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Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic (Culture, Place, and Nature) Paperback – September 11, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An admirably coherent analysis of the complex social relationships that shaped the Pu'er market. . . . and a fine addition to the literature on the cultural biographies of commodities. . . . Recommended for the teaching of political economy, cultural economy, Chinese social transformation, and regional development studies."―China Quarterly

"A wealth of valuable information, both historical and anecdotal.should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the subject of Puer tea."―Two Dog Tea Blog

"This fine book has so much to tell us about the political economy of Puer tea over different periods of time and with links to Hong Kong, Taiwan and beyond[I]nformative and well-written."―Tan Chee Beng, Australian Journal of Anthropology

Review

"This is an engrossing study of the Puer tea industry and the many cultural spheres that surround it. It will be of keen interest to the Western tea trade as well as its historians, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts. Tea publications rarely, if ever, discuss the complex relationships that quite literally bring tea to the table and never is the anatomy of tea dissected in such a wide ranging, thorough, and engaging way."―Steven D. Owyoung, cotranslator of Korean Tea Classics
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Product Details

  • Series: Culture, Place, and Nature
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (September 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295993235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295993232
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The literature in English on Chinese tea is still rather limited, while that in Chinese is reaching the size of the famous tea mountains themselves. This important book is a major contribution to the English speaking world of people interested in tea.

I saw my first Puer tea cakes in Beijing in 1983, but not knowing what kind of tea they were I dismissed them as a kind of very cheap strange tea and thus missed the chance to get to know some of the most interesting tea on the market at an early point. My next encounter with Puer tea happened in 2005 and 2006 when I was visiting different tea places in Hangzhou, Fujian and Guangzhou with some Chinese tea experts. Besides studying and enjoying the local teas there was always much talk about and interest in having some Puer. At a tea appraisal in Guangzhou I got to see and taste hundreds of very different Puer tea cakes. Frankly speaking, I had at the time no clear idea what I was enjoying, but got fascinated and began my study. It took years to find any reliable information in print and only through drinking with connoisseurs in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and with Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese did I begin to truly appreciate the many differences. This eventually led me to join a tea tour to Xishuangbanna and other parts of Yunnan in 2011. The small group met in Kunming and was joined by the anthropologist Jinghong Zhang, the author of this book, and after flying down to Jinghong we immediately set out for Yiwu, one of the main places of her research over the years, and for the first time, the veil was lifted and I got to know some of the secrets of Puer. However, even after another visit to Xishuangbanna the following year there were still many unanswered questions about this tea shrouded in mystery.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you love Pu'er tea, you've noticed there's a lot of mystique about it. If you love Pu'er tea and read about it only in English, it sometimes seems there's only mystique. Or, if you don't want to call it mystique, call it rigid rules that don't necessarily correspond to reality.

It's like being a child who's told by adults that there are simple rules for everything. When we grow up, most of us learn that life is not quite as simple as our elders had told us.

Reading this book is a way for the Anglophone Pu'er tea lover to grow up. You'll see that the definition of Pu'er tea is contested and always has been, that the standards and practices you thought were immutable are far from that. You'll see that the Pu'er tea industry, from the farmers to the vendors, is made up of people who, understandably, follow their own varying interests as best they can, and that their understanding of their own interests is fallible.

If you want to know where Pu'er tea comes from, how it is made, who makes it, and how it all got that way, and if you want to be told all this by someone who isn't trying to sell you anything beyond the book you hold in your hands, read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been studying and drinking tea for many years. Indeed, I have traveled to all the places that Dr Zhang mentions in this excellent book therefore can speak with some knowledge.I find Dr Zhang's observations and formulations to be full and correct.

Dr Zhang's knowledge of the pu'er industry in the most turbulent of times that she discusses here makes this the number one work for both general reading and academic knowledge.

For the general reader this book is a "page turner". This may at first seem strange that a book on such a specialised and apparently dry subject would be like this. However, the intricacies of the relationships of the growers, producers, buyers and consumers make this read like a detective novel of the highest grade. This book is far from "dry".

Still, at the end, it makes me wonder about the foibles of human beings and our quest for riches over contentment. After all, it is "just" a cup of tea - or is it? Dr Zhang's work will make sure you reconsider that statement.

In the mean time you will be fully educated about the art and science of pu'er tea and the politics of this facet of business in China.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good account of the different actors in the Puer world and their history and biases, it is also a wonderful story of culture clash. I found reading this enhanced my appreciation of the tea rather than leaving me disillusioned, which is something I feared might happen. Where else are you going to find this information?
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