Saturday 11 January 2003
On Robert Fortune, the great
On Robert Fortune, the great Scottish plant hunter:
The 1848 expedition [to China] was not merely to collect specimens but was one of the early instances of industrial espionage. Fortune had been charged with the task of learning the art of tea growing and then obtaining samples of the shrubs. The gardener who had arrived in China in 1843 unable to speak the language returned five years later, learned the secrets of tea making and disguised as a Chinese peasant smuggled tea plants from China into India and in so doing established the tea industry in India and Ceylon.
You just don’t get people like that these days, do you? Biography here.