For All the Tea in China

For All the Tea in China

How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780143118749
  • 272 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


“If ever there was a book to read in the company of a nice cuppa, this is it.” -The Washington Post

In the dramatic story of one of the greatest acts of corporate espionage ever committed, Sarah Rose recounts the fascinating, unlikely circumstances surrounding a turning point in economic history. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British East India Company faced the loss of its monopoly on the fantastically lucrative tea trade with China, forcing it to make the drastic decision of sending Scottish botanist Robert Fortune to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India. Fortune’s danger-filled odyssey, magnificently recounted here, reads like adventure fiction, revealing a long-forgotten chapter of the past and the wondrous origins of a seemingly ordinary beverage.


“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.”
-Washington Post

“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.”
-Associated Press

“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.
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