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

Author(s): Sarah Rose


In the aftermath of the Opium Wars, Scotsman Robert Fortune - botanist-turned-secret agent - infiltrated China's hostile mountain regions disguised as a Chinese merchant with little to guide him but his wits and a suspect crew. His goal was to steal China's most fiercely protected treasure, a plant as seductive as, albeit less toxic than, the soporific poppy: Camellia sinensis or, more simply, tea. By the 1840s, Britain and China had each grown addicted to - and fought a war over - mysterious plants monopolized by the other: opium and tea. At the centre of this miserable tea-for-drugs union was the once venerable, but now foundering East India Company. Having garnered national prominence for successfully transporting several exotic species of plants from Asia to England, Fortune was tapped by the company to steal not only the seeds of the tea plant, but unveil the methods of its cultivation and processing.
If he succeeded, Fortune would provide Britain with a way out of this embarrassing and costly two-way trade of tea and opium by ending China's monopoly of the world's tea market and establishing a rival tea producer in India.
If he was caught, his demise was certain.

By following the footsteps of this charismatic scientist, a second story unfolds telling how the tea became a British and then worldwide obsession. Against the backdrops of Britain, China, and India in the 1840s and '50s, Rose will delineate culture clashes between proper Victorians and their 'exotic' counterparts in the East, political turmoil as world powers struggle to find sure footing in a volatile era, and the scientific innovation that allowed tea seeds to cross the ocean for the first time.


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780091921309
  • : Arrow Books Ltd
  • : Hutchinson
  • : 0.31
  • : March 2008
  • : 190mm X 130mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Sarah Rose
  • : Paperback
  • : Airports / Exports ed
  • : 951.033092
  • : 288