In their remote Chinese village, Li-yan and her family’s lives revolve around the seasons and the farming of tea. Her Akha people are ensconced in ritual and routine so life goes on as it has for generations – until a stranger arrives in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.
In The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, the stranger brings the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock, she rejects the tradition that would have her give the child over to be killed, and instead, leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.
As Li-yan leaves her insular village for more education, a business and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins, while across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane introduces the reader to a little known region and its people, delves into the trading history of tea, and celebrates the bond of family.