In Sarah Rose’s For All the Tea in China, readers are introduced to Robert Fortune, a self-taught botanist hired by the British government to infiltrate China and retrieve tea seedlings and information in order to grow it in British India. One of the books Rose sources information from is The Great Tea Venture, and it’s here that I first started learning about other Robert Fortune-like figures in history. Continue reading
Book: The Tea Cyclopedia
This is a pretty unassuming little book, but turned out to be a solid read. The style of the cover actually mislead me into thinking it was a lot older than it was–I figured a reprint of a 1970s book–but it was actually published in 2013. I will say there are definitely a lot of books that cover most of the same subjects in about the same amount of depth, but this one does have a few merits I haven’t seen in too many ‘general tea’ books. Continue reading
Book: Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic
In the wake of the current Verdant Tea scandal, this seems like the perfect read. I started this book a little before the VTF, but juggling schoolwork and leisure reading, I haven’t really gotten to finishing it until recently. And I guess it’s perfect timing, because I think it’s a very relevant read to understanding the current drama. I won’t really be touching on that, because there are already half a dozen other tea-blogs that have covered it in depth, plus threads on TeaChat, r/tea, and Steepster to chronolog the drama (here’s Steepster’s to get you started, if you really haven’t been following the drama). Continue reading
Book: The Great Tea Venture, by J.M. Scott
Oh hey, I’m actually discussing a book that’s easily available for once.
If you ever wanted a book that focuses exclusively on the history of British involvement in tea (misnomer: there is a bit about Ireland’s involvement), then this is that book. A lot of tea-history books try to cover a bit of everything at once, and that’s nice for a general idea, but a lot of facts get passed over (deja vu, I think I’ve discussed this before). I like picking up books that focus on a particular culture’s tale. I don’t have any preferences (okay, maybe Russia…). Scott does mention the richness and vastness of China’s history in comparison to the UK’s, but establishes that this book will focus on the isles. Continue reading
Book: Chinese Tea: A Cultural History and Guide
This was an interesting little book I checked out of a local library. By Liu Tong, and translated by Yue Liwen, I found it informative and colourful. It’s not a dry book, and probably my favourite aspect is how often it goes off on tangents concerning tea lore.
Book: For All the Tea in China
For All the Tea in China is a very sprightly, up-beat work of non-fiction detailing Robert Fortune’s botanical espionage, and the racism of the times. It is, at this point, a Reading Requirement for all new Tea Drinking, Book Loving Recruits (or so I suppose, from Steepster’s general consensus). As some people might remember, I picked this book up… oh… two years ago, just a little while after I had returned from working Up North. I was picking up history books left and right at the time, but I force myself to read all my books in order, so as to make sure no book is left collecting dust for long (except for a small clause which allows me to put any owned book on hold in order to read any book from the library–this is due to the two-week limit imposed on most books, which forces me to finish them in a timely manner).