TEA - Addiction, Exploitation and Empire
In November 1960 I placed an advertisement in the Personal Column of The Times:
Tobacco or Tea Estate; young man (21),
good A-levels (Science), now fruit farming,
seeks position view management.
I only had one reply, and spent the next five years as a tea planter in Africa. How had it come about that young British men like me were managing tea estates in the tropics?
TEA - Addiction, Exploitation and Empire tells the history of tea, from its discovery by the Chinese, to the first British imports in the seventeenth century, through to the present day. It tells of how the British tax on tea led to violent smuggling, and the loss of the American colonies; of how the British addiction to tea led to war with China. It describes how tea was then planted up in the Empire - in India, Ceylon, and Africa. Intrepid and eccentric British planters opened up hundreds of square miles of tea - but at a terrible cost to the native people. Britain lost its empire yet, through the brands it controls, still dominates the world of tea.
The book describes how tea is grown and manufactured. It dissects the international tea business. It also describes the first year of the my time as a tea planter - taking the reader through the agricultural cycle - with, I hope, some amusing diversions.
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