The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, “one of those special writers capable of delivering both poetry and plot” (The New York Times Book Review), a moving novel about tradition, tea farming, and the bonds between mothers and daughters.In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen. The stranger’s arrival marks the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a poor choice—she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city. As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins. Across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.A powerful story about circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond of family.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Details

TitleThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 3rd, 2018
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781501154836
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, China

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Review

  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    Lisa See fans.... ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY with "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane".ANOTHER HISTORY LESSON WITH INTIMACY of CHARACTERS....and TONS of HEART!!Lisa's new novel has all the elements we loved from several of her books...."The Snow Flower and The Secret Fan", "Shanghai Girls", and "Dream of Joys"....Compelling storytelling, historically-set in a remote region, and culture, well researched, beautifully woven plot, an expanded appreciation for the Chinese history, Heritage, family tradition Lisa See fans.... ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY with "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane".ANOTHER HISTORY LESSON WITH INTIMACY of CHARACTERS....and TONS of HEART!!Lisa's new novel has all the elements we loved from several of her books...."The Snow Flower and The Secret Fan", "Shanghai Girls", and "Dream of Joys"....Compelling storytelling, historically-set in a remote region, and culture, well researched, beautifully woven plot, an expanded appreciation for the Chinese history, Heritage, family traditions, spirits and superstitions, sacrifices, rituals, ancestor worship, cleansing ceremonies, Government policies, family policies, embroidering by women, and chores, men smoking pipes and their hunting stories, and specifically in "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane", we learn more about "Pu'er' Tea..... a fermented tea produced in the Yunnan Province, China by the Akha People. The Akha are one of the smallest, poorest, and least developed mountain hill tribe groups. The Akha women wear elaborate decorated head caps. Lisa teaches us a lot about the tea industry and other background information about the Cultural Revolution. It's interesting looking from inside out and outside in. We see the great differences a small primitive tribe has to the greater world at large. In China the Akha are also known as Hani. The Akha ethnic group is also found in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. The Akha village leaders are also regarded as primary religious leaders. They oversee the sacred "Spirit Gates". If a person touches the gate - bumps into it... it's a bad evil omen. So many rules: one child policy.... (later years they abandoned the one-child policy)....but also up until around 20 years ago if twins were born --they were a spiritual interference with human matters.....So they were discarded human rejects, ( in other words killed). The heart and soul of the history Lisa See wrote about in this novel -- as well as a deeper look at the repercussions of the Chinese Children adopted by American parents ---is vividly felt by getting to first know Li-Yan, starting when she was as young as ten years of age. We learn how independent her thinking was---very different from her mother. ( a midwife) Li-Yan was the only girl of three brothers. We learn more about Li-Yan by admiring the type of friend she is with her best friend, Ci-ten. Li-Yan values her studies ( the only one in her family to get an education). Her teacher, Zhang, had a great influence--( encourages Li-Yan to continue higher education and get away from her mountain), but so does the power of love. Li-Yan loved a boy named San-pa. The parents don't extend their blessings for their union in marriage due to the fact that their birth signs not being compatible. San-pa born on a Tiger Day. Li-Yan born on a Pig Day. The storytelling telling and 'language' around young people having sex was interesting. I tried to imagine America customs like these found in the Yunnan village... and I couldn't see it. There were some taboos --- worse than 'foot binding' -- such as we read about in "The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", .....which is killing a newborn baby because of crippling generational rules. So when Li-Yan discovers she is pregnant with San-pa's child .....( and he does not even know because he is in Thailand), the choices presented to Li-Yan are inhumane. The day Li-Yan's water breaks, her mother follows proper rituals.....a beautiful baby girl is born."Terror that A-ma will insist I use ash and rice husk mixture on my baby. Concern thatA-ma is going to remove Spiny-thistle from my arms and I do what I cannot. I don't have the strength to fight A-ma for my daughter when I just gave birth. And even if I fought and won..."I'll leave you there....'hanging'. --- well, as you already know Li-Yan's daughter, Haley, does live....... interweaving stories of Li-Yan and Haley. They are tied together by the beauty of Pu'er Tea. Challenges and emotions - are explored. Li-Yan's inner voice is a powerful authentic voice throughout this story. She struggles to find a balance between her Akha upbringing and the modern changes in China. And tea.... Tea drinkers will appreciate this story! Thank You Scribner, NetGalley, and Lisa See
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  • Pouting Always
    January 1, 1970
    The book was good but it got slow there in the middle, like at some points I was totally into it and then it would just get tedious. There were just parts of it that felt superfluous and they didn't add much to the story. Also I thought that maybe the growth in the characters could have been more subtle and developed over the course of the book and it would have added more depth. And just what was the thing with her ending up married to some rich guy and then life is perfect, the ending was a li The book was good but it got slow there in the middle, like at some points I was totally into it and then it would just get tedious. There were just parts of it that felt superfluous and they didn't add much to the story. Also I thought that maybe the growth in the characters could have been more subtle and developed over the course of the book and it would have added more depth. And just what was the thing with her ending up married to some rich guy and then life is perfect, the ending was a little too much for me with everyone being great but it's fiction I guess. I did enjoy the characters and the immersive writing that let me experience the culture and values vividly. The topic is such a relevant one of changing cultures and commodification through globalization and trade. The story circled back around in the end which was great and unexpected because I didn't think they'd end up meeting. I mean until like the last chapter by then you know it's obvious.I would read it if you enjoy fiction relevant to the cultural and societal changes in the present. Narratives have a way of making us understand things more empathetically than we would otherwise.
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars This story gives us a fascinating look at this ethnic minority known as the Akha in a rural village in a tea growing region in China. It also provides fairly in depth information on the tea industry. But this is Lisa See and so it is of course so much more. It has language that flows and characters that you grow attached to even though you might not understand their culture and a captivating story of mothers and daughters, families, fate and love. There are multiple layers here. Li-yan 4.5 stars This story gives us a fascinating look at this ethnic minority known as the Akha in a rural village in a tea growing region in China. It also provides fairly in depth information on the tea industry. But this is Lisa See and so it is of course so much more. It has language that flows and characters that you grow attached to even though you might not understand their culture and a captivating story of mothers and daughters, families, fate and love. There are multiple layers here. Li-yan's life and journey not only reflects the Akha culture but then how the country changes in the years after The Cultural Revolution and in places outside of the village. A secondary narrative depicts what it might be like as an adopted Chinese child, living in America but yet wondering about her roots and feeling connected to where she was born. It's about even more than these characters and this people that I knew nothing about until this reading this book . It's about the things shared by all people - love , coming of age, mistakes and redemption, about the strength of two women. Li-yan's desire to be more than what her culture required of women, and her desire to do what she has to do to find what she has lost is at the center of the story . Her mother whose love for her daughter gives her the strength to break with the traditions and beliefs out of love is one of my favorite characters. In the isolated place called Spring Village, the Akha people believe in the meaning of dreams, the hierarchy of "power and importance", the spirits, many superstitions and strict rules . Rules that would require a father to kill his babies if they were born twins then banishing the parents, rules that require the same from an unwed mother. With these odds against her and given the lowly position of women in this society, Li-yan boldly defies the rules. The modern world after some years comes to the village and Li-yan goes to the modern world as does another from the village . I anxiously awaited the time when these two would meet again. This would have been 5 stars for me but even though the tea is central to the story, you get everything you ever wanted to know about tea and then some and this was just a bit too much at times. However, this is a satisfying, captivating story that I definitely recommend, especially to Lisa See's fans. I received an advanced copy of this from Scribner through Edelweiss and NetGally.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Simply this:Lisa See kicked in the door on this one. If you are a long-standing fan of her writing, you will have experienced the solid depth and breadth of her superb skill. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is exceptional. "All you can do is live," she says. "You don't have a choice. Life continues whether we want it to or not. The sun will rise despite our suffering."The Akha people of the remote mountainous tea regions of China live in almost pure isolation. At the very center of their existe Simply this:Lisa See kicked in the door on this one. If you are a long-standing fan of her writing, you will have experienced the solid depth and breadth of her superb skill. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is exceptional. "All you can do is live," she says. "You don't have a choice. Life continues whether we want it to or not. The sun will rise despite our suffering."The Akha people of the remote mountainous tea regions of China live in almost pure isolation. At the very center of their existence is a deep-seated, unwavering respect for family and tradition. Each member of the community adheres to the ancient customs passed on reverently from father to son and mother to daughter. The very thought of becoming an outcast because of disrespecting those customs is unspeakable.Lisa See centers her story around Li-yan, an extremely bright young girl who has the rare promise of an educated future within the village. Her family is wise in the ways of growing the finest of teas and producing the ancient art of curing and fermenting the leaves. But the sweetness of innocence is marred when Li-yan finds herself pregnant and without a willing husband. It is through this very circumstance that Lisa See begins to unwind the ribbon of Li-yan's life and the affect it has on those around her. Secrecy breathes in and out throughout the story as Li-yan places her precious baby in a box at the door of an orphanage. This child will draw us into her own remarkable cycle of life as far away as America.Lisa See presents a storyline that focuses on the magnetic pull that finds itself at the heart of families. Gone With the Wind had Scarlett holding a fistful of the dirt from Tara in her clenched hand vowing to never be poor again. Li-yan wraps an ancient tea cake among her baby's clothes on that fateful day. It is that very tea that provided work, tradition, respect, and an indescribable sense of relevance in the scheme of life. We are reminded of our connection to all things simple and yet profound.The streaming of this story takes us through the emotional and through the ties of the intellectual. The weight of the history of tea may seem very intricate to some, and yet, it is through this expansion of information that we experience the varied layers of its worth. Sipping your next cup may cause you to pause next time and take in more than just its exceptional flavor.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    I'm no tea connoisseur, but this story was so flavourful I could imagine myself sitting back enjoying a tea from The Naunnu mountains - perhaps even in a hammock. Hmmm.Steeped in traditions and superstitions, this is a richly textured story of Li-yan who becomes the only one in the Akha village who is fortunate enough to get an education. But young love intervenes and her path is changed. She is forced to give up her daughter but fortunate enough to be able to leave her at the city's orphanage. I'm no tea connoisseur, but this story was so flavourful I could imagine myself sitting back enjoying a tea from The Naunnu mountains - perhaps even in a hammock. Hmmm.Steeped in traditions and superstitions, this is a richly textured story of Li-yan who becomes the only one in the Akha village who is fortunate enough to get an education. But young love intervenes and her path is changed. She is forced to give up her daughter but fortunate enough to be able to leave her at the city's orphanage. The life path she follows leads her to becoming a tea Master in her own right and the search for her daughter begins many years later.The role tea plays is at the heart of this story and how the lives of both mother and daughter are entwined with it; it's essence; it's power; it's connectivity.Beautifully written this gets 5⭐️I won this as a Goodreads giveaways for an honest review. Thank you Goodreads - This one is a keeper!
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!I’d only read one book by Lisa See before Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I enjoyed it very much, so I was more than pleased to have the opportunity to read her latest - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane!Li-Yan and her family are Akha, an indigenous hill tribe who live in the higher elevations; they are classified by the Chinese government as part of the Hani. The Hani are “an official minority.” The Akha culture is one with much respect for those with age and experience. The !! NOW AVAILABLE !!I’d only read one book by Lisa See before Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I enjoyed it very much, so I was more than pleased to have the opportunity to read her latest - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane!Li-Yan and her family are Akha, an indigenous hill tribe who live in the higher elevations; they are classified by the Chinese government as part of the Hani. The Hani are “an official minority.” The Akha culture is one with much respect for those with age and experience. They have some fairly strict practices in some respects, and in others they are fairly lax. Li-Yan’s mother is a midwife, and it is expected for Li-Yan to learn under her tutelage. Li-Yan is also one of the few members of her family and neighbors to finish school, to have dreams of more than a life of tolling in the fields, picking tea leaves. All the same, she recognizes the importance of their history, their rituals, and as the world is changing, they will also need her to advance in school, so they can represent themselves, their wishes to those outside the hills. As in life, sometimes there are obstacles not easily overcome, and the Akha are a culture with harsh rules based on superstitions, traditions. Of course, there is also a great deal of beauty in these traditions, as well, and a strong sense of community. Another piece of this story is told through adopted young teen girls, the feelings any adoptive child goes through, but there are unique aspects to a young Chinese child adopted by ethnically different parents, raised in America, another country. The struggle to have to determine exactly how and where her story begins, how she fits in, and will she ever know her real story, from the beginning. There’s a segment of this story that is about tea, the growing of tea in the hills where Li-Yan lives, the traditions of serving tea, the different types of tea, the fluctuations of the value on tea, and how the economy of it affects all, but perhaps most importantly affects the Akha in this story. The pricing / selling / buying of it affected by unscrupulous business practices. It’s seamlessly woven into Li-Yan’s day-to-day life, and I enjoyed learning more about tea, Pu’er tea specifically – to a point – but I was glad when the story veered back and returned the focus to Li-Yan’s personal journey. This is one of those books where I think you are better off not knowing too much, you should just experience it yourself. It’s a story of family, forgiveness, and finding your way through this crazy life. Pub Date: 21 Mar 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner!
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  • Jaline
    January 1, 1970
    This epic family saga begins in the high mountains of China where wild tea trees grow some of the most sought-after tea in the world. The people are known as the Akha people, one of 55 minority groups in a country whose majority group is called Han.With her renowned attention to detail and copious research, Lisa See has created a story that is as broad and sweeping as China itself yet her characters are formed like the most delicately detailed paintings and the story itself flows like skillfully This epic family saga begins in the high mountains of China where wild tea trees grow some of the most sought-after tea in the world. The people are known as the Akha people, one of 55 minority groups in a country whose majority group is called Han.With her renowned attention to detail and copious research, Lisa See has created a story that is as broad and sweeping as China itself yet her characters are formed like the most delicately detailed paintings and the story itself flows like skillfully inscribed calligraphy.The story encompasses the growing pains of a culture that is propelled from history and tradition into modern times and modern economics. It centers on whole families and broken families, taboos and breaks with tradition, superstition versus education, centuries of secrets versus technology’s all-seeing eyes, separations and reunions, and the role that tea plays out through generations of living in the high elevations where the most precious tea trees flourish.This story also has branches reaching outward to California, and through the lives of our characters, we follow the links and connections between people that eventually bring them back to their roots, and to reuniting with their families.This is such an interesting, captivating, and deeply stirring read that it is only when I had to set the book down that I realized how much I was also learning. I highly recommend this wonderful book that is so rich in texture, deeply moving, and consummately satisfying.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this story of Li-yan, born in a remote Yunnan village in China, of the minority Akha people.Rare tea is made from the trees here, and we learn so much about tea making, Chinese customs and beliefs, and life in a small village. Li-yan has a child very young, and she has a tough journey, but this shows the resilience of her people and this is a heartfelt story.This is my first novel by Lisa See and I really enjoyed it!Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster, and the author Lisa I really enjoyed this story of Li-yan, born in a remote Yunnan village in China, of the minority Akha people.Rare tea is made from the trees here, and we learn so much about tea making, Chinese customs and beliefs, and life in a small village. Li-yan has a child very young, and she has a tough journey, but this shows the resilience of her people and this is a heartfelt story.This is my first novel by Lisa See and I really enjoyed it!Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster, and the author Lisa See, for the opportunity to read this book!
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    4 stars! Wow – did I ever learn a lot about tea and the Chinese Akha culture! I always love learning new things while reading and this book definitely educates the reader on the history, production and manufacturing, marketing and selling of tea as well as the drinking, enjoyment and health benefits. I am a tea drinker myself (I’m actually drinking tea while writing this review!), so I enjoyed learning about everything involved in the tea business, however, I did find it a bit overwhelming at ti 4 stars! Wow – did I ever learn a lot about tea and the Chinese Akha culture! I always love learning new things while reading and this book definitely educates the reader on the history, production and manufacturing, marketing and selling of tea as well as the drinking, enjoyment and health benefits. I am a tea drinker myself (I’m actually drinking tea while writing this review!), so I enjoyed learning about everything involved in the tea business, however, I did find it a bit overwhelming at times. I enjoyed the narration of this novel by Li-yan who was raised in a remote Chinese mountain village. I think the author, Lisa See, did a fantastic job telling the story through her eyes. Li-yan captured my heart within the first few pages and my love for her only grew stronger as I absorbed the chapters of her story. One thing that really stood out for me and that I will never forget reading about is the concept of “grateful-but-angry”. I won’t get into detail about it so as not to reveal too much of the story. It is a concept I hadn’t ever considered before and it will stay with me long after finishing this book.I found it fascinating to learn about the Chinese Akha cultural traditions, beliefs and rituals. I had a VERY hard time reading about some of the cultural customs – they were so difficult for me to read that I had to take a break and set the book aside after finishing one chapter. I am happy I continued on because knowing these things makes the story all that much stronger and more powerful. For most Akha people, their heritage and beliefs are stronger than anything else in life – they follow customs and traditions without questioning anything. What I found interesting was that for other Akha people, their heritage and cultural beliefs are challenged by their parental instincts - they face an inner struggle between the two. The parent/child/family bond is a strong theme throughout this novel.Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Once again Lisa See brings to her readers a different culture, the Akha, seeped in their own beliefs and superstitions. A culture that is immersed in the picking and cultivating tea leaves, though many barely make a living from this practice, having a hard time feeding their families. Li-Yan is a young girl in the village, her mother has prominence of a midwife and hopes that some day Li-Yan will take her place. She also has a secret and rather strange inheritance to pass on, which will figu 3.5 Once again Lisa See brings to her readers a different culture, the Akha, seeped in their own beliefs and superstitions. A culture that is immersed in the picking and cultivating tea leaves, though many barely make a living from this practice, having a hard time feeding their families. Li-Yan is a young girl in the village, her mother has prominence of a midwife and hopes that some day Li-Yan will take her place. She also has a secret and rather strange inheritance to pass on, which will figure prominently in this story. The culture is a harsh one, their is one part that is short lived but difficult to read and it will make evident that this young girl will never be a midwife. Li-Yan herself will endure many challenges, personal failures and a devastating event that sets the stage for much of her personal journey.I loved reading about different cultures and Li-Yan was a fantastic character. I enjoyed the first part of this book immensely, my heart fully invested in this young woman, her journey, her hopes and her sorrows. The second part of the book was a little different, the character still prominent but I felt overshadowed by all the discussions of tea. Starting a business, a new life, the price and making of pu'ur, and while I found this interesting, in many ways the pulls on my heart lessened and turned into an intellectual fascination. I wish a better balance would have been maintained in the second half, but I did enjoy this story and learning about a different culture. As usual with her books this was well written, well researched, though the pace was much quicker in the first half as well.ARC from publisher.Publishes in early March.
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  • Mary Beth
    January 1, 1970
    This book was way out of my genre and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was so beautifully written and I got to experience a Lisa See book. It was a wonderful experience. This is a historical fiction book of the culture of China. I got to learn a lot about their beliefs and superstitions. When I saw the title of the book I was attracted to it since when I was younger I lived on a street called Hummingbird Lane.The story starts out about a young girl named Li-Yan who starts a relationshi This book was way out of my genre and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was so beautifully written and I got to experience a Lisa See book. It was a wonderful experience. This is a historical fiction book of the culture of China. I got to learn a lot about their beliefs and superstitions. When I saw the title of the book I was attracted to it since when I was younger I lived on a street called Hummingbird Lane.The story starts out about a young girl named Li-Yan who starts a relationship with a boy named San-pa. The parents don't want them to be together in marriage due to their birth signs, San-pa was born on a Tiger Day. Li-Yan was born on a Pig Day and this was uncalled for in their heritage. Li-yan becomes pregnant and San-pa doesn't even know this since he is in Thailand at the time. Li-yan ends up having the baby but takes it to a house in a basket with a teacake. The family reports it, then the baby is adopted in America. After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.The second half of the book goes into detail of the tea making and cultural beliefs of the Chinese.I highly recommend this book to those that love historical fiction. Also to those that love to learn about cultures of another Country, China.I want to thank Netgalley, Lisa See and the publisher for a copy of this book.
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  • PorshaJo
    January 1, 1970
    Now *this* is why I love to read Lisa See's books. It transports me to this other time, other location, and just immerses me into the culture I know nothing about. I'll be honest, I did not care for her last two books, but this one just takes me back to her earlier books. Where See excels, is in her storytelling of Chinese women, traditions, and history. You often hear of such tragedies that people suffer, but how they pull themselves up, and prosper. And this book is a perfect example of all of Now *this* is why I love to read Lisa See's books. It transports me to this other time, other location, and just immerses me into the culture I know nothing about. I'll be honest, I did not care for her last two books, but this one just takes me back to her earlier books. Where See excels, is in her storytelling of Chinese women, traditions, and history. You often hear of such tragedies that people suffer, but how they pull themselves up, and prosper. And this book is a perfect example of all of this.The story is a life story of Li-yan, a young Ahka girl. Ahka is a hill tribe in the Yunnan area of China. The Ahka people have rough lives. They abide strictly to their rules and restrictions, superstitions, beliefs, rituals, and make their money by farming tea. You hear all about the traditions of these people, the rules imposed by the government, the one child policy. You get to hear how Li-yan thrives and goes to school, but at some point, becomes pregnant and must give her child away. The alternative is death to the child. Due to this, you hear about how Chinese children, mainly girls, are given up or abandoned as boys are preferred in China. Li-yans daughter is adopted by a wealthy family from the US and after many, many years, you learn how their lives intersect. You also learn so much about tea and how it is picked and dried, or fermented, and how it is coveted. Side note, I do know someone who adopted multiple children from China and I heard so much about the process from him. The stories he told were fascinating. But I learned so much more here, in this story. I never thought about how it would affect those children adopted by US parents and how they are treated here.I did listen to the audio narration of this one and it had 8 narrators. Yikes! But it was tastefully done. For example, when Li-yans daughter is brought to America, she is seen by a doctor. The doctor, reading his report, is another narrator. So it was done in small amounts and not distracting, except one part. When the story is told from Li-yans perspective, the narrator is wonderful! Generally the story switched back and forth between Li-yan and her daughter.Why only a four rating? It's a bit long, it could be trimmed down a bit. There is a lot going on, with the details of the Akha people, the details on the tea from this area, and the focus on children in China and the adoption process. When the story switched to Haley’s point of view (Li-yans daughter), I sometimes wished it would be over soon to get back to Li-yans. At one point Haley is in a therapy session with other girls just like her, and multiple narrators speak. This part was the only distracting narration. I also feel this was not really needed. A wonderful story that I am finally glad I read. For Lisa See fans, this one is not to be missed! And it was even more special to me as I had my wonderful loose tea to drink while listening. I'm a tea junkie, so this was perfect for me.
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  • Suzanne Leopold
    January 1, 1970
    This book follows the life of Li-yan who is a member of the Akha hill tribe in China. Her family, along with a large majority of the tribe, makes a living growing and harvesting tea. The tribe has some very strict practices and rituals based on superstition. Twin births are considered defects and classified as human rejects. Custom requires that they be killed by their father and the parents banished from the community.Li-yan falls in love with a boy in the village named San-pa. The family does This book follows the life of Li-yan who is a member of the Akha hill tribe in China. Her family, along with a large majority of the tribe, makes a living growing and harvesting tea. The tribe has some very strict practices and rituals based on superstition. Twin births are considered defects and classified as human rejects. Custom requires that they be killed by their father and the parents banished from the community.Li-yan falls in love with a boy in the village named San-pa. The family does not want them involved due to their birth signs not being compatible. Li-yan discovers she is pregnant with San-pa’s child after he has moved to Thailand. Her pregnancy is hidden with the assistance of her mother. After the birth, the baby is placed in an orphanage and adopted in America.The book follows Li-yan’s life over the next twenty years as she ventures outside her tribe into the modern day world. Li-yan aches to find the child that she gave up. She has little information on her daughter from the orphanage due to their poor record keeping. Her daughter named Haley lives in California and is also searching for clues about her natural parents. As a young adult she begins to trace her heritage based upon an item left with her at the orphanage. Mother and daughter continue to pursue the answers from their past.Descriptive and beautifully written, this book is a wonderful portrayal of overcoming obstacles. I enjoyed learning about a new culture while reading this well researched book.5 copy giveaway on my blog until 1/25 https://www.facebook.com/suzyapproved...First chapter released by author - posted on my blog - click here https://www.facebook.com/suzyapproved...
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    This Lisa See fan has awaited this book for three, long years. My expectations were "cautiously" optimistic, however.I read her last five novels, with "Shanghai Girls" and the sequel "Dreams of Joy" being two of my all-time favorites. Her last book, "China Dolls," didn't quite live up to her previous ones in my eyes."The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane" begins in the latter part of the 20th Century in a remote village situated high in the mountains of China. It is home to the primitive Akha people This Lisa See fan has awaited this book for three, long years. My expectations were "cautiously" optimistic, however.I read her last five novels, with "Shanghai Girls" and the sequel "Dreams of Joy" being two of my all-time favorites. Her last book, "China Dolls," didn't quite live up to her previous ones in my eyes."The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane" begins in the latter part of the 20th Century in a remote village situated high in the mountains of China. It is home to the primitive Akha people who are soon to be visited by a stranger from the modern world in search of the purest form of tea--the tea these people have harvested for centuries.The storyline is centered around Li-yan who is her family's only daughter but is extremely intelligent and one of the few children from her mountain to be given an education that would allow her to eventually break from the traditions of her tribe. When Li-yan gives birth to a child out of wedlock, she rejects the custom that would have her baby killed, and instead leaves the infant girl wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near a neighboring city's orphanage. Despite being raised by loving parents and given a privileged childhood in California, Li-yan's daughter, Haley, always wonders about the parents who gave her away. The story follows each one on their journey to hopefully finding the other.Lisa See is probably one of the few authors that does extensive traveling to research each of her novels. This book gives an in-depth history of Pu'er tea and the Akha people. For this very reason, I'm giving five stars for the research that went into this book. I actually craved tea, while reading, and I did my own research on where I could purchase a quality Pu'er tea.I loved the fictional part of this book, with characters that were interesting and endearing, especially, A-ma, Li-yan's mother, but I can only give it three stars, because I wanted much more fiction and a little less history. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and Asian culture.
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  • DeB MaRtEnS
    January 1, 1970
    For me, this is Lisa See's best work to date. Before I began to read the novel itself, I read through the Acknowledgements because I was curious about the amount of and quality of research that the author did prior to writing her book, and the information I discovered greatly enhanced the quality of my enjoyment of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. The rare Pu'er tea and the unique customs of the Chinese hill tribe, the Akha people are central to this fascinating story, featuring the young Lin Y For me, this is Lisa See's best work to date. Before I began to read the novel itself, I read through the Acknowledgements because I was curious about the amount of and quality of research that the author did prior to writing her book, and the information I discovered greatly enhanced the quality of my enjoyment of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. The rare Pu'er tea and the unique customs of the Chinese hill tribe, the Akha people are central to this fascinating story, featuring the young Lin Yan who is born just after the Cultural Revolution. Lee explains how property was removed from individual ownership, and how the system enacted by Mao actually created more poverty among farmers than the "landlord elite" scorned by him. Mao also believed that the ancient tea fermenting process and culture promoted laziness, and had a great many ancient tall trees felled. The Chinese proletariat were meant to drink raw tea leaves, from terraced varietals approved by the government. This ancient tribe, which originated in Nepal, has a strict social order and beliefs which are based on a combination of spirit gods, divination, customs which govern sexual practices, rites for both men and women during pregnancy, condemn illegitimacy and are selective around birth defects, choosing to end life at birth rather than pass on the inheritance, and even displacing the couple from the tribe after the fact. Aside from the harsh practicalities of these rules, they are also deeply superstitious and see warnings and signs of good luck in dreams. Lin Yan picks tea with her family, but she also will inherit a secret ancient tea tree from her mother's lineage, hidden from all men. She will also be educated, fall in love and disastrously give birth to an illegitimate daughter. Her mother, the midwife and famous medicine woman of her tribe, her Ama, chooses to help Lin Yan hide the newborn instead of letting it die, and take it to an orphanage, where the child is eventually adopted by American parents. A special tea cake, in its marked wrapper, goes with the child who is named Haley. Both Haley and Lin Yan and their families' stories are followed, with the tea cake continually tempting discovery of Haley's Akha roots. Years of trials, tribulations, successes, hopes, disappointment and missed opportunities pass by. But this is a good news fictional tale, and we are given a sweet, happy resolution. "No coincidence, no story". That's what the Akha say.
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  • Bam
    January 1, 1970
    I am listening to Sarah Chang playing Sibelius's Violin Concerto in D Minor and enjoying a cup of tea while writing my review this evening. I have long been a tea lover (no coffee for me!) so on that subject, this book was utterly fascinating for me, being filled with all aspects of tea harvesting and processing but also with the poetry and philosophy of tea. My favorite quote:"In drinking the best tea, you and I are having a conversation with the wind and the rain that the ancient Daoists had a I am listening to Sarah Chang playing Sibelius's Violin Concerto in D Minor and enjoying a cup of tea while writing my review this evening. I have long been a tea lover (no coffee for me!) so on that subject, this book was utterly fascinating for me, being filled with all aspects of tea harvesting and processing but also with the poetry and philosophy of tea. My favorite quote:"In drinking the best tea, you and I are having a conversation with the wind and the rain that the ancient Daoists had above the mountain clouds. Through the tea liquor, across streams, and under moon shadows, we can understand that the separation between Man and Nature is not real." Li-yan is a young girl as the story begins. She and her family are Akha, one of the fifty-five ethnic minorities of China, and live in a rural tea-growing area. Their culture is animistic, believing that every living thing has a spirit. They are poor and considered backward in their customs and rituals by the modern world. "In the West, you think that the individual is supreme, but the Akha see themselves as one link in the long chain of life, adjacent to all the other links of people and cultures, all carrying a collective wave toward the beach to throw a newborn up to safety." When Li-yan has a baby girl out of wedlock, she and her mother, the local midwife and healer, keep it secret. In their native customs, the baby must be killed but instead, Li-yan sneaks away to a larger town where she leaves the child on the doorstep of an orphanage. The baby is quickly adopted by a wealthy American family from California. The Bowens name the little girl Haley and give her many advantages for which Haley feels grateful but there remains a core of sadness inside her and a bit of anger. Who is her real mother? Why was she abandoned? Lisa See does an excellent job of helping the reader understand the inherent problems in mixed culture families. There may be great love but still many hurdles to face.Meanwhile, Li-yan suffers through many difficulties in her own life but is offered the chance to study under a tea master and open her own shop in a larger city. There she meets a wealthy businessman and eventually they move to California but keep in close contact with their families as the tea business thrives. Although they have a son of their own, Li-yan constantly looks for her daughter, hoping to find some trace online. For in the box with the infant, she had included an ancient cake of Pu'er tea that had been produced by her family and that could possibly help the girl trace her Chinese roots, if she was so inclined. For on their property is an ancient grove of tea trees that have been passed down from mother to daughter for generations. Li-yan's mother has fiercely protected that hidden grove but now with modern technology it won't remain hidden for much longer. And is it possible that this tea may have special healing qualities that would benefit all mankind? I knew how much I cared for these characters when the ending brought me to tears, something that rarely happens anymore. This was a remarkable book in so many ways--the human drama, romance, the glimpse into an unique culture, the in-depth study of tea processes. Fascinating! I have read several of Lisa See's books and this one has now been added to my favorites from this author.Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read an arc of this wonderful new book. How lucky can a reader get?*Reread for Readers Roundtable book club, March, 2018.
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    From reading other reviews for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane I was intrigued by the tea in this story as tea is my choice of beverage while reading. It used to be wine but I read too much for that. I loved the quiet time reading and drinking my tea with this remarkable and intriguing book that drew me into a fascinating world of pu’er tea and culture. I partially listened to the audiobook and found it a good one to listen to as well. The story is mostly told by only daughter Li-Yan called gir From reading other reviews for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane I was intrigued by the tea in this story as tea is my choice of beverage while reading. It used to be wine but I read too much for that. I loved the quiet time reading and drinking my tea with this remarkable and intriguing book that drew me into a fascinating world of pu’er tea and culture. I partially listened to the audiobook and found it a good one to listen to as well. The story is mostly told by only daughter Li-Yan called girl by her family who takes us from tea growing Chinese minority Akha who are strong on rules, customs and traditions, to a Chinese drug infested village and to glamorous Los Angeles.From the vivid descriptions of the tea, background and processing it's like the tea becomes a character in the story. At times I was overwhelmed by the chilling superstitions and customs of the Akha tribe and it did take a bit away from the drama of the story for me. I loved the powerful bond between Mother and daughter that was stronger than tradition. The excitement was the build up for me as I started to piece together the ending and I loved the way Lisa See wrapped up the ending. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was an alluring escape that left me wanting to explore and taste fine tea (not my usual Tetley tea) and more of Lisa See’s books. All of Norma's and my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. Wow. This book. I was quickly reminded of why I studied anthropology in undergrad. Culture. This book was filled with Ahka culture: the spirituality, the superstitions, the food, the work, the daily life, and the tea. The Ahka are an ethnic minority group living in a mountainous region of China famous for its ancient tea trees. We watch Li-yan grow up in this culture, where she is going to be a "first woman," and eventually get a formal education; until all that changes when she becom 4.5 stars. Wow. This book. I was quickly reminded of why I studied anthropology in undergrad. Culture. This book was filled with Ahka culture: the spirituality, the superstitions, the food, the work, the daily life, and the tea. The Ahka are an ethnic minority group living in a mountainous region of China famous for its ancient tea trees. We watch Li-yan grow up in this culture, where she is going to be a "first woman," and eventually get a formal education; until all that changes when she becomes pregnant outside of marriage. Forced to give her daughter up for adoption, Li-yan's future takes a sharp turn. This book is heavily focused on tea- its production, the history of it, its importance to the region, to the culture. But another theme in this book is the adoption of female children from China during the "one child per family" policy. Ultimately, this book was about family, especially mothers and daughters, and I adored reading it. It's a book you want to share and discuss, and for my first Lisa See book, I am thrilled to have found a new favorite author. Thanks to the publisher and the author, I received a complimentary copy of this book. This was my unsolicited review.
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  • Margitte
    January 1, 1970
    This is a go big, or go home kind of book. Targeting a global village of readers from different walks of life. Reading this book is not only a story, it is a journey through history, into a documentary field and finally lying down in a political hotbed. Now, add a strong mother-daughter bond, with a mother tree into the mix, and you have the whole picture.There are three main themes in the book:1) The introduction of the Akha People from the Yunnan Province in the southwest of China, bordering L This is a go big, or go home kind of book. Targeting a global village of readers from different walks of life. Reading this book is not only a story, it is a journey through history, into a documentary field and finally lying down in a political hotbed. Now, add a strong mother-daughter bond, with a mother tree into the mix, and you have the whole picture.There are three main themes in the book:1) The introduction of the Akha People from the Yunnan Province in the southwest of China, bordering Laos and Burma. One of the most remote provinces of China;2) The history of the Pu're' tea;3) The Chinese Orphanages for girls and the issue around the ± 180 000 girls who found new homes all over the world. Combine these three elements, and you get The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneFirst we must find the mother tree:Camellia sinensis var. assamica.It grows hidden in the remote Nannuo mountains of the region. The yellow-hair tea, the most sought-after tea in China and the must-have status symbol for the 'addicts' of this niche market within a niche market of tea connoisseurs. Like other fake international labels, pu're' has its moments of fraud and fantasy as well. As long as it has the label, the brand printed BIG over it and you have the gold to afford it, you have arrived. But in this story, the real pu're'(pu'reh), the cream of the crop, becomes almost a character in the book.LET ME GET MY PEEVES OUT OF THE WAY.The first part of the book, in which the soul and character of Spring Well Village is captured in gripping detail, had me excited beyond words. It is just the most amazing atmospheric, lyrical prose ever. But then the documentary element kicks in. The show, don't tell principle, the main mantra of any good novel, took a complete hike! Boring dialogue, spread over pages and pages and pages of the narritive, introduces a group of Chines adoptees in America to the tale, that has absolutely, none, zero, zilch to do with the main story. Adding Haley Davis to that interview was forced, superficial and just too obvious. It slowed down the story line too much. Ugh!!!!!Adding to that too many pages of tea information, even quoted from other books, just killed the ambiance for me. It was overkill. WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK. The human interest side of the book:Well drawn characters, lyrical prose, atmospheric setting, intense drama and a rich index of cultural practices: some of them hilarious, others gut-wrenching cruel.The mother tree, protected for hundreds of years by the women in the family, is the life-giving force to the minority communities in the mountains. The tree is also the heart of the book, both anchoring the story of the strong women to the history of the tea industry. A-ma, the village medicine woman and midwife, uses the symbiotic plants and fungi growing on its roots and bark, to heal every ailment in the village. Her medicines are legendary; her secret ingredients, potent. The tea cakes made from its leaves encourage tea merchants from all over the world to find it. Yet only a selected lineage of women knows the magic secret of its location and story.The tree belongs to A-ma and the ownership of the land it is growing on is transferred from one generation of women to another. No men are allowed to see it. The only man who found it, was buried with a broken neck. Only one daughter inherits the land, the tree and its secrets. Li-yan, is A-ma's daughter and the next woman in line to become the mother tree's guardian. Against the trunk of the old tree, a baby is born. Illegitimate, unwanted. Secret. Yan-yeh, Spiny Thistle, would be her name. For now. Her birth remains a secret. She is supposed to be killed but Li-yan cannot push the mixture of rice husks and ashes into the little girl's mouth and nostrils. The-friend-living-with-child inside the mother's body, cannot be buried underneath the house to keep a child's spirit bonded to the family as is the custom. Instead, wherever her destiny will take her, Yan-yeh's spirit will forever be bonded to the mother tree where her afterbirth is buried in secret. The anguish, courage, and sacrifice of her young mother will follow her into the world. A spiritual bond with a secret piece of land, an ancient old tea cake, and the spirit of the mother tree will determine her destiny. "You have been born on Chicken Day, you’ll always know the opening and closing of the sun.” The bond between women of one blood can never be broken. A-ma's final words to the little waste child: A-ma holds Spiny-thistle while I eat. “Look around you,” she coos to the baby. “This is the mother tree. These are the sister trees. You may never see this place again, but it is yours by right. Our blood is in this earth. It has nourished these trees. You are a part of them, and they are a part of you.” She pauses before continuing. “There can be no proper naming ceremony for you, since neither your father nor one of your grandfathers can perform the rite...” Despite the dumping of information into the text, the story line remains as strong as the umbilical cord keeping the mother tree linked to the destiny of grandmother, mother and granddaughter. From a sad, shocking and traumatic beginning, to a happy, sunny and successful ending, the narrative relentlessly keep the story line intact. The colorful cast of characters populate a very well-written story. Lisa See, an Asian American, brings Chinese history and stories to her reader as captivating historical fiction. She's not only a novelist, but also involved in community projects for which she has received numerous awards. There is always much to learn and ponder in her books. This book reflects her passion for her subjects and interests. I loved the first half of the book. It was really so well done. Excellent. But then as the mood changed, so did the ambiance. The ending, however, brought the book full circle in an unexpected fanfare. A great surprise was waiting and it made me realize how masterfully this tale was constructed.Absolutely worth the read.Thank you Lisa See, Netgalley and Scribner for the opportunity to review this book.
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  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
    January 1, 1970
    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane sounds like just another pretty name, when you first spot it. It brings promise, as does the author's well-known name, Lisa See. A promise of secrets, twilight and fantastic cultures it might take you too.I'm going to tell you that it delivers. Brace yourselves for this book.Read full review here on my blog. Includes pics and links to buy.First of all, this is probably the first book about China that has not given me nightmares or made me feel like I don't ever w The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane sounds like just another pretty name, when you first spot it. It brings promise, as does the author's well-known name, Lisa See. A promise of secrets, twilight and fantastic cultures it might take you too.I'm going to tell you that it delivers. Brace yourselves for this book.Read full review here on my blog. Includes pics and links to buy.First of all, this is probably the first book about China that has not given me nightmares or made me feel like I don't ever want to go there. Perhaps that's because it was written by a Western author? Second, I am prone to reading books about China or Chinese culture, as a vacation of sorts - but due to the said reason, it's mostly fantasy (fantasy books don't tend to shock and terrorize you with their harsh realities, and harsh realities about China seem to be often harsher than realities about the nazis. Honestly.) But this book wasn't like that, and although there was some shock involved, there was also redemption, joy, happiness and a very meaningful ending.The story is actually about an ethnic minority in China - the Akha peopleThe story is mostly made up of two parts: the tragic hardship and the glowing growth and redemption, from which the characters look back on the past. The story is arranged simply and linearly, but there are these distinct two parts which were both charming in their own way.First the hardship part shocks you, and it shocks you hard. From the rough and sometimes very cruel traditions of the Akha to the understanding that in the years you were already born people still lived like this, and perhaps they still do somewhere in the world now. The way most of these ideas will be so alien, so baffling to you in their cruelty and lack of any common sense, so to say, will shock you beyond expectation. And yet, you will have to admit that some of them make sense. As hard as it will be to see through it, you'll have to try to accept the way these people live.And I don't just mean hunting with crossbows. I mean so much more than that.The story centers around losing your child, losing your mother, but it's also deep on not belonging - be it because you're far away from your home, physically different, culturally different, a minority or just outcrowded by race. This is a tale about a mother who had to relinquish her child because her situation and the tradition would have guaranteed her baby's death if she hadn't abandoned her. So we follow through with the story, seeing how it leaves a mark on everyone, how things like that leave a hole in a person's heart, never to fully heal. Despite where our lives lead us, the threads of fate always bring us back to our roots, and this is done so meaningfully in this story I am simply in awe at the ending.Aside from the story itself, this is a manifest to tea. That part I also loved. In the end, I even contacted my tea master from ten years ago, because it brought back so many strong, deep memories.Thank you to Lisa See and Scribner for letting me read this gem before most readers had access to it. Truly a wonderful gift! (Needless to say that receiving a review copy does not influence my opinion of the book at all.) I enjoyed this book a lot, and as this was my first one of Lisa's, I will be looking forward to checking my library and bookstores for more of her wonderful stories.
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  • Stephanie Anze
    January 1, 1970
    Lin-yan is from a remote village in the Yunan province of China and also part of the Akha people. Her family are tea leaf harvesters, its how they earn their living, a very modest one. Lin-yan, however, is one of the few in her village that can aspire to higher education, which is an unusual route for a girl. When a foreigner visits her village inquiring about their tea, it sets off a series of events that will have a marked effect on Lin-yan's life.Lisa See is not a new author for me. Having re Lin-yan is from a remote village in the Yunan province of China and also part of the Akha people. Her family are tea leaf harvesters, its how they earn their living, a very modest one. Lin-yan, however, is one of the few in her village that can aspire to higher education, which is an unusual route for a girl. When a foreigner visits her village inquiring about their tea, it sets off a series of events that will have a marked effect on Lin-yan's life.Lisa See is not a new author for me. Having read some of her previous work, her most recent title got my attention. 'The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane' is deeply rooted in Akha culture and tea harvesting. The Akha people are heavily tied to traditions, superstions, and rituals that are quite difficult to understand for an outsider. Their lives are bound by laws based on ancient beliefs. Their history rich in spirits and taboos. Amid all this, Lin-yan (refered to only as "girl") is trying to find her place. While she grew up Akha, she has a hard time understanding and carrying on some of the rituals. Her mother is the midwife and village doctor. Lin-yan is supposed to follow in her footsteps but life turns out differently for her. Powerful, poignant, and raw this narrative was classic Lisa See. She masterfully infuses a rich history with a captivating narrative. The characters are interconnected through the tea leafs and trees. Its a book about family, traditions and the impact these two have on a life. Highly recomended book for Lisa See fans and anyone interested in a very well researched book.The most impressive aspect of the book is the tea history. As I a am an avid tea drinker, this part particularly appealed to me. Pu'erh Tea is unlike others, its refered to as aged or vintage tea. The leaves are harvested then fermented, made into tea cakes and stored for years. The more aged they are, the more valuable they become. A few leaves are chipped from the cake to brew a cup. Creating these tea cakes is no small feat. It requires a very specific knowledge and skill. The tea trees are found in the Yunan province of China. Their taste ranges from smooth to bitter, depending on the fermenataion process and age. A few years back, a Pu'erh tea cake from the 1900's sold for 1.7 million dollars at auction. Yes, they are that unique and valuable. To think that a humble cup of tea had such a complex history behind it. I will not see having a cup of tea in the same way again.
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  • ☮Karen
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsLisa See has made me very happy. She can always be trusted to provide historical pieces that both entertain and inform the reader. So even though the only tea I care to drink is Arizona Zero Calorie Green with Ginseng, I now know more about making tea in China than I could ever imagine, and I loved reading about the ancient customs and superstitions of the mountain people known as the Akha. Li-Yan's Akha family spent their lives selling tea, her mother also using it for medicinal purpos 4.5 starsLisa See has made me very happy. She can always be trusted to provide historical pieces that both entertain and inform the reader. So even though the only tea I care to drink is Arizona Zero Calorie Green with Ginseng, I now know more about making tea in China than I could ever imagine, and I loved reading about the ancient customs and superstitions of the mountain people known as the Akha. Li-Yan's Akha family spent their lives selling tea, her mother also using it for medicinal purposes and hoping to pass her skills on to her only daughter. Li-Yan was forced to leave her firstborn daughter with an orphanage, from which the baby was later adopted by white Americans. Li-Yan was intent on making it as an educated tea seller, while always wondering about the baby she gave up. Although most pages are dedicated to Li-Yan's story, we also get to know the little girl as she matures into a young Chinese - American scholar, curious about her Chinese heritage and especially the tea cake that accompanied her into the orphanage as a baby.I found many similarities between this book and Secret Daughter, which took place in India and America. I thought that one had a disappointing ending. This book, though... The last chapter is sure to tug at your heartstrings. A beautiful book! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.
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  • Marilyn C.
    January 1, 1970
    5 Stars for Outstanding Writing and Character Development 3 Stars for Storyline Lisa See became a favorite author of mine when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan many years ago. See writes stories that pull the reader into the Chinese culture, and has you come away feeling like you have learned something about their beliefs and customs. She develops her characters in such a way that you feel a connection to them, even though many of them don't even exist in your era. The Tea Girl of Hummingbi 5 Stars for Outstanding Writing and Character Development 3 Stars for Storyline Lisa See became a favorite author of mine when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan many years ago. See writes stories that pull the reader into the Chinese culture, and has you come away feeling like you have learned something about their beliefs and customs. She develops her characters in such a way that you feel a connection to them, even though many of them don't even exist in your era. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is no exception to her fantastic writing and the ability to bring a character to life before your eyes. By the end of this book I loved Li-yan, and thought See really brought her full circle from a poor village girl to a highly respected woman in her field. My struggle with rating this book comes with the storyline. Even though I flew through this book (as I had to know about Li-yan), I felt it had WAY too much information about tea. Yes, I know the title has "Tea" in it, that should have been my warning, but the information that was given was borderline overkill and had me feeling like I took a crash course in tea production. Still an enjoyable story - this is Lisa See after all - 4 Stars. By the way - I love tea!
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This book started off very slowly for me. I nearly gave up before I was 10% of the way done with the book (I went back to look at reviews from trusted friends to determine whether or not to keep going). Thankfully I made it over the hump and continued, because if I gave up it would have been my loss.Lisa See once again beautifully describes the life of Li-yan, a young girl who is part of an enthnic minority in China known as the Akha. Li-yan's community makes their livlihood primarily by picking This book started off very slowly for me. I nearly gave up before I was 10% of the way done with the book (I went back to look at reviews from trusted friends to determine whether or not to keep going). Thankfully I made it over the hump and continued, because if I gave up it would have been my loss.Lisa See once again beautifully describes the life of Li-yan, a young girl who is part of an enthnic minority in China known as the Akha. Li-yan's community makes their livlihood primarily by picking tea leaves, and See gives the reader rich descriptions of the tea industry in China.Highly recommended for those who enjoy learning about other cultures. 4 starsThank you to NetGalley and Scriber for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Rich in tradition and culture, this is an engaging story about mothers and daughters navigating through a changing world and the bridging of East and West. I enjoyed this book almost as much as my favorite See book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. See’s research of the Akha tribal people is impressive. I was fascinated by the culture and lifestyle of these remote ‘hill’ people who believes that every living thing has a spirit. I was appalled by some of the cruel traditions they’d adopted, like t Rich in tradition and culture, this is an engaging story about mothers and daughters navigating through a changing world and the bridging of East and West. I enjoyed this book almost as much as my favorite See book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. See’s research of the Akha tribal people is impressive. I was fascinated by the culture and lifestyle of these remote ‘hill’ people who believes that every living thing has a spirit. I was appalled by some of the cruel traditions they’d adopted, like the ‘human reject’ policy. I can’t get that piece out of my mind.Seamlessly weaving in historical facts, Lee transported me into Li-yan’s world spanning 20+ years. Li-yan is a strong character and I was sympathetic to her sorrows. The tea trade threads, from origin to harvesting, were inspired by See’s own participation in a tea ceremony. She delves deeply into this integral part of the Chinese culture. It brought back memories of my own visit to a Chinese tea growing farm a few years ago, viewing the tea fields and participating in a tea ceremony.I recommend this book to not only those who are Lisa See fans but for others who want to discover this author who knows how to write and capture a reader’s attention. You won’t be disappointed.
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  • Sharon Metcalf
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsSpanning almost three decades from 1988 to 2016 The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See was a truly lovely novel and one I'm tremendously pleased to have finally read.    In her Acknowlegements she stated " Every detail matters to me, and I try to be as accurate as possible."    This much I had already figured for myself but seeing her extensive list of resources and huge number of contacts really drove that point home.      As I write this review and think back over what I've read 4.5 starsSpanning almost three decades from 1988 to 2016 The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See was a truly lovely novel and one I'm tremendously pleased to have finally read.    In her Acknowlegements she stated " Every detail matters to me, and I try to be as accurate as possible."    This much I had already figured for myself but seeing her extensive list of resources and huge number of contacts really drove that point home.      As I write this review and think back over what I've read I'm beginning to realise I liked it even more than I first thought.    Li-yan belongs to the Akha people, an ethnic minority in rural and remote China.   She's ten when we first meet her and her tea farming family.     They are desperately poor but incredibly dedicated to their cultural traditions, many of which I was in shock reading about yet Lisa See ensured I wasn't judgemental.  Her writing helped me walk the proverbial mile in the Akha people's shoes.    She opened my eyes to the intracacies of tea, something I could not have believed would interest me.  Who knew there was so much to know about tea or that it was attributed with a whole array of healing powers, or that it was such a valuable and highly traded commodity.    Well that sounds boring!   It wasn't though.    Far from it.    The tea growing, making, tasting, medicinal uses and trading was an interesting backdrop to a beautiful story of family.    This was a coming of age story, one of finding, losing and eventually rediscovering love.   It shared both sides of the adoption story, not only  the heartache of giving up a child for adoption but the dual emotions of gratitude and anger assiciated with being adopted  by an American couple.   It was a story of cross cultural differences, trust, friendships and so much more.     As I turned that final page there was absolutely no doubt in my mind I wanted more of this story yet Lisa See in her wisdom delivered just enough for me to know what happened and left me to my imaginings about how things played out from there.     This book was so very well done from beginning to end.Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this delightful book.
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  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    This book made me wish I liked tea. It is rich in Chinese history as well as the tea making process, history of tea, tea facts, etc. Some of the history involving the Ahka tribe customs is shocking. The story spans nearly 30 years following Li-yan through her fascinating life. It explores culture, tradition and the bonds of family, particularly between mothers and daughters. This was my first Lisa See book and now I see why she is a favorite of many. She has an ability to draw us into her story This book made me wish I liked tea. It is rich in Chinese history as well as the tea making process, history of tea, tea facts, etc. Some of the history involving the Ahka tribe customs is shocking. The story spans nearly 30 years following Li-yan through her fascinating life. It explores culture, tradition and the bonds of family, particularly between mothers and daughters. This was my first Lisa See book and now I see why she is a favorite of many. She has an ability to draw us into her story and characters all while educating us at the same time. Onto my next Lisa See book!
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Another great novel by Lisa See. The book starts out in the late 1980's but it feels more like the 1880's. Li-Yan grows up in a remote mountain village where picking tea, homeopathic remedies and superstition is the only way of life. At 16 and unmarried, she has a baby and surrenders the child to an adoption center which sends her daughter to America for adoption. Li-Yan is fortunate and able to attend school where she goes on to s I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Another great novel by Lisa See. The book starts out in the late 1980's but it feels more like the 1880's. Li-Yan grows up in a remote mountain village where picking tea, homeopathic remedies and superstition is the only way of life. At 16 and unmarried, she has a baby and surrenders the child to an adoption center which sends her daughter to America for adoption. Li-Yan is fortunate and able to attend school where she goes on to succeed in her own business, marries well and lives in America but eventually comes back to her roots in China. It's all about the tea. Throughout the book, the history of tea (which does get a little tedious) and the Akha people is the focus, but the story and tradegy of Li-Yan is neatly woven in. Good book, must read.4 ☆
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Lisa See does it again with this very well crafted novel. I appreciate the amount of research that had to have gone into the writing of this. Enjoyed learning about the complexities of tea and its history, though, it did seem to drag on a bit. I kind of wish that the story had stayed more in China and not ventured into the US as much as it did. Still very educational & entertaining. 4 stars.
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    What to rate this? It's between a 3 star and a 4 star. My enjoyment was more toward the 4 star level.BUT! Definitely I have to be aware that I could become too verbose in this review. Easily, because there's a lot I could note within this epic of tendency toward the exponential / global tea market. And doubly so because Lisa See is an author I read in her entirety and have from book #1. I am a fan. It's long. And at points the tension is lost. One of the best characters in the book is A-ma and s What to rate this? It's between a 3 star and a 4 star. My enjoyment was more toward the 4 star level.BUT! Definitely I have to be aware that I could become too verbose in this review. Easily, because there's a lot I could note within this epic of tendency toward the exponential / global tea market. And doubly so because Lisa See is an author I read in her entirety and have from book #1. I am a fan. It's long. And at points the tension is lost. One of the best characters in the book is A-ma and she only has a first person voice about 3 or 4 times in the book, and at that only for a page or two. Our Akha girl, her daughter, is the one with the narrator "eyes". It's her story. The title named "tea girl" is an American one who lives on Hummingbird Lane in Pasadena, CA and is NOT our Chinese mountain Li-yan of Hani group minority ethnic Chinese mountain dwelling clan.The first half of the book is fully 4 star. Her periods of youth with her best friend and her love for a Tiger boy who is flawed and not for her- those were skillfully drawn. The old Romeo and Juliet dynamic. But times 10 because Akha do not lie, and you cannot change your birth cycle date.I will NOT do a plot survey or synopsis. Instead I will try to do a highlight observation of the style and subject matter. Try is the operative word- this book is long and winding. While some sections on both continents, for me, seem to lose their way. This book is MUCH better than the last 2 See books. It's nearly up to Snow Flower in poignant tale, but has completely lost, IMHO, the pure and singular focus and sublime language of the most excellent personality grab of Peony in Love. Just my opinion, but I think Lisa See is at her peak when she narrows toward the inner core of her protagonist personality and does NOT become as concerned or elaborate for the grand scale overlook. As soon as she hits the extended repercussions as in universal scope, she becomes preachy and trite. In this book, it happens for a page here, two pages there, and in nearly every other Haley section for more than 2 or 3 pages. But that seems to be what modern readers like, and it sells. For me, UGH!That took me out of the prime story itself, nearly completely and for me, jazzed up the continuity of my general interest to a 90% degree. Too many reasons why to list here, and you don't want to read them anyway. So enjoy this book, but know it is dark. See tries to lighten it up with universal memes by several characters during the last quarter of the book, and it somewhat helped. BUT. Again another BUT.Like female genital mutilation, food binding, and general murder of babies- lots of "well, you have to respect their culture" talk of cultural relativism just does not work for me. Never did, and never will.Loved hearing about the tea trade and how the process is performed. It is super labor intensive, as is rice farming, cotton or silk too. And I thought it was rather funny how See at all stages let you "know" how unhygienic it is or became in different processes to age the tea. And is now too. This book was fully 4 stars for the pulling of the Mother tree and its possible attributes through all phases of this very long book. Overlong and at some points needlessly repetitious but that aspect worked. At times I really thought that Tina (Li-yan) was absolutely NO rocket scientist or business woman either. But then, this is fiction.Which leads me to a point I do NOT want to forget. There are other non-fiction stories and memoirs of other Hani ethnic groups with similar living conditions and other forms of spirit religions which I have enjoyed. And IMHO, are better windows into their worldview.One of them is "Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the World" by Yang Erche Namu. Loved, loved that one. Now that girl had star quality inquisitive pizzazz. For you people who liked this book to a 5 star level, you'll enjoy that read more, IMHO. She is one of the Mosuo group in Yunnan, that often call themselves the Na. Like Akha group in this See book they are non-Han group Chinese and did not have to conform to the one child policy.This was a 4 star read in enjoyment for me at many points. Sean and the American sides of the tale were a 2 star read for me. The oppression of that religion was a 1 star, especially upon reading about its tenets for that many pages as I think that worldview is more that stifling. (Hated the Spirit Gate concept especially, but liked the Swing Festival idea. A Numa making a ritual of your disagreements; it just buries more and more animosity- her best friend is a perfect example. Make nice-nice and terrible idea for fall outs of compromise over long periods of time!) So how do I rate it? 3.5 stars but I cannot round it up. Too many cliffs needed to jump off of in its flow.If you have a Chinese adopted daughter it will be much more interesting for you to read. Maybe not, but I think you would be highly enthralled at parts of this one.For me, not a tea person but enjoying a delicious cup once in awhile (but I'm fussy about the type), I have to admit. For me, I would love to try the P'ur level. It would NOT have to be from the Mother tree in A-ma's grove.
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