The Chinese rulers eventually found out that their tea secrets have been stolen but they realized it too late to do anything about it. Indeed, it is geographical and chronological range that represents the most impressive feature of the book.
But, the story of how the Company stole the secrets of cultivating and manufacturing tea from a secretive China shows how the British botanist used every ruse in the book in this effort.
Even if one thinks it may be a bit of a hyperbole, the idea is well argued in the narrative.
Merchants were ranked at the bottom of the collective heap, earning a living off the hard labor of others. The East India company decided that they must send one of their botanists to venture deep into China, in the forbidden tea-growing areas and steal not only the plants but also the know-how of cultivating and manufacturing it.The Confucian tradition also believed in a kind of caste hierarchy. This is a missed opportunity, because there is certainly an interesting story to be told about the book's protagonist, Robert Fortune. Choose a product exotic if possible, but humble will do ; think up a smart title; mix in some tales of adventure; and then season with claims that the whole course of western civilisation has been altered in some way. A rather more crucial linchpin might well have been JG Gordon unmentioned by Rose , who obtained tea-plant seeds in China more than a decade before Fortune's mission. A rather superior brew has been boiled up by Victor H Mair and Erling Hoh, who have managed to combine a real depth of knowledge with a deft stylistic and organisational touch, and as a result their study of tea through time is both authoritative and entertaining. We see snippets of film from past experiences only making us hungry for more just as we want more of their reminiscing of the various mediums they played in and talk about why some succeeded and others didn't. Capitalism has its own insatiable impetus to seek more resources, more labor and more markets in order that it can expand. But, in order to be credible, works of popular history do still have to be rooted firmly in fact, even in these postmodern times. Of course, as Rose herself informs us, the book is not a scholarly undertaking and this in itself is fair enough.
Partly, it details Chinese culture and tradition as well. Mianxi is about Face, the loss and gain of it.
These colourful asides, culled from diverse sources and well supported by illustrations, serve as constant reminders of the various strands of development that have informed the history of tea.
Plowright, now blind, and Atkins may not be as well known as Dench and Smith but all are given equal time to talk about their looks, or lack of them, when they started, though nothing is referred regarding the METOO so prevalent today while the casting couch was part of the norm when they entered the theatre world, let alone the world of film.
Now, in the 21st century, it is this same expansionist urge that makes China aggressively seek industrial secrets from the West by any means. It is this same urge that wanted to steal tea plants and its manufacturing secrets from China so that they can capture the world market for British made Indian tea.The British wer Whenever one thinks of the East India company, one thinks of its gradual evolution from a small trading post in a corner of India to eventually occupying the country and ruling it in the interests of Britain. Pirates and dacoits harassed them on their way but Fortune ended up successful. Prior to the 19th century, China held the secrets of how to cultivate Tea, harvest and manufacture it on mass scale for the markets around the world. There are interesting paragraphs on the concepts of Mianxi and Guanxi, two inescapable facts of life in China. This is a missed opportunity, because there is certainly an interesting story to be told about the book's protagonist, Robert Fortune. Choose a product exotic if possible, but humble will do ; think up a smart title; mix in some tales of adventure; and then season with claims that the whole course of western civilisation has been altered in some way. A rather more crucial linchpin might well have been JG Gordon unmentioned by Rose , who obtained tea-plant seeds in China more than a decade before Fortune's mission. Stealing tea from China was a dangerous and criminal endeavour but Fortune was excited by the idea and agreed to do it. But the book is also infused with anecdotes, only some of which are familiar. Unfortunately for any would-be biographer, however, Gordon's mission to China was far less dramatic than that of Fortune, and he did not have to go about his business disguised in a "Mandarin's dress". It is the tale of how they stole the know-how and the seeds to make the Himalayas in India the center of tea production and capture the markets from China. The Confucian tradition also believed in a kind of caste hierarchy.
Even so, his actions were no less important for the transfer of tea from China to India. The Prologue claims that opium financed the management of India and that England believed that India would eventually become self-sustaining.
Done badly, such an approach can produce history that is formulaic, simplistic and ill-informed, leading to inflated and unjustified claims for the significance of a particular food or drink.