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For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History Paperback – February 22, 2011
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-Guy Raz, NPR host All Things Considered.
"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."
"The plot for Sarah Rose's For All the Tea in China seems tailor-made for a Hollywood thriller...a story that should appeal to readers who want to be transported on a historic journey laced with suspense, science and adventure."
"An enthusiastic tale of how the humble leaf became a global addiction."
-The Financial Times
"A delicious brew of information on the history of tea cultivation and consumption in the Western world...a remarkably riveting tale."
-Booklist, (starred review)
"In For All the Tea in China, the most eventful era of the tea plant gets the inspired treatment it deserves."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Sarah Rose steeps us in the story of Robert Fortune."
-National Geographic Traveler
"Pause to reflect that the tea you are enjoying is totally hot - as in, stolen! Nabbed! Ripped off! Nothing more than the subject of international corporate espionage!"
-Chicago Sun Times
"In this lively account of the adventures (and misadventures) that lay behind Robert Fortune's bold acquisition of Chinese tea seedlings for transplanting in British India, Sarah Rose demonstrates in engaging detail how botany and empire- building went hand in hand."
-Jonathan Spence, author of The Search for Modern China
"As a lover of tea and a student of history, I loved this book. Sarah Rose conjures up the time and tales as British Legacy Teas are created before our eyes. We drink the delicious results of Robert Fortune's adventures every day."
-Michael Harney, author of The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea
"For All The Tea In China is a rousing Victorian adventure story chronicling the exploits of botanical thief Robert Fortune, who nearly single- handedly made the British tea industry possible in India. Sarah Rose has captured the thrill of discovery, the dramatic vistas in the Wuyi Mountains, and the near-disasters involved in Fortune's exploits. For tea-lovers, history buffs, or anyone who enjoys a ripping good read."
-Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World.
Top Customer Reviews
Robert Fortune was the son of a Scottish farm worker. Lacking the means to get a formal education, Fortune learned his skills from practical apprenticeship and obtained a post at the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Chiswick. His skill at cultivating rare blooms from the Orient in hothouses earned him a ticket to China at the end of the First Opium War. His mandate was to collect rare plants and study the botany of China. He almost died there. As he lay gravely ill, the Chinese junk he was on was attacked by pirates. Fortune roused, rushed up on deck and organized a successful defense. The incident illustrates his courage and resource when confronted by adversity.
On his return to London in 1847, he wrote a book about his experiences in China that became a bestseller. When the British East India Company looked around for a man capable of penetrating into the interior of China and obtaining plant specimens and seeds for purposed tea plantations in India, Fortune was the man they turned to.
This is a fascinating book on many fronts. As a story of corporate espionage, it touches on issues of trade and economics that are controversial today. The technology used to bring viable seeds and plants to India is astounding when one considers that sailing ships were the transportation means of that era. A spotlight is put on the opium trade, an issue that still resonates. Sarah Rose writes with a lively, clear style that makes this a hard book to put down. I recommend this book to historians, tea drinkers, economists, gardeners and corporate policy makers. Brew up a cup and enjoy!
This would earn billions for a British empire tangled in the opium trade with a restive China, and replace that nation's supply of tea with that grown by its more reliable subjects in India. This shift kept English domination, expanded globalization, set off quicker tea clippers to bring tea to an invigorated porcelain and clay manufacturing region, and would increase health standards as less beer and more water was boiled and then brewed.
Tea picking, she explains, is as if the topmost boughs and last couple of leaves of a Christmas tree were selected. Extremely laborious to gather, 32,000 shoots make ten pounds, nearly what a picker could gather in a day. Five pounds of fresh leaves produce one dry pound.
I found such details intriguing. As Vine offers a proof to read, I do not know if maps and pictures will be included, but no such evidence is in my copy. These features would have enriched the text, for while Rose tells the journeys of Fortune carefully, Western readers unfamiliar with China might have benefited from charts here.Read more ›
The problem with this approach that I discovered shortly into the book, is that the entire work comes off as pure conjecture. On one page, Rose will note that there is little in the way of primary source material on Fortune's life - that his wife destroyed much of it, if it ever existed, upon his death. There is no clear way of looking into how Fortune was as a private man. On the next page she'll be describing how Fortune reacted or felt about certain things. Yet she repeatedly notes that there is actually no information to support how Fortune might have felt. How can you claim to be nonfiction when you are writing a story that is pieced together with your own imagination?
I suppose I could get past that irritant if the story itself was well written - but it's not. The writing style is jilted and wandering with occasional side notes that are unnecessary. Overall, I would not recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read a borrowed copy but loved it so much, I had to buy my own! Great story of an adventurer/botanist.Published 6 days ago by JEM
I first borrowed this as an audiobook, but didn't get to finish it, so I acquired it on Kindle, and it is every bit as rewarding. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. M. McDermott
Well researched and insightful history of an interesting time. I learned a great deal about botany and its major role in 18th century history. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dan Swartwood
Excellent book!! I enjoyed the historical facts and the compelling story telling.
Sarah Rose, is an exceptional writer.