For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose


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( 25 customer ratings )

  • Pub. Date: March 2010
  • Available for download via Wi-Fi and 3G
  • 272pp
  • Sales Rank: 295,194
  • Product Browse duration in Minutes: 60
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Product Details

  • Pub. Date: March 2010
  • Publisher:Penguin Publishing Group
  • Sold By: Penguin Group
  • Format: NOOK Book (eBook), 272pp
  • Sales Rank: 295,194


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.

The Washington Post - Adrian Higgins

With her probing inquiry and engaging prose, Sarah Rose paints a fresh and vivid account of life in rural 19th-century China and Fortune's fateful journey into it…if ever there was a book to read in the company of a nice cuppa, this is it.

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Sarah Rose has worked as a journalist in Hong Kong, Miami, and New York, and now covers food and travel for such magazines as Men's Journal, Bon Appetit, and Brides.

Sarah Rose has worked as a journalist in Hong Kong, Miami, and New York, and now covers food and travel for such magazines as Men's Journal, Bon Appetit, and Brides.

Customer Reviews

Espionage is fun!by CineastesBookshelf

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April 09, 2010: As a self-proclaimed theic (one who is addicted to tea), I am thrilled someone, in modern times, has tackled this vast, interwoven tale of a name that changed so much but it little remembered. Tea is like wine. Growing seasons, climates, picking times, drying, storing and shipping all affect the taste. And there are plenty who prefer a potent earl grey to a warm green tea. And it was plant-hunter and spy Robert Fortune who discovered (for the Western world) that these two very different teas grew from the same plant. Author Sarah Rose delves into the seductive past and retrieves the best, most aromatic leaves for our enjoyment.

The fortuitously-named Robert Fortune took on a great adventure in the name of tea and Queen. The East India Company was losing money, so they decided to steal the secrets of Chinese tea and transplant them to India, where they still had power. They tapped Fortune to be their spy. This debut book by Sarah Rose, follows Fortune on his journey. With stories gleaned from Fortune's meticulous diaries and journals, Rose maintains an even keel between historical background and plant-hunting espionage. Her descriptions of inland China, with terraced hillsides, fresh peaches, and blooming forsythia are intoxicating. Wandering along the river, filling glass Wardian cases with exotic plants sounds divine. This idyllic setting is counterbalanced by the danger of impersonating a Mandarin Chinese and avoiding suspicion.

Indeed, there are many intricate details of Chinese society that this tale of tea serves to enlighten. While Fortune was a hero to the West, he was clearly an enemy to China and the East. Through Rose's telling of Fortune's exploits, we see the emotional complications of respect for and exploitation of another culture. It is clear that not only Fortune himself benefiting from his travels, but the economy of the strongest Empire in the world.

I spent a summer as a gardener at the Canterbury Shaker Village and one of my jobs was to harvest and dry the mint for their four mint tea. It was a quiet, peaceful job, if not an easy one, but it is still the best job I've ever had. Particularly in an age when we are once again learning to respect the value of a growing our own gardens, in some small way, I'd like to think I was following in Robert Fortune's steps. The gardening part; not the traveling and spying part.

A Must-Have for Tea Lovers and Historians Alike!by Anonymous

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October 18, 2011: The author delivers a frank visit to England, China, and India in the 19th century that enables the reader to vividly learn about tea and its cultural impact.

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