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A great read on Tea

Postby Solko » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:47 pm

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I wasn't sure in where exactly to post this, but I just finished a great book about the history of tea:

'For All The Tea In China' by Sarah Rose

It is a historical novel of a marvellous story in itself. And the fact that it actually happened only make it more fascinating.

It tells the story of Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist, who is sent on a secret mission by the British East Indian Company to steal the tea plant, and the secrets of tea-cultivation and preparation in China in the 19th century. China at the time was so closed to foreigners that although the British empire was for 10% of her entire revenue dependent on tea trade, they didn't even know that black tea and green tea came from the same plant. It also puts in perspective the misery of today. When one realizes that the British empire had no scruples in pushing opium in China, and make a whole nation addicted to it, in order to get a better price for tea.
So this man goes into China, and is the first foreigner to enter deep into tea-country, disguised as a Chinese Mandarin he manages to acquire the best tea plants, seeds and the secrets of their preparation. He also succeeds in inventing a new way to ship the seeds over their six months of sea-travel and keep them alive, faces pirates and incompetent bureaucrats and manages to start tea plantations in India, breaking the chinese monopoly on tea. It is fascinating to read how he gets the job done. On the side he describes to western science hundreds of new species of plants (the kumquat was named Fortunella after him)
All in all fascinating, I finished the book in three days :geek:
And I know so much more about my tea-plants and how to pluck and prepare them, I will always be aware of this story when I look at them in my garden...

Do any of you have a favorite book on plant-hunters or discoverers? Or on your favorite plants?



Re: A great read on Tea

Postby Steve in Los Osos » Sun May 20, 2012 5:46 pm

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Steve in Los Osos
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Thank you for recommending this book!

I won't make it through in 3 days but I am enjoying it very much. Parts of it remind me of my trip to China some years ago and all of it is written in a style that recollects the best of long articles in Smithsonian (alas, not what it used to be...).

As tea is my caffeine vehicle of choice (after chocolate :) , it's even more fun to read all about the intrigue.

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