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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  88,545 ratings  ·  10,443 reviews
In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.

Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her
Paperback, 371 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Scribner (first published March 21st 2017)
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Lisa See Nope! I don't have a sequel planned. A lot of people have asked for a sequel, though. Here's how I look at it: I hope readers will use their imaginati…moreNope! I don't have a sequel planned. A lot of people have asked for a sequel, though. Here's how I look at it: I hope readers will use their imaginations to think about what could or should happen next. What will Li-yan and Haley say to each other? Will Sean and Haley get married? Is Haley there to help with the trees in some way? I've been hearing all kinds of wonderful ideas from readers, which tells me that I was right to end the novel as I did.(less)
Lisa See The new novel is about an Akha ethnic-minority girl in Yunnan, China, who gives birth to a daughter and abandons her. The baby is then adopted by an A…moreThe new novel is about an Akha ethnic-minority girl in Yunnan, China, who gives birth to a daughter and abandons her. The baby is then adopted by an American family in Pasadena. I always have a historical backdrop. This time it's the birthplace of tea and the Akha ethnic minority. The novel is completely immersive in the way that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was immersive in the Yao culture of Hunan.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  88,545 ratings  ·  10,443 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Lisa See fans.... ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY with "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane".

Lisa's new novel has all the elements we loved from several of her books....
"The Snow Flower and The Secret Fan", "Shanghai Girls", and "Dream of Joys"....
Compelling storytelling, historically-set in a remote region, and culture, well researched, beautifully woven plot, an expanded appreciation for the Chinese history,
Heritage, family tradition
Always Pouting
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angela M (On a little break)
4.5 stars

This story gives us a fascinating look at this ethnic minority known as the Akha in a rural village in a tea growing region in China. It also provides fairly in depth information on the tea industry. But this is Lisa See and so it is of course so much more. It has language that flows and characters that you grow attached to even though you might not understand their culture and a captivating story of mothers and daughters, families, fate and love. There are multiple layers here. Li-yan
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
one of the best things a historical fiction book can do is to teach the reader something new.

i may have learned a lot more about tea making and the tea industry than i would have liked, but i was absolutely enthralled by the information regarding some of the ethnic minority groups in china, particularly the akha.

and its that culture and tradition which makes this family saga such a wonderful story with so much soul. i enjoyed reading about how li-yans upbringing and customs raised her, but the
Simply this:

Lisa See kicked in the door on this one. If you are a long-standing fan of her writing, you will have experienced the solid depth and breadth of her superb skill. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is exceptional.

"All you can do is live," she says. "You don't have a choice. Life continues whether we want it to or not. The sun will rise despite our suffering."

The Akha people of the remote mountainous tea regions of China live in almost pure isolation. At the very center of their existe
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This epic family saga begins in the high mountains of China where wild tea trees grow some of the most sought-after tea in the world. The people are known as the Akha people, one of 55 minority groups in a country whose majority group is called Han.

With her renowned attention to detail and copious research, Lisa See has created a story that is as broad and sweeping as China itself yet her characters are formed like the most delicately detailed paintings and the story itself flows like skillfully
I'm no tea connoisseur, but this story was so flavourful I could imagine myself sitting back enjoying a tea from The Naunnu mountains - perhaps even in a hammock. Hmmm.

Steeped in traditions and superstitions, this is a richly textured story of Li-yan who becomes the only one in the Akha village who is fortunate enough to get an education. But young love intervenes and her path is changed. She is forced to give up her daughter but fortunate enough to be able to leave her at the city's orphanage.
Full of life metaphors, heartbreak, and hope, this stunning book centers on a remote ethnic minority and their unwavering beliefs that are both beautiful and deeply punitive. Culture, love, life, death, adoption, tribal evolution, and tea. So many elements are entwined in this story that grows in every way. I am a different person after reading this book. Perspective and the opportunity to learn are such generous gifts. Thank you, Lisa See.

My favorite quote:
"All you can do is live," she says. "Y
Diane S ☔
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Once again Lisa See brings to her readers a different culture, the Akha, seeped in their own beliefs and superstitions. A culture that is immersed in the picking and cultivating tea leaves, though many barely make a living from this practice, having a hard time feeding their families. Li-Yan is a young girl in the village, her mother has prominence of a midwife and hopes that some day Li-Yan will take her place. She also has a secret and rather strange inheritance to pass on, which will figu ...more
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I’d only read one book by Lisa See before Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I enjoyed it very much, so I was more than pleased to have the opportunity to read her latest - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane!

Li-Yan and her family are Akha, an indigenous hill tribe who live in the higher elevations; they are classified by the Chinese government as part of the Hani. The Hani are “an official minority.” The Akha culture is one with much respect for those with age and experience. They have some fairly s
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4 stars! Wow – did I ever learn a lot about tea and the Chinese Akha culture!

I always love learning new things while reading and this book definitely educates the reader on the history, production and manufacturing, marketing and selling of tea as well as the drinking, enjoyment and health benefits. I am a tea drinker myself (I’m actually drinking tea while writing this review!), so I enjoyed learning about everything involved in the tea business, however, I did find it a bit overwhelming at ti
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I really enjoyed this story of Li-yan, born in a remote Yunnan village in China, of the minority Akha people.
Rare tea is made from the trees here, and we learn so much about tea making, Chinese customs and beliefs, and life in a small village.
Li-yan has a child very young, and she has a tough journey, but this shows the resilience of her people and this is a heartfelt story.
This is my first novel by Lisa See and I really enjoyed it!

Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster, and the author Lisa
Mary Beth
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was way out of my genre and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was so beautifully written and I got to experience a Lisa See book. It was a wonderful experience. This is a historical fiction book of the culture of China. I got to learn a lot about their beliefs and superstitions. When I saw the title of the book I was attracted to it since when I was younger I lived on a street called Hummingbird Lane.

The story starts out about a young girl named Li-Yan who starts a relationshi
Now *this* is why I love to read Lisa See's books. It transports me to this other time, other location, and just immerses me into the culture I know nothing about. I'll be honest, I did not care for her last two books, but this one just takes me back to her earlier books. Where See excels, is in her storytelling of Chinese women, traditions, and history. You often hear of such tragedies that people suffer, but how they pull themselves up, and prosper. And this book is a perfect example of all of ...more
Holly  B
3.5 Stars

Buddy read with Tessa!

I just loved the first half of this book. I learned about the Akha tribe and China. I especially enjoyed the character of Li-Yan and how she was able to escape the backwards beliefs of her family.

She becomes pregnant and her life takes a different path. There are some suspenseful moments and intrigue, but I struggled with the second half of the book. It is well researched and explores adoption, but the extensive information on tea and her daughters schooling ende
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
This book follows the life of Li-yan who is a member of the Akha hill tribe in China. Her family, along with a large majority of the tribe, makes a living growing and harvesting tea. The tribe has some very strict practices and rituals based on superstition. Twin births are considered defects and classified as human rejects. Custom requires that they be killed by their father and the parents banished from the community.

Li-yan falls in love with a boy in the village named San-pa. The family does
For me, this is Lisa See's best work to date. Before I began to read the novel itself, I read through the Acknowledgements because I was curious about the amount of and quality of research that the author did prior to writing her book, and the information I discovered greatly enhanced the quality of my enjoyment of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

The rare Pu'er tea and the unique customs of the Chinese hill tribe, the Akha people are central to this fascinating story, featuring the young Lin Y
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Lisa See fan has awaited this book for three, long years. My expectations were "cautiously" optimistic, however.

I read her last five novels, with "Shanghai Girls" and the sequel "Dreams of Joy" being two of my all-time favorites. Her last book, "China Dolls," didn't quite live up to her previous ones in my eyes.

"The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane" begins in the latter part of the 20th Century in a remote village situated high in the mountains of China. It is home to the primitive Akha people
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
4.5 stars. Wow. This book. I was quickly reminded of why I studied anthropology in undergrad. Culture. This book was filled with Ahka culture: the spirituality, the superstitions, the food, the work, the daily life, and the tea. The Ahka are an ethnic minority group living in a mountainous region of China famous for its ancient tea trees. We watch Li-yan grow up in this culture, where she is going to be a "first woman," and eventually get a formal education; until all that changes when she becom ...more
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
From reading other reviews for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane I was intrigued by the tea in this story as tea is my choice of beverage while reading. It used to be wine but I read too much for that.

I loved the quiet time reading and drinking my tea with this remarkable and intriguing book that drew me into a fascinating world of pu’er tea and culture. I partially listened to the audiobook and found it a good one to listen to as well.

The story is mostly told by only daughter Li-Yan called gir
Bam cooks the books ;-)
I am listening to Sarah Chang playing Sibelius's Violin Concerto in D Minor and enjoying a cup of tea while writing my review this evening. I have long been a tea lover (no coffee for me!) so on that subject, this book was utterly fascinating for me, being filled with all aspects of tea harvesting and processing but also with the poetry and philosophy of tea. My favorite quote:

"In drinking the best tea, you and I are having a conversation with the wind and the rain that the ancient Daoists had a
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book but I did not enjoy it as much as I did Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

On the one hand there was heaps of enjoyable information about the Chinese culture and the enormous changes the Chinese people have undergone in a very short time. The central tales of Li-yan and Haley are excellently told and very interesting to read. On the other hand the book seemed overly long and sometimes became bogged down in detail about tea. Some of this was of course essential to the story b
Diane Barnes
This book was a disappointment. More so because the first couple hundred pages were really good, great story of the Akha people in China, who followed old traditions even in the modern world, largely because they were isolated by the mountains where they grew their tea. Then, for some reason, the author started throwing facts and figures around, using completely unbelievable conversations, and the plotting got very contrived. The second half of the book felt like reading a textbook on tea. 4 sta ...more
This is a go big, or go home kind of book. Targeting a global village of readers from different walks of life. Reading this book is not only a story, it is a journey through history, into a documentary field and finally lying down in a political hotbed. Now, add a strong mother-daughter bond, with a mother tree into the mix, and you have the whole picture.

There are three main themes in the book:

1) The introduction of the Akha People from the Yunnan Province in the southwest of China, bordering L
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book surprised me. I finally got to read it and I ate up the story like I'd been starving. The first half was more interesting to me than the second but it wasn't disappointing.

I learned a lot about Chinese minorities in China, mostly about the Akha people, especially being a girl there during the 1980s. I learned about Pu'er tea and the way it's fermented and stacked and the trees and bushes the Chinese mountain people used. How there are tea connoisseurs like wine sommeliers in Fr
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful read from Lisa See. I am not a tea drinker but this novel was so captivating that I think I am missing out on something special.
This book is a history lesson on tea farming and it's production along with the benefits of Pu'er tea.
More research is needed on this tea for me.

"Confucius taught his followers that tea could help people understand their inner dispositions."
"While Buddhists grant tea the highest spiritual qualities, ranking it among the four ways to concentrate the min
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane sounds like just another pretty name, when you first spot it. It brings promise, as does the author's well-known name, Lisa See. A promise of secrets, twilight and fantastic cultures it might take you too.

I'm going to tell you that it delivers. Brace yourselves for this book.

Read full review here on my blog. Includes pics and links to buy.

First of all, this is probably the first book about China that has not given me nightmares or made me feel like I don't ever w
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
This book started off very slowly for me. I nearly gave up before I was 10% of the way done with the book (I went back to look at reviews from trusted friends to determine whether or not to keep going). Thankfully I made it over the hump and continued, because if I gave up it would have been my loss.

Lisa See once again beautifully describes the life of Li-yan, a young girl who is part of an enthnic minority in China known as the Akha. Li-yan's community makes their livlihood primarily by picking
4.5 stars

Lisa See has made me very happy. She can always be trusted to provide historical pieces that both entertain and inform the reader. So even though the only tea I care to drink is Arizona Zero Calorie Green with Ginseng, I now know more about making tea in China than I could ever imagine, and I loved reading about the ancient customs and superstitions of the mountain people known as the Akha. Li-Yan's Akha family spent their lives selling tea, her mother also using it for medicinal purpos
Marilyn C.
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017

5 Stars for Outstanding Writing and Character Development
3 Stars for Storyline

Lisa See became a favorite author of mine when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan many years ago. See writes stories that pull the reader into the Chinese culture, and has you come away feeling like you have learned something about their beliefs and customs. She develops her characters in such a way that you feel a connection to them, even though many of them don't even exist in your era.

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Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

Articles featuring this book

The author of the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan returns to China with The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.
32 likes · 11 comments
“No coincidence, no story.” 24 likes
“Tea reminds us to slow down and escape the pressures of modern life,” he says” 21 likes
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