History of a British Obsession, from the author of the hugely successful The Great Hedge of India
In 1960, an advertisement in The Times: 'Tobacco or Tea Estate; young man (21), good A-levels (Science), now fruit farming, seeks position view management,' received one reply, from Nyasaland. So began Roy Moxham's sojourn in colonial Africa, managing 500 acres of tea and a 1000-plus workforce. His experiences led him to investigate the history of tea, a fascinating tale that reflects little credit on the British Empire. When tea reached the West from China, its high price restricted its use. Heavy taxes led to murderous smuggling and to the notorious Boston Tea Party; while in China the British imposed the opium trade to finance its tea dealings. Intrepid British planters flocked to India, Ceylon and Africa, where plantation workers were bought and sold like slaves. Behind the wholesome image of the world's most popular drink lies a violent and murky past.
Roy Moxham has been a tea planter and a gallery owner. He is currently Conservator of the University of London Library and also a teacher and Associate Fellow in the University's Institute of English Studies where he teaches an MA in The History of the Book. He lives in central London and has recently begun renovation of a ruined fortified house in the remote temple town of Chitrakut. His first book The Great Hedge of India (2001) was a huge international success.