Alan and Iris Macfarlane, Green Gold: the Empire of Tea (2003)

Jacket description

Tea is more than just a drink. Over the last two thousand years this humble camelia tree has growin into one of the most powerful social and economic forces known to man. With the exception of water, more tea is consumed by human beings than any other substane on the planet. How did this simple leaf, first taken as an infusion by remote tribesmen, colonise China, Japan and then successfully conquer the rest of the world? Why did a wild plant from the Eastern Himalayas become so universally desired?

Green Gold is the story of how tea, the first global product, took over the world. The spreading empire of tea has had an enormous impact on the lives of billions of people throughout history. It has changed society, culture, health and been a terrible political weapon. It has deeply affected art and aesthetics; it has altered life expectancies. Tea has raised and destroyed empires.

Green Gold is the unique story of arguably the most important plant on this planet and its simultaneously tragic and liberating effect on the history of mankind.


Introduction by Alan Macfarlane

1 Iris Macfarlane: Memoirs of a Memsahib

Part I Bewitched

2 The Story of an Addiction

3 Froth of the Liquid Jade

4 Tea Comes to the West

Part II Enslaved

5 Enchantment

6 Replacing China

7 Green Gold

8 Tea Mania: Assam 1839-1880

9 Empires of Tea

10 Industrial Tea

11 Tea Labour

Part III Bewitched

12 Tea Today

13 Tea, Body and Mind

14 Bewitched Water

Notes, bibliography, index.

xi + 308 pp.