Among the things that have been keeping me very busy these days is job search — I’m looking for an (academic) job, which means that I have to write stuff, send stuff, and pray, very hard, for a reply. If you have any suggestions for an efficacious deity to whom I should direct my prayers, I am all ears.
One of the things I have to write are syllabi for new courses that I might teach. One of the courses that I tried to write up is a topical survey of tea in East Asian history. I hope to cover, in broad strokes, history of the drink from a variety of perspectives, from the first written record (Lu Yu in the Tang dynasty) to its dissemination to Korea/Japan and the rest of the world, tea trade, and so on, so forth. It’s not easy to find stuff that are both academically sound and relevant to the topic — most of what’s been written on tea are, by and large, not robust enough as pieces of scholarship to stand up in a university classroom, which is quite unfortunate. Heck, we don’t even have much in the way of translations of texts other than the IMHO over-valued Classic of Tea. C’est la vie.
I did, however, come across something interesting while searching for readings that will work for the class. If you have access to JSTOR (an online journal storage) or some good public library (which will have JSTOR) you should be able to find this:
Gardella, Robert, “Tea Processing in China, circa 1885: A Photographic Essay”, The Business History Review, Vol. 75, No. 4 (Winter 2001), pp. 807-812
I showed it to a few people, and much of the response is “things really hasn’t changed that much in the last 100 years”. They’re right. Take a look if you have time. Or, if you have suggestions for other things I might be able to use for the class, please do let me know.