For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink

For All the Tea in China Espionage Empire and the Secret Formula for the World s Favourite Drink Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener botanist plant hunter and industrial spy In the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China territory forbidden

  • Title: For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink
  • Author: Sarah Rose
  • ISBN: 9780091797065
  • Page: 326
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter and industrial spy In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China territory forbidden to foreigners to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea For centuries, China had been the world s sole tea manufacturer Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire bRobert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter and industrial spy In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China territory forbidden to foreigners to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea For centuries, China had been the world s sole tea manufacturer Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire by trading opium to the Chinese a poisonous relationship Britain fought two destructive wars to sustain The East India Company had profited lavishly as the middleman, but now it was sinking, having lost its monopoly to trade tea Its salvation, it thought, was to establish its own plantations in the Himalayas of British India There were just two problems India had no tea plants worth growing, and the company wouldn t have known what to do with them if it had Hence Robert Fortune s daring trip The Chinese interior was off limits and virtually unknown to the West, but that s where the finest tea was grown the richest oolongs, soochongs and pekoes And the Emperor aimed to keep it that way.

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    One thought on “For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink”

    1. Sarah Rose focuses on an important, but somewhat obscure subplot of the history of the British imperialism in Asia -- Scottish botanist Robert Fortune's employment by the East India Company to steal tea plants, as well as the relevant technologies and expertise, from the Chinese. His work will allow India to start producing well-regarded tea of its own, taking some of the power away from the Chinese and helping tea to grow in popularity by opening up the market and reducing prices. It's an impor [...]

    2. Rating Clarification: 4.5 StarsEngaging, highly readable and very informative. The perfect reading balance of entertainment and education. Provided just what I love about well-written non-fiction. 1/2 star deducted due to a very lackluster, tacked-on conclusion.Recommended.

    3. This book should be riveting, but I found it less than interesting. I think this is so because I listened to it on audio and was unengaged by the reader. The book is read by the author, who is a fine writer, but a terrible reader: to the point of being outright distracting. Her voice is little-girlish, and she lacks flow when reading. I think I will go back and actually read this, because there is a good story in here. Perhaps it won't seem as choppy when I read the text. I strongly caution anyo [...]

    4. Some authors should not read their own books. Imagine an excitable fourth grader reading her own screenplay aloud, doing all the voices. We made it through one disk.

    5. Whenever one thinks of the East India company, one thinks of its gradual evolution from a small trading post in a corner of India to eventually occupying the country and ruling it in the interests of Britain. But, little does one reflect on what the Company did in China, which had far-reaching consequences for itself and the world. Prior to the 19th century, China held the secrets of how to cultivate Tea, harvest and manufacture it on mass scale for the markets around the world. The British were [...]

    6. I loved this book.On a few people have pointed out inaccuracies such as monetary conversions and mixing up 'English' and 'British'. Honestly, I didn't notice any of these and as I haven't got a memory for facts and figures it doesn't bother me much. What I did notice was a great story.I've read a lot of factual books and they seem to fall into two categories:Those which present just the facts - there will be very little dialogue or embellishmentThose which craft a story from the facts - they re [...]

    7. This is a book of many parts. Part history, it recounts the Imperialistic reach of the British quest for tea; part biography, it tells the story of Robert Fortune, the man who brought the tea of China to the cups of the British household and in the process perhaps perpetrated the greatest theft of property in history. The book is also a lush travelogue of the Far East with stories of beautiful mountains, pirates, Fortune assuming disguises to fool the Chinese, and the habits of Chinese household [...]

    8. What interested me in picking this book up, and what kept me reading all the way through was the story: How the British stole tea-making from China, and started growing it in India. The biggest heist in the history of the world! As an Indian, I took the fact that we grow copious amounts of world class tea here for granted. I didn't realize that this was all a function of our colonial past, and so I wanted to know more. It formed part of my ever-growing interest in the true impact of colonisation [...]

    9. I've really enjoyed reading this book every evening. Robert Fortune, head of the Physic Garden in Chelsea, London, was sent out to China to search for and steal the secrets and seeds of tea. The Scot led a charmed life for at this time, 1840s, China was largely closed to foreign travellers and resented having lost a war to better military technology and being forced to trade on British terms. The author makes no bones about explaining what the East India Tea Company - the world's first global co [...]

    10. How such an interesting subject, full of vivid possibilities, could be rendered in such a droll way is beyond me.

    11. This book has it all - well written, great history, botany, linking historical periods with nutrition, travel, shipping of plants I knew of Fortune’s Double Yellow rose, but had no idea of Robert Fortune’s other botanical exploits in China. If you like plants, history and tea, this is the book for you. I can’t wait for Sarah Rose’s next book.I listened to the audio book. It was read by the author. Took a bit to get used to the voice, but totally fine once I adjusted.

    12. In preparation for my trip to China a year and a half ago I read everything about China I could get my hands on. I still love to read books about China because it is such an interesting cultureis book didn't disappoint. I struggled with 3 or 4 stars though because sometimes I had to go back and reread because it seemed to jump from one idea to the next with little transition. However, the story of Robert Fortune infiltrating a country that was pretty much closed to the outside world and managing [...]

    13. For All the Tea in China is an adventure story in the guise of a history book, and is a delight to read. It follows the work of botanist Robert Fortune, who in the 1840s was tasked by the British East India Company to travel illegally into the Chinese hinterland and steal high-quality tea plants and seeds, as well as the secrets to processing both green and black tea. The Company wished to undercut the Chinese tea trade and establish tea plantations in India, where they would be under the Compan [...]

    14. [For All the Tea in China : How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History] by Sarah Rose is a wonderful book tracing the origins of tea since the 1800s. The journey of green and black tea from the mountains of China to the slopes of the Himalayas to the common teapots in England is outlined in detail, thanks to the memoir and copious notes taken by Robert Fortune, the man responsible for not only bringing high quality teas to England but also for bringing back many flowering p [...]

    15. Simplistic, disjointed, poorly edited (hello, typos, I didn't expect to see so many of you here today), and NO FOOTNOTES. How the hell do you write a nonfiction history book and have no information about where you got your information? Also, things that were clearly from one (ahem, RACIST) man's memoirs were stated as fact. What. The. Hell. Example: One tale about Robert Fortune (the botanist/adventurer/world-traveler/spy that is essentially the main character of this story) has him on his boat [...]

    16. Part adventure story, part economics of trade, part social history, it does a really good job of covering all the angles of what's happening in the world. It helps that I'm a tea fanatic and only order the good stuff, so learning about the tea making process has been fun as the English steal it. You basically had these two countries selling each other drugs, the British dumping opium into China and then the Chinese selling tea to the English. It's neat that the main character is this botanist wh [...]

    17. Corporate theft and espionage ~ all for a good cuppa! Well, not just for a good cup of tea; more to keep and expand Britain's world supremecy in the nineteenth century. Sarah Rose's exploration into the transplanting of tea from China to India is filled with a wide variety of topics, as well as unforseen outcomes. The book covers topics from botany and Wardian cases (early, very large terrariums that kept propagated tea plants alive during months at sea) to the geopolitics of the times (swapping [...]

    18. An interesting popular history follows the botanical career of Robert Fortune in bringing Chinese tea to India and dashing the Chinese market monopoly. Drawn from the correspondence and notes of Fortune during the mid-1800s, it lacks drama but describes well the steps and misteps taken by the East India Company in trying to build the tea trade.Rose also does a nice job of summarizing the impact of tea on English culture, particularly at the end where she credits it with overcoming problems with [...]

    19. Great story about the espionage behind the British acquisition of tea and its transplanting to India, but the writing plodded a little - perhaps imitating the meandering journeys? Worth a read, though.

    20. I love this book! I learned so much about tea, horticulture, and East India Company. Ms Rose does a great job to describe the history in easy manner. The book does seem bias I guess, written by westerner, it kept on giving the impression that Chinamen are all opportunist

    21. This story of industrial espionage, is not as riveting as it could have been. I was fascinated by the technology that allowed plant cuttings to be nurtured on long sea voyages.

    22. Loved itThe facts are as good as fiction. Robert Fortune ,Scots Gardener, Botanist, Plant Hunter (important in those still developing days of global discovery) is despatched in 1848 by the London based East India Company to find (and steal) from China the plants that were making tea one of the most desired and soon to be popular beverages in the West. The plan being, Mr Fortune, having established the ideal growing conditions in China , was to transport-seeds or seedlings to India, where somewhe [...]

    23. Wow, I'm going to have to read this instead of the audiobook. Bad idea to have an author read it who doesn't have the voice or manner for it. Obnoxious vocal fry, amateurish dramatic affectations, no sense of cadence or emphasis, valley girl delivery.I could only get through the first couple chapters.

    24. A delightful book about the history of tea. Filled with intrigue and subterfuge, you’ll never look at a cup of tea the same way!

    25. It's a story about tea plant smuggling. Make of that what you will.(It's worth it, though!)Full review ruthdahl/2017/09/

    26. I read this in the fall of 2012. I was fascinated by the history of tea production in the mid-1800s. A must read for any tea lover.

    27. Fascinating and intriguing story. Not only a great world history of tea, but a lesson in the economics of imperialism and how the global tastes, consumption habits and supply chains commingled and fundamentally changed. Not as "scientific" as I would have expected as it seems to be largely strewn together from Robert Fortune's memoirs, and also could be drab at times, but worth the read for the intrigue alone.

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