After water, it is the most consumed drink in the world, to the tune of six billion cups a day. Revolutions were started with it. Wars were fought over it. And it is far, far older than the hip new drink called coffee, by at least 3,000 years.
Whether you like tea or not as a food and drink item, the story of tea as a commodity remains one of the most fascinating stories on earth. And since Japan was the first place outside China to cultivate it, Japanese history offers an excellent introduction to the story of how tea changed the world.
William Wayne Farris’s book, A Bowl for a Coin, takes readers on a journey. At first merely a medicine and novelty, tea became central to Japanese culture. Prof. Farris argues throughout that by understanding tea, one can understand Japan’s social history as well, and its growth from a feudal agrarian society to a highly industrialized economic power.