When my gardens go dormant, I turn to my books to keep me occupied. Many of my books are about plants.
For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose is an excellent account of Robert Fortune’s adventures, undercover, as he infiltrated the Chinese tea trade and stole its secrets and thousands of plants and seeds.
The secret to his success was the use of Wardian Cases to keep the seeds and seedlings alive on the long journey from China to India. These little greenhouses were crucial to his success in maintaining the health of his stolen crop.
Robert Fortune also spied on the picking and processing of the tea leaves. He even discovered that the Chinese were adding poisons to their tea to make it look green. This revelation eventually gave the new crops in India an extra advantage in the minds of the British consumers.
Robert Fortune brought back many other plants and treasures from his years in China. His espionage assignments in China left him both rich and famous.
Sarah Rose did an excellent job of covering the tale of tea. This book gets a 10!