When Jason made the tea-lover’s pilgrimage to China and India which he describes in The Gunpowder Gardens, the London Observer called it ‘an exceptional travel book but also a lively, humorous account of the refreshing herb, from bush to teacup.’ It was published by Knopf in the USA as A Time for Tea.
Re-issued by Penguin in 2003, The Gunpowder Gardens is published on Kindle by Argonaut Books.
‘Full of fascination’. The Sunday Times. The Gunpowder Gardens ‘is at once history, curious lore, and brilliant travel writing’. Library Journal Review – ‘A fruity, discursive, always beguiling book spiced with jokes, allusions, fashion tips and travel notes’. Sunday Telegraph
The New York Times review by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, in full:
Jason Goodwin has been inspired by something in his past to devote his funny, evocative first book to the history and geography of tea. he first exercises his skill at evoking a sense of place. “In Hong Kong the inanimate do business along with the quick. Each ramp on a concrete flight of steps proclaims the merit of a product; dustbins call your attention to the Hong Kong Bank; an enormous Marlboro cowboy hangs tough on the flank of a high-rise — as you come close, he shyly disintegrates into a swirl of meaningless squiggles but recomposes himself, as moody as ever, as you walk away.” Or he deftly dissolves the present into the past, for instance by riding the Hong Kong-Canton hydrofoil and then imagining what it must have been like for ships of the East India Company to travel in and out of the Pearl River estuary at the height of the tea trade 200 years ago. Or he sums up Chinese history in a few brush strokes: “China’s concern through millennia has been to keep floods and barbarians controlled. The Great Wall of China was like a dam to hold back people.” Mr. Goodwin’s imagination stays vibrant. It has summoned up all the tea in China and India. And made one thirst for a spicy cup of the brew.
Finalist for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award