The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

A Novel

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, “one of those special writers capable of delivering both poetry and plot” (The New York Times Book Review), a moving novel about tradition, tea farming, and the bonds between mothers and daughters.

In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.

The stranger’s arrival marks the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a poor choice—she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.

As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins. Across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.

A powerful story about circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond of family.
  • Scribner | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501154836 | 
  • April 2018
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In this stirring coming-of-age novel, a young Chinese woman finds purpose, passion, and the key to a new life in the tea-growing traditions of her ancestors.

High in the Yunnan mountains, Li-yan and her family, members of the Akha ethnic minority, live according to the precise rituals of their people. Then one day, the market economy, in the form of a businessman seeking a rare tea, arrives at their remote village and changes the community forever. As Li-yan’s family adapts to the incursion of the outside world, she falls in love with a boy who her mother believes is an inauspicious match. When she bears his child, instead of hewing to the tradition that would have her kill the little girl, she leaves her baby, wrapped in a blanket with a special tea cake inside, on the steps of a nearby orphanage. Through hard work, education, and an appreciation for Pu’er, her people’s special tea, Li-yan eventually makes a life for herself in the wide world outside her village. Yet, even as she finds a business and a husband that she loves, she see more

About the Author

Lisa See
Photograph © Patricia Williams

Lisa See

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, China Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in fall 2003.

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