Recently I began reading a new book about how to create a period garden. It's research for another novel I've got swirling around in my head, not any new project at the McRae home, but it did make me nosy about when camellia sinensis plants began to appear in home gardens in this country. I decided to look through old seed and nursery catalogs on the Library of Congress website, and while I didn’t find the particular information I was looking for, I did come across an intriguing video.
This video, “Plant Hunters,” discusses famous plant hunters of yore, including the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune. The video notes, "He successfully discovered the coveted secrets of propagating, processing, and packing tea. Fortune helped to end the Chinese monopoly on tea by obtaining tea plants, equipment, and tea experts to establish government tea plantations in the Himalayas.”
I found the entire 24-minute video quite enlightening, but if you’re interested in only the “tea” part, tune in right at the 10:00 mark and you’ll quickly see the relevant info. Click here to watch.