The Empire of Tea

  • by Alan Macfarlane, Iris Macfarlane
  • Narrated by James Adams, Kelly Birch
  • 8 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Paul Z.

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.

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- Max

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-30-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios