http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4263321185/After doing a lot of Christmas shopping in December, you may feel like getting a present for yourself.  Then why not consider one of the following tea books for an interesting and informative read.  Look out for future reviews!

1. Green Gold: The Empire of Tea, by Alan and Iris MacFarlane.

One of the authors of Green Gold, Alan MacFarlane, is a professor of social anthropology at Cambridge.  This particular book describes the history of tea in terms of its use as a medicinal substance by the ancient Chinese.  According to Green Gold, tea was used by the Chinese to cure dropsy and anxiety.  It was similarly utilized as a way to improve a person’s eyesight, memory, and capacity for kindness towards others.  Before humans drank tea, monkeys in the Himalayan jungles supposedly chewed tea in order to relax.  When people began drinking tea in England, it was not a delicacy, but was brewed in a barrel like beer.  Eventually, however, it became a marker of class and sophistication in England (at least for a while). 

2. Herbal Tea Gardens, by Marietta Marshall Marcin.

Although Camellia sinensis is specifically considered the “tea plant,” other herbs and infusions also fall under the category of tea.  This book provides a resource for different kinds of herbal teas that people commonly use, including ginseng, ginger, chamomile, pennyroyal, and valerian.  Each tea has a section that describes its history, as well as its purported health and medicinal benefits.  Since many people drink tea for its health advantages, or consume it as a healing substance, this resource provides a valuable, supplementary tool.  It contains information on almost 100 different kinds of herbal teas.  

3. For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and 
Changed History, by Sarah Rose

For All the Tea in China provides a detailed account of how the English tea industry began in India, including Robert Fortune’s “theft” of tea plants from China.  As China was threatening to grow its own opium, England no longer had leverage over this country in terms of the tea trade.  By smuggling and relocating the tea plants, tools, and plantation workers, Fortune helped England create tea cultivation in the Indian Himalayas.  As the East India Company controlled territory in the Indian Himalayas, England used Fortune’s exploits to gain direct control over a new tea industry.  In the meantime, these events completely changed the accessibility of tea and caused it to become increasingly available to people outside of China.  This book is useful as it provides a glimpse into tea history that is not normally discussed, but continues to be relevant to today’s global economy. 

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