The (semi-) Original Man Of Tea

Regular readers of my own blog will know that I’ve spoken about various historical figures in tea from time to time.

Here’s a quick word about Robert Fortune

TANGENT: Some people would see Shen Nong as the ‘Original Man of Tea” I say NO! For two reasons – one, he had his servants boil his water for him – what real man would do that? – but more importantly, he’s supposed to have discovered immortality.  A few months ago I challenged him to nip around to my house and prove it, and so far, not a word.

But back to Fortune.

I have spoken of him a few times on my blogs. But thanks to the wonderful book “For All the Tea in China”, by Sarah Rose I now know exactly how many tea plants he stole from China. And to use an exacting term I’m fond of, it was a shitload.

Imagine having your head shaved by an illiterate, sulking, skulking oddball, sewing a ponytail into the back of your head, dressing like a Chinese Mandarin – albeit a tall, white, big-nosed, round-eyed one – and taking off around the countryside – where you are forbidden to go on pain of death – with guides that make Gordon Gecko look like a Home Economics teacher.

Then you spend three years stealing thousands of national treasures.

He chased off pirates and did all sorts of other swashbuckling stuff.

Amazing. manly man! Imagine if he’d stolen Lapsang Souchong as well, he’d probably have been made King. They even named the kumquat after him.

Now, as to the book, it’s set off thoughts of a conspiracy theory which I explore on my own blog.

But Robert Fortune, I raise my cup of Pai Mu Tan and salute you!

 

1 Comment

  1. True but he also never really understood Chinese culture and might have been quite lucky (but this is how things happen).

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