An “Indiana Jones” botanist brings home the tea

For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose is fascinating account of how one Englishman democratized what was once an expensive luxury, beverage tea. 

You have probably drunk hundreds of cups of tea, never giving a thought as to how the “cup that cheers” became part of your daily ritual. Tea was not always the center of English life that it is today. Not until Victorian times did tea become the domestic staple it is today.
 
In 1848, the British East India Company lost its lucrative monopoly on the tea trade, so it sent plant hunter Robert Fortune to China to steal tea plants and the secrets of making tea. The Scottish botanist, disguised as a Mandarin, went deep into country for three years. In the beautiful Wu Yi Shan Hills he learned the secrets of growing and manufacturing black and green tea. He also discovered they were indeed, the same plant.
 
Eventually the tea plants Fortune stole, along with the tea experts he spirited out of China, became the foundation for the famous Darjeeling tea plantations. The finest and most costly tea in the world is still grown there.
 
Sara Rose weaves a fascinating tale of how botanicals and the men who hunted them were vital to the growing Industrial Revolution. The book is full of rich details about how plants where obtained and transported. If you think this is nothing but dull history, nothing could be further from the truth. Rose paints Fortune as an" Indiana Jones" type botanist who braved brigands to find rare plants. This page-turner is sure to entertain, enthrall, and educate. Enjoy it, with a lovely cup of your favorite brew!
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