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Green Gold by Alan Macfarlane
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Green Gold (edition 2003)

by Alan Macfarlane

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153478,096 (3.37)6
Member:marek2010
Title:Green Gold
Authors:Alan Macfarlane
Info:Ebury & Vermilion (2003), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Non-fiction, History, Food & drink, Women's writing, NA 2012, r 2012, 2000s

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The Empire of Tea by Alan Macfarlane

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A brilliant history of tea. From its origins in China, to the English monopoly in Assam to its role in changing world history via the industrial revolution. It made me love this God given nectar even more. ( )
  marek2010 | Jan 9, 2013 |
Iris MacFarlane wrote a touching story about her life on the tea garden in India. Then Alan MacFarlane proceeded to write the kind of history that lifts tea up to its rightful place above all other beverages. I like it better than other perspectives on history because its focus is that superiority of tea.

Of particular note was how tea was compared to wine and beer. It was explained how the alcoholic drinks could never conquer the world because they take too many resources of land and labor. They were always meant for the elites in moderation while tea could be enjoyed by the masses--the drink of everyman. This history was the most inspiring when it came time to write my own book.
  jasonwitt | Oct 29, 2009 |
Another tea history book. It was okay. I couldn't understand what the writers were getting at. Obviously many have suffered hardships as a result of the tea industry, and it has affected history and health in many ways. That's what they were saying, but it was a bit scattered in making its point. ( )
  PensiveCat | Sep 23, 2009 |
A strange and unsatisfactory work by two authors, this feels very much like two books packaged as one.

One of these books reads the like work of a health nut, an extended panegyric on the joys of tea, primarily the supposed health benefits. The second is a long rant about the evils of growing tea in Assam and the part the British had in this.
Neither of these books is especially inspiring.

The rant against the British would have been a much more worthwhile work if it had placed the supposed evils of the British in context, comparing what they created to what had gone before, and to India outside the tea plantation.
A chapter towards the end claims to make some attempt to provide a balanced viewpoint, but does nothing to actually place the situation in context; instead it simply treats us to a "he said, she said" view of history.

The book included two or three interesting points, for example:
* Introduction of tea in the west contributed to public health because it resulted in boiled water being drunk;
* Likewise it contributed to a substantial reduction in drunkenness because it could be drunk all day without side effects;
but it really wasn't worth the hassle of wading through the dreck to get to them. ( )
  name99 | Nov 12, 2006 |
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"From the fourth century B.C. in China, where it was used as an aid in Buddhist meditation, to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when its destruction became a rousing symbol of the American Revolution, to its present-day role as the single most consumed beverage on the planet, The Empire of Tea explores the effects of the humble Camelia plant - both tragic and liberating - in the history of civilization. Incorporating research from a wide range of sources, renowned cultural anthropologist Alan Macfarlane recounts the history of tea from its origins as a wild plant in the Eastern Himalayas, and details its past and continuing effects on culture, art, politics, and environment around the world. He 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 led to the invention of machines and technology during the industrial revolution and beyond." "The Empire of Tea also incorporates personal stories of the people whose lives have been affected by their contact with the global obsession with tea, including the elegantly detailed account of Iris Macfarlane about her life on a tea estate in the Indian province of Assam, the world's center of tea cultivation."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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