A thorough account that tracks the growing and processing of this fine tea against the wider changes in today’s India.



From seed to auction, a detailed look at the growing, selling and drinking of India’s “champagne of tea.”

There is no leaf unturned in Barcelona-based food journalist Koehler’s (Spain: Recipes and Traditions, 2013, etc.) exposition on the growing of Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling is cultivated only in 87 tea estates along a slender spine of land in northeast India. It is an “orthodox” black tea, meaning it is unmixed—withered, rolled, fermented and fired in the traditional method by hand. Since there is so little of it—it takes 22,000 handpicked shoots to produce one kilo of Darjeeling—in comparison to green or other kinds of tea, the prices it fetches at auction are enormous. Koehler explores the history of chai (Hindi for tea), from the beginnings in China to the surprisingly late (19th-century) experimentation by the British to figure out if tea shoots brought from China would grow in northern India. At that time, the East India Company moved into the steep, misty hills of Darjeeling, and the first British tea estates prospered. Koehler chronicles his visits to the oldest select tea estates, such as Makaibari, Castleton and Ambootia, noting how he began to understand what makes this tea so singular: the ideal climate and terroir and the “human element”—i.e., the need to be plucked by hand. Women do the plucking and get paid so little that absenteeism runs 30 percent. In a deeply researched work organized by the tea’s growing season, from “first flush” through “monsoon flush” through “autumn flush,” Koehler explores the initiative by some of the estates to go organic. Yet the combined crises of labor unrest, climate change and a political threat of independence from West Bengal spell a serious threat to the vulnerable Darjeeling tea.

A thorough account that tracks the growing and processing of this fine tea against the wider changes in today’s India.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62040-512-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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