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The Empire of Tea: The Remarkable History of the Plant that Took Over the World | [Alan Macfarlane, Iris Macfarlane]

The Empire of Tea: The Remarkable History of the Plant that Took Over the World

From Darjeeling to Lapsang Souchon, from India to Japan-a fresh, concise, world-encompassing exploration of the way tea has shaped politics, culture, and the environment throughout history. From the fourth century BC in China, where it was used as an aid in Buddhist meditation, to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, to its present-day role as the most consumed substance on the planet, the humble Camellia plant has had profound effects on civilization.
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Publisher's Summary

From Darjeeling to Lapsang Souchon, from India to Japan-a fresh, concise, world-encompassing exploration of the way tea has shaped politics, culture, and the environment throughout history.

From the fourth century BC in China, where it was used as an aid in Buddhist meditation, to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, to its present-day role as the most consumed substance on the planet, the humble Camellia plant has had profound effects on civilization.

Renowned cultural anthropologist Alan MacFarlane and Iris MacFarlane recount the history of tea from its origin in the eastern Himalayas and explains, among other things, how tea became the world's most prevalent addiction, how tea was used as an instrument of imperial control, and how the cultivation of tea drove the industrial revolution. Both an absorbing narrative and a fascinating tour of some of the world's great cultures-Japan, China, India, France, the Britain, and others-The Empire of Tea brings into sharp focus one of the forces that shaped history.

©2009 Iris MacFarlane & Alan MacFarlane (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (51 )
5 star
 (9)
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 (12)
3 star
 (27)
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1 star
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Overall
3.6 (30 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.8 (30 )
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 (8)
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 (10)
2 star
 (1)
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  •  
    Paul Z. Wixom, MI 06-20-10
    Paul Z. Wixom, MI 06-20-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    168
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    Story
    "Good Book"

    This book has three parts: 1. Iris MacFalanes recollections of living as a tea planter wife in Assam, which was a very interesting piece of primary documentation. 2. A cultural history of tea cultivation, focusing on Assam and the role of tea in the British Empire (the narrowing to one main location allows for a reasonable change over time and gets way from the shotgun effect that a lot of pop history uses). 3. A treatise and justification of tea drinking; which as someone who drinks copious amounts of tea in a coffee world I applaud.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max Manalapan, NJ, United States 03-03-12
    Max Manalapan, NJ, United States 03-03-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not what the title says..."
    What did you like best about The Empire of Tea? What did you like least?

    Liked the narration. Didn't like the title (it is misleading).


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    This book is NOT about planting, growing, preparing or drinking tea. Furthermore it is VERY brief history of tea.This book is a colorful description and history of suffering and humiliation of Indian natives, caused by English West-India Company in Assam province of India.


    What about James Adams and Kelly Birch ’s performance did you like?

    I enjoyed James Adams performance very much. If it wasn't for him I'd probably wouldn't listen to the rest of the book.


    Could you see The Empire of Tea being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No, but it may be a good background for another story.


    Any additional comments?

    If your interested in tea production, culture, methods of preparation, or a complete history of this plant - this is NOT a book for you.But if you just need to waste your credit on something, or you are interested in history of Assam province in India - buy the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Hallberg Fairmont, W.V. 05-29-12
    A. Hallberg Fairmont, W.V. 05-29-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Boring"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Add recent information about scientific studies of tea components and effects on brain and physiology instead of constant repetition of "stimulating and relaxing to the constitution". More comparison with coffee and alcohol. Updated information on recent tea growing economics and effects on growing countries. Why can't we grow tea in US? Discuss Celestial Seasoning, Liptons and Bigelow; recent changes in tea market and future trends.


    What could Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Consolidated history of Indian and Chinese tea growing. Way too much about boring history of the abusive planter families and the arrogant British colonialists.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Narrator was fine.


    Did The Empire of Tea inspire you to do anything?

    Switch to alcohol.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neal Ashland, OR, United States 12-19-11
    Neal Ashland, OR, United States 12-19-11 Member Since 2010
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    3
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    Story
    "Found very informative and yet very entertaining"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Empire of Tea?

    I found particularly interesting the analysis of how the British and Japanese empires that adopted tea developmed more quickly at the same as when Germany and France as coffee drinkers developed more slowly,


    Any additional comments?

    Very interesting approach to content I would not have thought much on before.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doris 09-04-10
    Doris 09-04-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Good; Could have been much better"

    This book presents a good deal of information about tea, mostly about the merchandising of tea. It is very factual, very British-centric, and useful to a point. It could have been much better, however. The cultivation of tea began in China. A lot more detail about the importance and cultivation of tea in China could have been fascinating. The book also needs more anecdotes - it's very dry. A bit more about the myths surrounding tea would have created more understanding of the plant's importance. A lovely description of the Japanese tea ceremony, and of the much later tea ritual in England, would have created more atmosphere. A couple scandals of the tea trade would have added some intrigue. All those stories are there in the history of tea, but sadly they seem not to have interested the author. I have read more exciting histories of the cultivation of tulips, which, while lovely, cannot begin to compete with tea for historical significance to human culture. I'm still waiting for that tea book.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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