Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens


What started as an impossible dream-to build a café that employs women recovering from prostitution and addiction-is helping to fuel an astonishing movement to bring freedom and fair wages to women producers worldwide where tea and trafficking are linked by oppression and the opiate wars. 

Becca Stevens started the Thistle Stop Café to empower women survivors. But when she discovered a connection between café workers and tea laborers overseas, she embarked on a global mission called "Shared Trade" to increase the value of women survivors and producers across the globe. 

As she recounts the victories and unexpected challenges of building the café, Becca also sweeps the reader into the world of tea, where timeless rituals transport to an era of beauty and the challenging truths about tea's darker, more violent history. She offers moving reflections of the meaning of tea in our lives, plus recipes for tea blends that readers can make themselves. 

In this journey of triumph for impoverished tea laborers, hope for café workers, and insight into the history of tea, Becca sets out to defy the odds and prove that love is the most powerful force for transformation on earth. 


Published November 4th 2014 by Jericho Books

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:

In the stress of the holiday season, this has been a perfect read for me. Almost every sentence feels like something I should quote or stitch onto the proverbial pillow to review again and again. Becca Stevens uses the human rights violations in the history of tea to represent the former violence and victimization in the lives of the women that are being restored at the Magdalene rehabilitation center. Her dream is to create the Thistle Cafe to be both a symbol and physical living proof of the restoration in the lives of the women she is helping.

The book reads as warm and cozy as any cup of rich, aromatic tea, and descriptions of various world teas along with recipes for properly preparing at serving them are woven into the fabric of the book, telling the story of the oppression and struggle for power that seem to be inherent in the preparation and selling of tea. The observant reader will appreciate the irony that Stevens has both symbolically and literally taken a stand against that history by using tea as a vehicle of healing for the victimized and marginalized prostitutes and addicts she reaches out to.

As I learned in this beautifully poetic book, tea does have a violent history that is often overlooked as a force within itself. From the Boston Tea Party revolt to the abuses of England toward the tea producers in India, tea has literally rocked the world with its power. I'd like to say it's the addiction of  the caffeine, but I can't be sure. It is obvious, however, that men have been addicted to the power and allure of tea for almost as long as the earth has existed.

This book is both a deep and a comforting read. The perfectly chosen words that Stevens chooses are like a warm blanket on a cold day. At the same time, the reader is encouraged to think deeply about how they, the consumer, have a measure of power in what products they choose to buy, what production processes they are willing to accept. The average person feels little ability (or often doesn't see the need) to challenge the abuses of humanity by powerful corporations motivated solely by greed.

I admire Stevens's idealism in the pursuit of truth and love in the way she is trying to harvest a lovely crop of women that have been to hell and are on the way back, healing others even as they are healed. It's a beautiful picture of how Christians are called to minister. I hope and pray that I can use my own story in such a powerful way.

Young Adult Notes:

References to prostitution, rape, drug abuse, etc. No direct depictions whatsoever.

Source: Thanks to the Hachette Book Group for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

1 comment:

  1. Coming from a tea producing country myself, I was very interested in this review. I do hope Sri Lanka did not fall into the category of abused women tea workers. It is not something I have read about ever here.