Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Story of Robert Fortune in Tea and Books

Today, I have been sipping Upton Tea Imports’ black tea blend called Robert Fortune Blend 41.  Naming this blend after the Scottish adventurer, botanist, and plant hunter is apt as the blend contains both Chinese Yunnan and Indian Darjeeling tea. The life and exploits of Robert Fortune created a symbolic bridge between the worlds of China and India, and this unique tea blend does as well.

The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide by Mary Lou and Robert Heiss describes Yunnan black teas as “lush, thirst-quenching treats.”  This same book describes spring Darjeeling teas as being characterized by “fresh exuberance” while later flushes of Darjeeling are described as “rich and smooth.”  In either case, Darjeeling, known as the “Queen of Indian teas,” adds a lighter note to the Chinese Yunnan and results here in a lovely, balanced black tea blend.

If you would like to read a lively account of the life and exploits of Robert Fortune, take a look at For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose.   The short version of the story goes something like this: Robert Fortune, as an “agent” of the East India Company, shipped/smuggled tea plants, seeds, and eight Chinese tea experts from China’s tea lands into India where they formed the foundation of what later became the Indian Tea Industry.

You can find bits and pieces of information about Robert Fortune in any of the books pictured here above. (Click on image to enlarge it.)  And if you are somewhat business oriented and interested in knowing more about the East India Company, you might want to look up a 2012 book called The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational.

(Disclaimer: The tea discussed here was provided to me by Upton Tea Imports.)

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Maira Gall