The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – 5 Star Review

Historical Fiction is a hot and cold genre for me. I tend to be hesitant to pick the books up because they are usually slower paced reads for me compared to the action-packed YA fantasy I usually enjoy. However, when they are written well, I come out of the story with wild exuberance and new love for the genre.

This is what I experienced with The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I recall when this book first came out in 2018 and I added it to my TBR. The cover art is captivating, and the blurb about a story of international adoption and a remote tea village of China immediately grabbed my attention. A few years later I saw this beauty at our library used bookstore, and quickly brought it home with me. Fast forward about another year, and I finally chose this book for a traveling book club I’m a part of.

In this book, the reader follows the life of Li-yan from childhood to womanhood. Most of the setting is within China, prominently in the remote mountain village amongst the Akha people. A minority, hill tribe with their unique set of customs and culture that differs from more developed parts of China. Not only do we follow along a great story of self-discovery, pain, love, and loss, but the reader can expect to receive a minor education in tea – specifically Pu’er. Every character within this story was well developed and embodied their own character arcs throughout. I loved how the story threads wove from beginning to end, and the interconnection between all the life events. 

I have the utmost admiration for historical fiction authors. They are masters at two crafts: research and writing. Writing a novel takes years for many authors but add in research trips and deep dives into historical events it’s hard to imagine what all goes into a historical fiction book. Therefore, anytime I do read this genre, I usually put in a little work myself to learn about the author and their reasons for writing the story. This always connects me more to the book and often, impresses me with their connection and/or obsession for the time period, event, or place.

Lisa See is a red headed, freckled, woman that is known for writing books within the Asian culture. While learning about her, I discovered that she is a Chinese American. Her book On Gold Mountain catalogs her great-grandfather, Fong See’s, immigration from China to California in the late 1800s. I found an informational YouTube video which Lisa See voices over that you should check out by clicking here.

I loved that the author including more information about her research and connections in her acknowledgements in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane which also included a link to buy Pu’er online. This tea company is reflective of this book in so many ways. The tea is processed from the Yunnan Province, which is the home of the main character Li-yan. The Bana Tea Company offers a book club sampler pack of Pu’er for $30 and you can buy it here. I’m personally very excited to order the kit to try out with a couple of friends after they read this book as well! 

A story of motherhood, international adoption, tea farming, processing, selling, and an exclusive peek into a remote Chinese culture The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story that should be on your shelves. 

Reviewed by Coco

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