For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink

For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink

Book rating: 04 Paperback Arrow Books

By (author) Sarah Rose

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  • Publisher: ARROW BOOKS LTD
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 18mm | 208g
  • Publication date: 1 December 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 009949342X
  • ISBN 13: 9780099493426
  • Sales rank: 50,987

Product description

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 China - territory forbidden to foreigners - to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea. For centuries, China had been the world's sole tea manufacturer. Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire by trading opium to the Chinese - a poisonous relationship Britain fought two destructive wars to sustain. The East India Company had profited lavishly as the middleman, but now it was sinking, having lost its monopoly to trade tea. Its salvation, it thought, was to establish its own plantations in the Himalayas of British India. There were just two problems: India had no tea plants worth growing, and the company wouldn't have known what to do with them if it had. Hence Robert Fortune's daring trip. The Chinese interior was off-limits and virtually unknown to the West, but that's where the finest tea was grown - the richest oolongs, soochongs and pekoes. And the Emperor aimed to keep it that way.

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Author information

Sarah Rose is a writer living in New York. She was educated at Harvard and the University of Chicago.

Customer reviews

By Richard 11 Feb 2014 5

I get so despondent at all the criticism levelled at China at every turn of the Internet page about how China copies this and that especially in the military field. Little did all these Internet Knowalls recognise how many things the West has taken (nay, stolen from China) without acknowlegement, credit or payment, makes me angry that these self same people thinks in this age and time that China owes them and that China is accountable to them.

Makes me sick.

Richard Seeto.

By Michael Flanagan 21 Sep 2010 4

After reading this book I will never look at a cup of tea the same way again. A book of industrial espionage and outright skulduggery the story of tea and its globalisation is bought to life upon the page. Sarah Rose tells the story of Robert Fortune and his employer The East Indian Trading Company. His mission to steal the secret of tea from the Chinese and end their monopoly on the market. This book is an intriguing and engaging read into the little known history of tea. I found myself fascinated by this book and in turn tea. I am off now to track down a nice cup of Da Hong Poa!

Review quote

"The best parts of the book are not the dangers that Fortune encountered, but Rose's assured, confident descriptions of the manufacture of tea. Like Fortune, the reader goes on a journey of discovery" Mail on Sunday "Had your cup of tea this morning? If not, the next time you take a gulp of PG Tips or a sip of single estate orange pekoe you might want to send up a prayer of thanks for the dogged Scotsman who made it all possible, Robert Fortune ... Rose's account is full of colour" The Times "[Fortune's] story is well worth the telling, and Rose does so with skill and restraint" Literary Review "Reshapes into gripping prose Fortune's own memoirs and letters ... An enthusiastic tale of how the humble leaf became a global addiction" Financial Times "Reveals our cuppa wouldn't exist if it wasn't for an amazing Victorian, armed only with a rusty pistol and a pigtail, who stole the secret of tea from under the nose of China's ruthless warlords" Daily Mail