Traveling from East to West over
thousands of years, tea has played a variety of roles on the world scene in medicine, politics, the arts, culture, and religion. Behind this
most serene of beverages, idolized by poets and revered in spiritual
practices, lie stories of treachery, violence, smuggling, drug trade,
international espionage, slavery, and revolution.
Liquid Jade rich
narrative history explores tea in all its social and cultural aspects.
Entertaining yet informative and extensively researched, Liquid Jade
tells the story of western greed and eastern bliss. China first used tea
as a remedy. Taoists celebrated tea as the elixir of immortality.
Buddhist Japan developed a whole body of practices around tea as a
spiritual path. Then came the traumatic encounter of the refined Eastern
cultures with the first Western merchants, the trade wars, the
emergence of the ubiquitous English East India Company. Scottish spies
crisscrossed China to steal the secrets of tea production. An army of
smugglers made fortunes with tea deliveries in the dead of night. In the
name of free trade the English imported opium to China in exchange for
The exploding tea industry in the eighteenth century reinforced the
practice of slavery in the sugar plantations. And one of the reasons
why tea became popular in the first place is that it helped sober up the
English, who were virtually drowning in alcohol. During the nineteenth
century, the massive consumption of tea in England also led to the
development of the large tea plantation system in colonial India a story
of success for British Empire tea and of untold misery for generations
of tea workers.