For All the Tea in China

For All the Tea in China

How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History

Book - 2010
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A dramatic historical narrative of the man who stole the secret of tea from China

In 1848, the British East India Company, having lost its monopoly on the tea trade, engaged Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, botanist, and plant hunter, to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China--territory forbidden to foreigners--to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea horticulture and manufacturing. For All the Tea in China is the remarkable account of Fortune's journeys into China--a thrilling narrative that combines history, geography, botany, natural science, and old-fashioned adventure.

Disguised in Mandarin robes, Fortune ventured deep into the country, confronting pirates, hostile climate, and his own untrustworthy men as he made his way to the epicenter of tea production, the remote Wu Yi Shan hills. One of the most daring acts of corporate espionage in history, Fortune's pursuit of China's ancient secret makes for a classic nineteenth-century adventure tale, one in which the fate of empires hinges on the feats of one extraordinary man.
Publisher: New York : Viking Penguin, 2010.
ISBN: 9780670021529
Branch Call Number: 382.413720941 Ros
Characteristics: x, 261 pages


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Mar 30, 2019

I love tea and was very intrigued when I found this book. However, it is only partially about tea and its preparation. The books describes Robert Fortune's travels to China in the 19th century to, well, steal tea from China. Tea was an important asset for Chinese economy and it was protected by imperial laws that didn't allow foreigner to travel inside the country. Fortune manages, however, to do just that and to send seeds and plants to India, where the British East India Company was trying desperately to start their own tea business. Well, the rest is history: Indian tea is considered today even better than Chinese one (see Darjeeling) and the diffusion of this beverage at affordable prices changed the economy of the British Empire forever.

Apr 07, 2016

A fascinating account how Britain stole tea from china. The botanist at the, Robert Fortune, was daring and resourceful in his ventures into China when Europeans were not welcome. I was very interested in how he managed to send plants and seeds to India.

hcallahan Jul 12, 2012

I'm biased because I love this type of history/biography and because I am a botanist. Still, I think others would like this, too, especially if they are interested in international trade or a quick overview of some of China's modern history. The authors efforts support the notion that natural history exploration and exploitation underpinned the world's economy in the 18th and 19th centuries, just like technological innovation today.

Feb 25, 2012

Wow! This was a thrilling historical account of how England stole tea from China and changed the history of the world. It's all true, but it reads like a novel. A fast paced adventure story.This book would make a fantastic movie adaptation. I would definitely read this book again. Excellent!

Oct 25, 2011

This is a popular history about how tea was taken from China to benefit Great Britain, in what would now be called one of the largest thefts of intellectual property ever. The story of Robert Fortune, a scholarly and intrepid botanist, and how he ventures into closed parts of 19th-century China to find and smuggle tea plants is a surprisingly riveting read.

Feb 13, 2011

Suggested possible book for Book Group.

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