For All the Tea in China
How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History
By Sarah Rose
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670021529, 272pp.)
Publication Date: March 18, 2010
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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.
Sarah Rose's For All the Tea in China tells the story of how Britain hijacked control of the 19th century tea trade by transplanting production of the popular drink to India. More at NPR.org
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"A wonderful combination of scholarship and storytelling"
-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.