China Tea Route


The China Traders of the mid-to-late 19th century had an incredible ordeal ahead of them as they sailed between London, India, and Hong Kong ferrying tea, opium, and money. The South Seas were infested with pirates, often ones sponsored by the very Chinese mandarins with whom the Europeans traded. In addition, the waters were often treacherous and the weather unpredictable. The "tai-fung" or Devil's Winds, could easily sink a clipper ship of the day, and countless lives were lost at sea. The mystique of the sailor's life led to numerous tales and legends, some of which endured. According to legend, somewhere in the Atlantic the confluence of currents led to a massive gathering of seaweed termed the Sargasso Sea, where ships were trapped and sailors left to starve. Tales of swashbuckling in the South Seas led to such forgettable tales as the "Sandokan" stories and such classics as Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim.