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『For All the Tea in China』(2010)
/ Sarah Rose
Many Chinese believed that tea was discovered by the mythical
emperor Shennong, inventor of Chinese medicine and of farming.
The story goes that one day the emperor was reclining in the
leafy shade of a camellia bush when a shiny leaf dropped into
his cup of boiled water. Ripples of light green liquor soon
began to emerge from the thin, feathery leaf.
Shennong was familiar with the healing properties of plants
and could identify as many as seventy poisonous plants in
a daylong hike.
Convinced that the camellia tisane was not dangerous,
he took a sip of it and found that it tasted refreshing:
aromatic, slightly bitter, stimulating, and restorative.
In the hierarchy of Chinese life, tea was ranked as one of
the even necessities, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt,
soy sauce, and vinegar...
Although tea was a necessity, it was also considered a luxury.
It took time to enjoy tea and money to buy it
– if you weren’t growing your own.
It was the greatest joy of the official classes to sit and
drink tea while writing poetry.
The Wangs and millions of families like them made such
civilized pleasures possible.
In a quarter of a millennium of existence the company had
amassed possessions to rival Charlemagne's and created an
empire on which the sun never set; it was the first global
multinational and the largest corporation history has ever known.
Yet it failed spectacularly at one significant task: to govern
India in peace. However ingenious the idea and potentially
profitable the industry, growing tea in India could not save
the Honourable Company form extinction.
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