By Lisa See
Simon & Schuster, 2017. 371 pgs. Fiction
Born in a remote Yunnan village, high in the mountains of rural China, Li-yan’s life is as far from the modern world as possible. Her family and neighbors live life based on ancient Akha traditions which have guided them for generations. Li-Yan starts to break from those ancient ways as she attends a number of schools and obtains a limited understanding of the wonders that exist outside her secluded world.
A growing obsession with pu’er, a rare tea that is grown by many of the Akha villages, brings their carefully insulated lives into contact with businessmen and tea connoisseurs. Li-Yan’s education makes her the mouthpiece for her family and starts her on a journey far from the quiet hillside of her birth.
The Tea Girl of Humminbird Lane takes readers to a beautiful part of the world and shows how fragile customs and cultures can be. The human drama of See’s story spans the lives of several key characters, all trying to find balance in a frequently chaotic world. Her writing, like the tea she describes, is powerful and a pleasure to consume.