Tea That Burns

A Family Memoir in Chinatown

By Bruce Edward Hall
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9780684839899, 320pp.)

Publication Date: August 1998

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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For Bruce Edward Hall, whose family name was once Hor, and whose grandfather was a much-loved bookie operating out of a florist shop off Mott Street, Chinatown is filled with ghosts. Behind every teeming basket of raw chicken feet and dried sheep's lungs, every redolent platter of square fried turnip cakes and lotus-seed pastries, and every pot of "tea that burns" (a teapot full of scotch), there is a tidbit of tradition. Behind the whispered schemes and blistering gunfire of feuding tongs and behind every celebration of the birth of the honored First Son, there is an empire of symbolism. At the Port Arthur, "The Best Restaurant That Ever Was", with its tank of goldfish warding off demons, there is the uproarious sound of generations coming together to celebrate a shared and proud heritage.

A loving portrait of a family whose superstitions about the old world are eclipsed by the possibilities of the new, Tea That Burns brings to life the spirit of Chinatown that even modern-day residents may never before have perceived.

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