3 Cups Of Tea

3 Cups of Tea - A heart warming true story of one man's plight to bring Education to the needy

3 cups of tea is a brilliant, uplifting, "can't put it down" story about one extraordinary man's mission to bring education to the poor people, in the small villages in the shadows of K2 mountain.

This true story has just about EVERYTHING.

It is about loving, giving, empowering, respecting, tolerating, dedicating, devoting, overcoming. Need I go on?!?! It is truly inspirational!

The Plot

Greg Mortensen decides to climb K2 (second largest mountain in the world.)

But on his descent he gets lost and ends up in a small village called Korphe instead. The elders of the village take him in and nurse him back to health.

In return he promises to come back to the village and build them a school.

3 cups of tea tells us of the challenges he faced to achieve this remarkable promise and his philosophy, that everyone can do something to change the world - one step at a time (or one cup of tea at a time)


1. Hero

In the Introduction to 3 Cups of Tea, the pilot, Bhangoo, says,

"I've become acquainted with many world leaders , many outstanding gentlemen & ladies. But I think Greg Mortensen is the most remarkable person I've ever met."

2. An Adventure Story.

Yes! 3 Cups of Tea is a WONDERFUL adventure story right from the beginning. From his worrying descent from K2 when, en route, exhausted, he stumbles across Korphe village where he is shown such kindness & concern. Soon, K2 becomes a distant concern as he makes his promise to return to build these kind people a school.

The whole of 3 Cups of Tea is full of, "Will he, won't he?" questions. Will he return to keep his promise? Will the villagers be able to get the wood up the Valley for the school? Will the Taliban set him free from his prison so that he can get home? But it all happens regardless of the ups & downs. His vision & determination are inspirational though on occasion he can seem to be foolhardy, but then the risks are what helps to make it a such a great adventurs story.

3. Nature/Nurture Debate.

It's important to our understanding of our hero that the writer includes the story of Greg growing up. It's interesting that what Greg appears to be is the result of both nature & nature. His father built Tanzania's 1st. Teaching Hospital & The Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. Both parents were brilliant role models; they bathed him in good example, generosity & multiculturism from birth. When Greg turns out to be a selfless giver & humanitarian, we know that it's a combination of nature & nurture.

4. Customs & Cultures.

Not only does Greg learn from his family about different cultures & customs, we also learn about the Muslim way of life in Pakistan from Greg's time there. To me, the latter is one of the the best features of the book. He shows us how to embrace & learn about other cultures & religions. And through meeting ordinary, good Muslims, our fears & concerns can only be allayed. Greg teaches us to look at issues in another way.

5. Romance

P133 "Welcome to my life," says Tara.
"Welcome to my heart," Greg replies.
Now, that's ROMANCE! Some would say that they were rather foolhardy but I loved it!

6. Characterisation.

Some of the villagers we met in 3 Cups of Tea reminded me of Managua in "One Big Damn Puzzler," a book which I absolutely loved. The best example of this is Haji Ali in Korphe. He was uneducated, illiterate & hardly ever left the village, yet Greg describes him as the wisest man he has ever met. And there are so many like him. From the moment when Greg is given the best blanket in the village after leaving K2, we are aware of the generosity of these people who have so little. And there are so many wonderful characters.

7. Ambassador to Pakistan.

Greg does so much for these lovely poor people. Right now, here in England, there has been a lot of criticism about the poor response to the terrible floods in remote parts of Pakistan. There is a strong feeling about corruption; how can we be sure that the donations will go to those who need it etc.

But through Greg, we learn about those ordinary people who are not tainted with corruption. He says, p219,

"I wish Westerners who misunderstand Muslims could have seen Syed Abbas in action that day,"

relating to the refugees in Skarda in need of water. And we read on P220 when the Mullah says to Greg,

"We need food, & medicine, & education for children. I'm ashamed to ask for so much, BUT NO ONE ELSE HAS COME." (My capitals)

This made me feel so ashamed too especially when he says,

"I can offer you nothing. Not even tea."

We all have SO much. Thank goodness for people like Greg who can give us a much better picture of the Muslims in this remote part of the world through 3 Cups Of Tea


  • Do you think the co author (David Oliver Relin) over dramatises Greg's efforts?

  • Do you think the co author is biased about Greg and his achievements?

  • Is Greg Mortensen really a total saint?

  • Do you think Greg's philosophy - that we can all do something to change the world (one cup of tea at a time) is possible?

  • Would this be a worthy text book for school children? Why or why not?

  • The book contains lots of descriptions - did you find this added to the story or was it tedious?

  • Did the book make you change your opinions on muslins? How?

  • Did you find this book a page turner? Was the writing style acceptable?


3 cups of tea scored 8/10 at our book club.

We loved the story and all felt that we had learned so much by reading it.

We enjoyed the writing style of 3 Cups Of Tea. The writer did his best to stop the story from becoming a long list of what Greg did. It wasn't the best writing ever but it was very readable. There was a lot of good description; perhaps some readers might not like such detail but the majority of us loved all that.

We felt at times that the writer of 3 Cups of Tea, was biased, almost in awe of our hero. He does tell us that Greg was not a good timekeeper & through what he tells us, we can see that Greg can be prone to depression when things go wrong & that his wife & children are not his first priority. By doing this, It prevents Greg from being portrayed as a saint. But only just!

We did wonder at times whether the writer had over dramatised Greg's accomplishments in order to create a better story BUT, several days after finishing the book, my curiosity found me searching the Web for Greg's Organisation.

When I eventually saw the long list of honours bestowed on our hero, I was amazed & soon realised that he really was a Saint & continues to be so. He is a true humanitarian in every sense of the word.

P257 Syed Abbas says, after 9/11,

" I request Americans to look into our hearts & see the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good & simple people. Our land is stricken with poverty because we are without education," etc.

"Ambassador" Greg responds with,

"I wish all the Americans who think "Muslim" is just another way of saying "terrorists" could have been there that day. The true core tenants of Islam are justice, tolerance & charity etc."

Greg Mortensen inadvertantly, whilst building many, many schools, teaches us so much about Muslims & their culture.

Top of 3 cups of tea

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