Robert HellyerOct 15, 2021
Green with Milk and Sugar
When Japan Filled America's Tea Cups
Columbia UP 2021
Robert Hellyer’s Green with Milk and Sugar: When Japan Filled America's Tea Cups (Columbia UP, 2021) is a tale of American and Japanese teaways, skillfully weaving together stories of Midwesterners drinking green tea (with milk and sugar, to be sure), the recent and complex origins of Japan's love of now-ubiquitous sencha, Ceylon tea merchants exploiting American racism, Chinese tea production expertise, and the author’s own family history in the Japan-America tea trade going back to the nineteenth century. Transnational histories and commodities histories are notoriously delicate dances, but Hellyer has produced a very readable and eye-opening look at the modern history and culture of tea. Green with Milk and Sugar will be of interest to a diverse group of historians—scholars of North America, East Asia, commerce and trade, food, etc.—but also to a general audience who will be pulled in by the author’s personal connections as well as the delightfully jargon-free narrative.
Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.