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Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West
     

Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West

by Beatrice Hohenegger
 

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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.

Overview

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 Jade's rich narrative history explores tea in all its social and cultural aspects. Entertaining yet informative and extensively researched, Liquid Jade tells the story of western greed and eastern bliss. China first used tea as a remedy. Taoists celebrated tea as the elixir of immortality. Buddhist Japan developed a whole body of practices around tea as a spiritual path. Then came the traumatic encounter of the refined Eastern cultures with the first Western merchants, the trade wars, the emergence of the ubiquitous English East India Company. Scottish spies crisscrossed China to steal the secrets of tea production. An army of smugglers made fortunes with tea deliveries in the dead of night. In the name of "free trade" the English imported opium to China in exchange for tea. The exploding tea industry in the eighteenth century reinforced the practice of slavery in the sugar plantations. And one of the reasons why tea became popular in the first place is that it helped sober up the English, who were virtually drowning in alcohol. During the nineteenth century, the massive consumption of tea in England also led to the development of the large tea plantation system in colonial India - a story of success for British Empire tea and of untold misery for generations of tea workers.

Liquid Jade also depicts tea's beauty and delights, not only with myths about the beginnings of tea or the lovers' legend in the familiar blue-and-white porcelain willow pattern, but also with a rich and varied selection of works of art and historical photographs, which form a rare and comprehensive visual tea record. The book includes engaging and lesser-known topics, including the exclusion of women from seventeenth-century tea houses or the importance of water for tea, and answers such questions as: "What does a tea taster do?" "How much caffeine is there in tea?" "What is fair trade tea?" and "What is the difference between black, red, yellow, green, or white tea?"

Connecting past and present and spanning five thousand years, Beatrice Hohenegger's captivating and multilayered account of tea will enhance the experience of a steaming "cuppa" for tea lovers the world over.

Editorial Reviews

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 Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"I love the way she [Beatrice Hohenegger] writes. And, this may be a weird comparison that has occurred to me... (especially) for people who enjoyed reading the DaVinci Code, which was fast paced reading, short chapters, you just didn't want to put the book down because he (author of DaVinci Code) was a good story-teller. Beatrice is a very good story-teller! You just imagine history in your mind while you're reading Liquid Jade... and what drew me to ask her to join us on Wine & Dine Radio to talk about her story of tea, was the parallel she made between the history of Gin coming from Holland into the United Kingdom and the significance of tea in the UK at the same time, pre-Charles Dickens."—Lynn Krielow Chamberlain, Host and producer of Wine & Dine Radio

"According to Chinese lore, tea was discovered in 2732 B.C. when some leaves accidentally blew into a kettle of boiling water. Since then, it has grown into the world's most popular beverage, and has been the cause of wars and revolutions. In a series of vignettes, Beatrice Hohenegger relates the whole history of tea, from its role in the creation of Taoism thousands of years ago to debates over the ethics of organic and fair-trade products today. The book is well researched and written in a breezy, conversational style that makes it a perfect light read while riding the train to work or lounging in front of the fireplace."- Jason Horn, Cottage Living

"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. … Overall, the author's light, humorous style is welcome and refreshing …."- Elizabeth Morris, Library Journal

"…Its [Liquid Jade's] real strength and appeal, you see, lies in its exhaustive and entertaining thoroughness. … Frankly, I have to admit that I had no idea that there was so much to say about tea. … Covering everything from the mythical birth of tea to the tea ceremony to the tea bag, and including everything in between by also focusing on tea's relationship to medicine, politics, culture, and religion, Liquid Jade is "a lively exploration of the world's most consumed beverage - in all its historical and cultural aspects." So, do yourself a favor and serve up a steaming cuppa for yourself, relax in a comfortable chair, and spend a few hours with this refreshing narrative history."- Bookloons

To hear Beatrice Hohenegger discuss the fascinating history of tea live and unedited please visit one of the following links. (Please note: You may have to copy and paste directly into the address box.)

KCRW-89.9FM — Good Food with Evan Kleiman — Jan. 20, 2007

http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/gf/gf070120sugar_substitutes_th

KPBS Radio (NPR) - These Days with Tom Fudge - Feb. 15, 2007

http://www.kpbs.org/radio/these_days?id=7383

KPCC-89.3FM - "Air Talk" with Larry Mantle - May 28, 2007

http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/listings/2007/05/airtalk_20070528.shtml

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312333294
Publisher:
St. Martins Press-3pl
Publication date:
01/28/2007
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
920,284
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Beatrice Hohenegger is guest curator of a traveling museum exhibition on the history and culture of tea, slated to open in 2009 at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History in Los Angeles. She is fluent in English, French, Italian, and German, and holds a M.A. from the department of history and philosophy at La Sapienza University of Rome. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.

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