For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink
Engaging, 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.
On Amazon 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 embellishment
Those which craft a story from the facts - t ...more
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 ...more
Think about it the next time you pick up a carton of tea - you're dealing in stolen merchandise! In 1848 For ...more
Here, Sarah Rose gives her readers a straightforward adventure story, inhabited by a hero-figure Anglophiles have long loved--the intrepid Scottish botanist--and a setting that conjures up the mystique of the Orient--the tea fields ...more
This book takes place during the era of British plant hunters who roamed the colonies looking for new plants to cultivate in the prestigeous Royal Botanic Garden of Kew and the Chelsea Physics Garden, both located in London.
This was the era of the mid 19th century when Britain's t ...more
According to Goodreads, "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 C ...more
The Thrill to Conquer, but Politely
The exotic histories of everyday items never fails to astonish me. Coffee, tea, salt, chocolate, tobacco, rubber, oil, opium, cotton, cod, spices, sugar: these stand out as some of the major commodities upon which empires have been built. Reading the exploits of intrepid botanists, who scaled mountain peaks and slashed through rain forests undertaking searches for new and useful plants, has long been a favorite adventure genre. Sarah Rose's For All the Tea in C
Then the Chinese outlawed opium. This caused the British to hire Robert Fortune, a plant hunter who they then sent to the innermost parts of China to steal plants and seeds. His adventures in a country that was off limits to foreigners were amazing. He also had to deal with the incompetence of those who ...more
As for the book itself, I love books where the object changes the world. However, I suspected that Ms. Rose was "adding" to the historical narrative when she reports conversations that the the servants of the main character (an English man with limited Chinese language skills) had. I don't think the servants left "papers" for histori ...more
I wish the author had attempted to recreate more of the history and tell an intriguing story for us instead of ju ...more
As this is a work of popular history, not scholarly undertaking, I have avoided the use of footnotes and tried to steer clear of mentioning sources in the body of the text. Nevertheless, this is a work of nonfiction, and anything in quotes comes from a letter, ...more
This isn't quite a book like SALT or THE PERFECT RED that covers every possible aspect of a world-changing commodity. It's kind of pick and choose about what aspects of the tea trade it covers closely and which ones it doesn't.
This is meant to be a book about how one man with the unlikley name of Fortune, snuck into China and stole cuttings and seeds and eventually Chinese nationals in order to start a secondary tea-producing center in the British-controlled Himalayas. Along the way the author t ...more
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Sarah Rose is a writer living in New York. She was educated at Harvard and the University of Chicago.