The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate--the first automobile any of them have seen--and a stranger arrives. In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city. After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity 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."--
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2017.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781501154829
Branch Call Number: SEE
Characteristics: 371 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 26, 2018

I enjoyed the book largely because of what I learned about different aspects of tea culture and the Ahka. There were passages where I felt there were too many details for my liking, but overall I appreciated this book.

Mar 19, 2018

This is my favourite book that I've read all year. I'm a sap. So expect a fairy tale story of sorts.
It's not overdone, & it's worth the read. It follows the story of a young girl into motherhood, her children, her family, and the path she takes throughout her life. In trying to write this comment about the novel right now, I am finding it difficult to not give away important details. So, just read it. If you like reading about love, loss, culture, and strong feminine protagonists, then pick this book up.

Feb 20, 2018

Interesting and informative read for veracious ''Tea Girl" Pat

Feb 05, 2018

Well-researched story of ethnic Chinese woman and her out-of-wedlock daughter adopted by an American family. It traces the lives of ethnic Chinese in Yunnan involved in the artisanal tea business and recent Chinese entrepreneurs. The book's opening adage about coincidence plays throughout the stories being told. Maybe too much information, at least for me, which got in the way of the main story lines.

Jan 06, 2018

Largely a good story. The initial submersion into an ancient culture and its people is extremely well told (as is some of China's history from that viewpoint), and when the now familiarized reader later sees some of those ancient customs in a most jarring contrast to the methods of the modern western world, they no longer seem at all strange but rather quite appropriate for the occasion.

On the other hand, the fate of the main character travels a path almost laughably fairy tale-ish (you can see it coming for miles), and I hate stories that require a man (especially an extremely wealthy one) for things to turn out well for the heroine (and there's more than one very rich "prince charming" in this story which negates it being indicative purely of an older culture where women seldom if ever advanced without a wealthy, male benefactor...).

Thankfully, the final pages of the book return once again to the ancient culture, and amidst its old and ordered customs a rather lovely - if purely serendipitous - ending offers some small redemption for the book's failings mid-tale.

Jan 04, 2018

I can easily lose myself in any Lisa See novel, and THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE is no exception. Once again See has done her research and crafted a compelling tale which not only entertains but expands readers’ appreciation for Chinese history, culture, and traditions. Many universal themes like family, particularly mothers and daughters, coming of age, love, sacrifice, and redemption are present here. In addition the author incorporates many issues so relevant in today’s world within the intricately woven plot: women’s rights, the effects of globalization on society, as well as the consequences of adopting Chinese girls by the West. At the heart of the novel is the role tea plays in the lives of the protagonists, and my one criticism is that there are times when See describes all things “tea” to excess (its cultivation, processing, marketing, and so on) that the narrative flow gets bogged down. Comparisons to wine are obvious. Of course I’m not a tea drinker, but if anything could prompt me to become one it would be this excellent book.

Oct 28, 2017

The story was enjoyable and the research that went into this book was excellent. Lisa See added so much to the story by telling about the ethnic minority people in China.

Oct 04, 2017

I learned a lot about a Chinese ethnic minority in China and their culture. I learned a lot about pu'er tea . But I felt there was something missing in this book. I think it should have been two books. Haley's life and feelings are not well developed and the ending is especially abrupt. This is not one of Lisa See's best books in my opinion.

Aug 31, 2017

Enjoyed this book immensely. Lisa See fully captures the pain of losing a child as well as Li-Yan's determination to continue living. Knowledge gained by the reader about the traditions of the Akha people and the history of tea in China.

Aug 06, 2017

Li-yan is an Akha girl, a Chinese minority tribe whose livelihood depends on tea. They govern themselves by ancient traditions, all of which Li-yan breaks in one way or another. Not casually, but with great despair and anxiety. And her veering from the set path does cause her problems, though obeying them would have been deeply unfair. She marries a man she loves rather than one who is "suitable" -- and he turns out to be a loser who wanted to ride the coat tails of a smart successful woman. She has his baby before they are married, and according to tradition should have killed her. She cannot, though, and leaves her at an orphanage. This, too, causes her great sorrow, although killing the baby would have, too. She leaves her tribal homeland and becomes a very successful purveyor of tea. All the while she yearns for the daughter she gave up. Meanwhile, her daughter was adopted by an American couple, and we meet her through letters and essays she writes as she wonders about her origins. Ultimately she and Li-yan find each other.

I enjoyed this book, but somehow didn't get caught up in it. I followed the narrative, but the feelings of the characters didn't resonate with me. The words just didn't leave the page and get into my heart.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jan 04, 2018

“No coincidence, no story.” - p. 3

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top