This is an oldy but a goody, first published in 2003, and an easy, affordable buy at most bookstores back in the day (I think I paid $5 for this off of the clearance pile at Chapter’s).

Moxham has written a few books on history, largely focusing on India, and two on tea: “A Brief History of Tea” and “Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire”. Moxham himself worked as a tea planter in Africa, and the book opens and closes with his own account of his first few years settling as a tea planter, having no previous experience. He manages an estate, learns the language, and recounts the conditions his workers faced.

Although his own accounts take place in Africa, the book itself focuses largely on the history of estates in India and Sri Lanka. It is a weird disconnect. It’s disappointing there aren’t more books on the evolution of Africa’s tea economy.

As far as historical accounts go, it’s a solid one. It reminds me of a more straightforward, summarized version of A Thirst for Empire. I do struggle a bit to remember what I read, which might be the result of his writing style, but it has a focus on the People of the estates, and how the larger shifts in history effected them.

There have been some more recent publications on the history of tea estates in India, but so far, this one is very accessible at less than 250 pages. A lot of British-centric tea history books gloss over India and Sri Lanka as members of the Commonwealth at the time, only really hitting the major beats of tea’s “discovery” and development there.