of information in a book that is surprisingly accessible and entertaining. If you love tea I highly recommend this book!
Dec 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: tea lovers
This was a delightful read! It is the definitive guide to tea- history, botony, and even a guide to teas. I absolutely adored it, and I want to add it to my collection. Martin does a lovely job of telling the story of tea in an interesting way that made me want to have a different cuppa with every chapter. It is informative and instructive.
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This was a great accessible history of Tea in 256 pages. I really enjoyed this biographical sketch on the plant, the varieties of Teas and how it has evolved as a culture. Educational and entertaining without ever becoming a slog. You don't even need to read it all at once to get its benefits.

I will never go to the store again and walk by the Tea section without thinking of this book.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, travel, history
Accessible, light writing, nicely organized, with lots of really good tidbits. Only problem is, it's not an academic book, so there are no footnotes for those of us who want to go have our own look at the information so we can check if they are "facts" or facts!
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, history
Very interesting read about tea, from how it is grown to how its sales affected foreign relations and power. It was a bit dry at times, but if you are a tea drinker, it will explain where some of your favorite blends are grown and how they are made.
Laura Eggen
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A clear and concise book that provided fascinating information about a drink that really did change the world. It was an immensely entertaining book that I highly recommend to anyone looking to learn more about this delicious beverage.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a relatively quick and easy read. Reading and tea go together. Out of the books out there on the subject of tea, this one gives a nice summary of the history in addition to tea today, down to brewing suggestions and types of tea. I would recommend for the tea drinker.
Cristian Ubeda
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im just starting in the tea world and this book gives you a good and easy way to have a good approach not only the types and process involved but also history, culture and much more.
Not rate it with 5 stars only because in some cases I found a little of disorder on the topics. But great book!.
Dramatica Darmody
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
It's an interesting subject, but some of the writing reads like a school report.
Mark Koester
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Very informative and tons to learn here. Writing style and flow is rather rigid. Could have been a better story. It's an extended encyclopedia entry.
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“Tea is better than wine for it leadeth not to intoxication, neither does it cause a man to say foolish things and repent thereof in his sober moments.” 0 likes
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