A Book Review of The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from Its Violent History by Becca Stevens
"[Women served by Thistle Farms] would be dead by now if it weren't for a remarkable initiative by the Rev. Becca Stevens to help women escape trafficking and prostitution."
—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
New Book by Famed Women’s Advocate Exposes “Fair Trade” as a Myth, and Offers Justice to Women Survivors
Becca Stevens is a White House Champion of Change, and founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, two of the nation’s leading social enterprises for women. Now she shares how their latest initiative—a café that employs women recovering from prostitution and addiction—is fueling a worldwide movement to bring fair wages to women in her new book, The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage from Its Violent History (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group, $22.00 hardcover, November 4, 2014).
Stevens opened the Thistle Stop Café in Nashville, Tennessee in 2013 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 bring freedom and fair wages to women tea producers worldwide—especially those trapped by trafficking, oppression, and opiate wars.
As she recounts the victories and challenges of launching the café, she shares the powerful personal stories of café workers, tea laborers, and volunteers whose lives were transformed by the journey. Amid heartfelt stories of justice and healing, each chapter includes recipes for tea blends that readers can make themselves.
Like the best of the culinary exposé genre, Stevens also sweeps the reader into the world of tea, where timeless rituals transport to an era of beauty, and challenging truths about tea’s darker, more violent reality are exposed.
“More than sweet thoughts, tea can become an economic powerhouse that transforms the history of communities,” Stevens writes. “Tea can be a source of economic independence for women, instead of a source of oppression.”
Magdalene, Stevens’ residential model, serves women recovering from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction for two years at no cost to residents. Thistle Farms employs residents and graduates of Magdalene to manufacture, market, and sell all natural bath and beauty products in over 380 stores nationwide.
Genre: Women's Studies/ Current Events
Publisher: Jericho Books, November 2014
The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from Its Violent History by Becca Stevens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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.
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
While I thought Stevens' story and the women's anecdotes were interesting I found the book to be repetitive at times. I also enjoyed the tea recipes at the beginning of each chapter. I also found the history of tea to be enlightening. I wish that aspect had been explored some more. Overall the book is entertaining.
The Reverend Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest serving as Chaplain at St Augustine's at Vanderbilt University, and founder of Magdalene, a two-year residential community of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction. She founded Thistle Farms in 2001, which employs 50 residents and graduates, and houses a line of natural body care products, a paper and sewing studio, the Thistle Stop Café, and the Shared Trade initiative linking 14 women’s social enterprises around the globe.
Stevens has authored nine books, and has been featured in The New York Times and on ABC World News, NPR, PBS, CNN, and Huffington Post. She was named one of 15 Champions of Change by the White House in 2011, was inducted into the Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame in 2013, received an honorary doctorate by The University of the South, was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award from Vanderbilt Divinity School in October 2014, and was named the 2014 Humanitarian of the Year by the American Business Counsel. In 2011 she was also named "Tennessean of the Year."
In fall 2013, Stevens launched the first Thistle Farms National Conference, welcoming attendees from over 30 states. Her latest books include Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling and The Way of Tea & Justice: Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from its Violent History.
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