Jesuits and the Tale of Tea


Fr. Gregory Sharkey SJ, from Kathmandu, Nepal, draws our attention to the publication of a unique book on the history of tea. It is the work of Professor George van Driem from the University of Bern. The 954-page volume mentions 33 Jesuits by name, a dozen of whom figure as prominent protagonists in the history of tea.

The Tale of Tea is the saga of globalization. Tea gave birth to paper money, the Opium Wars and Hong Kong. This publication replaces popular myths about tea with erudite knowledge on the hidden origins and detailed history of today’s globalized beverage in its many modern guises.


The book recounts the documentation and early dissemination of knowledge about tea by Jesuit scholars in the early days of the spread ofCamellia sinensis across the world. The book tells of the historical connection between the Japanese tea ceremony and the celebration of Mass beginning from the 16th century up to the tragic episode of the Shimabara rebellion. The pivotal role which Jesuits played in the history of tea is told with great empathy.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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