Other than water, tea is the world’s most widely consumed beverage. This study explores the legacy of tea culture from the ancient origins of tea as an East Asian medicine, to its pivotal role in the Boston Tea Party and China’s Opium Wars, continuing right into the contemporary moment of the Starbucks matcha frappuccino and artisanal American tea salons. Compellingly written, this social history of tea addresses multiple topics that tap directly into the themes of personal wellness, contemplative practice, and work/life balance. As readers, we will seek to understand tea from multiple perspectives: the chemical compounds which trigger pleasurable reactions, the plant itself and the cultivation of its varietals, as a major trade commodity, and its role at the nexus of particularized human interactions over time. Why has tea and its attendant culture captured the attention of human societies for centuries? How does tea help us drink deeply from the “cup of humanity,” bringing people together in the spirit of communitas? The book group meeting will explore these ideas through the inclusion of a guided tasting of selected teas from around the world.
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