The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Lisa See

Scribner, 2017

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

Watch Lisa discuss The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane here

A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate, the first automobile any of them have seen, and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley's happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family's destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.


•A New York TimesLos Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington PostBoston GlobePublisher's Weekly, Globe & Mail and Indie Bestseller
•Longlisted for the 2018 Dublin Literary Award
•Named one of the Best Books of 2017 by San Francisco Chronicle
•A Barnes & Noble top 100 book

"[Lisa See] creates a complex narrative that ambitiously includes China’s political and economic transformation, little-known cultural history, the intricate challenges of transracial adoption, and an insightful overview of the global implications of specialized teas….As this is her first book since losing her own mother, bestselling author Carolyn See (to whom it is dedicated), See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love."

"With vivid and precise details about tea and life in rural China, Li-Yan's gripping journey to find her daughter comes to life."
Publisher's Weekly

“The adage ‘no coincidence, no story,’ from China’s Akha minority serves as the backbone for this latest offering from See. Coincidences abound in this illuminating novel that contributes historical and social insight into the Akha…With strong female characters, See deftly confronts the changing role of minority women, majority-minority relations, East-West adoption, and the economy of tea in modern China.”
Library Journal

"Engrossing...a riveting exercise in fictional anthropology."
Kirkus Reviews

“Lisa See transports readers to the remote mountains of China…come for the heartwarming bonding between mother and daughter; stay for the insight into Akha culture and the fascinating (really!) history of the tea trade.”
—Real Simple

"The full sweep of their practices is flawlessly embedded in See's prose...The hardships that confront Li-yan in her life are as compelling as the fog-shrouded secret groves where she and her mother cultivate a special healing tea....A lush tale infused with clear-eyed compassion, this novel will inspire reflection, discussion, and an overwhelming desire to drink rare Chinese tea."
—Washington Post

“Fascinating...deeply pleasurable...the central appeal of Tea Girl is women’s relationships to their mothers and friends. See breathes life into a hidden world to which many of her readers don’t have access, just as she’s done in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls and her many other Chinese historical novels… the unfamiliar world of the Akha tea pickers and pu’er tea is foregrounded. It is evocatively conjured through tremendous research…the novel is an alluring escape, a satisfying and vivid fable that uses an Akha belief to tap into our own longings for coincidence.”
—Anita Felicelli, The San Francisco Chronicle

"In rendering the complex pain and joy of the mother-daughter bond, Lisa See makes this novel—dedicated to her own mother, author Carolyn See, who died last year—a deeply emotional and satisfying read."
—USA Today

“See’s talent for storytelling is matched with equally strong lyrical prose.”
Associated Press

“Meticulously researched, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane explores the link between tea production and an ethnic minority's survival and customs. An intimate portrait, this family drama will dazzle book clubs eager to watch a woman rise above her circumstances against an uncommon and captivating backdrop.”
Shelf Awareness

“[Lisa See] weaves together a compelling mother-daughter story and a profound modern-day history of tea against a swiftly changing China of the 1980s.”
—Canadian Living

“Lisa See, author of such engaging novels as Shanghai Girls and China Dolls, has turned her prodigious research and writing talents to telling the richly detailed story of well-meaning, comfortable American families adopting infants from China… This modern novel fills in interesting details about Chinese adoptions, and many readers will find it quite satisfying. As the father of an adopted girl from China, now a college graduate, I did.”
Repps Hudson for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch