A Social History of Tea: Tea's Influence on Commerce, Culture & Community Paperback – 1 Oct 2013
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About the Author
MUTSUKO TOKUNAGA is a renowned Japanese food stylist and the vice president of the World Green Tea Association. She appears regularly on radio and television in Japan and writes on cooking and tea for Japanese newspapers and magazines. New Tastes in Green Tea follows two previous publications in
JANE PETTIGREW is one of England's leading authorities on tea and the author of a number of books, including A Social History of Tea, Tea & Infusions: A Connoisseur's Guide, and Jane Pettigrew's Tea Time: A Complete Collection of Traditional Recipes.
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Top Customer Reviews
I particularly like the treasure trove of tea related pictures which appear throughout the book - again, a great deal of careful research has clearly been done to put these together.
Overall, this a lovely book to own, and full of very useful and accurate tea related history, which has been set out in a very accessible way. It would be a great addition to the library of anyone who is interested in tea or social history.
There are a few things about the book which I noticed, but they aren't important enough to reduce the 5 star rating. Firstly, there are times when it seemed to me that too much research was set out in the book - of course for people with a greater interest in the history of tea, this would be a reason to increase the rating to 6 stars. Secondly, I sometimes felt that the book could have done with a bit more opinion and insight to "bind together" the facts, figures and historical research. Thirdly, the absence of information about tea drinking in the rest of the world sometimes feels like an elephant in the room - but I don't think it would be humanly possible to produce a book of such scope.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Jane Pettigrew is well-known as an enthusiast tea historian who shares her knowledge and love of tea around the world. It is well worth the time to research her author's page and website.
Bruce Richardson, Elmwood Inn and Benjamin Press, is more recently acclaimed for his tea history contributions to the Boston Tea Party commemoration. More about the commemoration can be found at bostonteapartyship.com. Mr. Richardson's tea articles can be read in Fresh Cup magazine, Tea Time (Hoffman Media), and other tea/history/gourmet magazines.
The book isn't just another pretty face although the cover is quite beautiful. A Social History of Tea gives us insight into the growing influence of tea upon society.
Taking tea is so quintessentially British. You cannot think of that noble nation without envisioning its residents with a tea cup in one hand and a cucumber sandwich in the other. English novelist Jane Austen mentions tea no less than 49 times in her major works. The popularity of tea has grown even more since her Regency times, evolving during the Victorian era into a light meal served at four in the afternoon: resplendent with white linen, silver trays, scones and clotted cream. Today, in our fast-paced-world of takeout food and frozen dinners, attending a tea party at a friend’s home or tea room is an event to be cherished and savored. The calming ritual and lively conversation is the ultimate indulgence that has not changed for polished society for four hundred years.
The tale of tea is a captivating story revealed in A SOCIAL HISTORY OF TEA, a new expanded second edition by British tea authority Jane Pettigrew and American tea historian Bruce Richardson. Originally published in 2001 by The National Trust, this new edition has been revised and expanded and includes the research of two tea authorities from both sides of the pond. We are so internationally bipartisan these days—I am sure that mad King George III must be rolling in his grave!
Having long been a “tea advocate” I knew of Mr. Richardson from my cherished subscription to TeaTime magazine. I was thrilled to discover that he would be a speaker at the 2013 Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting in Minneapolis. I missed his talk, Society Steeped in Tea, but glowing reports piqued my interest in obtaining a copy of his new book with Pettigrew. I was not disappointed. Beautifully designed with 150 full color images, this tome on the evolution of tea through the last four centuries and its influence on society and world economics is fascinating. Broken down into an introduction, six major chapters, a select bibliography, a list of illustration credits and an index, readers can easily use A SOCIAL HISTORY OF TEA as either an illustrated history, a reference book, or purely a pleasure read, depending on their mood. Being a Janeite, I jumped to the index and skimmed for Jane Austen’s name. Huzzah. There she is on page 127 in a featurette entitled Tea in Literature with Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll, two other famous British authors from the 1800’s who show that taking tea was an excellent way to bring characters together in a prudential parlor or at a mad tea party. Several passages illustrating Austen’s use of “tea-things” by her characters are featured from her novels, and if we pay attention, the timing of when they are taking tea gives us a social insight into when it was drunk and what was served with it.
“The next opening of the door brought something more welcome: it was for the tea–things, which she had begun almost to despair of seeing that evening…Fanny was very thankful. She could not but own that she should be very glad of a little tea, and Susan immediately set about making it, as if pleased to have the employment all to herself…Fanny’s spirit was as much refreshed as her body; her head and heart were soon the better for such well–timed kindness.” – Mansfield Park, Chapter 38
Richly detailed and agreeably accessible, A SOCIAL HISTORY OF TEA is both enlightening and entertaining. Every important historical, economic and social aspect is covered. I particularly appreciated the details surrounding the forming and growth of The East India Trading Company, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 which sparked the American Revolution, and the rise of tea rooms suitable for respectable ladies to dine out at the end of the nineteenth century. We can also thank the Victorian’s for raising tea-time to an art form chock-full of the incredibly delicious fare we enjoy today.
In Jane Austen’s world “tea meant rest and pleasure, and its absence would be a severe disappointment.” (127) Pettigrew and Richardson have combined detailed history, social asides and beautiful illustrations covering the four centuries that we have enjoyed tea—its rise and fall in popularity—and rebirth. A SOCIAL HISTORY OF TEA is the resource for those who would like to discover even more about this delectable beverage. There is a guaranteed abundance of rest and pleasure on every page. I recommend it highly.
Laurel Ann, Austenprose
On this side of the pond, we are all aware of the Boston Tea Party but who knew that Jefferson enjoyed Hyson tea (a kind that was dumped over at Boston). The book is well illustrated, for example when talking about Clippers there is both a diagram of loading the tea, and a reproduction of a Currier and Ives lithograph of 1875. These clippers took around 100 days, so think about our ‘fresh’ tea now. I particularly enjoyed the tea in literature, including Jane Austin, Charles Dickens (David Copperfield) (but why no mention of his article of brewing tea),. Now the book would have to be updated to include Downtown Abbey. Readers of this may enjoy Benjamin Presses edition of Kakuzo Okakura’s “The Book of Tea. .
Enjoy reading it with a cup of tea by my side.