Robert Fortune, Tea Thief
Robert Fortune (16 September 1813 – 13 April 1880) was a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller, best known for introducing tea plants from China to India — a story recently told by Sara Rose in For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.
“Among Fortune’s tasks in China, and certainly as critical as providing Indian tea gardens with quality nursery stock, was to learn the procedure for manufacturing tea. From the picking to the brewing there was a great deal of factory work involved: drying, firing, rolling, and, for black tea, fermenting. Fortune had explicit instructions from the East India Company to discover everything he could: “Besides the collection of tea plants and seeds from the best localities for transmission to India, it will be your duty to avail yourself of every opportunity of acquiring information as to the cultivation of the tea plant and the manufacture of tea as practised by the Chinese and on all other points with which it may be desirable that those entrusted with the superintendence of the tea nurseries in India should be made acquainted.”
Read more at the Smithsonian.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
“Completely build [sic] by hand without the use of any power tools, the Teahouse was constructed in Dushanbe, Tajikistan as a gift to their sister city, Boulder. It was disassembled, crated up, and sent halfway around the world to be rebuilt in Boulder as a symbol of friendship and cultural exploration. The elaborate and creative teahouse now sits as a reminder to the citizens of Boulder to value cultural diversity, global cooperation, and international friendship.”
Happy National Day!
Temperance Societies often sang hymns in praise of tea, such as this one by Mr. Collingwood Banks:
Let others sing the praise of wine, Let others deem its joys divine, Its fleeting bliss shall ne'er be mine, Give me a cup of tea! The cup that soothes each aching pain, Restores the sick to health again, Steals not from hear, steal not from brain, A friend when others flee. When sorrow frowns, what power can cheer, Or chase away the falling tear Without the vile effects of beer, Like Pekoe or Bohea? What makes the old man young and strong, Like Hyson, Congou, or Souchong, Which leave the burthen of this song A welcome cup of tea. Then hail the grave celestial band, With planning mind, and planting hand, And let us bless that golden land So far across the sea; Whose hills and vales give fertile birth To that fair shrub of priceless worth, Which yields each son of mother earth A fragrant cup of tea.
Found in: Tea and Tea Drinking, by Arthur Reade. Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. 1884.