[双语阅读] 鸦片战争之后,英国人当年是如何从中国偷取茶苗和种子的


摘要:苏格兰植物学家罗伯特 福琼 Robert Fortune,受东印度贸易公司 East India Company 的委托,渗透到清朝的茶叶行业,推翻了中国对这种饮料的垄断。

Botanist Robert Fortune was commissioned by the East India Trading Company to infiltrate China’s tea industry and topple the country’s monopoly on the beverage.


茶是世界上仅次于水的最受欢迎的饮料, 但茶之受欢迎的最早那段故事并不像饮料本身那么容易咽下去。

Second only to water, tea is the world’s most popular beverage. But the origin story of tea’s popularity doesn’t go down quite as easily as the drink itself.


Eager to meet the market demand both at home and abroad for tea, Britain sabotaged the virtual monopoly China held on tea, opening the beverage to the world, and destroying China’s economy in the process.

事实上,当英国在苏格兰植物学家罗伯特·福琼的领导下发起一项秘密行动,盗取约 23,000 株植物和种子时,中国建立的那个茶叶帝国就正式终结了。

Indeed, the end to the tea empire China had established came when Britain launched a covert operation under a Scottish botanist, named Robert Fortune, to steal some 23,000 plants and seeds.

当这种饮料引起英国人的兴趣时,中国人喝茶已有 2000 年的历史。 对中国茶文化的最早文字,记载于公元前 206 年至公元 9 年间,西汉时期,王宝所写的《A Contract with a Servant 与仆契约?》。

最初,茶被当做一种草药。 直到公元 300 年左右,喝茶消遣才成为一种日常习俗,公元 700 年后期,一位和尚写下了茶的潜在好处,以及如何制作茶的过程。

In its infancy, tea was considered medicinal. It wasn’t until around 300 A.D. that drinking tea for pleasure became a daily custom, and not until the late 700s when a Buddhist monk wrote of its potential benefits and how to prepare it.


Tea-tasting thus became associated with Buddhist practices and was a favorite past-time among China’s literati, often combined with wine-drinking and poetry and calligraphy-making during the Tang Dynasty.

到 1600 年代,中国人开始向欧洲出口他们的文化主食。 中国是当时世界上唯一的茶叶生产国和生产国,生产大量茶叶以满足全球快速增长的需求。

By the 1600s, the Chinese had begun exporting their cultural staple to Europe. China was the only tea producer and manufacturer in the world at this time and produced large quantities of tea to fulfill the rapidly growing global demand.

一旦喝茶的潮流进入英国,这种饮料就在英国精英中流行起来,因为当时茶的成本对于平民来说过于奢侈。 很快,英国人开始大量进口茶叶,茶叶迅速成为英国从中国进口的最重要的贸易货品。

Once the tea trend invaded England, the brew became popular among Britain’s elite as the cost of tea was still too extravagant for commoners. Soon, the British began importing tea in larger quantities and the drink quickly became Britain’s most important trade item from China.

那些对外贸易公司,如代表英国所有业务的东印度公司,仍局限在广州(今广州)。 广州是中国唯一允许外国商人进入的贸易港口。 尽管如此,中国仍然享有与西方实体之间的贸易顺差。

Foreign trading companies, like the East India Trading Company which represented all of Britain’s business, were still confined to Canton (now modern-day Guangzhou). Canton was the only trading post in the country accessible to foreign merchants. Despite this, China still enjoyed surpluses of trade with Western entities.

很大程度上得益于对茶叶生产的垄断,中国迅速成为 19 世纪初世界上最大的经济体。 到 1880 年代后期,中国每年生产大约 25 万吨茶叶,其中 53% 出口到世界其他地区。 事实上在那个历史时期,茶叶占中国出口总额的 62%。

Thanks largely to its monopoly on tea production, China quickly became the world’s largest economic force of the early 19th Century. By the late 1880s, China produced roughly 250,000 tons of tea every year, 53 percent of which was exported to other parts of the world. In fact, tea accounted for 62 percent of all of China’s exports.

“茶改变了中国在世界舞台上的角色,”《For All the Tea in China》一书的作者莎拉·罗斯说。

“Tea changed the role of China on the world stage,” said Sarah Rose, author of the book For All the Tea in China.


Not only that, but the tea trade also “gave birth to the colonial territory of Hong Kong – tea drove economic expansion of the British empire in the Far East and Britain’s economy became dependent on tea.”


Britain — which had just conquered India and began cultivating opium there, also began to purchase China’s tea, silk, and porcelain in exchange for opium which was a popular pain reliever at the time.

但鸦片的大量进口很快在中国造成了大面积成瘾,许多人因此而死亡。 因此,中国皇帝通过了多项皇家法令来禁止这种药物,并于 1820 年开始要求英国人只能向中国支付白银,以换取中国的茶叶和其他商品。

But the vast import of opium quickly created an epidemic of addiction in China and many died as a result. The Chinese emperor thus passed multiple royal decrees to ban the drug and, in 1820, began to demand that the British pay China in only silver in exchange for its tea and other goods moving forward.

英国国内外对茶叶的市场需求如此有利可图,以至于他们别无选择,只能同意贸易条款。 但英国很快陷入贸易逆差,因为他们不得不从欧洲和墨西哥进口白银以满足对茶叶的需求,这给该国的财政带来了负担。

Britain’s market demand both domestically and abroad for tea was so lucrative that they had no choice but to agree to the trade terms. But Britain soon fell into a trade deficit as they had to import silver from Europe and Mexico in order to keep up with the demand for tea and this burdened the country’s finances.


Enter, The Opium Wars


Even though Britain’s economy relied on its tea trade with China, the government knew that if they continued to export silver out of the country they would go broke.

于是,英国人为了减少赤字,悄悄地开始向中国走私鸦片以换取茶叶。 这当然加剧了中国的鸦片流行。

So, as a means to reduce their deficit, the British quietly began smuggling opium into China in exchange for tea. This, of course, exacerbated China’s opium epidemic.


Out of desperation, Chinese High-Commissioner Lin Zexu sent a pleading letter to the British monarch at the time, Queen Victoria, to cease illegal exports of opium into China. His letter went ignored.

中国的请求没有得到回应,让皇帝别无选择。 1839 年 4 月,清帝派军队到广州突袭港口非法鸦片,导致东印度贸易公司被没收鸦片 2 万多箱(或 1200 吨)。

China’s unanswered requests left the emperor little choice. In April 1839, the Qing Emperor sent an army to Canton to raid the port for illegal opium, resulting in the confiscation of more than 20,000 chests (or 1,200 tons) of opium from the East India Trading Company.


The crates of drugs were burnt without legal reparations to the British government.

这次销烟拉开了臭名昭著的鸦片战争的序幕,中英之间两场独立的贸易战,从 1840 年开始,跨越了二十多年。

This kicked off the infamous Opium Wars, two separate trade wars between China and Britain that spanned over two decades beginning in 1840.


The Opium Wars would change the history of China and its influence over the tea trade forever.


Britain’s decision to wage war on a nation which had, for the most part, maintained good trade relations with them, over what was essentially drug trafficking became a source of political strife to the Parliament.


As William Gladstone, who would eventually become Britain’s fourth longest-serving prime minister, wrote in his diary at the time, “I am in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China.”

鸦片战争打响后,1842年,清朝签订了《南京条约》(又称《南京条约》)。 这只是中国人在面临英国军事敌对力量时,被迫同意的众多条约中的第一个。

After the first battles of the Opium Wars were waged, in 1842, the Qing dynasty signed the Treaty of Nanjing (also known as the Treaty of Nanking). This was only the first of a number of treaties that the Chinese were forced to agree to as they faced the military opposition of the British.


The Treaty of Nanjing saw that the Chinese paid the British indemnity, opened up five of their previously closed ports to foreign merchants, and ceded their island of Hong Kong to Colonial rule.


The Qing Dynasty’s subjugation to Britain’s trade demands weakened the Chinese government’s public image and set off growing unrest among Chinese merchants who were unhappy with their government’s closed trade policy.


In this respect, the Opium Wars had far-reaching consequences for China, and the era following the wars was dubbed the “Century of Humiliation.”

罗伯特 福琼:英国的茶贼

Robert Fortune: Britain’s Tea Thief

在英国和中国的外交关系遭到破坏时,一个来自苏格兰的植物学家罗伯特 福琼Robert Fortune,被推入这场乱局当中。

Amid the destruction of the diplomatic relations between Britain and China, Scottish botanist Robert Fortune was thrust into the thick of it.


As a child, Fortune spent his days with his father on their modest family farm. Coming from a poor family, Fortune attained most of his botanical knowledge through practical education instead of formal schooling.


Eventually, the poor botanist worked himself up the ranks of England’s scientific circles and landed work at the prestigious Horticultural Society of London’s garden at Chiswick.


In 1842, when the First Opium War between Britain and China ended with the Treaty of Nanjing, Fortune was commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society to undertake a three-year plant collecting expedition in China.

在采集植物标本的旅途中,福琼领略了中国美丽的花草和茶园,但同时也经历了疾病,以及来自海盗和土匪的多次袭击。 他在 1847 年出版的著作《在中国北方流浪三年》中记录了他在中国的整个旅程。

On his trip, Fortune encountered China’s beautiful flora and tea gardens, but he also weathered sickness and repeat attacks from pirates and bandits. He chronicled his entire journey through China in his 1847 book Three Years’ Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China.

在他之前,还从来没有一个西方人像罗伯特·福琼那样深入中国领土,他甚至到过中国福建省偏远的武夷山,这是中国主要的茶叶产区之一。 英国的东印度贸易公司正处于与一场中国争夺流行饮料的战争中,自然对福琼的工作产生了兴趣。

No Westerner had ever forayed into Chinese territory as far as Robert Fortune had, traveling even to the remote Wuyi Mountains in China’s Fujian province, one of its main tea territories. Britain’s East India Trading Company, in the middle of a war with China over the popular brew, naturally became interested in Fortune’s work.


The company believed that if Britain could access the tea seeds and plants in China and find a way to grow and harvest the tea themselves, perhaps in their tropically-inclined colony India, then the British could supersede the Chinese in the tea trade.

于是,英国委托罗伯特 福琼Robert Fortune从中国偷茶。

And so Britain commissioned Robert Fortune to steal tea from China.

这是一项冒险的工作,但东印度公司许诺每年给他 624 美元——这是福琼当时工资的五倍——加上他在走私之旅中采集到的任何其他植物的商业利益,这位科学家几乎无法抗拒。

It was a risky job, but for $624 per annum — which was five times Fortune’s existing salary — and the commercial rights to any plants he acquired on his smuggling trip, the scientist could hardly resist.

1848 年,福琼开始了他的第二次中国之旅,但这一次,他是一名卧底走私者。 为了绕过港口安检,福琼伪装成一名中国商人,以当地的方式剪了头发,还穿上了中国传统的服饰。

In 1848, Fortune embarked on his second journey to China but this time, as an undercover smuggler. In order to bypass port securities, Fortune disguised himself as a Chinese merchant by cutting his hair in the local fashion and wearing Chinese traditional garb.

但通过安检仅仅是个开始,福琼还必须收集茶叶标本并想办法将它们运送到印度。 总而言之,他成功地从中国产茶省份采集了 13,000 棵茶苗, 10,000 颗种子,并成功地让它们跨越了国界。

But getting through security was only the beginning. Fortune also had to collect tea specimens and find a way to transport them to India. In all, Fortune successfully gathered 13,000 species of tea plants and 10,000 seeds from China’s tea provinces and managed to get them across the nation’s borders.

“他甚至把茶农也带走了,”现在在中国经营家族世代茶叶生意的李香希说。 “这样,他们就可以研究茶艺了。 他们还带走了农具[和]茶叶加工工具。”

“He even took tea farmers with him,” said Li Xiangxi, who now runs her family’s generational tea business in China. “That way, they could study the craft of tea. They also took the farming tools [and] the tea processing tools.”

在他的第一次走私企图中,大部分茶苗在运输途中死了。 经过多次试验,他们找到了一种新的方法,需要用到一个特殊的 Wardian 玻璃箱,能够让茶苗在艰苦的海外旅行途中保障存活,福琼总共向印度大吉岭Darjeeling地区引进了 20,000 株非本土茶树。

On his first smuggling attempt, most of the tea seedlings died in transit. After several trials and a new method involving a special Wardian glass case to safe-keep the plants during their arduous trip overseas, Fortune would introduce 20,000 non-native tea plants to India’s Darjeeling region.

最终,英国确实成功地找到了在印度自行种植、收获和制造茶叶的方法,打破了中国长期以来对茶叶贸易的垄断。 中国茶叶产量大幅下降至4.1万吨,其中仅出口9000吨。

Eventually, Britain did succeed in finding a way to grow, harvest, and manufacture tea on their own in India, breaking China’s long-running monopoly on the tea trade. The amount of tea produced in China fell significantly to 41,000 tons of which only 9,000 tons were exported.


China quickly fell behind in commerce as the Dutch and Americans followed Britain and conducted their own raids on China’s tea countries to produce their own.

The impact of Britain’s trade theft and the unfair treaties following the Opium Wars so dramatically altered China’s economy that they could not fully recover until the 1950s. It would be 170 years before China was able to restore its status as the world’s biggest tea exporter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *