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.
Whenever one thinks of the East India company, one thinks of its gradual evolution from a small trading post in a corner of India to eventually occupying the country and ruling it in the interests of Britain. But, little does one reflect on what the Company did in China, which had far-reaching consequences for itself and the world. Prior to the 19th century, China held the secrets of how to cultivate Tea, harvest and manufacture it on mass scale for the markets around the world. The British wer ...more
Example: One tale about Robert Fortune (the botanist/adventurer/world-traveler/spy that is essentially the main character of this story) has him on his boat ...more
The Scot led a charmed life for at this time, 1840s, China was largely closed to foreign travellers and resented having lost a war to better military technology and being forced to trade on British terms. The author makes no bones about explaining what the East India Tea Company - the world's first global co ...more
The book paints a vivid picture of the dealing between a British colonist and his Chinese compradors. Both sides considered the other ...more
I had heard this story from a friend of mine (somewhat embellished) for many years, and when I found this book I bought it immediately.
By the mid 1800s, England was importing vast amounts of tea from China. (In fact, it was the British East India Company which had been granted a monopoly on the importation of tea into Britain.). In order to create a comparable trade, England imported opium into China. This was an extremely lucrative business for both China and Britain, but China did not want to ...more
Before 1850 or so, the export of tea was controlled by China, which did not allow the plant to be grown elsewhere. The tea that was sold to Britain had small amounts of cyanide and other substances to make the product more "attractive" to buyers. And ...more
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
I listened to the audio book. It was read by the author. Took a bit to get used to the voice, but totally fine once I adjusted.
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
Sarah Rose is a journalist and author of D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis and Helped Win World War II, and the critically acclaimed For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.
She was a news columnist at the Wall Street Journal, and her features have appeared in Outside, ...more